I’ve been in the RV community for what feels like forever now. It’s actually been roughly 5 years, and I’ve spent almost 4 of those years helping my husband Jason run our first small business, My RV Inspection. In that relatively small amount of time, we’ve met some incredible people. Today’s small business spotlight, the founder of A & L RV Inspection, is one of those people.
I remember working with Al and Laura over the phone well before we ever met in person. You see, Al and Laura were traveling in their motorhome and called central Florida home for several months a year. Naturally they were performing RV inspections – just like Jason and me – and to help customers get speedy service, there were times we referred clients on to each other. In fact, we still do!
Over the years, we’ve come to know each other and support each other, and I’ve always admired Al’s deep commitment to help people in general and offer advice to other inspectors and RVers who are just getting started.
Tell us a little about your situation while running your RV business.
We are home based in Wildwood, FL. We service Central Florida.
Do you live in an RV full-time?
No we do not. We were full time for 3 years in our Holiday Rambler Endeavor, since coming off the road, we traded it in for a Thor Chateau Class C motorhome. We now take regional trips seeing family and sightseeing.
What inspired you to start your own RV business?
I got tired of taking my RV to a dealer for repairs and them keeping it for weeks. I took a “maintenance training class” to learn how to fix items on my RV. At the class, the instructors indicated if we took further training we could become a certified inspector. So we scheduled our 2nd level of training 6 weeks later.
What RV services or RV products do you offer?
RV Inspections, RV Walkthroughs, and Fluid Analysis.
What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?
I spent 30+ years in Transportation and owned a few Transportation brokerage firms so I had a great deal of experience running a business.
What has been your business’s proudest moment?
We received a call for an inspection of a college student that had purchased an RV to live in while attending college. When the RV arrived at the campground, the owner of the campground saw the condition of the RV and suggested the young lady call an inspector as he felt the RV was not in a livable condition.
Upon arrival, during the inspection and afterwards, we found out the RV had been totaled by an insurance company in NJ, the title was washed clean and sold to this college student. The RV was indeed not livable and our inspection enabled her to get out from underneath this RV and she purchased an RV that was fit to live in.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Coordinating inspections with buyers and sellers. Many private sellers have a job and it can be difficult to coordinate our inspection with theirs. We try to get to an RV for the inspection within a few days but at times that doesn’t always work.
Another issue we have regularly is “not getting full hookups” for an inspection. We want to provide our clients with a thorough inspection but that can be difficult without “full hookups”. We do educate our clients when they hire us on “full hookups” but ultimately it is what they are comfortable with. If we have to use a Generator for our source of power versus a pedestal hookup, the decision to perform the inspection using the Generator is the client’s decision, not ours.
Describe your typical work day.
Receive calls/emails from buyers. Pricing is quoted along with an available day to perform the inspection. Paperwork is then prepared if we are hired, the calendar set, payment received.
Tell us something interesting/fun about your business.
We performed an inspection where the seller had live baby chicks in the RV and she had no intention of removing them so we could perform the inspection.
If you could go back to the beginning knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?
The only thing I might have changed was our location when we got started. Other than that, nothing really.
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start his/her own RV business?
Be prepared for a slow start. It takes time to start any kind of business, even an RV Inspection business.
You have to work at it daily to grow your business. You can have the fanciest name, best looking logo, etc. but if no one can find you, your success will take longer.
Any other comments or advice you'd like to share?
I have used this motto for years while hiring people.
“Work Hard, Work Smart and Have Fun”. If you cannot do all of these, it’s time to move on.
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