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The drive to continuously grow and improve is at the heart of the MRAA, our members and our staff. That’s why we’re launching this blog: to share what we’re learning in our work and in our lives with you – and in hopes you’ll share what you’re learning too.


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Tools to compete in the job market

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Good people are hard to find. This statement is as old as any other business cliché, but it has never been more of a slap in the face for me than it is today.

I’m writing this blog as I wait for an interview candidate, who is now more than five minutes late for his interview. The assignment we asked him to complete prior to the interview still hasn’t arrived either. I’d love to exhale and simply move on to the next candidate, but our pool of candidates is bleak.

Five weeks ago, we actually hired someone for this position. She came to the Minneapolis Boat Show with us, a full weekend prior to when she was officially going to start. She had every skill and ability we were looking for, in addition to an eager attitude and a get-it-done mentality. She showed up as planned on Monday, was out until Friday with sick kids, and we haven’t seen her since. Vanished.

The best candidate for the position, after we resumed the recruiting process, took another job the day we were to interview her. Now this next interviewee hasn’t shown up, and it’s more than 10 minutes after his scheduled appointment. Don’t most people show up early for an interview?

I realize I’m singing to the choir here when I complain that it’s tough to find quality employees these days. Our members have been challenged to find technicians for a few years now, and the problem is only getting worse.

MRAA has committed itself to finding solutions for these issues. In fact, for the second year in a row, workforce development issues made our list of top issues to be addressed, which was created by the Advisory Council of Marine Associations, a group of trade association leaders who help to set the MRAA legislative agenda.

In 2016, our efforts created the first MRAA Marine Industry Workforce Assessment. It revealed that more than 21 percent of the positions budgeted to be on dealership payrolls went unfilled in the prior year and suggested that our industry could be short some 31,000 retail employees by 2019. MRAA members can download the assessment here.

In the end, dealers pointed to a few main reasons why they are having trouble finding good employees: the generation gap, a poor transition from schools to the workforce, a lack of tech schools to begin with, the seasonality of our business, a lack of employee training, and an inability to compete with the pay scales of other industries. With a mission to provide solutions for some of these issues, MRAA has:

  1. Held several generation-related topics at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo. MRAA Retail Members, sign into for access to some of these topics.
  2. Generated a database of marine specific technical schools.
  3. Been working on a guide to dealership training, to be published as a free member resource later this year.
  4. And launched a compensation study to give us a better understanding of the pay scales and structures in the marine industry.

The results of the 2017 MRAA Compensation Study are now available for purchase. For just $299, you can access the high-level executive summary; the full, in-depth report; and an online, dynamic salary calculator that will allow you to run an unlimited number of queries on up to 35 job descriptions, broken down by region, dealership size, and more.

Whether they’re training opportunities or customized resources, these are all tools designed to help you compete better in your market place. The only thing we can’t do is force these people to show up for interviews or for work.

Moving on…

Tags:  Compensation Study  hiring  MRAA  training 

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CRM: A look in the mirror

Posted By Liz Walz, Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Whether you believe in coincidence or not, you’ve probably had an experience like this. A topic comes up. Maybe it’s in conversation, a video or a podcast. You might read it in a book or on a website. And then it comes up again and again and again in the following days and weeks.

In my case, that topic is CRM: Customer Relationship Management. Wikipedia defines it as: “An approach to managing a company's interaction with current and potential future customers that tries to analyze data about customers' history with a company and to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth.”

If you attended the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in December, you may have heard Sam Dantzler talk about the relationship between CRM and Business Development Centers or BDCs. He believes that BDCs are unnecessary if your team is highly disciplined in its use of CRM technology. That means entering every person who walks in your door, calls your team or shoots you an email into the CRM – and then following up with them to gain the 20 touches it typically requires to convert a prospect to a customer. That kind of discipline is pretty rare, which is why he says most dealerships can benefit from a BDC.

Sam and his team at Garage Composites spoke about CRM in more depth during a powersports customer event in January. But they didn’t just emphasize putting 100% of prospects and customers into it – including the UPS delivery person. They also said failing to do so should be a serious violation of company policy, one with consequences.

CRM was a popular topic in MDCE’s Marketing Track as well. Today’s technology allows us to be highly targeted in our marketing, which tends to be more effective than messaging designed for the masses. Who doesn’t prefer to receive marketing messages that apply directly to our individual interests and preferences? But if you don’t have much prospect and customer data in your CRM, it’s nearly impossible to pull off targeted marketing campaigns.

CRM, CRM, CRM. I can’t escape. In my inbox, in my conversations with my team and with MDCE speakers. Everywhere. I started looking in the mirror. How disciplined have I been in using the MRAA CRM? The answer wasn’t pretty. So, I’m opening up a conversation with the rest of my team about how we all can improve our use of it. Here are the questions we’re asking ourselves – and you may want to ask yourselves too:

    • How does our CRM work? I thought I knew the answer, but it turns out there are several new features that make it much better than it used to be, which will help me use it more. If you haven’t checked in a while, make sure you do.
    • When should I use it? If you believe Sam, the answer is all the time. Not just the sales department, but the service department too. And the marina and boat rental, if you have it. Maybe instead the question should be: When shouldn’t I use it?
    • How do I get my team to use it consistently? If you believe it’s important – and I haven’t found a dealer or expert yet who doesn’t – you have to hold yourself and your employees accountable for using it. That means finding ways to incorporate it into your processes, tracking adherence to those processes, praising those who use it, and introducing coaching and eventually consequences for those who don’t.
    • What information do I include in the CRM? Many dealers focus their CRM notes on products the prospect is interested in or the boat they own right now. However, dealers have the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with the customer by including personal information. How many kids or pets do they have, and what are their names? What do they do for work? What are their hobbies and passions? Use this type of information to transform your follow-up calls in the best possible way.
    • How should I use data from my CRM? The short answer is sales, marketing and coaching. If you’re serious about improving and growing your people and your business, I can’t think of a more powerful tool.

Tags:  BDC  CRM  Dantzler  mdce  MRAA  training tuesday 

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The Dreaded Job Description

Posted By Bob McCann, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

We rarely get pushback from dealers on the need for job descriptions. However, this one requirement often slows down a dealer’s completion of their Certification checklist. For some reason, creating and updating job descriptions ranks right up there with cleaning out the head — except when it comes to the person whose job description is in question.

You might be one of the many dealers who doesn’t have job descriptions already created, in which case you’re likely thinking to yourself: “Where do I start?” Simple. If you’re an MRAA member, you have free access to 50-plus job descriptions in the MRAA Rewards Career Center. These descriptions are available as Word files for easy editing. For instance, if you have a Parts & Service Manager, we have separate descriptions for a Parts Manager and a Service Manage that you can merge. Just copy and paste them into one document to build a unique job description. Once you have reviewed and edited the document, share it with the employee and have them help you finalize the details.

One of the dealer best practices we have identified is to get your employees involved in the creation of their own job description. How? Incorporate it into their performance review, which, of course, is an important part of employee development and retention.

Updating job descriptions during a performance review is a surprisingly effective way to get productive conversation moving between the employee and their supervisor. Simply share the employee’s current job description or one just conceived for them and ask them to review the duties. Have them let you know if they are responsible for tasks that aren’t accounted for in your description, or if they aren’t responsible for certain functions listed in the document. This should lead to useful conversation, and the job description can be updated on the spot. Bonus: It’s much more pleasant than cleaning out the head, and gets your employees more involved in the coaching process.

Don’t forget to co-sign the description with your employee, and date it so you don’t confuse it with older versions.

Lastly, if you haven’t bought in to the idea of job descriptions already, here are several additional areas where they can move the needle for your business:

·       Interviewing/hiring

·       Onboarding

·       Goal setting

·       Career path development

·       Employee training/development plans

·       Cross-training

·       Performance improvement

·       Employee satisfaction and retention


As always, if you still have questions, concerns or get stuck with anything boat dealer-related, contact us at the MRAA, and we’ll do our best to get you the help you need.

Tags:  job descriptions  jobs  MRAA  training tuesday  workforce 

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