Editor’s Note: The following column was written and provided by Mike Molino, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and appears in the December issue of RV Executive Today under the headline, “Why Aren’t There More Certified RV Technicians?”
The past chairmen of RVDA are helping the staff and boards solve some big industry problems. Many of the past chairmen met by conference call to tackle a big question: Why aren’t there more certified RV technicians?
All agreed that dealers want qualified employees. No one disagreed when one of the past chairmen made a definitive statement about certified RV technicians. He said, given a choice between hiring a certified technician or one not certified, he believed that every dealer would choose the certified technician. If that’s the case, why isn’t there at least one certified technician in every RV dealership?
It is difficult for the group of past RVDA chairmen to answer those questions. It’s like asking the choir of a church why so many parishioners don’t come to church every week. The choir comes to church. RVDA leaders employ certified technicians. Both groups can only speculate about why the others don’t participate.
Where have we been? Let’s review some background. About 22 years ago, dealers, manufacturers, and suppliers under RVIA and RVDA met with a goal of improving the competence of RV technicians. Trying to solve the technician competence gap was a logical first step in improving industry professionalism. RVDA and RVIA invested the time, energy, and money necessary to develop technician testing and certification.
RVDA and RVIA staffs adapted RV employee testing and certification from programs in other industries, e.g., the automotive industry which has the “ASE Certified” program. RV industry experts (dealership technicians, service managers, dealer owners, and technicians in the service departments of RV manufacturers and suppliers) developed a curriculum (DACUM) with standards and tests.
By passing the test the job holder/candidate demonstrates that he/she has the knowledge required to do the job. How the person got the knowledge is not very important. There is no requirement to attend any specific training course.
The RVDA-RVIA RV Service Technician Certification Governing Board administers the program. RVDA and RVIA name six members each to the board. The Chairman is always an RVDA dealer. The vice chairman is always an RVIA member. Find more on technician certification at www.rvtechnican.com.
Many dealers have taken advantage of this program to improve the knowledge of their technicians and the efficiency of their service department. Most will tell you, it more than pays for itself in the first year or two. Improving knowledge improves efficiency. Faster diagnosis and fewer come-backs improve the bottom line. One dealer told us, there is at least a 30% difference between certified technicians and those who are not certified.
There are not enough certified technicians to meet the needs of the industry. Chart #1 (at left, top) shows the growth of certified technicians from 2005 to August 2010. Don’t get lulled by the growth, however. Chart #2 (at left, middle) shows the total number of RV technicians employed in 2008 and 2009. The 2010 number won’t be available until May 2011. The chart also shows the number of those technicians who held certification through August 2010. Roughly 1/4 to 1/3 are certified.
How many should be certified? Many dealers find so much benefit in having their technicians certified that they mandate 100 percent participation. To stay employed, a technician has to be certified or working toward certification.
Chart #3 (bottom) shows where the currently certified technicians work. It also gives an indication that non-dealers value certification more than many dealers. Does that mean they are taking work from dealers? We report; you decide.
The past chairmen will send some recommendations to the RVDA chairman soon. Other industry leaders, such as Richard Coon of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), are also working on recommendations. We expect the industry to soon have requirements for technician certification. Dealers who get their people trained and certified now will be way ahead of the “power curve.” They will also see improvement in the bottom line of the service department and in the true bottom lines of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Thanks for your support and may God bless you all.