Daryl Friesen

Darrell Friesen

Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Darrell Friesen, appearing the in the February issue of RV Executive Today, advocates for a focus on certified technician training in the dealer ranks.

As the industry matures and our customers grow more impatient with broken or non-working RVs and components, it has become glaringly obvious to me that we as dealers need to train our employees better.

Today, consumers are simply not going to tolerate anything less than the kind of top-notch service they’ve come to expect from other industries. We need to make sure our people can deliver, especially our technicians. Otherwise, we’re going to alienate and lose customers.

That’s where the Mike Molino RV Learning Center comes in. The center has educational resources and training for almost every position in the dealership and also offers certification for five dealership positions: parts manager, parts specialist, service manager, service writer/advisor, and warranty administrator. These courses teach individuals the necessary knowledge and duties of the particular position, as well as the best practices.

For techs, there’s the RVDA-RVIA RV Service Technician Certification program, which offers registered, certified, and master certified status.

Years ago, when we first had all of the service techs here at All Seasons RV Center certified, we found that our efficiency went up around 25%. What we spent in training turned out to be a small investment for a large return to the bottom line. These days, with labor costs continually rising and manufacturers holding their costs down, being more efficient at each step in the process is even more important.

In addition, we found that our customers were happier because we did their repairs faster and we got them right the first time. And the manufacturers were easier to work with because they knew we had trained technicians who could properly diagnose and repair items instead of just removing and replacing them in hit-or-miss style.

I could see how certification affected my own employees – it was obvious that they took pride in their achievement, and rightfully so. I saw that same sense of pride at the Society of Certified RV Professionals’ annual reception during the RVDA convention. Since the society was created two years ago, one of its roles has been to honor dealership employees who have maintained their certification over the years. So far, 10 individuals have been recognized for their long-term commitment to professionalism. They’ve included individuals from all areas of the dealership, not just techs.

In case you didn’t know, all employees who get certified automatically become members of the society. Member benefits include links to training courses, CEU-eligible training, educational webinars, and more. You can find the society’s page on the RV Learning Center website.

During a recent short period of time, we lost five of our six certified technicians to retirement. Some had been with us for 25 years. It’s hard to replace that kind of experience, but training and certification can help. We believe so strongly in that combo that we are once again in the process of getting everyone certified. We know from experience that the cost will be more than recovered.

We’ve found that all of our certified personnel do a more professional job and take more pride in their work. Professional employees elevate not just the dealership, but the industry’s reputation as well. Every time one of our customers tells a friend about how well they were treated by a well-trained, courteous staffer at All Seasons RV Center, the word spreads outward about the RV industry.

We all need to do our part to improve our professionalism and keep pace with today’s higher standard of customer satisfaction. Otherwise, consumers will take their discretionary dollars elsewhere.