Superior customer service is a key point of difference for Emerald, an area where we are determined to be the best in the business. Responsibility for accomplishing that goal falls largely to our Service Manager, Gus Garrison. He’s served in that capacity since Emerald was founded in 2014, and at 26, is already recognized as one of the top service professionals in the luxury motorhome field.
Recently, we sat down with Gus to discuss the Emerald brand of service and his role in making it the best it can be.
How did you find your way into servicing Prevost coaches?
I had no background in automotive service when I came here. I started in Outlaw’s cabinetry department and worked my way through every phase of the production process. Then one day a few years back, someone on the Prevost production team heard I had electrical experience, and as you know, the bus conversions are loaded with electronics, so I found a place on the team.
That was before Emerald was launched, right?
Correct. After that first bus was completed, John decided to push ahead and start building more under the Outlaw Conversions name. So around 2012 we started working to build out a dedicated state-of-the art production space for Prevost production, and in 2013 we delivered the first Emerald coach.
Can you define the Emerald service philosophy?
From the start, we wanted to establish Emerald as a premier Prevost converter, and a big part of that was doing whatever it took to provide really exceptional service to our customers. It’s a 24/7, 365-day-a-year mindset, and it never stops.
Our service philosophy is tied directly to the integrity of our production process. We believe our product quality is second to none; we don’t anticipate having to address craftsmanship or workmanship issues. On top of that we’ve created systems, processes and control in production to ensure exceptional reliability.
But the reality is, no coach is infallible. So we’ve tried to anticipate every aspect of how it will be serviced in the future, and make it as easy possible to do. If something needs replacing, we want to be able to get the job done in minutes or at most hours, not days – and the customer back into the driver’s seat as quickly as possible.
How does that translate into day-to-day operations?
Most service calls start with a phone call, sometimes an email or text message. Someone from our service team – Ron (Cox), Amanda (Dalley) or myself – is always on call and ready to respond within minutes. Occasionally, depending on service requirements, we will include technicians from our production team.
Can you think of any service calls where you’ve really gone above and beyond?
Well, there was this one time when the customer had accidentally left the keys in the coach (it happens from time to time) and totally drained the batteries. Not really our fault, obviously, but I got on a plane straightaway to go take care of the situation.
Another recent example: a customer noticed their fresh water tank start leaking while they were out on the road. We sent some technicians post haste out to Colorado to fix the problem while they were still living in the coach.
The point is, we do whatever it takes to get our customers back on the road as quickly as possible.
Is there any ‘secret’ to troubleshooting customer issues?
No matter whether we’re providing service on-site or over the phone, troubleshooting needs to be done methodically, slowly, step-by-step. There are no shortcuts to getting it figured out, and it never pays to rush. Sometimes if you get the customer to retrace their steps, they’ll come up with something that helps us discover the source of a problem and points to a solution.
What are some common topics that customers ask you about?
I get a lot of questions that have to do with driving the coach and how to handle different situations. Clearance is a big area if concern. If they encounter a steep incline or low-clearance underpass, people will ask if they can lower or raise their suspension to deal with the issue.
Any advice to Prevost owners on how to keep their coaches on the road?
The simplest and most important advice I can provide any Prevost owner is to use it. Drive it, stay in it, use its components and systems. Use it weekly if you can. Motorcoaches hate to sit idle, and the more you use them, the better they’ll perform. That goes for the coach itself and everything in it, especially electronics. There are a lot of electronics in these coaches, and different components have their own internal clocks, so it’s important to keep them in sync. Sometimes if a coach sits idle long enough, some of the electronics can get out of sync, enough to cause a few problems.