Tim Wegge

The following column by new Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Tim Wegge of Burlington RV Superstore in Sturtevant, Wis., appears in the February issue of RV Executive Today and addresses growing industry concern over repair event cycle time.

RV industry leaders across the supply and repair chain are focusing their attention on a chronic issue – repair event cycle time (RECT). RVDA and RVIA leaders are part of an industry group that’s working on a joint project, with Garry Enyart of Cummins/Onan and Bill Rogers of NTP-STAG as team leaders. The group is measuring key steps in the repair process — such as vehicle in, repair start, repair complete, and vehicle out — with the goal of shaving wasted time off the RECT and streamlining communications between all parties. In other words, to find ways to shorten the amount of time it takes to make repairs and get those RVs back to our customers.

We know that customer expectations are getting higher all the time, so the industry must find solutions to the problems that afflict dealers, manufacturers, vendors and suppliers and that result in long repair lead times.

The group has already gathered and analyzed repair-order information through dealers’ DMS software programs. The preliminary results reveal — to no one’s great surprise — that one of the biggest impacts on RECT is parts availability and the long waits dealers experience to receive parts.

When items are available and in stock, the average repair time is about four days. When parts are not available, the average repair time jumps to 21 days. That’s an eye opener. I think we all know that 21 days is not what our customers expect when they drop their RVs off for servicing, especially during peak camping seasons when most people plan their vacations. What’s more, that 21-day average is concerning because it’s just seven days short of triggering lemon laws in many states.

Enyart has taken the data gathered by this group on an industry road show to share the findings with manufacturers. By publicizing the data, we can make sure all industry leaders are aware of the problems and provide a platform for developing industry-wide solutions to long lead times in acquiring parts.

Research indicates that another key area dealers need to focus on is managing customers’ expectations by keeping them informed throughout the repair process. Consumers expect and deserve updates, especially on repairs that are experiencing a long RECT. The Mike Molino RV Learning Center has resources available for service managers, service advisors, parts managers, and warranty administrators that can guide them on keeping customers updated on the repair status of their RV. Please take advantage of these RVDA resources.

DMS providers have also provided tools to help with this, but it’s up to us to make sure our employees are trained to use these systems to their fullest potential.

A Go RVing study several years ago found that the service advisor’s performance had the single biggest effect on a customer’s satisfaction with the dealership. If we give all our fixed-operations employees the support they need, maybe we can keep more of our customers RVing, increase positive word-of-mouth referral business, and take the industry to sales levels that seemed unimaginable a few short years ago.

2018 is shaping up to be another great year for RV dealers. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry, and I want to encourage all of you to consider sharing your time and talent by supporting this great organization and volunteering to serve as a member of the board of delegates.