Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Mike Regan examines the Repair Event Cycle Time (RECT), a key step toward improving the customer experience. The article appears in the latest issue of RV Executive Today.

It’s been three and a half years since the leadership of RVIA and RVDA met in Louisville to discuss how to improve the retail customer experience. A lot has happened since that first meeting, but we still have a long way to go. We all have a vested interest in our customer’s ownership experience.

Data is Key

Three of the leading dealer management software (DMS) vendors are working to develop a program to track the time from when the customer drops off his RV at the dealership for repairs to when the repairs are complete, and the customer is ready to take his RV on the next camping experience. This is called a Repair Event Cycle Time (RECT) report. Some dealers already have access to these reports and are using them to track performance right now.

This first step is taking some time to launch industrywide, but having real data is imperative for tracking and identifying where the bottlenecks are in the repair process.

Everyone involved in the repair process has some culpability, including dealers. The RECT report helps identify the time it takes for a dealer to inspect the RV, the time it takes to order the parts, the time it takes to fulfill those parts orders, and the time it takes to complete the repair. Once the repair is complete, there’s also a lag between when the consumer can pick up his RV.

I have said many times that we need to look in the mirror before we look out the window. Dealers need better trained techs, parts people, and service advisors.

The new RV Technical Institute in Elkhart should help upgrade technician training and recruitment. Service advisors, parts specialists, and warranty administrators need training, too, and the Mike Molino RV Learning Center is working to update those programs. But having updated training available does no good if the dealer doesn’t make use of it.

Manufacturers, Aftermarket Parts Distributors

One major manufacturer has announced a distribution deal with a national parts supplier. This partnership is allowing the overnight delivery to dealerships of more than 2,000 different part SKUs.

Another manufacturer has published a list of the 300 most-ordered part SKUs. I suggest you compare them with part numbers you’ve sold and stock those parts.

There are multiple ways to improve RECT, but identifying the needed part and receiving the correct part in a timely basis is key. If your manufacturer hasn’t given you a list of the most commonly needed warranty parts, I suggest you ask for that list.

The parts issue is a key component of RECT. Dealers have some culpability here — we need to shorten the time it takes to inspect the unit, for instance. Another bottleneck is the warranty authorization process. In many cases, parts can’t be ordered until you have a warranty approval. Different time zones and manufacturers’ hours create delays, especially for West Coast dealers. I know that one manufacturer has extended its hours to help with this issue.

We all play a part in the customer experience. We must work together to solve these issues to help our customers and improve the ownership experience.