With the goal of increasing professionalism in RV dealerships and service centers in the Sunshine State, the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) has inaugurated the nation’s first certification program for independently owned RV dealerships and service centers.

“It is the next step,” said FRVTA President Lance Wilson.

The new program will require RV dealerships and service centers to meet various staffing and facilities requirements in order to receive the FRVTA certification.

Wilson said the association expects to certify between 35 and 50 service locations within the first year, and that the first – TriAm RV Center, Ocala – was certified in early November.

“We didn’t really set a goal,” Wilson said. “There’s no downside to this for our members. We think that the program is going to motivate service technician training and vice versa.”

Wilson estimated that as many as 130 dealerships, in addition to 20 to 30 service centers that are FRVTA members, will be eligible for certification.

Given the transient nature of the service technician population, Wilson said, the most difficult aspect of the program may be a requirement that 80% of a service center’s technicians be certified by the RVDA/RVIA Certification Testing Governing Board or enrolled in classes to be certified.

“That is something that we will be looking at,” Wilson said. “That may be a stumbling block.”

Other requirements include the following:
• Being an FRVTA member
• Having a permanent service facility
• Employing at least one RVIA/RVDA master certified technicians
• Maintaining a current Florida Propane Repair license
• Providing outside service to drive-in public and non-warranty customers
• Maintaining a parts inventory to support warranty and non-warranty service
• Having a Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) process in place.

Inspections will be conducted by FRVTA Education Director Jim Carr, director of the RV Institute at Lake City (Fla.) Community College, and Joe Kolisky, director of FRVTA’s distance learning network.

Certification – for a fee of $250 – is valid for one year, except for those who apply by Dec. 15. Their certification will be extended for 18 months, Wilson said.

FRVTA has arranged with roadside assistance provider Coach.net to give priority listing to certified service centers.