LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Industry leaders gathered in Las Vegas this week for the annual RVDA Convention/Expo, reported as the largest convention the RV Dealers Association has organized in more than 10 years. The event had 170 exhibitors in 180 booths looking to develop profitable partnerships with dealers and improve the RV ownership experience for our customers.
“Our goal this year was to make the convention more frontline personnel friendly and by the record attendance it looks like we are on our way,” reported Chris Andro, chairman of the RVDA Convention/Expo Committee.
As the industry thrives and the event celebrated these successes, RVDA Chairman of the Board Tim Wegge and his counterpart Jean-Francois Lussier of RVDA of Canada offered some insight on what the industry needs to do to keep these successes going.
Wegge pointed to Bill Rogers, who leads NTP/STAG and was co-chair on the committee to solve the repair parts issues plaguing the industry. Rogers and his team created the Service Center Showcase at this year’s event. Said Wegge, “With renewed efforts to improving repair event cycle time – or R-E-C-T — their booth will be filled with timely information on parts inventory management and technology, which are essential elements to improving the parts delivery and repair process.”
The repair parts issue is a top priority for the RVDA of Canada as well, stated Francois Lussier of RVDA of Canada.
“While demand for our products is high, we need to work harder than ever to retain our customers … no matter which side of the border you are on,” he said.
Improving repair event cycle time (RECT) is an industry-wide movement, reported Wegge.
“The importance of R-E-C-T cannot be understated and your going to be hearing a lot of about R-E-C-T this week, as it will be the standard in which we, as an industry, including dealers, vendors, suppliers, and manufacturers measure our overall customer experiences after the sale on the service and repair side of the equation,” he said. “This is in addition to other issues facing our industry.”
Wegge also challenged at least one person from every dealership to attend a special Super Lawyers panel.
“You will have access to experienced attorneys who can help you avoid lawsuits that are becoming a major problem in state after state,” he said. “This will be one of the most important sessions you attend. Some best practices and practical tips you can use every day will be shared to help prevent claims against your dealerships.”
Jeff Pastore, chairman of the board of the Mike Molino RV Learning Center from Hartville RV Center, also underscored the importance of various initiatives designed to reduce RECT and keep RVers on the road.
He said, “We are going to be hearing a lot about repair event cycle time, the New RV Technical Institute, and other programs to help enhance our collective ability to keep our customers on the road and happy at the campground.”
Pastore noted that a “key part of this – in addition to training for our techs — is the RV Learning Center’s educational curriculum for service writers/advisors, service managers, parts personnel, and warranty administrator positions. We can have the best trained techs in the world, but if service advisors and writers don’t communicate well with customers, service managers don’t effectively schedule work, and parts and warranty processes fail, then the whole repair event cycle gets gummed up.”
This curriculum was developed with employment training and credentialing experts at The Ohio State University, RV Learning Center and Pastore said the resulting “certification programs and learning guides are extremely valuable at a time when consumers demand and deserve proper communication at every stage of their service experience.”
He then asked the following of those in attendance: “We know that there are many other factors that impact service that are outside the dealership’s control, but let’s all look at what we can do at our dealerships to do a better job for the customer.”
As the RV Technical Institute gets organized, the RV Learning Center will continue its partnership with RVIA, and the Tech Cert Prep program, which helps our technicians prepare for industry certification.
“We used the program at our dealership to get our techs ready to take the certification test and identify areas where they may need improvement,” Pastore said. “It’s online, so it’s an easy way for techs to access materials that can help them advance their career as an RV technician.”
He noted, “The RVDA is also pleased to partner with the Florida RV Trade Association’s Distance Learning Network for dealers outside the state. It’s another great way to train and prepare techs for certification. I know because we’ve used the FRVTA program as well.”
The Distance Learning Network also includes a Service Writer/Advisor course, an RV Greeter/Receptionist Course, and other valuable training resources.
More critical information for techs is available at two RV Learning Center websites.
The RVTechnicianToday.com website has been completely revamped and reorganized to serve as a library of information techs and service managers need to know.
RVDA members can subscribe for only $39.95 a year and it’s a great way to access an array of resources whenever service people need them.
The second website is RVTechnician.com, which Pastore said is “a great source for all the information you need about technician certification and training resources available through the Learning Center, RVIA, and our state association partners.”