I was thinking back the other day. I remember calling someone to repair the water heater in my house. The repair man did not respond by saying “Okay, move out of your house and we’ll get to it as soon as we can.” Of course, all that has changed for us in the last 4 years. The last time I needed work done on the motorhome, the response I got was, “sure, drop it off and we’ll see when we can get to it.” Well, that may be fine if you use your RV for camping trips and have time in between to get work done. But, when you live in your RV full-time, that does not work very well. We’ve had mixed responses when we say we are full-timers; some facilities say that they have hookups so we can stay in during the work; others agree to make an appointment so that we can minimize the amount of time the motorhome is being worked on; most, however, do not want to deal with us—we can work around their schedule or look elsewhere.
So, what is the big deal about taking the motorhome into the shop? The last time I had to take it somewhere was when I had to have it weighed and inspected to change the registration to Texas. While the actual time it took for weighing and inspecting the motorhome was pretty minimal, the breakdown and set up caused this to be a full day’s work. We have to put away all of our “nick-nacks” that make it a home, stow everything so that we can drive without breaking stuff, pull in the slides, unhook everything, do all the “pre-travel” checklist items, and then I can take it in. Once I’m done, we have to completely set back up so we can go back to living as normal. In other words, this simple weigh and inspect process took us the whole day.
With this in mind, we try to do as much as we can with “mobile” services. Yes, they cost a little more; however, if they can save you a whole day’s work, the extra cost is worth it to some people. The challenge is finding a mobile service and also finding one that you can trust. Our normal process is to only use people after we talk to some previous customers; so, we ask around and any time we see someone working on an RV, we talk to the owners afterward. We’ve had our share of bad experiences over the years, so are a bit wary. There is never any guarantee, but it seems the more people are satisfied the more likely things will work out. Of course, my simple piece of advice to all campers is, to be honest, about the people who have done work for you. For example, we had one guy who we called because he had done the work for someone we knew. They said he was good. So, we called him, and he was okay, but we did not like some of what he did. We mentioned it later and the people who recommended him said they had the same problem—yet, they did not mention it before they recommended him to us.
The other item to consider, mainly when doing warranty, extended warranty, or recall work, is the “extra” cost. The recall and warranties do not cover the fee for the mobile repair person to come to your site; however, the repair people have different views about this fee. Some charge it, no matter what (the most common fees we have seen are $30 and $50), but others are more flexible depending on the job you need done and their interpretation of the recall laws. So, always ask about the fees—if it is enough work they can make money, they may be willing to reduce or waive the fee to get the job.
Recently we left the Rio Grande Valley and we realized it was time to do some maintenance on the motorhome—oil change, transmission fluid, etc. We were not able to find anyone in the Valley willing to do the work on our site, but we knew of someone who would when we arrived in Albuquerque. On the way, we noticed there was someone doing this work in the park where we were staying. Once we found out that he did good work, we decided to give him a shot. We were pleased with his service and found he was knowledgeable about RVs. He was a full-timer for over 4 years, so understood the lifestyle and why the mobile service was important to us. He is in a great location for us (the Texas Hill Country) so that we can use the service on our way in or out of the valley. The company was RV Mobile Lube (they service Houston, San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country, and DFW) and he tracks the maintenance on his web site for us. The little things are what makes for great customer service.
We know that sometimes we are going to have to take our motorhome in for repairs, service, or maintenance; however, as much as possible we try to use mobile services. We like our lifestyle and feel that sometimes it is worth paying a little extra to keep from disrupting our day. We also look for repair facilities (when we have to take the motorhome in) that will help accommodate us to minimize the disruption to our lives. You have to do some shopping, but it is worth it to us (for us the best service often wins out over the lowest price).
In ten years full time, we have only been out of our motor home overnight four times. Two of those were for painting though we also had painting done on several occasions and been able to stay nights in the motor home. The one other occasion I can remember is when we left the motor home in Sacramento while we flew back east. We weren’t going to be in the motor home anyway so decided to get the work done while gone.
We have only used on-site mobile work a few times. Once I’ve found a reliable shop, I put them on my list of possible stops for repairs in the future. For repairs that can be put off, I plan to stop at a shop when we are en-route. For repairs that need immediate attention I’ll call around to nearby repair shops to determine if they will accommodate an overnight stay in our rig. If not, I’ll schedule the work so we can be in and out in a day if at all possible.
Besides saving the service call fee, I also have a fixed location shop that I can call for follow up problems if there are any. I would much rather deal with an established shop than a mobile service. I believe the quality standards at a shop are going to be higher as the workers are known to the management and if not quality workers they won’t be around long.
Than you, for a very informative article… The ‘best’ recommendations are from REPEAT customers..
Smooth roads, clear skies & balmy breezes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was sure a surprise to us when a repair facility said, “sure, drop it off and we’ll try to get to it.” 8-/ I was like, “you do realize you are talking about my house.” 😉
Wow! Thanks for this post Hoby! These are some things I never realized (not being a full timer) nor gave much thought to. Would have to plan for this to become a full-timer. Good information!