Interview with RV World on Handling Business Growth with Great Customer Service and Planning for the Future

RVWorldYumaMike Green and Bob Smith were born for success in the RV industry. As kids, they both worked in their families’ RV businesses and learned the tricks of the trade at an early age. When the Green family opened up RV World in Yuma, AZ, in 1991, it seemed like a natural fit for Bob to join the team.

Through their 23 years together, Mike and Bob have grown a two acre business with six employees, to a 22 acre business with over 70 employees and recently added expansion to their service department and business offices. They also credit the addition of Taylor Albright as a major contributor to their growth through his fresh new ideas and the progress he’s made in handling warranties and service operations.

We recently sat down with Mike, Bob, and Taylor to talk about their growth.     

IDS: What are the key elements that make your dealership successful and how have you grown through the years?

Mike: “I would say that there’s no real secret to success other than the people you have around you. A lot of our staff has been here for the long term. We have lots of procedures and systems in place, including IDS which has been wonderful in propelling us forward. But what it really boils down to is our people that are putting information into the IDS system. We are blessed with the best in the industry. We go above and beyond to keep our customers happy and we’ve enjoyed a lot of repeat business over the years. We’re in a seasonal market where a lot of different people come through. Even if they are hundreds of miles away, they still give us an opportunity for business based on their past experiences with us.”

IDS: You sell fun for a living. How do you promote your business and involve the community?

Mike: “We encourage all of our employees to just go out and do it. They have the opportunity to take a motorhome or trailer out and try the lifestyle. We also do promotions with credit unions, car shows, football games, golf tournaments and so on. We get the lifestyle out in front of everyone. We don’t look at is as we’re just selling the unit, we’re selling the lifestyle. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anyone who has had a bad experience camping. They may have had a little trouble, but they always have a great story or memory on any trip. At the end of the day the lifestyle is what it’s all about.” 

IDS: The reputation of a service department can literally make or break a dealership.  What steps do you take to ensure you’re providing the best in service?

Bob: “We stand behind every unit we sell and we always do everything we possibly can to help each customer every time. Our customers know they can count on us in any situation.  We offer extensive phone support for our customers when they are traveling. If we can’t solve a problem over the phone, we locate and work with someone in their area that can. Our number one goal is to make sure our customers enjoy every aspect of the RV lifestyle.”

IDS: You’ve recently added on to the building to help meet the demands of the service department. Talk about that expansion.

Bob: “Over the years, we have continued to grow in all of our departments. We’ve spent the last 22-23 years working in a very small area. We started on two acres and have been fortunate enough to expand to 22 acres at the same location. This past summer was one of the largest service enhancements to date.  We expanded our office area to include a large reception area, separate warranty and management offices, and a large meeting and training room. We also doubled our service bay work area, including a metal shop, wood shop and 40’, 60,000 lb vehicle lift. This summer we are focusing on some equal enhancements with regards to our parts department.”

IDS: The efficiency of your technicians plays a vital role in your service department profitability.  What do you consider to be a good level of tech efficiency and how do you measure it?

Bob: “Of course every dealer would love to set that level in that 110% range. However, when going above and beyond for every customer, providing an extra level of service that is not common these days. You have to be willing to accept that sub-100% efficiency level. We feel the return on this investment through satisfied repeat customers and customer referrals makes for a perfect trade off.”

Mike: “I would agree with that and also say that as far as our technician efficiency is concerned, profitability is something that we’ve directed a lot of focus to and still are. There’s still some days I think we’re a little company and we’re not. We need to work on efficiency and profitability every day while still providing the absolute best service for our customers. We still have quite a bit of room to grow there.”

IDS: Do you have any reward or incentive programs for your technicians?

Bob: “We provide a great work environment and compensation for all of our technicians. We maintain a very high production shop without encouraging our technicians to work the pen harder than the wrench. More than 75% of our techs have been with us for over 10 years and a few have passed that 15 year mark.  We are very proud of our low turnover rate.”

“We feel that always keeping our technicians focused on quality works. With us providing such a good work environment, it works better and we end up retaining our techs. We’ve never had to lay anyone off during our slow times and that’s paid big dividends.”

IDS: How has IDS helped you with service department management?

Bob: “We have been very pleased with the basic operating system from the very start.  The ease of operation is great for training new employees. Over the years, we have built a very impressive customer database. The ability to pull default and custom reports gives us instant information to base business decisions and monitor operations at all times.”

“We have also been very pleased with IDS’s commitment to grow and improve. The G2 platform has been evolving very positively. The delivery calendar and job scheduler have made a huge impact in our day to day operations.”

IDS: Are there any other metrics you measure on a regular basis to determine how well the service department is doing and if anything needs to be improved upon? 

Mike: “We know that we have a lot of room to improve. I know that Bob and Taylor look at several key areas on a regular basis in IDS and I take feedback from them. Since Taylor has come on board, he, Bob and I have put our heads together and looked at areas of improvement. We’re going to have a lot of growth here in the next couple of years. More than any of us could imagine.”

IDS: You recently implemented the IDS mobile app. How do you see that benefiting a service department?

Bob: “We incorporated the IDS mobile app and even though it’s still evolving in functionality, we have found the ability to access work orders, add warranty photos, and take digital customer signatures at the service drive very helpful. We are very excited to see what the future holds as this system evolves and more features are added. There is huge potential with this app.”

IDS: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to make improvements to their service department?

Mike: “My advice is basic, you just need the right people. All the tools that IDS offers us starts with the right people pushing the right buttons and everyone needs to be on the same channel.”

“Bob and I started together and as you do things on a daily basis, be careful that you don’t get in a rut and that you keep an open mind and want to grow your business every day. I think that if you’ve been doing it for a long time, you have to hire a young guy, like we have in Taylor, to bring some new ideas to the table. You have to constantly look for ways to be better and not just keep going with what gets you by just because you have done it that way for years.”

Bob: “I’d also say take care of your customers! Take a hard look at every aspect of the department as if you were on the other side of the counter looking through the eyes of a customer. Each and every improvement decision should be based on how it will provide a better customer experience. Our existence absolutely depends on people enjoying the RV lifestyle!”  

 

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