The Untold Story
The RV Industry faces some difficult problems. At the top of the list of challenges is a lack of service and support. With the rise in the popularity of the Internet, a new RV sales model has developed focused on sales to customers primarily far away from the seller’s location. These sellers are different. They are counting on never seeing the buyer again. They do not invest in service facilities, tools and training for those buyers. But the problem is not limited to Internet sellers alone. There are plenty of traditional dealers that fail to provide proper service and support. For some, service is a losing proposition due to the poor reimbursement programs and policies of the manufacturers they represent or there own poor performance in doing the work or claiming the reimbursement. Many of these RV dealers have chosen to focus primarily on RV sales and view service as a necessary evil (at best).
The result is more and more “orphan” RV owner’s with no service relationship. This often leads to a shortage of capacity in a given geographic area – too few trained RV technicians to do the RV repairs and too few RV service bays in which to do the work. Those with facilities and trained technicians are often overwhelmed with requests for service. These RV dealers are forced to implement a triage system to ensure their capacity is allocated fairly. Typically the priority goes as follows:
1. Emergency Service for someone in transit or on vacation. These folks are away from home and need help immediately. Most quality dealers will drop everything to help. An emergency is defined as a repair that must be made to make the RV safe and usable as an RV. That means essentials only. If you don’t absolutely need it, that repair can wait until you get to your home dealer.
2. Current Customers with RVs purchased from the dealership. Priority is based on type of repair needed and time since purchase. Non-essential service is often scheduled for low-demand times of year.
3. Current Service Customers with RVs purchased elsewhere. These appointments are subject to scheduling adjustments if a higher priority customer requires service.
4. Warranty Service Customers who purchased elsewhere. These folks are subject to scheduling adjustments if a higher priority customer requires service.
5. New Service customers with RVs purchased elsewhere. These folks are also subject to scheduling adjustments if a higher priority customer requires service.
Obviously this can lead to some very unhappy situations. Too often the blame is put on the dealer trying to help. What causes the problem of overwhelmed service centers? Why are people who purchased elsewhere in need of service in the first place? Usually it’s because they bought from a source unable or unwilling to provide service. Perhaps the buyer’s disappointment should be with the folks who failed to honor the obligation to service what they sell.
You can avoid this situation and help solve the problem for the future by choosing to do business only where there is ample service capabilities and investment in your support. If all RV buyers demand service support as a requisite part of their purchase decision, only quality servicing RV dealers and RV manufacturers with fair and reasonable warranty reimbursement policies will survive. It’s up to you to make these issues part of your RV decision-making process. Vote with your dollars. Understand the consequences if you don’t.
“Choose to do business only where there is ample service capabilities and investment in your support.”