RV industry launches initiative to address tech shortage

RESTON, Va. – On June 7, the RV Industry Association (RVIA) Board of Directors approved a comprehensive strategic plan and multi-million-dollar investment to address RV owner satisfaction by creating a supporting foundation, the RV Technical Institute (RVTI), to address the RV industry’s shortage of trained technicians and to implement metrics to track the RV customer experience.

In making this announcement, the RV Industry Association is taking a leadership role in closely monitoring RV owner satisfaction, driving members and partners to focus on reducing repair event cycle times (RECT), and aggressively working to improve the industry’s shortage of trained RV technicians.

Many industries monitor customer service experiences through the RECT metric. RECT is impacted by various factors including but not limited to causes such as lack of parts information, inconsistent part stocking programs, delivery options and technician training. The goal of this project is to position RECT as a key performance indicator for customer service to every segment of the RV industry.

The newly formed RVTI will establish a headquarters and training facility in the Elkhart, Indiana area, where it will implement a comprehensive RECT reduction initiative as well as launch an aggressive recruitment campaign to attract new technicians into the RV industry.

Critical to this plan is the immediate creation of world-class RV technician training curriculum. Curriculum is at the heart of training, credentialing, and providing proficient RV technicians to the RV industry. The RVTI plan calls for taking the best of the current industry training curriculum and making significant investment in improving these training offers by utilizing industry subject matter experts in conjunction with professional curriculum developers and technical writers. The new program will feature digital textbooks, PowerPoint decks, video and other modern teaching tools. The curriculum will serve as the framework for instructing new and existing RV technicians. The process of building this new curriculum has already begun.

“In building the plan, we were determined to end nearly three decades of partially funded half measures to solve one of the industry’s biggest service challenges,” said RV Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer.

He added, “We worked closely with representatives from all key industry stakeholder groups and conducted over six months of thorough data-driven planning to arrive at this point. The strategy calls for an unprecedented investment not just in tech recruitment and training, but in repair event cycle time reduction initiatives beyond technicians. I want to commend the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) for their guidance and involvement in the process, and for their support of this ambitious plan.”

“With the industry now selling more than half a million RVs annually, increasing service efficiency across the supply chain is critical,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “This is an ambitious plan that will help provide the support that dealers and RV technicians require to service today’s RV products.”

“This truly is a watershed moment for the RV industry, one that illustrates pulling the industry together always creates the best solution to challenges we face,” said RV industry Association Chairman Bob Parish. “By implementing a robust recruiting, marketing and placement plan, the Elkhart area RV technician recruitment and training facility will successfully compete with other technical industry training centers for attracting new talent by using state of the art technology to deliver world class educational material in a hands-on training environment. We are heavily investing in technician development and benchmarking our effort against customer satisfaction, the ultimate indicator of success.”

“Not only are RVDA and RVIA actively working on a parts improvement initiative but this new RVTI plan will make critical investments in technical education as well, including RECT performance benchmarks to measure the industry’s progress,” said RVDA Chairman of the Board Tim Wegge of Burlington RV Superstore in Sturtevant, Wisconsin.

By establishing its headquarters in the Elkhart, Indiana area – the heart of the RV industry – subject matter experts and trainers from RV component suppliers and OEMs will be able to easily provide practical hands-on training to technicians. These newly recruited technicians will attend a tech ‘boot camp’ at RVTI then be placed at partnering RV dealerships and service facilities all over the country. The facility will also provide training and accreditation for existing RV service technicians.

In addition to its headquarters in Indiana, RVTI will also establish a network of regional training partners that will be accredited to deliver training to existing technicians on a local or regional basis. Current and existing training venues, as well as new training providers, will be asked to partner with RVTI to provide standardized, centrally managed training. Several of the industry’s leading providers of current service training have already agreed to join this new standardized training initiative.

By accrediting regional partners to deliver curriculum, RVTI will deliver standardized training to technicians as close to their service center as possible. Following the proof of concept established by the Florida RV Trade Association, the RV Industry Association’s TnT Registered Training class, Camping World and other industry leaders, regional partners will conduct hands-on training and assessments that rely on practical assessments of skill and proficiency rather than written tests.

The initial $10 million-dollar seed fund will set up the RVTI training center and kick-off an aggressive three-year implementation of technician training accreditation, curriculum and credentialing, delivery, marketing and tech recruiting/placement as well as repair event cycle time reduction. The RV Industry Association will provide the initial $5 million-dollar investment to establish RVTI. In concert with this investment, Go RVing, the RV industry’s national consumer outreach campaign managed by the RV Industry Association and the RV Dealers Association, will provide an investment match. As part of this initiative, the Go RVing investment match was approved by both the RV Industry Association and RV Dealers Association Boards of Directors.

The leadership of the RV Industry Association will immediately form a task force to help its efforts to secure the proper location for RVTI, as well as forming a search committee to assist in recruiting an executive director to lead the RVTI enterprise.

SOURCE: RVIA press release


Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt has been a writer/editor for more than 25 years, working in law enforcement, aviation, supply chain and the RV industry. She's not a stranger to RVs, however. She grew up camping, and still camps as many weekends as she can every year. She is the owner of In Good Company Communications and can be reached at ingoodcompanycommunications@gmail.com.

Leave a Comment

  • Bret says:

    Great news! Thank you for recognizing the issues involving the service side of the industry. We definitely need more skilled labor techs.

  • Jim Ryan says:

    The technician shortage has been an issue for over 20 years and many times the RVIA has attempted to solve the problem. I hope they can succeed this time but I fear that requiring the tech’s to travel to Elkhart is part of the problem. The satellite training centers are a good idea but I think a complete online option is the best approach for the times we live in right now.

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