At a celebration dinner Nov. 17 in San Antonio, Texas, the inaugural class of current and future RV Retailer general managers graduated from the General Manager Program conducted by RV Retailer LLC.
A component of what the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-headquartered dealer network calls RV Retailer University (RVRU), the GM Program was implemented a year ago to identify and develop the top talent coming from within the company’s ranks.
“We are committed to the development of future leaders as we continually expand our footprint of 35 stores in nine states across the nation,” stated RV Retailer President and CEO Jon Ferrando. “The GM Program challenges our current and future leaders with extensive training in leadership and all disciplines in the RV business from sales to customer service. We plan to significantly expand our RV Retailer University programs as a commitment to investing in the development and training of our people.”
RV Retailer President & CEO Jon Ferrando, left, with Vice President Taylore Elliott, the company’s Chief Human Resources Officer.
Not to be confused with a simple afternoon seminar, RVRU’s GM Program features a yearlong, comprehensive curriculum that covers intensive leadership training and all the major functions in an RV dealership. The class meets quarterly at a different RV Retailer store to interact with company leadership and engage in face-to-face workshops.
Outside of the classroom setting, the “students” are given projects and key learnings to apply in their work environment. This program is built to provide a bench of future leaders to take on the challenge of the continually expanding network of stores at one of the fastest growing RV dealership groups in the U.S.
Spearheading RVRU is Taylore Elliott, RV Retailer’s chief human resource officer, who said the GM program “reflects the company’s core value of investing in our people.”
“It is a major investment,” she acknowledged. “We ask that they invest their time and we, in turn, invest our time in them over the course of a year because, for us as RV Retailer, investing in our people is our core value. It’s something that’s very important to us, and to do that correctly it can’t be a one-day program. It needs to be a program that happens over the course of the year where we really take the time to sit down and teach and train and develop this team. Those things do take time.”
Referring to the students’ action plans to implement at their respective retail locations, Elliott described the GM Program as an “interactive program” that incorporates “real-time practice and application.” The results of the action plans are then analyzed by both instructors and the students.
“It really gives them the feedback loop they need,” Elliott pointed out. I think they get as much out of being in the room together and building those relationships as they do from the courses that we’re teaching,”
Because of this interaction, she mentioned the students evolve into their own peer group and the students also became a true team where each one can call upon the other for guidance and support.
“That is one of the most important parts of this, is that we’re connecting our team. We’re connecting our top talents from across the country and really building a team of leaders who represent all areas of our business,” she said.
RV Retailer President & CEO Jon Ferrando, standing, was one of several company executives who led the instruction for RVRU’s General Manager Program.
A key component of the program, both Elliott and Ferrando emphasized, is that the training is led by the executives and top leaders of RV Retailer.
“Our entire senior RV Retailer leadership team runs the classes and is there to give guidance and support, which reflects the importance of this program and investing in our leaders is to RV Retailer,” Ferrando said.
In addition to additional students going through the GM Program – a second class has already begun – future plans for RVRU involve specialized programs focusing on select aspects of dealer operations, such as service and finance, but also self-development programs as well.
“We’ve got to grow leaders to lead these stores as the company grows, but one of the first things that we identified is that we need leadership and talent development in all areas of our business,” Elliott explained. “So, we are actually going to be launching our service manager program in December. Then, in 2021, we’re focusing on a world-class technician development program.
“We have a whole host of additional programs we’re planning,” she continued, “but we’re going to take the time to develop them because the most important part of our business is to develop and invest in our people at all levels and get them ready to be future leaders.”
“It’s important that all of our talents at all levels sees how important they are to the success of our company. And the only way that we can do that is to invest in them all, and make sure that they can have a great career with us and perform in whatever function they’re in.”
To learn more about careers at RV Retailer please visit: https://rvretailer.net/careers/