March '20

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86 • RV PRO • March 2020 rv-pro.com are other choices, but we think RVing is a great way for families and making mem- ories, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them," he says. It's easier to run a sales business than it is to run a full-service dealership, which demands heavier capital requirements and bays, he adds. However, finding technicians – who require specialized training – can be be a challenge, which is why General RV has committed to "growing its own." The state of Virginia has an "accepted curriculum" in high school trade pro- grams, which General RV just recently had approved and implemented in 2019. There are 10 students who enrolled in the dealership's technician-training program last May and there will be an additional 15 students participating this year. "Once they graduate high school, they will be – at the very least – a registered tech- nician and – at best – a certified technician," McNamara says, adding that General RV has created a set of pay scales to hire them. The dealership also has incremental pay increases as students complete their academics and hands-on training. They will make between $25 and $35 an hour once they graduate high school as an RV technician, all with no college debt. "When you train and grow in-house, they become people who will be with you long term with no interest in jumping ship," McNamara says. There's so much benefit in starting their careers from scratch, but it's a 'hard start' for a dealer- ship. A lot of dealerships want a quick fix when it comes to hiring by paying more, for example, but you can't grow a good values-based staff that way. "We have high expectations for all of our employees, but we also provide the training they need to get 'there,'" he adds. Equipped for Service & Repair The new facility features 40 indoor ser- vice bays and three double drive-through bays, as well as a 40-foot concrete apron that wraps around the outside with air, water and electric hookups, staffed by 29 technicians and 10 trainees. The former location, or "second campus," also features 27 bays, which may be retrofitted or con- verted into a body shop. "There's not enough capacity in the industry to handle the service needs of RVers," McNamara says. "After manufac- turer warranties expire, consumers still have basic maintenance needs. When they're an 'orphaned customer' with nowhere to go, then our service capacity will fill that need – post-purchase and post-warranty. They're much more likely Derek Taylor, one of General RV's senior technicians, installs a B&W fifth wheel hitch in the back of a pickup. While the Ashland store is Virginia's No. 1 motorhome dealer, the business also does a brisk business in towables. "There is no secret sauce to success. It's just striving every day to be better and make improvements," says Loren Baidas, president of General RV.

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