Name an industry with too few qualified workers. Did you say the RV industry? If you did, you'd be right. There are 7.2 million recreational vehicles on the road and only 12,000 technicians to service them.

Dusty's Camper World in Bartow, Fla., sold $50 million in RVs last year and serviced 2,880, averaging $500 per repair. To meet service demands, to entice and keep workers happy, and to keep "come-backs" -- the industry's version of callbacks -- down to 8%, Dusty's has a new weapon: satellite learning.

For 90 minutes every Wednesday, half of Dusty's 18 technicians gather around a television. They tap into a certification-training program broadcast from Lake City Community College to a satellite, then to Dusty's satellite dish. Dusty's is one of 66 North American RV dealers participating in The Florida RV Trade Association program. Participants learn repair and installation of liquid propane gas, electrical, and general housing systems, and of appliances, air conditioners, and plumbing. Over 40 weeks, an instructor demonstrates repairs and troubleshooting and answers faxed-in questions live.

Don Hart is a Dusty's Camper World technician who has gone through a Florida RV Trade Association satellite-training program. Training via satellite has boosted productivity at the RV service center to 80%.
Don Hart is a Dusty's Camper World technician who has gone through a Florida RV Trade Association satellite-training program. Training via satellite has boosted productivity at the RV service center to 80%.

Besides saving thousands on training costs and eliminating most come-backs, Frank Crum, Dusty's general manager, says productivity has increased from 40% to 80% (65% is industry standard).

Crum attributes gains to boosted morale and higher confidence. Because of efficiency gains, Crum says he also needs to hire fewer people to keep up with annual growth and turnover.