Tue Jun 12, 2018
Author: Dana Nelsen
Remember the Committee on Excellence (CoE)? This is the project RVIA and RVDA undertook before the Great Recession to address the fact that one in four RV consumers regretted ever making their RV purchase.
The committee’s conclusions about what needed fixing in the industry fell to the wayside thanks to the economic downturn. Little to nothing was done. If I were to over-simplify the summery of what the CoE determined in a single statement, it would read something like this: The quality of most RVs being built is extremely poor, which causes RVs to break at an unacceptable rate, and when they break, the process of getting them fixed is a trail of sorrow.
Now that the industry is booming again, the work of the CoE has been revisited by a new industry taskforce. This taskforce has been working for more than a year to determine why RVs take so long to be repaired—and what should be done to fix it. Their work is arguably the most important advancement in the industry in 10 years.
We have a big story on the taskforce on page 30 in our June issue.
Now that the taskforce has finished it work, what comes next? Well, the dealer management software companies need to change their software to better track repairs in the U.S. and Canada. This alone could take a year or two.
If dealerships/repair facilities then make it a priority to put the correct info into the software as work orders are created and completed, these businesses will generate valuable data on what causes them to lose 25 percent of repeat business. It will solidly identify and quantify the causes of delays.
This new software will also provide national statistics to RVDA/RVIA to address what is arguably our industry’s biggest problem—repairs. It’s “the fix,” dummy. Anyone looking at financing, tariffs, gas prices, government regulations etc. has their head in the sand. As my Canadian friends often say, “Give your head a shake.”
If this software is created and dealerships use it, what happens next? A lot of things, actually.
Step 1: RV manufacturers and OE suppliers will have to get really good at having every part and piece used to make an RV easily identifiable with parts numbers and barcoding. They will also need to have replacement parts available and ready to ship quickly. This could take manufacturers a couple of years.
Step 2: Dealers/repair facilities will have to manage their repair operations better to stay competitive. They will also have to make sure technicians are extremely well trained and know what they are doing. Again...years.
The result will be happy RV consumers and increased sales for the entire industry.
Meanwhile, suppliers who don’t have part numbers for each SKU or don’t keep sufficient inventory will be replaced by suppliers who do. RV manufacturers will demand it. The industry’s expectations will change to align with the end-consumer’s expectations. Suppliers will tout their competitive advantage to RV manufacturers and will ultimate win all the business. Companies on the front edge of this will have a massive advantage over competitors. Suppliers who don’t have part numbers or barcoding? “Well, it was nice knowing ya.”
The same is true for the RV manufacturers. Manufacturers that use low-quality parts, build poor products or don’t have their act together on the repair side will be identified. Dealers won’t buy their product, and consumers will be well informed on the brands and models that are still in the Dark Ages on service.
Dealers/repair facilities will also have to step up their game. RV manufacturers won’t sell to dealers who can’t “service” their customers. Consumers will know which dealerships muck things up on service. Why? Because dealerships will advertise their competitive service advantage. Imagine this: “Buy at ABC RV, because we fix RVs in under 3 days! We won’t let a technician touch your RV, unless they have been certified as an expert by both the national dealer’s association and the RV industry association.”
If we have the will to build the taskforce blueprint, happy RV customers and increased sales are on the horizon.