Ever wondered how other caravan dealers got into the trade and what makes them tick? In this, the first of our Caravan Selecta dealer profiles, we meet Alex Levington, General Manager of United British Caravans (UBC) in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Read on to find out about Alex’s best sale to date and why he thinks the Bailey Unicorn Barcelona is the best caravan ever made.
Briefly describe your job for us.
I oversee the whole site here at UBC. We have a massive outdoor leisure shop as well as a large display of new and secondhand caravans. We also have a busy service department which also handles warranty and insurance claims for most manufacturers and insurers.
What’s the best Caravan/Motorhome ever made and why?
I guess it is a choice between the Bailey Senator Series 6 Wyoming or the Bailey Unicorn Barcelona. Both top class caravans with loads of space and very comfortable beds. Family vans with full end washrooms and all the kit you need.
What three essential skills must a dealer possess?
A dealer must have a good working knowledge of layouts and models from years gone by to appraise part exchanges and give the best prices. They should also be able to match people’s requirements to caravans without focusing on costs – sometimes cheaper is better! A dealer must also give first class service in sales, their shop and in aftersales – the customer comes first!
What are the best and worst things about your job?
I love the buzz you get in the spring and summer months when it is busy. It is great seeing the smiles on people’s faces when picking up their new vans and stocking up with items from our leisure shop – ready for their adventures.
The Winter is not quite so good. We still dispatch vans , but nowhere near the same amount. The days are shorter and this is the time people bring their vans in to us to address any niggles they have discovered over the summer months. Don’t get me wrong, we love putting things right for people, but there aren’t quite so many excited faces.
What’s the stand out sale you’ve made to date?
Selling a top of the range caravan to a lottery winner. Every possible extra fitted such as satellite system, motor mover, full awning, porch awning, paint protection package, etc
How did you get into the trade?
I used to work in the Motor trade selling Renault. My ex Manager Nigel Harding had gone into the caravan trade and he tempted me to join him. I guess I owe him a massive debt of gratitude these days.
Do you own a Caravan/Motorhome yourself, if so what make and model?
I don’t own a caravan but can borrow pretty much any one I would like from our second hand selection. I have a daughter called Anya who is coming up 3 soon and she loves caravans. If she comes to visit me at work she spends lots of time exploring then taking me to the one she likes best. She is a big fan of fixed bunk models!
What’s the most important question you need to ask a potential buyer?
The most important questions are about the people using the caravan to select the correct layout. The layout is the most important thing to get right in a caravan. Positioning of toilets vs sleeping arrangements etc. After that you can talk about specification, but it is so important to get the layout right. Most first timers find they love caravanning but have chosen the wrong layout first time. We try and find the correct match the first time round as it is potentially an expensive mistake to make if you get it wrong
Who would play you in the film of your life and why?
The film of my life could be a box office hit. It would have to be a Guy Ritchie style film with the obligatory odd characters from all walks of life. Quite how the storyline would go I’ve no idea as I graduated from Durham University, went into the Fish & Chip shop business, owned a restaurant & bar in Durham City Centre, moved on to the car trade and then on into the caravan world. Who would play me ? I guess it would be Jason Statham – Audi driver.
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