Turning a Hobby Into a Career That Empowers Others

Brenda Puckett entered the RV lifestyle as a way to escape the drudgery of her real estate career.

by Greg Gerber

“I was in a soul-crushing position that had taken over my life,” she explained. “I bought a Class C motorhome and hopped on the road to get into nature so I could relax.”

Although her husband was not a big fan of camping, Brenda loved the lifestyle. She hooked up with some groups which also embraced solo RVing as a way to connect with other women, many of whom were also married or had families.

Brenda enjoyed the RV lifestyle so much, she wondered if she could make it a career by getting a job or starting a business in the RV industry. One night, while scrolling through the online Reddit forum, she read a post submitted by a couple who had just completed training to become RV inspectors.

“Being from the real estate industry, I spent a lot of time with home inspectors. I figured RV inspections would be really similar in helping to educate consumers to become more savvy before making a major purchase,” Brenda said.

After sending a private message to the couple, she learned there was a unique school only a few hours away that provided training courses to become a certified RV inspector. So, Brenda called the National RV Training Academy in Athens, Texas, and enrolled in the next class, which started five days later.

Upon completion, she launched Queen Bee RV and set a series of goals hoping to walk away from her real estate job. Brenda accomplished that goal within 18 months of inspecting her first RV.

Reliable Advice

After leaving her real estate career, Brenda used the extra time to jump into something else she loved to do – coaching and mentoring others. She had been doing that in the real estate industry for years, and also coached young athletes in cheerleading and dance competitions.

Brenda started offering one-on-one training sessions to acquaint new owners with their RVs. She would meet them at their homes or at local campgrounds to demonstrate how to use their new equipment.

“I just did a one-on-one session with a female camper in Oklahoma City,” Brenda explained. “She brought her boyfriend and they both asked very specific questions about the RV itself and the components onboard.

“People really love that service. I’ll spend at least a half-day with them. I call it Queen Bee VIP Day,” she added. “When we finish, my customers are so grateful because they now have a friend in the RV industry who can answer any questions that may come up after they start using their RVs.”

Some of the material available on the internet about the RV lifestyle and how to use recreation vehicles can be confusing, especially to new RV users, she explained.

“There are some awesome people on YouTube and other social media channels who do a fabulous job teaching people,” Brenda said. “But there are some others who are creating a lot of conflicting information. It’s really challenging for new RV owners to figure out who they can trust.

“I love being able to tell people that I was trained by master certified RV technicians, and that I am a certified RV inspector and technician myself,” she added.

Group Training

While attending women’s camping events, whenever people learned Brenda was an inspector and technician, they would often pepper her with questions.

“It was a different atmosphere where campers felt comfortable speaking to another woman while surrounded by women. They were empowered to ask questions they might be embarrassed to ask in a mixed crowd,” Brenda said.

“As I explored creating educational opportunities at those events, I was asked to teach a women’s workshop at the NRVTA campus,” she explained. “The women were gracious and there were even a few NRVTA staff members present for my session.”

That experience opened a door for Brenda to begin serving as a technical assistant during NRVTA’s RV Fundamentals class, where she would work with small groups of students to complete hands-on labs.

Then, she started traveling to other women’s groups events regionally and nationally. Brenda would lead one-hour seminars or full-day workshops. She fell in love with teaching.

During one event, she met Dana Hext, another certified RV inspector and certified RV technician from Houston. They formed a joint venture traveling across America teaching at women’s workshops.

From those sessions, Dana and Brenda created a YouTube channel and posted a new video every week for a year. They called the series “52 Ways to Empower Women RVers.”

One workshop participant suggested the two women create an online university of their own, which they called 52U. Brenda and Dana continue to lead seminars around the country. They were in the Poconos mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania this summer. Other seminars have taken place in Napa Valley and Bakersfield, Calif., as well as in Texas. Future events are slated for Missouri, Arizona and the Pacific northwest.

Helping Mobile Business Owners

Brenda had been a small business owner in the past before she started classes at NRVTA. However, when she was at the academy, she sat in on short daily business discussions every morning. The sessions were designed to help people transition from a lifetime of working at jobs for other people into operating businesses of their own as entrepreneurs.

She would still sit in on the classes whenever she was at NRVTA to serve as a technical assistant. Brenda dropped a few hints that she would be very interested in becoming a co-teacher or presenter for some of those sessions. Toward the end of 2021, she got her chance.

“The course had greatly expanded over the years. Steve Anderson, who owned Workamper News at the time, had partnered with Mark J. Kohler, who was both an attorney and certified public accountant. They created the Small Business RVer School,” Brenda explained. “It is a self-paced course providing tools to help people form a business and start marketing it. By following a specific path, people would know everything they needed to do to properly launch a business.

“One day, Steve approached me wondering if I’d be interested in taking over as the presenter for the Small Business RVer sessions,” she added. “It’s an optional course that starts at 7 a.m. every day. I share nuggets of success stories as well as business tips. People also have an opportunity to purchase the full kick-starter home-study business program.

“The program provides students with tools and nearly 50 videos to watch at their own pace to determine the correct steps they need to take to launch and operate a business of their own,” Brenda said.

RV Operations Course

Building on her other training endeavors, Brenda was tapped to help produce a new home-study course for RVers of all experience levels. The self-paced training emphasizes the importance of understanding an RV’s systems rather than focusing solely on a specific brand. By learning the fundamental systems, people gain the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively maintain and repair any RV.

The material is based off the same principles taught in the course designed for RV technicians and inspectors. But, as an entry-level course, it is much easier for non-technical people to understand, Brenda explained.

“All of those vents and openings can look really similar and scary. Often, people think any button they push or valve they open could result in damaging the RV or hurting themselves in the process,” she said.

So, Brenda takes people on a guided tour of an RV while drawing attention to various parts and components. She also introduces people to what she affectionately calls “RVnese,” or the language industry professionals and experienced RVers use.

“When you’re sitting around the campfire and everybody knows what they’re talking about except you, it can be really intimidating,” Brenda said. “For example, what exactly is a ‘toad’ and why do people refer to campground electricity as ‘shore power’ when they’re nowhere near water?”

Brenda also helps people complete basic troubleshooting and routine maintenance on the RV.

“You want to learn how to protect your investment and ensure your safety when using an RV,” she explained. “I love this course because the information is being presented by professionals associated with the National RV Training Academy.

“NRVTA is a highly-trusted source regulated by the Texas Workforce Commission,” she added. “You know the information is factual and reliable.”

Best of all, the courses Brenda teaches are available around-the-clock.

“People can go back and watch something again and again, and practice on their own until they get it right,” Brenda said. “Then, anytime they need a little refresher, people can access the information whenever necessary.”

Brenda remembers how she felt as a new RV owner having to pay a mobile technician to come to her campground to explain the reason she couldn’t extend her slideroom was because the emergency brake had to be on with the engine running.

“Those situations can be really embarrassing,” she said. “That’s why I’m all about empowering RVers to make informed buying decisions, understand how to use the RVs they purchase, and even operate a small business, if they opt to do that.

“The videos are only 10- to 15-minutes long and divided into chapters so people can find information quickly,” Brenda explained. “They can zoom through pretty quickly to get the answers they need.”

For more information about Brenda’s training, or to connect with her, visit www.queenbeerv.com. From there, you’ll find links to her 52 Ways video series. For more information about the Small Business RVer School for entrepreneurs on the move, visit www.smallbizrver.com. For information about the RV Operations Course home-study training, visit www.rvtechcourse.com.

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