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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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Can’t Follow Up Yourself? Hire!

Posted By Liz Keener, 21 hours ago

Your most recent customer has just pulled away, the owner of a shiny new boat. You know the next step in your sales process is to follow up. But how?

 

You’re swamped! The phones are ringing; the online leads are pouring in; the bell at the door keeps dinging; and you haven’t eaten in six hours!

 

Now is the time to invest in your dealership’s customer experience. You can do this either by hiring a short-term, contract employee, or thinking long-term about a customer experience representative or manager to have on staff. You need someone who can run through your customer relationship management (CRM) log and call your spring and summer customers one by one. Someone who has the time to chit-chat with your customers and offer them the customer experience that you wish you had time for personally.

 

And the time to do that is now.

 

There are plenty of people currently looking for jobs, as they were recently laid off or furloughed due to COVID’s effects on businesses, and many of those people have worked in customer service, from call center reps to waiters and waitresses. These people with customer service experience can be taking the time to call your customers, to check in with them, assure they’re having a high-quality experience, fix any issues and ask for referrals.

 

So, what do you need to get started?

 

  • Consider if you will be hiring this person for short-term, contract work, or long-term work. If you’re hiring a contractor for the first time, check the federal and state laws on contract work. If you work with any type of human resources company, or if you have an HR person on staff, they should be able to help. Assure you’re hiring this position legally and following all of the rules for their type of employment.
  • Create a job description for that person. The MRAA Certification Team has developed a sample job description for a customer experience representative that is available for MRAA members here, along with more than 50 other job descriptions. Create your job posting, and make it clear what type of position this is (contract, part-time or full-time) and where the person will be working (inside the dealership or from their home).
  • Prepare the representative’s working environment. Depending on how you want this employee or contractor to access your CRM, dealer management system (DMS), or other technology, this job could be done from your dealership, or they could work from their own home. Consider what technology you would need to provide for them to work at either site, including a computer, phone system, a customer experience email address, etc.
  • Create a plan and set metrics. Develop a system for passing information to the customer experience rep and having them pass the information back. Ideally, this would be some system within your CRM. Also, set realistic metrics for how many customer touches the person is expected to make each day or week and a method of measuring those touches.
  • Interview and hire. Look for an enthusiastic attitude. Find someone who doesn’t mind being on the phone for hours on end; not everyone is up to the task.
  • Onboard and train. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get this person up to speed quickly, because we know you want to reach out to these customers ASAP. But make sure you still provide training on the systems the person will use, information about the dealership and its culture, and scripts and templates that the person will need.
  • Check-in. Once the customer experience rep gets going, check in and assure the work is being done to your level of expectation and that the person still has the tools, information and training they need to get the job done right.
  •  If you have time and have paid for the 2019 Continuous Certification Curriculum (Certified Dealers only), watch the Align Your People Pathway of the Q3 course: Align Your Dealership with Today’s Customer. And if you don’t have time today, bookmark that course for the future, as you consider opportunities to offer a better customer experience within your dealership. This course offers you information on a range of options from hiring a customer experience representative to creating your own Business Development Center (BDC). 

This may seem like a long list, but by hiring this new person, you’ll take a huge load off of yourself and your sales team, so you can continue to focus on bringing in new revenue. On top of that, you’ll have the opportunity to reach your new customers in ways other businesses aren’t, securing that customer’s loyalty, business and recommendations going forward.

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The No. 1 tactic for retaining first-time boat buyers

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Tuesday, July 7, 2020


As long-time boating enthusiasts and professionals, it’s easy for us to forget how much first-time boat buyers don’t know about boating.

 

Last week, for example, I watched as a new boat owner tried more than a dozen times to back his trailer down the ramp to retrieve his boat. He gave up and asked a fisherman who had been standing in the parking lot drinking a beer, to back the trailer into the water for him. After he obliged, and the wheel wells were submerged down the ramp, the novice had one more question: “How do I get the boat onto the trailer?”

 

No matter what your personal boating history, and no matter if your customer is a first-time buyer or just a new-to-them boat buyer, there are a number of unknowns they face. And let’s be honest, there are numerous issues — What’s wrong with my trolling motor? Why doesn’t my speedometer work? Why aren’t the lights working on my trailer? How do I get these things fixed? — that either we’re not aware that the customer is experiencing or we gloss over them because of our years of dealing with and fixing those issues ourselves.

 

But these are the exact reasons why post-sale follow up is the No. 1 tactic for not only ensuring a quality ownership experience, but also for gaining repeat business. As that customer’s dealer, you are also their closest ally in an enjoyable boating lifestyle. You are the authority on boating. You are the guide to help them get the most out of their new purchase. And you are their resource when something goes wrong.

 

Unfortunately, when something goes wrong, consumers today are more likely to voice their discontent on social media than they are to pick up the phone and call you. Another reason why follow-up is so critically important.

 

First-time boat buyers need extra care in the buying and ownership process. Dealers need

to make sure they bolster their follow-up procedures to help retain them as customers.

 

 

I know you don’t have time to follow up with every customer, especially in today’s overwhelming sales environment. But you need to make the time in order to keep these customers in boating and to bring them back to your business when it’s time to upgrade.

 

We often think of the sales process as a relationship building effort. But, really, the customer needs the relationship on the back side of the sale — after they trailer off your lot or idle away from the dock. That’s when they’re really going to need you. Will you be there for them?

 

We want to make a follow-up procedure as easy as possible for you, so we’ve created a series of resources and ideas to help you get started. Here’s a six-step approach for prioritizing follow-up and creating an outstanding customer ownership experience:

  1. We’re all running short on inventory, and now that we’re past the early July peak of summer, and the sales season is beginning to slow, you should create a plan to ramp up your follow-up procedures. Start by making the shift from a sales mentality to a customer experience mentality.
  2. Decide your approach for which team member(s) will make the calls: Typically, it would be the sales contact or a sales manager or a customer service representative or some combination of them all. You could make a case for that call to come from a service writer who could help assist with minor issues the customer is having. The “who” is not as important as actually making the call because it’s the care and concern that matters. Just make sure they have a customer experience mindset.
  3. Start with your sales log. Pull a list, to include name, contact info and the make and model of the boat that was purchased, for every boat buyer since the beginning of the year. Start with the first boat and call every customer in order of purchase. Yes, you should include used- as well as new-boat buyers.
  4. Log every conversation in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
  5. Create a task calendar for issues that need to be followed-up on further, and make sure those tasks not only get assigned to someone but also that they are followed through on.
  6. Don’t forget about service. Demonstrating that you care that the service work you completed has been done satisfactorily is a great way to build rapport and strengthen your relationship with the customer. (Follow the same process as above, beginning with a list of every service customer and the work that was completed.)

 

Your follow-up strategy doesn’t need to be super elaborate. It can start as easy as that outlined above. The important thing is that you ensure that post-sale (and service) follow-up is conducted so that the customers know they have an ally in your dealership … and someone that they know will take care of them when it comes time to upgrade their boat.

Tags:  customer experience 

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Operation: Keep Your Customers Boating

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Monday, July 6, 2020

 

In Minnesota, a salesman admits that boat deliveries and walkthroughs are being compromised by the overwhelming number of customers who need to be cared for. This, despite the fact that he’s selling boats to customers who’ve never even been in a boat, let alone have never owned a boat.

In Florida, a dealership principal tosses and turns through sleepless nights because he knows his customers aren’t receiving the care and attention they deserve. In Ohio, it’s plain and simple, a dealer’s “CSI scores are going to take a hit,” because of the frantic pace of boat sales and service.

Across North America, boat dealerships are facing a culmination of pressure points that make it nearly impossible to keep up. Leads have increased exponentially, all the new customers we’ve dreamt about are swarming dealerships, and boat sales are surpassing record numbers. What started as a sales season rife with panic and concern on a level not seen since The Great Recession, has quickly transformed into a prolific boat “buying frenzy” that has boat dealers overwhelmed, staff on the verge of burnout and inventory significantly depleted.

On the manufacturing side, production lines have restarted and boats are being shipped, but executives admit that they’re rushing to fill orders. They acknowledge that the compounding effects of restarting production lines, hiccups in the supply chain and the pressure to deliver boats have caused a rise in quality issues. Meanwhile, the long-running quip that dealership service departments serve as the last 10 feet of the production line has recently been updated to the last 75 feet.

This isn’t a blame game or even a pity party. It’s an acknowledgement that while the boat business experiences significant demand, there’s both an opportunity and a risk we should be aware of.

First-time boat buyers have been leaving boating at a clip of about 40 percent in their first five years of boat ownership — during normal times, according to a study released last year. Today’s dealers risk that this sudden pressure on their businesses will cause them to fail to deliver the world-class customer experience people expect when parting ways with their discretionary income. And they risk more customers than normal will become one-and-done boat owners.

The opportunity, then, is that we can deliver for them and capture these first-time boat buyers for life. With their eyes opened to the escape boating can provide, it’s our chance to show them how being on the water can change their lives for good. That effort begins with the dealer, and a little bit of the right effort will ensure the ownership experience is worth recommending and returning for.

The MRAA is here to help ensure that you capitalize on the opportunity in front of you and that you overcome all risks to the long-term profitability of your business.

Introducing “Operation: Keep Your Customers Boating,” a step-by-step guide to helping you ensure the boat ownership experience exceeds expectations, and creating an environment where your customers will develop two-foot-itis in a year or so and will be in to trade up on their boat.

This multi-part guide has been conceptualized by MRAA’s Dealership Certification Program Manager Liz Keener and Lead Consultant Bob McCann and captures and shares some of the leading insights our team has garnered over the years. They’ve tapped expert advice, dealer best practices, and industry trends to help you manage the customer experience. The first phase of this guide will be released as blogs right here on MRAA.com.

In this series, you’ll gain critical insights on topics like post-sale follow-up, processes for taking care of first-time boat buyers, service shop efficiencies, and digital engagement. You’ll also gain access to resources like call scripts, process maps and key job descriptions. It’s a robust, step-by-step guide for not only taking care of your customers but also for helping you capture future business.

The important part of this is the three-part commitment you need to make for your business and your customers:

  1. Acknowledge that the customer experience and the future prosperity of your business are at risk;
  2. Tap into the resources you will learn about and MRAA is providing for you; and
  3. Put them to use in your dealership starting today.

Your new customers might already be on the water, but it’s not too late to ensure they have a world-class boating experience. You get to decide if that happens, and the time to act is now.

Tags:  customer experience 

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The Benefits of Reauthorizing a Small Business Pre-Disaster Loan Program

Posted By Adam Fortier-Brown, Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Every business, regardless of its size or structure, face various challenges with natural disasters and periods of financial hardship.  As small business owners in a weather-dependent industry like recreational boating, the effects of floods, storms, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are familiar, yet frustrating, territory.

There is no question that extreme natural disasters around the world are on the rise, with the U.S. seeing more billion-dollar natural disasters than ever before. In the last decade alone, natural disasters cost U.S. taxpayers over $800 billion – or about half of what disasters have cost our country in the last 40 years. Our businesses and communities often are forced to live with old, deteriorating infrastructure that was not originally built with modern disasters in mind. Our dealership communities deserve more.

Historically, the U.S. has not emphasized preparing for the next natural disaster as much as it has responding to the damage they cause. The past few years we have seen a rise in historic hurricanes and wildfires across the county. Beyond our borders, swaths of India and Bangladesh are flooding following the destruction caused by the most powerful cyclone in a decade. Disasters like these are an existential threat to the 40 to 60 percent of small businesses that never reopen following a disaster.

There are several federal programs available for communities and businesses to rebuild after disaster strikes, like SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, but what if we invested more in preventing potential damage instead?

This is not an altogether radical idea. Research shows that for every $1 the government spends on disaster mitigation, such as improving existing infrastructure or elevating homes and businesses, save taxpayers an average of $6.

In response to the 2017 hurricane season, then Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long told the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, “I cannot overstate the importance of focusing on investing in mitigation before a disaster strikes … building more resilient communities is the best way to reduce risks to people, property, and taxpayer dollars.” Since 2017, natural disasters have cost the U.S. more than $462 billion.

This is why the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, along with its recreational boating industry partners at the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Association of Marina Industries, have taken this issue to Congress to reauthorize a little-known small business pre-disaster loan program that expired over a decade ago. This program would allow the Small Business Administration to make low interest, fixed-rate loans so small businesses can invest in disaster resilient improvements to protect commercial real estate and contents from disaster related damages. This ultimately would reduce the costs associated with potential closure, layoffs, and lost revenue resulting from business closure due to a disaster.

Recreational boat dealers depend on strong infrastructure to be able to make their living. Investing in climate-resilient infrastructure would help local communities and businesses better prepare crumbling roads, bridges, boat ramps, and shorelines for more frequent flooding and storm damage, and help prevent costly repairs and higher insurance costs. As small businesses drive our nation’s economic recovery through and beyond COVID-19, it will be particularly important for the U.S. government to provide opportunities to support job gains and business growth not only in cities, but in rural economies where the outdoor recreation economy thrives.

Our industry’s businesses make it possible for the nearly half of Americans who participate in outdoor recreation each year to continue to take part in their favorite activities. Our country’s natural resources and waterways are as abundant and accessible as anywhere in the world, with the state’s beautiful coast, lakes, ponds and mountains serving as a needed escape for residents and tourists alike. By investing in modern, resilient infrastructure, we can ensure that these resources and the businesses that depend on them can continue to thrive for decades to come.

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How to plan for success in 2021

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Every year the market place throws a mix of new challenges at you and your business. Whether they’re personnel changes, technological obstacles, product line updates or evolving customer or partner preferences, they change the dynamics of how you approach selling and servicing boats.

 

With little-to-no warning, the boating industry changed forever with the health crisis that overwhelmed the early part of 2020. Who would have ever imagined that the next economic slowdown would have required you to run your brick-and-mortar operation out of your home? What could have ever prepared you for curbside pick-up, relationship building from a distance, or by-appointment-only, virtual boat closings? And who could have predicted that the shift to the digital sales and service process that you’ve slowly been coming around to would need to be made literally overnight?

 

The boat retail market place has never been an easy one to manage, and today, it is more complicated than ever before. There are more uncertainties, regulations, and consumer-related obstacles than our businesses have ever even considered.

 

That won’t stop boating from maintaining its place as the No. 1 choice among family-focused recreational options, however. And it doesn’t have to prevent you from achieving the success you and your team deserve.

 

For nearly five decades now, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas has fought for the advancement of boat and engine dealers and the marine industry at large. We have stood alongside dealers as we battled unwarranted laws, regulations and restrictions, and we have provided dealerships with critical guidance as they faced ever-changing market conditions, technological advancements, and yes, even the once-unfathomable requirements of evolving customer desires.

 

As we navigate through the chaos of 2020, everything has changed, but nothing has changed. Our team here at the MRAA — a seasoned group whose leadership team not only navigated The Great Recession with you, but who also delivered immense value throughout the challenges of the last 20 years, not to mention the last 20 weeks — remains right by your side. No matter what the world throws at us.

 

Last week, MRAA opened registration for Dealer Week 2020. This event offers you the clearest path to navigating the complexity and uncertainty of your market place. It is the must-attend event of 2020, if not of your entire career, as it will set you up for success in 2021 and beyond.

 

Dealer Week attendees create their plans for the year ahead with the help of 
educational courses, industry experts, dealer colleagues and MRAA partners.

 

 

In partnership with our Board of Directors, our Young Leaders Advisory Council, our Strategic Partners and our Education Champions, we are building the most powerful MRAA educational event ever. Dealer Week 2020 will guide you through today’s new realities and tomorrow’s questions. It will share the most meaningful insights, trends, analysis, best practices and strategies specific to your business. Dealer Week will deliver the answers you need in order to have confidence in your plan for 2021 because we know that the growth, success and prosperity of your family, your business, and your team are of utmost importance.

 

MRAA remains full speed ahead on Dealer Week 2020. And no matter if the in-person event can go on, as planned, for Dec. 8-11 in Austin, Texas, or we need to deliver this critical educational event through a virtual experience — and I do mean experience … not just some glorified webinar — I promise you that the MRAA will be there for you to answer the call. We’re ready for both scenarios.

 

Your business needs you to prepare for whatever the market place presents in the year ahead, as well. The pillars of success for today’s boat dealerships are changing. Let us help you change with them. Get started at Dealer Week 2020. Register today.

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9 Tasks Your Techs Shouldn't Be Doing

Posted By Bob McCann, Sunday, June 14, 2020

It has been such a delight to hear from every dealer who I’ve spoken with over the last couple of months tell me about their record pace for sales and service, in addition, to the amount of new business coming from new boaters. New blood is what this industry has needed and talked about for years. It’s our opportunity to grow in unit sales and not just dollars.

 

Now that this silver lining has appeared from the dark clouds, we need to shift gears and manage the capacity needed to keep these new boaters in the lifestyle.

 

What are your customers hearing from your staff? Are they needing to apologize for crazy long wait times? I can hear it now, “sorry” it took so long, or “sorry” we couldn’t help you; we’ve been bombarded with customers buying and wanting their boats serviced. I see the cog in the wheel having the ability to service the boats before and after the sale. There aren’t any quick remedies coming that will produce experienced technicians. All the answers for more techs are to grow your own. So, is your dealership operating as it did prior to this burst of business?

 

In addition to being a lifelong boater, I’m also an avid cyclist. Boat dealers aren’t the only dealers realizing this surge of business. Bike shops are dealing with an overwhelming demand for sales and service. This may sound like a good problem to have, but is it? What if this is the first-time folks are coming to your business wanting to purchase or get service and you can’t deliver?

 

My bike is closing in on a year old and it is time for a tune up, so I stopped into two bike shops over the weekend. Here’s a quick review of the two experiences:

 

Bike shop 1: Three technicians, still operating the way they did prior to the pandemic, except for the crowd-management, theater-style ropes they installed outside for people who enjoy 90 degrees and 90% humidity. They’re operating the same way they always operated… A customer walks in to pick up his bike, one tech stops working on a bike, goes to the counter, greets the customer, gets the bike, works the POS to retrieve the bill, and takes payment. Meanwhile, customers with broken bikes are being told from a distance, "we are slammed and backed up three weeks." 

 

Bike Shop 2: Four techs working in two workstations. The team member who is normally at the drink bar is at the register taking money and returning bikes while all the techs keep turning wrenches!

 

It’s a much different feel in Shop 2, especially when I asked a customer how long it took to repair his bike, “Three days!” I’m certain that the desire for bikes will not maintain this level, but Bike Shop 2 will be taking advantage of this surge long after the need is over. 

 

Are boat dealers looking for ways to keep their techs focused on getting their jobs completed? Take a minute and run a quick check in your mind. Are your techs doing anything that doesn’t require their skill and expertise, such as:

  1. Looking for and moving boats to and from their workspace;
  2. Looking up and running for parts;
  3. Looking for keys;
  4. Interpreting poor write-ups;
  5. Completing paperwork;
  6. Reassembling boats after the mechanical repair is complete;
  7. Having to move boats out of their workspace due to no customer authorization;
  8. Working ridiculously long hours that leads to burn out;
  9. Cleaning their workspace.

 

Boat dealers live this seasonal work style every year and plan for it, but this year, they might need to start thinking of additional ways to adjust their processes to reduce wasted time, improve efficiency, and figure out how to do it while injecting some fun. In addition to the fun, everyone at the dealership should be getting rewarded with praise and bigger paychecks.

 

MRAA recently hosted industry expert Valerie Ziebron for insights into this topic and more in an Ask The Expert Webinar titled “How to Make the Best of the Mad Rush in Service.” Did you miss it?  No problem, watch or listen anytime at MRAA.com/MRAAwebinars.

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Why the boater experience is more important than ever

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Friday, June 12, 2020

Well, we got our wish. For the last decade, or maybe longer, we’ve been gasping at how the average age of our boat buyers has increased by about 8 or 9 months every single year. The same people who were leading the boat-buying parade in the 80s are still the ones buying boats today.

 

Where are the Millennials or GenXers, we asked? Where are the first-time boat buyers? It’s been a real concern.

 

The data today suggests that the top of the boat buying funnel is overflowing with prospects. Leads are off the chart, dealers are reporting that they’re busier than they’ve ever been. And lenders like MRAA Partner Member Vantage Recreational Finance are reporting a “tremendous amount of first-time boat buyers entering the marketplace.”

 

So, we got our wish. The first-time boat buyers are here. Now, the question becomes: What are you doing to make sure they are not simultaneously final-time boat buyers, as well?

 

If history has its say, we’ve got a lot of work to do to improve the boat buying and ownership experience and keep boaters on the water. According to a study publicized last year, nearly 40 percent of first-time boat buyers sell their boat and don’t replace it within five years of original purchase. From 2013 through mid 2018, that meant that 148,000 first-time boat buyers were one-and-done and opted out of boating. That’s equal to about 50 percent of the total power boats that are sold in any given year.

 

 

Of the 380,000 people who bought a boat in 2013, 39%
(or 148,000) sold and did not replace their boat by mid 2018.

 

 

 

Dealers have control of this situation. We know from our friends at Rollick, who administer the industry customer satisfaction surveys that, A. Of all the dealer-specific CSI factors, the Overall Purchase Experience has the highest correlation to overall boat (the product) satisfaction; and B. Of ALL CSI factors, the question “would you recommend this dealer?” has the highest correlation to overall boat satisfaction. In both instances, it’s clear that the experience at the dealership drives product satisfaction.

 

In a nutshell, according to Rollick, this means that the customer’s happiness with the dealer can override dissatisfaction with the product, and a customer who is upset with their dealer is more likely to walk away from the boat brand. And, as it turns out, they’re also more likely to walk away from boating, altogether: In a survey of consumers who had almost purchased a boat but stopped short and walked away from the purchase indefinitely, 66 percent noted they had not had a helpful experience at the dealership.

 

So, as consumers choose boating at an increasing rate, we need to ensure that we are providing a rewarding, memorable sales and ownership experience, or we risk losing them forever. With this surge expected to continue into 2021, now's our chance to truly grow boating. Let’s make sure we deliver an experience worth recommending and coming back for so that the momentum continues for years.

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Keep Records of Employees’ Coronavirus Illnesses

Posted By Liz Walz, Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Many of the legal experts that have been providing businesses with advice throughout the COVID health crisis have recommended the creation of systems and processes to track efforts to keep employees and customers safe.

Now, under newly revised policies issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), its Compliance Safety and Health Officers will begin stepping up in-person inspections of all types of workplaces and enforcement of the COVID-related record-keeping mandates for businesses, particularly those that employ more than 10 people, as detailed in 29 CFR 1904.

“In all events, it is important as a matter of worker health and safety, as well as public health, for an employer to examine COVID-19 cases among workers and respond appropriately to protect workers, regardless of whether a case is ultimately determined to be work-related,” wrote Lee Anne Jillings and Patrick J. Kapust, acting directors, in an OSHA Memorandum on May 19, 2020. 

The mandates they will now be enforcing require employers to conduct a “reasonable and good faith inquiry” into cases of coronavirus among their employees to determine whether they may be work-related, and if they are determined to be work-related, to record those cases using OSHA Form 300.

This is one of several regulations related to COVID-19 that U.S. marine dealers should be aware of and ensure they are in compliance with.

MRAA addressed some of these legal and regulatory considerations as part of its April 15th Ask the Expert Webinar, titled Legal Insights to COVID-19 Solutions.

Given the changes that have taken place since then, MRAA will once again feature expertise from MRAA partner Bellavia Blatt PC to help dealers navigate these legal and regulatory issues in an upcoming June webinar, date and time to be announced shortly.

 

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Is Your Dealership Operating Safely?

Posted By Liz Keener, Thursday, May 21, 2020

Here we are on the cusp of summer. With Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. and Victoria Day in Canada unofficially kicking off the season, this is typically a busy time of year for dealers.

 

We hope this is a busy, revenue-generating time for you as well.

 

But we also know this year is different. The government is asking us to practice social distancing. Consumers are excited to get out on the water, but many are hesitant to interact closely with you and your staff. Your staff is happy to be back at work, but some are reluctant to come back if certain precautions aren’t made.

 

So what are you doing to stay safe while people across North America are still being infected with COVID-19?

 

There are a lot of things to think about from customer interactions to washing surfaces and from marina safety to demo rides and sea trials.

 

I recently spent a great deal of time with MTAs throughout North America, discussing what it is that dealers, marina operators and boatyard owners need to know about running their operations during the pandemic.

 

What we developed is a 58-page manual, the Guide to Operating Your Boat Business Safely.

 

Don’t worry, you don’t have to read the full 58 pages of the guide. We know you’re busy. Find the articles that are pertinent to you. We have a section on Your Business, another on Your Customers and a third on Your Employees. Plus, 17 pages of the publication are downloads for you to use. Those downloads range from printable guides for your staff, to posters for your customers, to customizable Excel documents that will help you run your business safely.

 

We combed through what the CDC, Health Canada, W.H.O., OSHA and others have been reporting and assessed how their recommendations affect dealerships, marinas and boatyards, and translated that, so you don’t have to.

 

We hope you find some great resources in this guide! And if you need any additional, resources or information, let us at the MRAA or those at your local MTA know. We’re glad to help!

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Safe Boating, The 2020 Version

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Wednesday, May 20, 2020

If you’re not one of the many marine industry disciples who actually wore their life jacket to work last Friday — affectionately known as Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day — you should be aware that the week prior to Memorial Day here in the States is always honored as National Safe Boating Week.

 

Safe Boating Week was designed to bring awareness to the importance of safety on the water, prior to what is normally the kickoff to the summer boating season — Memorial Day weekend. Wear your life jacket. Boat sober. Navigate responsibly. Respect other boaters. And so forth.

 

With many dealers and marinas reporting that boater activity levels have been at all-time highs throughout the month of May, the boating season is already in full swing, and it is expected that this Memorial Day Weekend could be the busiest holiday weekend ever for boating across the United States.

 

This year, more than any other year, safe boating takes on a higher level of importance — and not just because of the increased boating activity. Safe Boating week was designed to help mitigate the risks of boating accidents and fatalities, two key metrics that our industry has been successful at improving over time. With greater numbers of boaters on the waterways, a focus on safe boating will be more important than ever.

 

I would argue, however, that our industry’s focus shouldn’t be limited to reducing the risk of just accidents and fatalities. It should also be focused on limiting the risk that our industry faces with regard to the health concerns in our society today.

 

Download this and the other resources below to communicate with customers on how to boat
safely in today's social-distancing-focused environment and help mitigate risks to boating.

 

 

You may recall that Miami-Dade County in Florida closed down its boat ramps and forbid boaters from using popular boating destinations due to the appearance that boaters were not practicing safe social distancing measures. With increased boating-related website traffic, with an increase in boat loan applications, and positive reports from our dealers, it’s clear that a whole lot of new people and seasoned boaters alike will be taking to our waterways this weekend and enjoying our great outdoors. What are you doing to keep them safe and protect both boaters and boating for the days, weeks and months to come?

 

Without a good reminder from our industry and our many businesses and their employees, if boating participation isn’t conducted safely and responsibly, it could damage the reputation of boating and once again cause the closure of ramps and/or waterways. Let’s make sure that we’re communicating, as an industry, all of the ways we should be boating safely.

 

Here are a few resources you can use to do that:

MRAA: Communicate Safe Boating With Your Customers

MRAA's Boating Do's and Do Not's 

Boat Ramp Do's and Do Not's

Discover Boating Article: Tips for Safe Social Distancing

 

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