Everyone Gets RV Technical Institute-Certified At Coachlight RV!

Everyone Gets RV Technical Institute-Certified At Coachlight RV!

Apr 21, 2022 RV Industry Association Staff

 

On a recent Monday morning in Carthage, Missouri the vice president of Coachlight RV, Doug Lown, closed down the service department. Closing down one of the highest ranked and busiest service departments in the country is always something to take notice of, especially during one of the busiest periods in the RV industry’s history. Over the next five days, the dealership’s service technicians, parts manager, warranty manager, assistant warranty manager, and service manager underwent the RV Technical Institute’s level 1 training and certification program.

“I know there aren’t many dealerships that could or would shut down their service departments for a week, but we didn’t want to do this program piecemeal. I wanted all of our people to be focused,” said Lown, who plans to repeat training in the fall for Level 2 certifications. “Service is a thorn in the side of our industry. Upgrading the department enhances the service experience we are able to offer to our customers.”

This is not a new revelation for Coachlight. The nearly 55-year-old business has been committed to customer service since its founding by Lown’s father, Martin Lown, in 1968. Nominated to the RV Hall of Fame by his customers, the elder Lown, now 80 and still working a few days a week, had previously sent technicians for training at Newmar and elsewhere, but many of these programs disappeared when COVID struck.

“At one time at our dealership we had six Master-certified technicians, but they’ve all retired,” said the younger Lown. Establishing the in-house training for current technicians continues the tradition of Coachlight’s service experience.

RV Technical Institute Education Director Bill Stewart came to conduct the intensive five-day program for students whose prior technical training experience ranged from some to none, but everyone was excited about the opportunity. Bill was excited to see their level of commitment.

“This was our first time working with RVTI and we were very impressed with Bill,” said Lown, who was especially pleased with the training on electrical systems. “The industry is moving forward rapidly in electronics. Level 1 training covers basic electrical systems and it is important to ensure our techs have the proper training.”

“Yes, electricity always seems to be a mystery to some people,” said Stewart. “We start from the very basics: theory of electrons, neutrons, and protons. The difference is that we then move into how this applies to repairing an RV with actual hands-on training. I am a firm believer that if you explain the “why” and “how it applies” to the theory and laws, the light bulb will go on in their head—which is a great feeling. Excuse the pun, but it seems appropriate.”

Stewart continued, “We teach the sequence of operation on appliances and this reduces diagnostic time. I always have each technician bring and use their own Digital Multi Meter. We go through the process of what is your meter telling you and what you expect from that circuit you’re checking. Think before you probe!”

Lown says everyone now understands the Multi Meter and how things really work, so that helps the warranty department file claims and the parts department test old parts.

“Everyone got a lot out of the training and Bill gave out his home number so they can call him if they need help,” he said, adding proudly, “they all passed the certification tests with a score of over 90%!”

Coachlight’s commitment to certifications is prominent on the company’s website, and Lown believes this distinguishes them from their competitors and enhances their credibility. But the training is valued even more highly by their employees who receive a bonus every year they are certified.

“I do believe this helps with employee retention and recruitment,” said Lown. “It’s also an incentive for our people to get trained and to stay trained.”

Lown was pleased with the process and the commitment from both RVTI and his own employees. All of them are looking forward to the hybrid Level 2 program, which will feature three weeks of online classes and another five days of hands-on training.

Lown, himself, is Level 2-certified and is working with RVTI to earn his Level 4 Master Technician certification. He has completed 25 of the 120 hours required and is doing online training through Lippert and planning to attend Grand Design’s school in October.

Lown, who is an avid RVer along with his wife and two children, has spent the bulk of his career in the RV business, which started in the “worst bay”: the wash bay in high school. Lown also worked in the parts department, then went to college, not knowing if he wanted to remain in the industry. By junior year, however, he knew he wanted to return to the family business after graduation.

Making sure that the reputation Coachlight has earned for customer service continues in the future remains the company’s number one priority. On its website, the dealership proudly promotes the RVTI-certified technicians who man its 14 service bays.

It all gets down to how you treat and take care of customers,” he says. “Coachlight has a tradition of excellence in sale and service, and our training with the RV Technical Institute helps continue this tradition.”

 

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