I’ve been friends with Rob for so long, I really can’t remember when we first met. All I know is that Rob is a true professional and a great guy all around! He truly goes above and beyond for his customers and has always been an awesome sounding board to bounce ideas or share RV inspection stories.
We’ve done FEMA disaster relief projects together and he and his wife, Donna visit Jason and I when they make trips to central Florida. One of these days, I hope to plan a meet up closer to his home turf (which apparently is all across the Midwest!)
Tell us a little about your situation while running your RV business.
Professional RV Inspections (Pro RVI) is based in Algonquin, IL. which is about 40 miles northwest of Chicago, IL. Pro RVI has performed RV inspections in 8 Midwestern states, Nevada, and North Carolina.
Do you live in an RV full-time?
I am not a full-time RVer. I live in my home with my wife and 2 sons. We currently own a 2015 Coachmen Freedom Express Liberty Edition 305RKDS travel trailer.
What inspired you to start your own RV business?
Initially, I had decided to take a course on RV maintenance training to gain more precise knowledge on trouble-shooting skills for my own personal use. This course was taken in southern Illinois in 2015 and was taught by Terry Cooper & Steve Anderson. I enjoyed the class so much, I decided to take another class (about a month later) that was specifically geared towards RV inspections. This was something I KNEW I could do, and do well.
After spending many years in the demolition / environmental remediation industry, I realized it was time for a change… and this seemed to be a good fit for me. I had done much of my own maintenance on several RVs we’ve owned since the mid 90’s.
What RV services or RV products do you offer?
I primarily perform pre-purchase inspections on new and used RVs of all classes. I have also done inspections for sellers and current owners.
I also offer fluid analysis service for motorized RVs, generators and tow vehicles, as well as safety level inspections and an instructional walk-through service to show buyers/current owners how to set-up and operate their RVs.
What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?
As I mentioned, I had owned several RVs over 25+ years. In my previous career, starting as a laborer and working up to senior management, I had developed skills in relating to clients, project managers, consultants, property owners, facility management, other contractors, developing pricing, budgets, running job sites/crews, equipment operation/repair, mechanical skills, etc. I also needed a good eye when it came to project specs, blueprints, on-site job details, contracts, an intimate knowledge of federal/state/local regulations, etc. These past skills carry over to running my current business.
What has been your business’s proudest moment?
Honestly, every time a client tells me that they are grateful for the information an inspection provided is a proud moment for me, whether an RV they were considering has issues that may have caused harm or possibly cost more money than it was worth to repair, or if the inspection simply gave them some peace of mind on the overall condition.
Also, I am VERY proud to have a consistent 5 Star rating with Google Reviews & Yelp, to have received a ‘Service Excellence’ award from the NRVIA, and to have been approved to be the NRVIAs first ‘Master Certified” RV inspector.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I think the biggest challenge has been getting the word out to RV buyers that this service even exists and for potential RV buyers to realize the value provided by a professional and independent inspection by a NRVIA certified inspector.
Describe your typical work day.
On an inspection day, I can be up as early as 4:30 AM. I might need to respond to emails received overnight (after some coffee, of course!). I then travel to the inspection site, which can easily be an hour or two away, at times. If an inspection requires more significant travel, I might need to leave the day before and spend the night in the area. I usually prefer to start by 8 AM.
An inspection can typically take 5 – 10 hours, depending on what I’m inspecting. After the inspection, I will call my client to discuss what I found during the inspection. I then need to travel back home. Once home, I usually have to catch-up on calls and emails received during the day. Once done with that, I will work on the report. I try to get the reports out the same evening, if possible, especially if I have another inspection scheduled the next day. If extended travel prevents that, I will get the report out by noon the next day, at the latest. I have had many days where all of this may have taken up to 18 hours!
Tell us something interesting/fun about your business.
Every day, I get to speak to different people from all over the country, and even the world! I have had clients from most of the U.S. as well as clients from other countries (Canada, Australia, Sweden, England). The inspection locations change, as well as what I’m inspecting. One day I can be on a sellers driveway or a farm inspecting a small used travel trailer, and the next day I can be at a manufacturing facility or a dealership inspecting a new loaded Class A diesel pusher motorhome. One inspection can be in Ohio, and the next one can be in Iowa or Nebraska!
Every day is different and every RV inspection is a new challenge to discover issues of concern.
If you could go back to the beginning knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?
I don’t think there is much I would have changed. Building a business and gaining recognition takes time, a lot of effort, the willingness/need to learn new things and adapt!
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start his/her own RV business?
Be patient and be prepared for a lot of work behind the scenes – it’s not just inspections and reports. You have to be a marketer, inspector, salesman, accountant, website builder, etc. I wear a lot of different hats running my business. Of course, having a solid background with RVs to begin with, in my opinion, is a must!
Any other comments or advice you'd like to share?
If you’re running an inspection or repair business, realize your worth, provide the best service you can and continue learning!
If you’re buying a new or used RV, get it inspected by a NRVIA certified inspector before you make a final offer, complete the sale, or accept delivery.
If you’re an RV service provider, make sure you sign up for a company listing on My RV Resource, where we nurture a community of RVers and RV-related small business owners.
If you’re an RVer, become a member today so you can use advanced filters to find RV service providers all across the US (and even a few in Canada).
We’d also appreciate it if you would suggest companies that should be added to our directory and share reviews directly on the company’s listing page! It’ll help everyone in the long run.