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Old 07-09-2016, 07:21 PM   #85
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... Also, we had a few minor warranty issues and easily got service away from our selling dealer. As full-timers, we traveled, and certainly weren't going to return to where we bought it. We called beforehand to a place along our travel route; made an appt; they ordered any part, if needed. We arrived and they fixed it in one day. We stayed overnight with electric and went on the next day.
I think this experience is probably the exception, not the rule. I believe the largest volume manufacturers (Forest River/Keystone) tie you to their dealer network. It's not unusual (at all) to set service appointments 30-days out. And that drop off day just means you get to wait in line on-site, perhaps for another 30 days.

This many be the difference in price range again in $15k-$75k trailers, vs a DP manufacturer with a good reputation where you're spending $250k+, but the reality is that many more consumers are buying trailers in that lower price range.

My experience, while traveling, is that the "dealer network" doesn't really want to help you. I'm sure that this is largely due to they way they are compensated by the manufacturer and the fact that the manufacturer doesn't really enforce the "service any unit" rule.

Again, not true of every manufacture, but it's widespread.

You won't be told any of this at a dealer, doesn't matter how you ask.
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Old 07-09-2016, 07:31 PM   #86
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Hmmmm. Is anyone else having trouble with the links to these articles? I'm getting an error message when I try to access them.
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Old 07-09-2016, 10:32 PM   #87
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I think this experience is probably the exception, not the rule. I believe the largest volume manufacturers (Forest River/Keystone) tie you to their dealer network. It's not unusual (at all) to set service appointments 30-days out. And that drop off day just means you get to wait in line on-site, perhaps for another 30 days.

This many be the difference in price range again in $15k-$75k trailers, vs a DP manufacturer with a good reputation where you're spending $250k+, but the reality is that many more consumers are buying trailers in that lower price range.

My experience, while traveling, is that the "dealer network" doesn't really want to help you. I'm sure that this is largely due to they way they are compensated by the manufacturer and the fact that the manufacturer doesn't really enforce the "service any unit" rule.

Again, not true of every manufacture, but it's widespread.

You won't be told any of this at a dealer, doesn't matter how you ask.
We traveled constantly in the full-timing community and have never heard of anyone having to wait more than a couple days to have repairs made. Think of it....this is their home. What are they going to do - leave their RV for a month? No way. If it's something major like engine repair, perhaps. Full-timers travel in all sorts of RVs. We received the same service with our 33' 5th wheel. I just don't understand why it's so difficult with some of the manufacturers.
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Old 07-09-2016, 10:49 PM   #88
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Hmmmm. Is anyone else having trouble with the links to these articles? I'm getting an error message when I try to access them.
OK, nevermind. It appears the site is back up again.
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Old 07-09-2016, 11:08 PM   #89
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Hmmmm. Is anyone else having trouble with the links to these articles? I'm getting an error message when I try to access them.
Part 1: Opinion: The RV industry death spiral – Part 1 | RV Daily Report

Part 2: RV Death Spiral: Manufacturers in race to the bottom | RV Daily Report
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Old 07-09-2016, 11:17 PM   #90
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I will respectfully disagree for a moment on part of your statement. It is not about geography. I agree with that. However, the leadership was probably doing the best with what they had at the time. And, I do not mean the employees. US workers can be very productive as you stated as well. Please allow me to explain.

The big difference, in my opinion, was the SYSTEMS used for running the business; specifically manufacturing, but also including purchasing, inventory, plant organization, scheduling, etc. Management was trained and instructed to use the same methods. The leaders expected the same methods to work. The systems were most likely being run at the best levels possible. But, the systems allowed mistakes. How the mistakes were handled may have worked to some degree, but still mistakes made it out the door.

I manufacture a custom product in my own business. Everything from the initial sales call to the final delivery and installation is carefully orchestrated for Quality, Timeliness, and Profit. (No, "Profit" is not a bad word. Without it I cannot stay in business and provide for my family.)

So, what "systems" do I use to give my customers the highest quality in a timely manner, with almost zero call-backs, and still provide a profit? Over the years I have read books, studied, attended seminars, and implemented a lot of LEAN principles. One book that was helpful was "The Toyota Way" that talks about management principles that Toyota uses. (There are many other books also.) You mentioned Toyota as being a leader in this area. You are correct. Toyota also had a different attitude about quality control in the manufacturing process. Any employee had the authority to stop the production line if something was wrong. The problem wasn't a "can to be kicked down the road" so that the dealers could fix it under warranty. They dealt with the problem immediately. And, they worked to eliminate the possibility that it would happen again.

There are many parts to LEAN manufacturing including simple organizational things and "common sense" house-keeping on the production floor. In my facility we constantly try to improve our production (meaning better timing, less costs, and more profit) at the same time we are looking for improvements in quality for the customer. Many times we can improve both the quality and the profitability at the same time. We call this a Win-Win situation.

Now, if the RV industry would consider taking a look at some of these ideas, it just might be helpful. It will not be an overnight revolution. It takes time to make some changes. But, it can start with little things like shop organization: have all of the tools and parts needed for a job at the workstation, but no other tools or parts. Make it easy for workers to do their job. While doing this, the workers need to be included in setting up the changes. Very often the workers know how to set up and run things better than management. Imagine that!


The bottom line in all of this is that a) the company can make equal or more profit, b) the workers are happier, which means less employee turnover, c) more product can be shipped with fewer or no mistakes, and d) the customer gets a top quality, defect-free product. Yes, mistakes can still happen. But, when they do someone looks back through the process to see where and why, then a solution is found to eliminate the same mistake in the future. Accepting a certain percentage of mistakes as being normal is not acceptable.

OK, let me jump off my soapbox.
Was thinking exactly the same things which you stated clearly and succinctly. I don't know anything about the leaders at the top of these companies, but they may not be equipped to do lean. Sadly, for them, it may be time for them to be replaced by someone who understands hood manufacturing processes. Now that would be a win-win.
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:22 AM   #91
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I recently purchased a new tt and have been very happy with the quality of construction and the level of service we have received. It is built by a small privately owned company that focuses on customer service and satisfaction. It was interesting taking the factory tour and meeting with several of the company executives about the company philosophy. Their original mandate from the owner was "we are not going to build throw away trailers." Not everything is perfect on these trailers but they seem to have a real company wide desire to build a better quality product. They are a bit more expensive than a comparable "lite" trailer from one of the major manufactures but I was willing to pay for it and get a heavier trailer to boot because I wanted something that would last and really work. Interestingly one of the factory reps told me one of their biggest frustrations is the quality of components that are available for them to purchase and install in their trailers. Most components are built by one or two companies and are pretty cheap in quality. This is why they build their own in house frames. Heaters, refers, tanks etc all have to be purchased from aftermarket suppliers that every manufacturer uses and those components cause many of their issues. This company at least has found a niche in building a heavier, stronger, better trailer and it seems to work for them so it can be done.
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Old 07-10-2016, 10:20 AM   #92
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Many persist in the notion that RV companies build RV's for the consumer, that is "us". The purpose of companies, not just RV companies, is to make the Officers of the Corporation and the major stock holders wealthy. While we think customer satisfaction and quality product is king, profit is the only metric.

While shopping RV's at Quartzite our salesman mention that before Monaco went out of business he was making a doctors income. From what I have seen the gross margin is set at nearly 100% at each sale. Nothing has changed in the nearly 25 years I have been doing this. This is not to say there are not differences in manufactures. Some are better than others, but price is very high for higher quality. Case in point our Dynasty, you can buy newer, but a 15 YO Aqua Hot heats the same as a new one.

YMMV
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:03 AM   #93
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Does it ever get old continually bashing companies as if profit was a dirty word? The concepts of profit and great customer service are not mutually exclusive. Consumers just need to stop buying from companies that don't have both.

Like it or not, step 1 in expanding a company and hiring the next worker is profit. And step 1 in someone taking a risk on starting the next company is their own massive wealth so that the risk of failure is tolerable.
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:42 AM   #94
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Profit does not become a dirty word until it becomes the only focal point. Unfortunately that happens all too often once a business goes public and has to answer to shareholders who's only interest is to maximize short term profits. It is also why we keep seeing reports that smaller closely held businesses often do much better for all concerned than the Fortune 500 folks.
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:28 PM   #95
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We've lived full-time on the road for nearly two years in our now 20 year old Beaver Monterrey. We've had only one issue in the entire time we've owned it - batteries (certainly, not the fault of Beaver). Over the last year, we've wanted to purchase a brand new coach. Unfortunately, none of the models we've researched has anything close to the quality we've experienced in our current home on wheels. Oh yes, the new rigs have dishwashers, instant on & limitless hot water, fireplaces, LED Lights and More TV sets than Best Buy, but they simply do not measure up in terms of craftsmanship. So, we wait, even after a year of searching to find something which meets (or exceeds) our standards.

Thanks for posting the links!
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:30 PM   #96
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Whether profit is the only focal point or not is an assumption/opinion that consumers can't possibly really know unless they are sitting in the board room hearing the discussions. Most companies that I've had exposure to try really hard to find a balance to the many, many competing interests that they have to please.
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:42 PM   #97
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Old 07-10-2016, 01:07 PM   #98
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Does it ever get old continually bashing companies as if profit was a dirty word? The concepts of profit and great customer service are not mutually exclusive. Consumers just need to stop buying from companies that don't have both.

Like it or not, step 1 in expanding a company and hiring the next worker is profit. And step 1 in someone taking a risk on starting the next company is their own massive wealth so that the risk of failure is tolerable.
Nothing wrong with profit, you are one using it as a dirty word. I cut my teeth in business in Silicon Valley in the early 80's, I've seen this first hand. The reality is many management teams have the same sloth they believe their workers have. Jobs are at a premium and employees know their options are few, so making a profit off the internal customer is easy. In truth, it is very difficult to find a management that is interested in pursuing excellence. As if it were the employees fault for poor quality. Ask any manger. they will tell you whose in charge.

Lets be fair, management is incentivized by the wrong things, being rewarded for short term success. Most CEO's are clueless about their product as if jiggling costs from one department to another is where profit comes from. Making a profit from being smart, working harder, forecasting demand, being innovative and engaging the employee to pursue excellence as a team is hard work, it take real character. Most management teams simply are not up to the task.
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