Tim Wegge

Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Tim Wegge of Burlington RV Superstore in Sturtevant, Wis., appearing in the March issue of RV Executive Today, calls a concerted industry effort to increase training opportunities for dealer personnel.

Our industry continues to reach new highs in sales, and the number of consumers expressing interest in our products is expanding. This expansion is accompanied by our need to grow our industry wisely and responsibly. Consumers demand and deserve quality products and services to support their high expectations. Are we truly ready as an industry to produce, sell, and service over 500,000 RVs a year?

Last month I wrote about the progress we are making as a unified body working to improve our Repair Event Cycle Times (RECT). This effort continues as a team of dedicated messengers takes a road tour to meet with all manufacturers to share data and methods for improving how long it takes all of us collectively to complete repairs in our shops. Our message as dealers in this process emphasizes the impact that faster, more accurate identification and procurement of parts would have on RECT.

Technician training is a hot topic right now as dealers look to recruit and retain valuable employees. This is clearly the next step we need to take to improve our RECT and this, too, will take an industry-unified effort to provide standardized, centrally managed programs that focus on recruitment and the development of a career path for new and existing RV techs.

RVDA and RVIA are undertaking a complete review of all the options our techs have for training, examining them with an emphasis on certification. Over the past several years, the number of technicians holding some type of industry certification has grown from 2,400 in 2015 to 2,700 at the end of 2017, but these numbers don’t tell us the whole story. Turnover is high, and the tech-per-RV-sold ratio is declining as the industry produces and sells more RVs.

One way we can change this trend is by encouraging professional development, and this is the focus of RV Professional Certification Week, March 11-17. The week is about recognizing your certified professionals by celebrating their achievements and encouraging others to begin the process of certification through the RVDA-RVIA Tech Certification Program or the Mike Molino RV Learning Center’s parts and service management certification programs.

In addition to tech certification, it’s also an opportunity to learn more about certifying your dealership’s other fixed operations professionals. These fixed-ops folks can earn certification as service managers, parts managers, parts specialists, service writers/advisors, and warranty administrators through the RV Learning Center’s testing, certification, and recertification programs.

Now is the time to prepare our dealerships for the continued expansion of our markets. Professional development of our employees will play a critical role in achieving long-lasting satisfaction with our customers, and we must work together as an industry to make the necessary improvements to hiring, training, and certifying our employees.

Find information about the tests, certification requirements, resources and fees – and sign up to start the process – at www.rvtechnician.com. Dealers can also learn more about certification and training opportunities for their fixed operations staff on the RV Learning Center website at www.rvlearningcenter.com.