The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) will launch a new format for its popular week-long Trouble Shooter Clinics on Nov. 7 in South Bend, Ind.
The new format will feature a “Foundation Track” for all technicians, covering basic knowledge of propane, electrical, plumbing, PDI, preventative maintenance, and fire, life and dafety. New tracks will be offered to qualified RV technicians covering chassis, power sources and appliances. The advanced tracks are open to technicians who hold RVDA/RVIA service technician certification or who have previously completed the Foundation Track.
“The new tracks are an exciting new development,” says Bruce Hopkins, RVIA vice president of standards and education. “Not only do they allow advanced technicians more hands-on and diagnostic experience, they can also be taken independently so techs don’t have to be away from the shop for an entire week. The tracks also provide continuing education credits for recertification.”
• Foundation Track – 3 days, 24 hours CE Credit, $360
• Chassis – 2 days, 16 hours CE Credit, $240
• Power Sources – 3 days, 24 hours CE Credit, $360
• Appliances – 4 days, 32 hours CE Credit, $480
“Now experienced technicians have a chance to attend a Trouble Shooter Clinic where they can receive more in-depth training without having to re-take the basic educational classes. It has been difficult to teach brand new technicians alongside of experienced veterans and we think the new track format will go a long way in solving that problem,” continued Hopkins.
More information about schedules, costs and detailed content for each track can be found on the RVIA website, www.rvia.org, or by calling Nancy Jo Bell-London at (703) 620-6003, extension 355.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) are urging to industry members to remember the helpful website www.rvtrainingcalendar.org when it comes to investigating or promoting available training opportunities.
The website centralizes RV industry training, events making it easier for RV manufacturers, suppliers and dealers to research, identify and schedule ongoing training for their employees and customers.
Designed to be user-friendly, www.rvtrainingcalendar.org features:
• Inclusive listings of industry training programs for various positions within the RV industry, including service technicians and service managers as well as customer service, managerial, sales, and finance personnel.
• Detailed entries on educational opportunities offered by national and state associations, manufacturers, suppliers and professional trainers.
• A search engine capable of searching by topic or industry position and quickly providing event specifics including date, cost, location and registration information.
• The ability for organizations to easily enter information about new events to keep the site continually updated.
“Ongoing education and training initiatives are essential to empowering employees to meeting customer expectations,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “This website is a tremendous tool that centralizes the many educational and training initiatives that are offered throughout the industry.”
Editor’s Note: The following profile appeared in RV Executive Today Online.
Mitch Graska, owner/operator of Felton’s RV Service, Houston, is an RV technician pioneer. He was the first technician to become certified – actually, master certified – in the Houston market area after working hard to find the necessary training and education.
Graska got most of his technical training on the job and by using service manuals, which were mainly provided by RV suppliers. “When I first started working on RVs, there were no structured courses to learn the trade,” he says. Rising through the ranks, he found few sources of training, other than on-the-job and supplier manuals.
But help was on the horizon – a test and course were being developed for just such a purpose. “In 1994, the nationwide program asked me and all of the instructors in the country to help write the procedure manuals for the RV training program that they were developing,” Graska says, referring to the RVIA Service Manual Textbook series. He learned a lot in the process and realized the need for even more education and training.
He was also asked to work with the Houston Community College (HCC) on an RV technician training program under development. Because they insisted that all instructors have at least a two-year degree, Graska recalls, he went back to school and finished his associate degree at age 36 in RV technology.
Graska was first certified as a master technician in 1996. Since then, he has re-certified three times, most recently using the RVDA/RVIA Certification Test Preparation Course for his 40 hours of continued education requirement. Though he already had a job teaching RV repair, he got certified because “it puts you in the fast lane, even ahead of those with years of experience.
Certification brings not only personal and professional pride, it also can increase one’s income. “A certified technician can earn more per hour more than a non-certified tech, and a master certified tech can earn even more than that, plus bonuses,” Graska says. He highly recommends the Technician Certification Test Preparation Course to other technicians, both beginners and veterans.
For more information about the RVDA/RVIA Certification Test Preparation Course, visit www.rvlearningcenter.com.
The next RV technician distance learning class at Northampton Community College, in partnership with the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA), is set to start Aug. 22.
According to a press release, the RV ranges and cooktops class will run from Aug. 22 through Sept. 18. Tuition for the class is $125.
The course will provide a thorough understanding of ranges and cooktops for technicians new to the industry as well as experienced technicians. During this course the RV range will be broken down into its two main components, the stove and oven. Thermostat operation as well as flame structure is analyzed and studied. As with all LP appliances, safety precautions will continually be emphasized.
The importance of air to fuel ratios, applicable to all LP appliances, will be identified and exemplified during this course. Students can also earn credit hours toward RVIA/RVDA recertification.
PRVCA is running a special offer for all employees of PRVCA members for the 2011-2012 semesters. Upon successful completion of an NCC distance learning course, students will receive a 50% reimbursement on tuition. For more information on the special offer, call the PRVCA office at 888-303-2887. PRVCA said it’s also a good time for nonmembers to join and take advantage of the savings on technician training.
To learn more about the upcoming courses, visit www.PRVCA.org and click on “Training.” To register for the course, call Northampton Community College at 877-543-0998.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has reorganized the Trouble Shooter Clinics to align the popular training sessions with the new RV Technician Career Ladder adopted this summer. Clinics utilizing the new approach will take place Nov. 7-11, 2011, and March 5-8, 2012, at Ivy Tech Community College in Elkhart, Ind.
The RV Service Technician Career Ladder provides technicians two paths to certification. One path maintains the existing process to become a certified or master certified technician while the new approach allows technicians to become certified in specific RV specialties – including body, chassis, electrical systems, appliances, and plumbing – as they progress along the ladder.
Trouble Shooter Clinics will now also be “track” oriented to follow the specialty areas of the career ladder. This new approach will also give participants more class time, smaller class sizes, and expanded hands-on training.
Trouble Shooter Clinic participants will only be able to attend one track at a time. As a pre-requisite, registrants must take the Foundation track before taking any of the other three tracks, or they must already be certified. The tracks currently being assembled are tentatively set-up as follows (Note: individual classes are subject to change during development):
• Foundation/Plumbing Track (3 days): Propane (4 hrs.); Basic Electricity (4 hrs.); Customer Care (1 hr.); Fire & Life Safety (1 hr.); Pre-Delivery Inspection and Preventive Maintenance (4 hrs.); Water Distribution/Drainage-Waste Water/Monitoring Systems (7 hrs.).
• Appliance Track (4 days): Water Heaters (Suburban/Atwood – 4hrs.); A/C & Heat Pumps (Airxcel – 8 hrs.); A/C (Dometic – 4 hrs.); Furnaces (Atwood – 4 hrs.); Furnaces (Suburban – 4 hrs.); Refrigerators (Dometic/Norcold – 8 hrs.).
• Chassis Track (2 days): Frames (4 hrs.); Hydraulics (4 hrs.); Brake Controllers & Electric Brakes (4 hrs.); Hitches/Weights/Sway Control (4 hrs.).
• Power Sources (3 days): Generators (8 hrs.); Batteries (4 hrs.); Converters (4 hrs.); Transfer Switches (2 hrs.); Shore Power (2 hrs.); Energy Mgt. (2 hrs.); Inverters (2 hrs.).
Brochures with detailed information and pricing for the new Trouble Shooter Clinics will be available in August. If you wish to receive this brochure, please contact Nancy Jo Bell-London at (703) 620-6003 (ext. 355) or firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the mailing list.
Candidates are now being recruited to take part in the piloting of the new tests supporting the newly adopted RV Service Technician Career Ladder (pictured).
In support of the revised career ladder, staff has revised the general certification test, developed a registered technician test, and developed five specialty certification tests in the areas of body, chassis, electrical systems, appliances and plumbing.
A mix of non-certified, certified and master certified candidates is needed to assist in piloting each of the seven tests for the new certification process. Individuals willing to take part in piloting the new tests should contact Nancy Jo Bell-London in the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Education department at (703) 620-6003, ext. 355 or email@example.com.
There are no registration fees associated with taking the pilot tests. After the tests have been piloted, NOCTI (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute), industry experts and staff will gather for a cut-score meeting to review the tests and determine passing scores. Candidates who pass the tests will be awarded their certifications. There are no penalties for not passing a pilot test; and already-certified candidates will maintain their current certifications.
The new RV Service Technician Career Ladder provides technicians two paths to certification; the certification that exists today (left path) and new specialty certifications (right path). The specialty path provides a way to recognize and reward those individuals who may only work on segments of the RV and not the whole RV.
In addition, a level of “registered” technician is provided at the beginning of either path to give recognition and reward to those entry-level technicians.
Master certification will be achieved by either the proper score on the general certification path (left path) or maintaining a current certification in all the specialty areas.
Pricing, test availability and re-certification requirements will be determined once the tests have been developed, piloted and approved. The target date for the launch of tests and training materials to support the career ladder is October 2011.
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.
The new industry research examining the RV service technician position has completed the field portion of the project with data from survey respondents now being tabulated and compiled, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has reported.
RVIA’s RV Service Training Council (RVST) is conducting the study to determine the current need for RV service technicians; identify how to best communicate with future RV service technicians; and evaluate the impact of the RV industry’s training and certification programs on service delivery and customer satisfaction. Final results are expected the end of the year.
In conducting the research, the Boone Group, a full-service market research and competitive intelligence firm serving associations, businesses and publications, sent print and electronic questionnaires to three different groups: RV dealer principals, RV service technicians, and RV owners. To encourage completion of the questionnaires, research participants for each survey group were entered in a raffle for a 46-inch flat screen TV.
Those winning the TVs in the raffle drawings held on Nov. 8 were Dave Mestek, master certified technician at Blaine Jensen RV Centers of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the technician category; Joey Shields, Pan Pacific RV Centers of French Camp, Calif., in the dealer category; and Rolfe Mullins of Loudon, Tenn., in the RV owner category.
“We’re looking forward to receiving the final report on this research,” said Bruce Hopkins, RVIA’s vice president of standards and education. “It will provide a benchmark for the industry and be a vital resource in better understanding the service area workplace and the expectations of technicians.”