RV Service Tracking App and a Warranty Rating System Will Reshape the Industry
RVers that have been around awhile know the ropes when it comes to RV service. They’ve learned that you try to delay service, particularly in-warranty service, at all costs during the camping season because it might be weeks or months before you get your RV back. These RVers become handy at fixing things themselves, or simply getting by without a particular feature of their RV until they have time to get it serviced. Sure, that awning or outdoor TV might not work, but it’s better than not having the RV available at all.
The RV Service Model – A Shock to New RVers
For the millions of new RVers entering the market however, this is both shocking and unacceptable. These new road warriors have grown up in an always on, always accessible, 24-hour instant gratification era. They have been getting automobiles serviced for years, and any delay longer than a day or two is rare. To think that their RV, their brand-new RV, should have to sit for weeks, even months for a warranty repair is ludicrous. Yet, it happens. Every. Single. Day. Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon.
These tech savvy new RVers are also quick to head to Social Media and take on “Big RV” and their local RV dealer, a tactic that works when you get a bad burger or surly service from your barista, but has little effect in getting your RV back any sooner. Many of these dealers are too busy, too detached from their customer base, or too overwhelmed to do anything about it.
The RV Service Problem
The problem starts with an insatiable demand for RVs. RV manufacturers are churning out RVs as fast as they can make them and we all know what that means…quality control issues. Most RV dealers have discovered they are the quality control for your new RV. Hopefully they discover any issues before that RV is sold and hits the road. Much of the time they do not.
After that shiny new RV gets its first shakedown trip, the new owner generally has a punch list of items that need to be tweaked, fixed, or replaced. The cheerful and understanding new RVer contacts their dealer to schedule those repairs and finds to their dismay that it may be several weeks before they can get it seen, and the repairs will take several weeks afterward to complete…on the new RV they just bought. What? How is this possible? Why does it take so long, where is the bottleneck?
Where Is the RV Service Bottleneck?
Although in the current climate, parts availability is scarcer than in times past, this isn’t where the problem lies. For some dealers, sufficient technical RV staff is a concern as well. Still, this isn’t the primary issue. The real RV service bottleneck, at least with regard to new in-warranty service, is the warranty repair approval process.
The Typical In-Warranty RV Service Procedure
So you, the RVer, have dropped your in-warranty RV off at the dealership or repair facility. Here is a breakdown of what you can probably expect.
First, your RV technician grabs the service invoice and heads out to your RV to perform a quick visual inspection to ensure he can safely bring it into the shop. Now remember, this isn’t like the mechanic at the Toyota dealership hopping in your Camry, trying to avoid sleepy customers looking for the shuttle to work. The RV technician has to manipulate your 30 to 45 foot RV in the same slow, careful way you do when navigating that campground or Walmart parking lot. It might be 15 minutes before the RV is finally snuggled into the shop bay for actual work to be performed.
Approval Just To Diagnose
With the rig finally in the shop, the RV professional inspects and tests the problem area. For example, if the complaint is no heat from the furnace or on-demand heating system, the technician tests to see if this is indeed the case. If the complaint proves to be accurate, the next step is to diagnose the problem. However, before diagnoses can occur, approval to proceed must be granted by the manufacturer of the RV, the part in question, or a 3rd-party warranty provider.
Bear in mind that this is just to be allowed to diagnose the issue, for an in-warranty repair. If you are lucky, the repair facility can submit several of your issues at once. While waiting for those approvals, your RV sits…either in the repair stall or more likely, back out on the lot, while the technician moves on to the next RV.
If it is a major repair, or any other criteria that suits the manufacturer or warranty provider, they may choose to send someone out to inspect the RV to approve the repair in person. Here’s a tip…those folks aren’t sitting in the office next door. They are also busy, and might not reach the dealership for several days.
Approval To Repair
Once approval is received to proceed with the diagnosis, the technician again retrieves your RV, and begins the diagnosis process. Once a complete diagnosis and estimate of parts and labor are determined, this estimate is now again submitted to the manufacturer or warranty provider. Meanwhile, knowing the above process could take several days or even weeks to get approval, your RV technician is once again schlepping your RV back out to the lot to await its fate while he brings in another RV for the same process.
If approval to perform the in-warranty repair is given, repairs can begin. If any parts are needed that are not stocked by the dealership or repair facility, then parts must be ordered from the manufacturer. These parts will typically be shipped via ground transportation to the manufacturer, who then forwards in the same way to your RV technician. The result is several days or weeks before your parts arrive.
When that part finally arrives, the technician will go through the whole process of retrieving the RV again, making the repair, and finally testing and approving the work. Here’s a little-known fact…if the entire process takes more than 30-days from the day the warranty work was approved by the manufacturer or warranty company, they can often deny your claim, leaving the big repair bill for you and the repair facility to fight over.
If you have multiple items that need attention, hopefully you’ll get a multi-threaded approach and the delay won’t be exacerbated. However, if multiple part manufacturers are involved, you may end up with one completed or nearly completed RV repair, while still waiting on another part, or warranty approval. Of course, if the in-warranty repair is NOT approved for some reason, the RV owner is left to foot the entire bill on their own.
Brett Davis of National Indoor RV Centers Has Had Enough
We said earlier that, “Many of these dealers are too busy, too detached from their customer base, or too overwhelmed to do anything about it.” Brett Davis, the President and CEO of National Indoor RV Centers is none of those things. National Indoor RV Center is a unique group of indoor RV centers that offer top notch sales, service, collision, paint & body, as well as indoor storage options for your RV. They are also innovators in safety, recently releasing their Rettroband tire blowout protection product, and are the exclusive distributors of the Proteng Fire Suppression System.
The growth and success of NIRVC is due in part to Brett’s involvement in the day-to-day issues facing his staff and his customers. Recently, Brett took to the keyboard to connect with a broader RVing audience to learn even more about the issues they face. Rather than choosing a flitty and volatile platform like Facebook, Brett chose iRV2.com, an RVing forum known for its longevity, depth, and true value to the RVer.
Much like Brian Clemons has done with his participation in the Forest River Forums, Brett and his team are reaching and helping customers directly, and getting valuable feedback from thoughtful RVers offering their comments, criticism, and kudos. Their participation in the forum has added fuel to the fire already burning at NIRVC…enough is enough.
“How do we communicate, inform, and educate the most important stakeholder… the coach owner? I only know of two ways. One is at our rallies, and the second is through social media such as this IRV2 Forum. Since I’ve never had a Facebook account, I’ve chosen IRV2, and specifically this thread to keep coach owners informed of the progress, solicit their feedback, and yes, put them in a position to vote with either their wallets, or their feet. At the end of the day, coach owners are truly the only stakeholders who have the power through their pocketbooks to make these muc-needed changes come about.”
Brett Davis – President and CEO of National Indoor RV Centers
Shaking Up the RV Service Model
Through a new program only available at NIRVC, Class A motorcoach maker Newmar, already a leader in quality coach manufacturing, is all-in with Brett and his team to shake up the RV service model. Now, when you bring your in-warranty Newmar motorhome into a National Indoor RV Center, they will fix your warranty repair issue during that first service event, if at all possible. No more waiting weeks for approval or additional weeks waiting on parts, no more back and forth, and no more finger pointing.
Here is the plan set forth by Newmar and NIRVC
1. No more authorizations needed. NIRVC’s highly qualified technicians are free to identify the problem and start work immediately.
2. NIRVC will stock the 200 to 300 fastest turning parts at each one of the NIRVC locations. The stocking level at each location is determined by the historical mix of the models sold and serviced at each National Indoor RV Center location.
3. The larger, slower turning, more expensive parts will be housed at NIRVC’s Texas facility where Southwest Airlines has multiple flights every day to each one of the other NIRVC location cities. Needed parts can be put on a plane from Texas very quickly to help get your Newmar motorhome back on the road. Naturally, there will be limits to what can be stocked, furniture comes to mind for example. Still, the goal is to have every part where it’s needed in under 24 hours.
4. The manufacturer, in this case Newmar, would relocate one of their senior service personnel to be based at that same Texas facility, but will be able to travel to all NIRVC locations in order cut through any friction they may encounter with any supplier.
The Warranty Rating System
The upcoming 2022 release of National Indoor RV Center’s Warranty Rating System website is revolutionary as well, and is not without some resistance. Change comes hard, and when you add transparency to that change, it opens eyes. NIRVC’s Warranty Rating System will likely be a catalyst for change in the RV industry. The Warranty Rating System will rate manufacturers and warranty providers on criteria such as; Time to approval, Percentage of first-time approvals, and Average days per warranty repair…just to name a few.
Moreover, NIRVC will make the small print on those warranty contents larger…quite literally. Visitors to the Warranty Rating System website will be able to click and open the warranty contract and small print information that RVers typically skim over when they buy an RV. Presented in large easy to read type, complete with highlighted clauses that affect the customer, the Warranty Rating System will hold these providers’ feet to the proverbial Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act fire.
It’s been a long and expensive process to bring this system together for the benefit of RVers, but it’s consistent with the type of radical, customer-first thinking that has driven Brett and his team, and led to the success currently enjoyed by National Indoor RV Centers
Our goal, our mission, has been from the very beginning to try and bring the “automotive service” experience to motorhomes.
Brett Davis – President and CEO of NIRVC on iRV2.com
What’s Different About National Indoor RV Centers?
Visit any of the five NIRVC locations and you’ll find a completely different culture than you’ll see at most dealerships. In fact, dealership is almost a bad word at NIRVC, whose roots are in quality RV service and RV storage. The entire environment at a National Indoor Facility just feels different. From big things like a clean and orderly RV service shop to little things like spotless bathrooms and customer waiting areas, you get the sense that the entire staff is onboard with the same objective; excellent customer service. Their goal is to deliver an automotive-like service experience to the RVer.
In fact, those superior service and storage offerings led to the first National Indoor RV Center in the DFW area becoming a sales center as well. Customers that were storing their new RVs at that location were dismayed to find that under Texas franchise laws at that time, NIRVC could not perform in-warranty repairs for those customers because they did not sell those brands, or any other for that matter.
The addition of becoming a sales center allowed NIRVC to increase its repair business, which now averages over 255,000 RV repairs each year. National Indoor RV Centers are able to offer an all-in-one solution for RV owners consisting of sales, service, collision repair, paint & body, and storage.
As we stated, at the core of NIRVC is service. Providing quality RV service is a complex and demanding operation. NIRVC will introduce a new internal workflow system that will make managing that process more efficient, and more reliable.
An average repair goes through 88 “touches” at NIRVC, spanning 16 departments from the first repair inquiry to returning the keys back to the customer. That process will soon be managed by an internal workflow system that outlines who has the coach at that moment, what is being serviced, what parts are needed, and the status of any warranty approvals and parts. The latter is a huge part of the tracking process, making sure your RV doesn’t languish in limbo waiting on parts or warranty approval from the manufacturer or 3rd party warranty holder.
This internal workflow system eliminates the wonder and confusion. No more calling your RV service provider and getting put on hold while they “check on that”. NIRVC will instantly know the status of your repair, what it needs, what it’s waiting on…and who it’s waiting on. Even more, they are willing to show this to you and put that power in your hands.
NIRVC will work on any brand of motorhome, whether originally purchased at NIRVC or not. Most brands will also allow them to perform in-warranty repairs, if applicable, and where state laws allow.
In-House App Allows Customers to Track Service
In what NIRVC estimates to be available sometime during the 2nd quarter of 2022, their RV service customers will be able to follow the status of their RV repair with an in-house app developed by their own I.T. department. Via the app, customers will know exactly what their RV service status is, and where the holdup is, if any. This kind of transparency will be a boon to customers, and potential death knell to those manufactures and warranty providers that are not holding up their end of the warranty agreement.
App wielding customers will see when their beloved RV is waiting on approval for in-warranty diagnosis, repair, or parts. If denied any of these, they’ll be able to see who denied it and why. The app will also provide a dashboard where RV owners will be alerted to recall information and technical service bulletins applicable to their RV’s VIN. The NIRVC service app will also be able to send notifications at each step of the process so the RVer will know exactly when their repair was started, parts ordered, and parts arrived. Even more, the RV owner will also know when a warranty claim was denied, who denied the claim, and their contact information.
Paint & Collision
RV paint and collision repair is much different than that of automobiles. It’s closer to boats in fact. RVs use different materials, lots of fiberglass, and some unusual shapes. RV paint and body processes are significantly different in technique, paint application, and cost. That professional challenge and lucrative income is often what lures high-end paint and body professionals into the industry.
NIRVC is a leader in RV paint and body repair. Few facilities can offer a 60-foot paint booth for your high-end coach, as NIRVC does. National Indoor not only rolls your coach into that full size paint booth, but a lifetime guarantee on the work and decades of experience roll with it.
Another one of their core operations is motorhome storage. NIRVC offers powered, climate-controlled storage for all types of motorhomes. As one would expect, the majority of their storage business are the larger Class A units that most RVers can’t store in their driveway.
Each RV that NIRVC stores receives a barcode on the windshield. Using this bar code, they know exactly where the coach is, and what the status of that RV is during the storage and valet process it offers. Ready to hit the road? Contact NIRVC ahead of time and they’ll have your RV ready and waiting for you with fuel, fresh water, proper tire inflation (based on 4-corner weighing) and even have it washed for you, if you desire.
National Indoor RV Centers sell RVs too. While initially resistant to becoming a dealership (there’s that word again), Brett finally moved forward with selling RVs, but set high standards for every facet of the process. Starting with brands like Newmar and Entegra, and later adding top names like Winnebago, American Coach, Holiday Rambler, and Fleetwood, the goal of NIRVC was to provide the best coaches and the best experience for those RVers spending their hard earned money on their dream RV.
A core of the initial selling experience at National Indoor was hiring Angie Morell. Not only did Angie bring a fresh approach to the selling process, her detailed walk-through videos are now legendary. If you have purchased a motorhome in the last few years, there’s a good chance you’ve spent considerable time watching those videos.
If customization is your thing, NIRVC is the place for you. The majority of the new motorhomes sold at NIRVC are custom built. Walking into the materials area of an NIRVC showroom is reminiscent of a high-end tile or carpet store. Choose your coach, its paint job, tile, furniture, carpet….anything that’s customizable. You can order that motorcoach of your dreams as easily as ordering a new car.
Understand Your New RV Before You Drive Away
When you buy a new RV from National Indoor RV Centers you’ll leave the lot with a full understanding of your new RV. After a 223 point inspection and a lengthy and detailed walk-through, NIRVC provides the opportunity to spend a few nights camping on their full-hookup lot, at no additional cost.
This gives you the opportunity to learn more about every new bell and whistle on your dream motorcoach, before you ever leave the lot. Each morning, you’ll go over your questions with your personally assigned delivery technician. The longer you stay, the more you learn. You’ll leave NIRVC knowing your new motorcoach, not having to resort to frantic Social Media posts trying to figure out how to bring in the slides or flush the tank.
Such a significant change in the way RV dealers do business will likely have an impact on sales and brand desirability. Well-known brands that fail to conform to the new standards will surely falter, while those that embrace them will thrive.
Brett Davis’ leadership of National Indoor RV Centers is surpassed only by his passion. When a busy executive continues to devote significant time to providing detailed answers and insight, you can see that passion on display. This change is a long time in coming and promises to shake up the RV service industry.