Laura Dobbs – Ask Questions and Absorb All the Information You Can
Before Laura Dobbs got started in the RV industry as director of customer service for General RV Center in 2017, she didn’t have any experience in the industry.
Dobbs, who is now director of service at General, said she was a blank slate after spending 10 years in regulatory compliance in the pharmaceutical industry.
In fact, her true passion more involved actual horse than things that used horsepower to get down the roads of America.
“Horses are my life. I grew up with horses,” she said. “I apply so many concepts of my life to the horses. The things I’ve been able to achieve and the life lessons I’ve learned from being around the barn and around the horses that’s a big part of me.”
That doesn’t mean Dobbs is just some cowgirl out of her element.
From the time she was young, she rode and competed in dressage – a competitive style of riding that places emphasis on obedience, flexibility and balance where typical clothing includes a dress coat and top hat instead of chaps and blue jeans and excellence is rewarded more with polite applause rather than a hearty “yee-ha.”
As she grew older, she taught and trained horses and gave riding lessons to children, but since she has had kids of her own, riding has taken a back seat to real life.
“I had a horse that whole time, but if you want to be really good at riding and showing you have to do it more than every once in a while,” she said. “My next goal for me is to get back into that competitive arena.”
Fortunately, Dobbs’ new career choice in the RV industry allows her to help her customers find the same kinds of joy and excitement in the outdoors that she finds with horses.
“This is an opportunity for them to make memories with their family. I think the majority of our customers still use their RV for that purpose,” Dobbs said. “They make memories with their family and see all portions of the country. So, what I love the most is being able to provide that to our customers and be able to help them create those memories. When they come in for service it’s not always because something fun happened, but you try to get that fixed and get them back on the road and enjoying the fun.”
Still, Dobbs said she knows there are a fair number of customers since the outbreak of COVID who see RVing more as a complete change of life than just something to do a few weekends out of the summer.
Those who choose to minimize their lives and use their RV to experience a new life on the road are a challenge Dobbs said she is anxious to take on.
She said anyone wishing to seek a career in the industry should be prepared not only to learn the ins and outs of the vehicles, but also understand their customers.
And don’t be mistaken, any similarities between the RV and automotive industries pretty much ends where the key is turned.
“You see a lot of people that come in and compare it to the automotive industry – it’s so far from that,” she said. There are some similar words used and similar processes, but overall they’re very different. My advice to anybody coming in is to keep an open mind and try to be a sponge and absorb as much as you can. Appreciate the journey that it is, because it really is a journey to understand everything in this industry.”
Even after her time spent with customers at General, Dobbs said she still feels like she is far from understanding everything about the industry.
But she says it’s important to be patient and ask a lot of questions to challenge herself to continue to learn.
“She said for women thinking about a career in RVs, she doesn’t believe the barriers to success are nearly as difficult as they once may have been. It is just important for those women to be as comfortable being around men as they are with other women.
“That’s changing a lot.,” she said. “Since I started there are more women that surround me in my daily occurrences on our leadership team than ever before. Embrace it. Continue to challenge the industry and it can continue to grow that way.”