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RV Employee Certification: Time to Step on the Gas?

As the RV industry eyes annual shipments in excess of 300,000 units for the first time since 2007, it’s evident that much has changed over the past six years. As we look around, the number of RV dealers, manufacturers, and suppliers has declined by roughly a third in each category.

Fewer players in the industry means that those who survived the economic downturn should reap the benefits of more business. However, the overall decline in the number of RV companies also has meant a decline in the number of technicians, service writers, and other fixed operations professionals who support our customers.

According to the most recent job estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of RV service technicians has declined by nearly 40 percent since 2007. The number of industry certified RV technicians has dropped by about 34 percent since the high water mark reached in 2009.

Some of the decline in human service capacity will certainly be made up in efficiency. Everyone is doing more with less. However, as RV sales ramp up, there are more than a few industry folks who are concerned that service will suffer due to shortages of trained and certified people.

With scarcity comes opportunity. A number of successful dealers I’ve talked to recently are enhancing their service operations. These dealerships have “stepped on the gas” and enrolled their techs in training in an effort to get their techs certified. Why? It boils down to that “efficiency” word. A recent survey of more than 600 dealers showed 75 percent believe certified technicians perform better quality work than their non-certified counterparts…and 72 percent believe certified technicians create more satisfied customers.

The industry is fortunate that there are incredible resources available for dealers looking to take advantage of the opportunities that are ahead. The RV Learning Center has teamed with RVIA to provide the RV Technician Certification Preparation Course. The Florida RV Trade Association continues to make its Distance Learning Network available on a national basis through the Learning Center. RVIA Trouble Shooter clinics provide regional technician training. Finally, the RV Learning Center has excellent resources available for service managers, service writers, parts people, and warranty professionals.

Those who employ certified people – or are certified themselves — know you don’t have to get certified to work in this business. There’s no law saying you have to be tested to industry standards. But if we are going to be doing more with less, then getting people trained and certified makes good business sense. Higher efficiency and happier customers – those are pretty good arguments to invest in training and education.