RV Retailer LLC (RVR), a Florida-based dealership group with 55 locations in 15 states under a variety of regional store brands, has opened a new training center at its Motor Home Specialist location in the Dallas/Fort Worth market in Texas.
Although the center will include training for technicians, the education will be much more broad-based and include management, sales and F&I positions as well. All training will be conducted by RVR leaders.
The facility is the first of what will be three RVR University Training Centers, as the company is calling them. By summer, RVR officials said similar training centers will be opened in Charlotte, N.C., and Salt Lake City, Utah.
“We’re growing dramatically,” Jon Ferrando, RVR’s chief executive officer and president, told RVBusiness. “That drives the need at our stores and across the industry for high-quality talent at all of our stores and locations for service advisors, service techs, and investing in leadership training for general managers as we open new stores. That’s why we are making this major new commitment to investing in training.
“We’re focused not only on training talented associates within the company but hiring talented people with a great work ethic that might not have the experience and then we will put them into our training program to develop them into great sales people or techs. It’s very much a focus on investing in people,” Ferrando added.
Chief Human Resource Officer Taylore Elliott said RVR University will conduct programs for seven different dealership positions with the goal of training more than 1,000 associates this year.
The RVR University Training Centers all will be equipped state-of-the-art classroom technology and vary in size from 8,000 to 12,000 square feet with the ability to accommodate over 100 associates in a classroom as well as fully-equipped bays for hands-on tech training.
In addition to the location itself, the training bays were essential to opening the first training center at Motor Home Specialist. The location has 80 acres and includes 45 service bays.
“The courses will all be led by our senior executive team, so I’m very involved, Taylore is very involved, and Chris Glenn – who leads our parts operation companywide – is involved,” Ferrando pointed out. “And our regional presidents also are involved. So, it’s all internal.”
Growth over the past year within the industry created a huge need for well-trained employees across all positions, he added.
Also, RVR continues to acquire new locations and hopes to fill positions at any new locations with people who are trained and up-to-speed in customer service.
Ferrando and Elliott also stressed that the training centers will be a strong recruiting tool as the company looks to increase the talent pool at its various locations.
“The feedback from the people in the courses is that they are overwhelmed with the fact that the leaders at this level would want to spend the time and invest in them,” Elliott mentioned. “They feel like they are making great personal connections. They come out of the courses extremely excited about the future with RV Retailer.”
Ferrando said similar reactions have come from long-time valued service techs who have taken part in some of the early training the company has offered. He said the courses are energizing the company’s workforce in a way that was not expected.
While the center only just opened, there are already about 60 associates in the process of training.
The Texas facility will be a multi-million-dollar investment and the next two are expected to require similar costs, but the investment will be well worth the cost, Ferrando said.
“Our goal is to meet our associates where they are and help them become experts in their current role,” Elliott said. “That investment will help them take the next step in their career, too.”
RV Retailer has stores in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. Regional store brands include: RV One Superstores, Motor Home Specialist, ExploreUSA, Sonny’s Camp-N-Travel, Cousins RV, Camper Clinic, Lifestyle RVs, Family RV Group, Northgate RV and Tom’s Camperland, which sell a wide range of new and used RV brands with thousands of RVs in inventory.