NAB senior leaders take a closer look at Australia’s trade and export sector – providing all-important insights into how regional and agribusinesses can best respond to today’s challenges and opportunities.
Buying a caravan from Jack Hillis is no ordinary experience. Discover the customer care attitude that’s made his business a growing attraction and boosted visitors to the regional NSW town of Wagga Wagga.
Since 2017, Jack Hillis has turned a modest family-owned operation selling a few dozen caravans a year into a one-stop shop for all things outdoor recreation related. Over the five years since Jack returned to his hometown, Wagga Caravan Centre has relocated to sprawling premises on the Sturt Highway, became a licensed Adventure Kings and Weber dealer, upped its headcount from five to 22 and earned itself a name as the place to buy and equip a luxury van.
Its swelling customer base of adventurous families, grey nomads and caravan and campervan enthusiasts travel to Wagga from all over Australia – boosting other businesses in the regional centre – to spend up big on luxury vans and accessories. The business sells around five new and used caravans and camper trailers a week, at an average price of $125,000.
Jack moved his young family back to Wagga in 2017 when his father, Riverina car dealer Mark Hillis, began experiencing health issues. An aircraft engineer by trade, the younger Hillis set about reimagining an offshoot operation selling a few dozen caravans a year.
Offering superlative service is the secret to Wagga Caravan Centre’s growth, according to Jack. Customers receive the red carpet treatment: airport pick-ups, overnight accommodation, a personal tour of the showroom and introductions to key staff.
And that growth is sustained – for Jack’s business and others in the area – when they return for the stellar after-sales assistance.
“If someone buys a van from us, they’re taken care of,” Jack explains. “They might be in Cairns and have a problem with their fridge. They don’t have to worry about finding someone to fix it. We take care of the service bookings or get someone to the van, if that’s what’s needed. Customers know they can ring us at any time; my mobile is always on.”
Going above and beyond was a deliberate decision – to create a point of difference with competitors. It’s paid off in an enthusiastic and loyal customer base that will go out of its way to make Wagga a destination.
“If someone has a good experience, they’ll come back for that new barbecue or accessory, or they’ll use us to get their servicing done and encourage others to do the same,” Jack says. “That’s why creating a memorable experience for every customer is what I’ve always focused on.”
NAB Regional and Agribusiness banking executive Lara Tritton says it’s a mantra that should help Jack achieve his goal of becoming known as Australia’s most reputable caravan dealer.
“There’s been significant interest in regional travel in the last few years,” she says. “Jack is doing an amazing job building a profile for the Wagga Caravan Centre. Identifying the opportunity and investing in it has been the key to sustainable growth and success.”
From day one of his journey, Jack has made it a priority of achieving sustainable growth to build a strong, open relationship with his business development manager and bank manager.
“I share everything with the bank. So at any point, if I need to ring up and say, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about this’, they know how the business is tracking. That solid relationship has been an integral part of our growth.”
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