Wegge Reflects on RVDA Progress For 2018

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December 6, 2018 by   1 Comment

Tim Wegge

Editor’s Note: The following column by outgoing Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Tim Wegge, appearing in the November issue of RV Executive Today, tracks the organization’s accomplishments during the past year.

A year in the life of the RVDA chairman goes by in a flash. This has been one of the highlights of my 54-year career in this industry and, with my tenure coming to an end, it’s time to reflect on what we’ve achieved and look ahead at what still needs to be done.

Before I discuss our accomplishments, I want to recognize RVDA’s staff members and the incredible work they do. Under the direction and leadership of RVDA President Phil Ingrassia, we could not have better people looking out for us than the team of professional staff members of your RVDA.

2018 provided another strong business climate and continued strength in RV retailing. This is the ninth consecutive year of growth, with 2017 and 2018 producing record numbers of RV sales. Young and old alike have a wanderlust for the RV lifestyle, which continues to gain momentum and draw more and more curious outdoor enthusiasts to dealers’ lots. We have Millennials’ attention, and if we provide them the ownership experience they expect, we should have their business for many years to come.

This is a good segue into a review of an industry benchmark you’ve been reading about from RVDA and RVIA alike. Repair Event Cycle Time (RECT) has been a prime focus throughout 2018. A task force of RVDA and RVIA members completed a six-month study that detailed the issues dealers have identifying and obtaining parts needed to complete repair orders. Progress has been made, and task force chairman Garry Enyart of Cummins International has taken the study’s results to all RV manufacturers.

One important finding – when dealers have parts in stock, the average RECT is four days, but when they have to order them, the average jumps to 21 days. All manufacturers are working to improve their systems to help identify parts and get them to us faster. In conjunction with these efforts, Sean Raynor and his team at IDS are developing a new RECT dashboard that will be introduced at our convention. This will be part of our DMS reporting that will provide your store’s RECT data and allow you to see what other unnamed dealers are achieving. This will help you identify areas where your service team can make improvements.

Another significant RECT initiative is the new RV Technical Institute, a joint effort between RVIA and RVDA that will begin construction soon. This training facility will recruit and train technicians and fixed-ops dealership personnel and help place its graduates where needed around the country. RVIA is also developing a new technician training curriculum that will soon be available.

With all the progress, there’s still work to be done. Our industry partners must be held accountable for improving their parts identification and ordering processes. Most of us haven’t yet seen the fruits of their efforts, and we need to let manufacturers know we’re still having huge parts issues. Quality, too, is an issue. As manufacturers increase production, we must hold their feet to the fire to produce quality RVs.

Another issue was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s potential impact on dealer-assisted financing. This has been a top priority for RVDA’s board and staff, and our efforts have paid off. Though the threat has abated for now, keep close watch on your state legislatures, where lawmakers may attempt to reopen the issue and halt reserve income earned through our F&I departments.

The RV and outdoor recreation industries received much attention this year. Collectively, outdoor recreation is a $734 billion industry that contributes more than 2.2 percent of the U.S. GDP. The RV industry alone is more than $50 billion. With an impact like that, we now have the attention of Washington and the media. There’s a tremendous focus on outdoor rec, and RVDA and others are working together to educate lawmakers and the administration on the importance of camping and RV travel.

It’s essential that lawmakers act for the long-term health of our industry and rebuild the country’s “green” infrastructure by modernizing federal and state campgrounds. You now have persuasive statistics that state lawmakers can’t ignore. It’s up to us, working state by state, to ensure our customers have both private and public campgrounds modernized with the infrastructure needed to accommodate them.

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One Response to “Wegge Reflects on RVDA Progress For 2018”

  1. Mark J. Sheffield on December 6th, 2018 1:05 pm

    After a year of sitting in the big chair, I thought Tim would come out with some gray hair. Not only did he accomplish a lot in the last year, but he also managed to retain his youthful appearance.

    From the folks over here at Spader, thanks for your commitment to the industry.

    Mark J. Sheffield

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