The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) new “click-and-brick” RV Learning Center will be the focus of the 2003 RVDA Convention/Expo Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at the Rio All-Suite Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
“Dealers attending the convention in the past have been asking us for seminars that were more advanced,” said RVDA Education Foundation Chairman Rick Horsey, owner of Parkview RV Center, Smyrna, Del. “There also is a need for ongoing education that we want the learning center to facilitate.
“Just because we learn something once doesn’t mean that we don’t need more instruction to reinforce what we’ve learned,” Horsey added.
Although education has long been a subject of RVDA convention workshops, RVDA President Mike Molino said, “We are doing it better now. We will be integrating the concept of the learning center into the convention seminars.”
Phil Ingrassia, RVDA vice president for communications, reports 135 exhibitors, 1,600 people and 800 dealers are expected to attend.
Registration so far is 100 dealers more than at this time last year, Ingrassia said.
“We are excited about the possibilities that the learning center provides,” Ingrassia said. “We are increasing capacity at headquarters to get the website going. The learning center Internet site will be dynamic, easily navigable and a bridge to the education resources available to dealers wherever they might be. It doesn’t matter if education is being offered. If you can’t find it, it doesn’t do any good.”
Outgoing RVDA Chairman Bruce Bentz of Capital RV Center, Bismark, N.D. said the convention will occur as the relationships between dealers and manufacturers continue to improve.
“The manufacturers are gaining an understanding of others’ circumstances,” Bentz said. “Part of that is recognizing fair warranty policies and dealer-manufacturer agreements. There seems to be more willingness among the manufacturers to talk about the tough issues.”
Incoming Chairman Marty Shea, of Madison RV Center Inc., Huntsville, Ala., sees technology as a key for continued improvement in communications between dealers and manufacturers.
“Technology is going to move us in broader directions,” Shea said. “We already are seeing some manufacturers putting in place systems for parts order and tracking. It needs to be standardized. It’s not an event, it’s a process that will take multiple years.”
At the convention, sales and leadership consultant Dave Anderson, president of Dave Anderson Co., and founder of learntolead.com, will offer unconventional strategies for finding the right employees for the right jobs, evaluating their work and motivating their actions.
The Roper ASW customer-satisfaction study that was to be released in June by the Go RVing Coalition also will be analyzed from a dealer’s perspective by Chris Jaworski, RoperASW’s senior vice president of the consumer trends division.
Featured workshop topics will include inventory management by Joe Lescota, president of Joe Lescota Management, Education and Training Inc., and chairman of the Automotive Marketing Department at Northwood University in Midland, Mich.; dynamic coaching solutions by Paul D. Cummings, president of Training Strategies Inc., Wildwood, Ga.; mentoring for technician training by Jim Carr, Carr & Associates Inc., and director of the RV Training Institute, Lake City, Fla. Other workshops will offer advice on management, sales, service, F&I, rentals and the aftermarket.
The 8th Annual RVDA Education Foundation Classic Golf Tournament will be Sept. 29 at Badlands Golf Club.
The foundation established the RV Learning Center in 2002, in part to stimulate a learning culture in the RV industry and to coordinate development of curricula for training and evaluating employees throughout a dealership.
The RV Learning Center will have a physical presence at RVDA headquarters in Fairfax, Va., but also will be available on an upgraded Internet site (www.rvlearningcenter.com) that will be moderated by RVDA staff.
“The Learning Center will be a library of resources, available through different means,” Horsey said.
The Learning Center’s pilot effort was an eight-session monthly sales seminar by consultant Randy Sobel, University Place, Wash., and RVDA staff is currently creating a curriculum to test service advisers.
Horsey said some $800,000 has been budgeted to create and sustain the RV Learning Center over the next few years. “The speed at which we move will be governed by the cash flow we can generate,” Horsey said.
Molino said there’s no question that education across a broad spectrum has improved in recent years, in part because of the need to provide better service throughout the dealership.
“There are better education programs now,” Molino said. “They are more available and we have a better means for delivering them. From our standpoint, we are building a foundation with the Learning Center.”