RV Industry Association announces RV technician training program

Editor’s note: This is good news. It’s about time. We’ll comment more next week.

On Thursday, June 7, the RV Industry Association (RVIA) Board of Directors approved a comprehensive strategic plan and multi-million-dollar investment to address RV owner satisfaction by creating a supporting foundation, the RV Technical Institute (RVTI), to solve the RV industry’s shortage of trained RV technicians and to implement metrics to track the RV customer experience.

In making this announcement, RVIA is taking a leadership role in closely monitoring RV owner satisfaction, driving members and partners to focus on reducing repair event cycle times (RECT), and aggressively working to improve the industry’s shortage of trained RV technicians.

Many industries monitor customer service experiences through the RECT metric.  RECT is impacted by various factors including but not limited to causes such as lack of parts information, inconsistent part stocking programs, delivery options and technician training. The goal of this project is to position RECT as a key performance indicator for customer service to every segment of the RV industry.

The newly formed RVTI will establish a headquarters and training facility in the Elkhart, Indiana area, where it will implement a comprehensive RECT reduction initiative as well as launch an aggressive recruitment campaign to attract new technicians into the RV industry.

Critical to this plan is the immediate creation of world-class RV technician training curriculum. Curriculum is at the heart of training, credentialing, and providing proficient RV technicians to the RV industry. The RVTI plan calls for taking the best of the current industry training curriculum and making significant investment in improving these training offers by utilizing industry subject matter experts in conjunction with professional curriculum developers and technical writers. The new program will feature digital textbooks, PowerPoint decks, video and other modern teaching tools.  The curriculum will serve as the framework for instructing new and existing RV technicians. The process of building this new curriculum has already begun.

“In building the plan, we were determined to end nearly three decades of partially-funded half measures to solve one of the industry’s biggest service challenges,” said RV Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer.  “We worked closely with representatives from all key industry stakeholder groups and conducted over six months of thorough data-driven planning to arrive at this point. The strategy calls for an unprecedented investment not just in tech recruitment and training, but in repair event cycle time reduction initiatives beyond technicians. I want to commend the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) for their guidance and involvement in the process, and for their support of this ambitious plan.”

“With the industry now selling more than half a million RVs annually, increasing service efficiency across the supply chain is critical,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia.  “This is an ambitious plan that will help provide the support that dealers and RV technicians require to service today’s RV products.”

“By implementing a robust recruiting, marketing, and placement plan, the Elkhart area RV technician recruitment and training facility will successfully compete with other technical industry training centers for attracting new talent by using state of the art technology to deliver world class educational material in a hands-on training environment,” said RV industry Association Chairman Bob Parish. “We are heavily investing in technician development and benchmarking our effort against customer satisfaction, the ultimate indicator of success.” 

By establishing its headquarters in the Elkhart, Indiana area – the heart of the RV industry – subject matter experts and trainers from RV component suppliers and OEMs will be able to easily provide practical hands-on training to technicians. These newly recruited technicians will attend a tech ‘boot camp’ at RVTI then be placed at partnering RV dealerships and service facilities all over the country. The facility will also provide training and accreditation for existing RV service technicians.

IN ADDITION TO ITS HEADQUARTERS in Indiana, RVTI will also establish a network of regional training partners that will be accredited to deliver training to existing technicians on a local or regional basis.  Current and existing training venues, as well as new training providers, will be asked to partner with RVTI to provide standardized, centrally managed training.  Several of the industry’s leading providers of current service training have already agreed to join this new standardized training initiative.

By accrediting regional partners to deliver curriculum, RVTI will deliver standardized training to technicians as close to their service center as possible. Following the proof of concept established by the Florida RV Trade Association, the RV Industry Association’s TnT Registered Training class, Camping World and other industry leaders, regional partners will conduct hands-on training and assessments that rely on practical assessments of skill and proficiency rather than written tests.

The initial $10 million-dollar seed fund will set up the RVTI training center and kick-off an aggressive three-year implementation of technician training accreditation, curriculum and credentialing, delivery, marketing and tech recruiting/placement as well as repair event cycle time reduction. The RV Industry Association will provide the initial $5 million-dollar investment to establish RVTI.  In concert with this investment, Go RVing, the RV industry’s national consumer outreach campaign managed by the RV Industry Association and the RV Dealers Association, will provide an investment match. As part of this initiative, the Go RVing investment match was approved by both the RV Industry Association and RV Dealers Association Boards of Directors.   

The leadership of the RV Industry Association will immediately form a task force to help its efforts to secure the proper location for RVTI, as well as forming a search committee to assist in recruiting an executive director to lead the RVTI enterprise.

##RVT850

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15 Thoughts to “RV Industry Association announces RV technician training program”

  1. Warrick Lockyer

    As a Canadian RV tech trained in Florida, I would advise that this RVTI training facility set up an accreditation program with all States and Provinces in order to eliminate delays acquiring a propane license. I speak from personal experience, when the Nova Scotia Dept of Labour would not provide me a propane license because they did not recognize the training facility I attended. I had to wait 2 years in order to attend another RV propane course through a virtual classroom provided by Okanagan College in British Columbia. The second course was the same duration and the curriculum the same as studied in Florida, This lack of recognition by my Provincial Government restricted my ability to work and cost me thousands for the second course.

  2. Brenda

    What would be most beneficial to the consumer and to job seekers is for the curriculum to be offered through local technical or community colleges. Most of these local state-supported colleges already have classes in most or all of the subjects needed: electrical/mechanical/plumbing/automotive. The foundation is already there! Pulling that knowledge together through the use of existing classes, coupled with apprenticeships, would be a perfect combination.

    What I hope we do not see is private training centers cropping up, charging tuition that is far above what the local educational institutions can provide while offering loans that are far more expensive than student loans available through public colleges.

  3. Troy

    I would love to get certified as an RV tech, and be able to work nation wide from my own RV. This would be a great way to supplement my Marine Corps retirement and allow me to stay on the road. Plus I could probably charge half the going rate and still do very well.

    1. Warrick Lockyer

      That’s what I did after 36 years in the Royal Canadian Navy. My rates are 1/3 – 1/2 local shop prices. Personally I have recouped the cost of my course by the maintenance I have done on my own rig

  4. Mike Sokol

    Solid training is the key to troubleshooting problems in a timely manner. I’ve had hundreds of emails from readers bemoaning how many hours/days/weeks/months (and dollars) it took a dealership to do what should have been an hour or two repair of an RV’s electrical system. Plus I’ve had dozens of emails from RV technicians asking ME to help them figure out how to troubleshoot an electrical problem. While I am indeed a technical instructor who teaches electrical troubleshooting, nobody is paying me a dime to teach these technicians how RV electrical systems work. So I really hope this works since RVs are getting more and more complicated, and there’s just not enough trained technicians available to repair them.

  5. Roy

    Amazing … a few million $$$ spread across the country … how about spending this money educating the MANUFACTURERS and getting them to produce better units …. ?? Sounds like a ‘feel good’ program so RVIA can tout their ‘field efforts’. Get it right RVIA, start at home with manufacturers !! You could cut the need for trained techs significantly. Why train techs to fix things that never should have left the factory ???

  6. JomO

    Sounds like a great program. I hope it flies.I would love to take courses in maintenance and learn the skills needed.

  7. Phil Atterbery

    Great idea that’s sorely needed. One term was not mentioned, apprenticeships with shops that have consistently good ratings of service. The program should include the mobile technician service folks that, in some markets, are the only service option for folks.
    Lastly, the addage “the quality goes in before the name goes on” needs to become the montra of the RV world. Mr Lemious doesn’t embody that idea.

  8. John Tully

    Chuck. This not the way that you usually write. Ok, so, from what I can gather from the article, there is a need for more trained RV techs. The industry is now getting set to offer training to make this happen. Specifics to come later.
    My wife and I are retired social workers, and now we are truck campers. The article reminded me of many staff meetings we attended in which there was an over abundance of administrators present, holding forth with much gobblety-gook!

    Otherwise, issue #850 was the usual high quality journalism that we have come to expect.

    John and Terri Tully

  9. Mike & Louise

    This an acknowledgement of what Chuck has been professing for many years and likely only happening because of is persistence. Congrats Chuck!

  10. Buzzelectric

    This sounds like a great program. However, I worry that it will be regional and will take many years to trickle out to the west. I don’t think it will be beneficial to me in my Rving lifetime. My area is severely deficient in trained technitions. We are at the mercy of high priced a..holes.

    1. Roy

      Once a service center HAS ‘certified, trained’ techs … do you think the price will DROP? … or even stay near the same ??

      1. Jim

        If the price goes up 5% and repair time goes down 50% are you better off?

        1. Mike Sokol

          It’s not just the repair time. In many cases when technicians don’t understand the inner workings of RV electrical system they simply become parts swappers. And that’s bad for the consumer since you not only get to pay for the time it took to swap in a part, you’re also paying for the replacement part that wasn’t bad in the first place since most vehicle electronics are not returnable once installed. Ouch!

        2. Roy

          I’d bet the price will go up double digit and the time will go down the 10%. There just are not enough ‘honest’ dealers in the RV network.

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