Fixing Poor RV Quality
Fixing Poor RV Quality is the main subject of this week’s podcast. We describe the problem and offer some solutions to it.
We also discuss our first Living the RV Dream newsletter that went out on July 1st. We received a lot of mail about it and all positive. Once I fixed some issues with the graphics, it looked really good on every platform we could find.
4 Key Issues
We jumped right in to the quality issues with today’s RV’s from almost every manufacturer. I came up with 4 key issues although there are certainly more.
Poor Supplier Quality
One was the issue of poor supplier quality. These outside suppliers provide all the appliances used in today’s RV’s. They also provide the troublesome slide mechanisms that apparently are not tested under the vibration that our RV’s face every day, even on “smooth” roads. They also need an expert to adjust in order for them to work properly. Leveling jacks and the associated hydraulic system that goes with it are a constant source of problems. The plumbing for the hot and cold fresh water systems are rife with poorly made connectors that leak as well as just separate to let the water flood the RV.
The second key area we discussed was poor design. Some larger RV’s seem to have miniscule cargo carrying capacity. Many have very poor serviceability. There is little or no provision to access important things like inverters, hydraulic pumps, and other items that need to be accessed for service. Livability is a big issue with many new rigs designed by people who have never set foot in an RV, let alone had to spend a weekend in one.
Poor Worker Training
Key quality item number 3 the lack of manufacturing line worker training on today’s complex systems in our RV’s. We have visited many RV manufacturing plants, and I have seen much apparent worker apathy. There seems to be a general lack of build standards to which the worker builds to.
Management Placing Profit Over Quality
The fourth key quality item that probably should be first is management’s tendency to place profit above quality. They seem deaf to customer satisfaction or the “Voice of the Customer.” There seems to little willingness to invest in better quality practices. There also seems to be a pervasive willingness to let the delivering dealer fix the problems made by the factory. Couple that with the manufacturer’s lack of desire to pay realistic rates to their dealers for warranty service.
Dealers get their lumps as well. Many dealers seem to have a “sell it and forget it” mentality. A low ratio of RVIA certified technicians is another major issue. New techs do not get enough on the job training before they are working on customer units by themselves. Many, many sales force people are not familiar with the RV lifestyle. Couple all that with an unwillingness to do warranty work on units not sold by the dealer.
Finally, our government’s unwillingness to pass an RV lemon law contributes to the downward spiral referred to by Greg Gerber in his continuing series on the “RV Industry Death Spiral.”
Fixing Poor RV Quality Problems
Due to my background in manufacturing quality operations, I have some pretty good ideas on how to start to turn this issue of poor quality around. It will not come easy, quick, or cheap. For those reasons, management has a very hard time buying into adding expense for quality initiatives that take several years to bear fruit. I talk at some length, sometimes using “quality speak” to outline a plan to reverse these quality issues and improve initial customer satisfaction.