Pros and Cons of Taking an RV Factory Tour

We took a factory tour at Grand Design in Middlebury, Indiana, last November and really enjoyed it!

In the US, many of the RV's that we buy are all manufactured in one corner of Northern Indiana. Elkhart and Middlebury, Indiana are both homes to big RV names.  Many RV manufacturers offer tours.  It is an opportunity to learn about a brand and product on location.  We took a tour at Grand Design in November of last year, and it was a great experience.  But, this may not be the right thing for everyone.  We are glad we took advantage of this opportunity, and feel this will help us when we move from a pop-up camper to a travel trailer.

Before you take your tour, be ready to do quite a bit of walking.  Wear comfortable shoes.  This may not be an activity for all children.  We did take our six-year-old with us, but I would not take children any younger than this.

First, let's explore the pros of taking an RV factory tour.  I feel like there are five reasons that make this activity a wise decision for camping enthusiasts and RV owners.  This is a brand focused event that will showcase the manufacturer you select.  Do your research before you go so that you can ask questions while you are there.

All of us enjoyed taking the Grand Design tour.

Understanding the brand

If you are considering buying a new RV, this is an opportunity for a face to face visit with a manufacturing expert.  At Grand Design, we were lead on a tour by a gentleman that was enthusiastic and eager to answer questions about the product throughout the tour.  It has a tremendous selling point for our family as we are considering upgrading from our pop up camper.  We learned about the company's philosophy and commitment to customer service and approach to customer needs.

Learn about the manufacturing process

If you want to know how that RV is made from start to finish, this is your chance.  We saw how the Grand Design Imagine Travel Trailer was made from the trailer base itself all the way up to the finished product.  This involved the plumbing, electrical, insulation and more.  I felt like a much more educated consumer leaving the tour.  And, I feel that I would be able to ask better questions when shopping for an RV after having taken the tour.  A better-educated RV shopped makes better decisions.  Prior to this tour, I don't know if I would have known half of the things that I know now.  I'm not proclaiming to be an RV expert.  But I'm saying that this tour helped to better educate me and was an educational experience.  This alone was huge.

More thorough than a dealership

No one is going to know their product like the manufacturer of that product.  The RV manufacturer is going to know their product inside and out.  They are not guessing about questions you are asking them.  And, there is no middle man.  The dealership is working to sell you an RV.  The RV Factory is showcasing their work on a factory tour.  At no point during the Grand Design RV Factory Tour did I feel like they were trying to sell us an RV.  Again, they were simply showcasing their work.

Before we took this tour, a member of an RV group online said that if we toured Grand Design that we would be sold on their RV's because they are so beautifully made.  I'm not going to lie.  This statement is pretty much true.  We do love their RV's.  And, we are leaning in this direction.  We happened to meet one of the founders, Don Clark, by accident while there.  Their team of people is legit.  We really liked what we saw.  And, I felt like it was an excellent experience from the people we met to the products we saw.  It did not feel like a dog and pony show.  It was a real experience with a real product.  And that is what sold us on what they are doing.

It was a lot of walking but these two were up for the task.

Learn how to better care for your RV

As you learn how the RV is actually manufactured, this information can help you to better care for the RV that you already own.  This information would be particularly helpful if you are touring the plant of the specific brand you own.  But, if you own a different brand or even kind of RV, use this as an opportunity to glean information to help you be a better RV'er with your overall maintenance and care.  So, again, use this as an educational experience.  I found this to be very helpful even though I own a pop-up camper.

Address customer service issues

If you are having unresolved issues with your dealership, this could be an opportunity to work directly with the manufacturer to resolve warranty issues.  There was another couple touring with us at Grand Design that had some customer services questions.  They needed were working with our tour person directly to pinpoint a customer service specialist to help them.  I don't think it was a failure prior to this on the part of Grand Design.  They were having a difficult time with the dealer.  So, they were going to work directly with the manufacturer to handle their needs.

Even bear took the RV Factory Tour at Grand Design.

Be a better consumer

When we bought our pop up camper, we went in totally blind to the process.  I think most first time RV shoppers are very green.  Taking an RV factory tour will give you an idea of what to ask and what to look for at the dealership.   What are the hallmarks of good customer service and what should be expected?  These are all questions that could be asked and addressed on a factory tour.

Discover new RV trends

What are new RV trends that will be hitting the showroom floors?  This could be an opportunity to see what is new and changing in terms of design.  Again, this goes back to being a better consumer.  If something new is about to come around, you might want to wait and purchase.  While you are there ask about new trends.  Ask your guide what are the new trends that are being anticipated.  If you have a suggestion based on your own RV experience, you might also want to speak up to the guide that is giving your tour.  You could also provide some valuable feedback.

Happy faces at Grand Design.

Now, let's look at the cons.  This is a really short list since I found that this was a great experience at Grand Design, but this might not be for everyone.  We know that what works for one family or group may not work for everyone.


If we had not been taking a trip to Northern Indiana, I don't know that this trip would have been feasible.  My in-laws live in Northern Indiana.  And, it was at a time that worked for our family.  But the distance may not work for everywhere just based on where these manufacturing plants are located geographically.

Pushy persons on the tour

If you are in a group that has some really dominate persons that take over the conversation and tour, it could be difficult to field the actual questions you may have.  When we first started our tour at Grand Design, we were in a larger group with one couple that had zeroed in on a fifth wheel design that had lots of specific and eccentric questions that were far off of our personal radar.  We were pleased that our larger group was split for the actual factory tour.  I don't feel like we would have been able to really ask questions or get the information we wanted if we had been with such a pushy couple.  And this is certainly a risk that you take when scheduling a tour.

These two go everywhere together!

If you don't live where you can make an RV Factory tour, consider attending a large RV show where dealers and manufacturers will be there.  Make a plan and visit the dealers/booths where you might actually consider buying.  The same manufacturers will be available to give you personal attention and answer questions at an RV show.  An RV show is a great happy medium for those that cannot take the actual factory tour.

I'm glad that we took an RV Factory Tour.  I'm specifically glad that we went to Grand Design to take a tour.  I feel they are a brand that is very much committed to customer service and quality craftsmanship.  My husband and I both were impressed with the entire process.  I didn't feel like I was on a sales pitch at any time.  It was purely an educational experience where we were learning about their product in the RV market.

Until next time...

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