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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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Top tags: certification  continuous improvement  dealer development  training  employees  Continuous Certification  customer experience  education  experience  workforce  dealer to dealer  discussions  employee satisfaction  growth  MDCE  MRAA  training tuesday  workforce issues  Annual conference  communication  community  CRM  culture  customer service  dealer focused  Experiences  focus  industry insight  lifestyle  marine industry 

Cultivating Communities

Posted By Nikki Duffney, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Imagine walking into a room full of friends who share your best interests and are confident that you are invested in their best interests. What does that feel like? I liken it to walking into a room full of trust, learning and support.

That is the feeling I had when I walked into the Sunset meeting room in Rhode Island where the National Marine Trades Association Council met May 15-18. The marine industry has so much to share with each other and when we support the work we are all invested in, we cultivate community that results in collaboration and excellence. We do this on an association level at MRAA because we feel that we need to be united as an industry to fight the challenges that we all face, like the workforce shortage issue and getting new boaters on the water.

Turning this around, how can dealerships cultivate communities in their local area and is it worth the energy, and possibly financial, investment? Absolutely, it is worth it and the results of crafting a community around your company has dividends that will pay for years.

Creating spaces for people who live in your market to come out to an event that you put on or are present at to show investment in enriching the community will increase visibility for your brand and demonstrate your commitment to the people who live in your area. By partnering with your local marine trades association or your city’s chamber of commerce, you will increase your visibility to your market and show your investment to the community.

Partnerships with local groups to cultivate community could increase your access to potential buyers and employees. Putting your dealership brand out in front of the community, investing in children’s activities and your brand’s impact will holistically increase. For example, touch-a-boat events are targeted at getting children out and interested in learning about boats and boating. What do children bring with them? Adults! Those adults could be your prospect customers and potential employees.

Tags:  association  boating industry  community  NMTA  partnership  trust  workforce 

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32 Ways You Can Beat the Workforce Crisis

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The workforce challenges we face can be debilitating. One day, we hire a rockstar to fill that critically important position, and all is right in the universe. The next day, we’re blindsided by the loss of a key employee, and we find ourselves reaching for the Tums. When will it end?

The honest truth is that it will never end. Just as our businesses evolve in the products and services we offer and in how we deliver them, the way we staff our businesses is in constant flux as well.

At the moment, however, the technician shortage may be the exception to that rule. It’s challenging to think we’re in constant change with our techs when it seems we just can’t find the right people — let alone the wrong people — to fill open positions. There’s not a dealer anywhere who wouldn’t hire a technician on a moment’s notice if the opportunity presented itself.

One of the greatest takeaways that sunk in with me while finalizing the just-published “10+1 Strategy: A Marine Industry Guide to Growing the Workforce,” was the revelation that in the not-so-distant future (like, maybe right after you read this), workforce planning will take precedence over financial planning.

Think about that. We all spend time budgeting, comparing actuals to budget, contemplating how our margins are being squeezed and working hard to meet our projections. But how often do we consider our strategy when it comes to staffing our operations? Our largest financial investment is in our people, but yet, our financial planning rarely includes strategic staffing considerations. We react to personnel changes rather than planning for and taking control of our future.

With the introduction of the, “Marine Industry Guide to Growing the Workforce,” we at the MRAA, along with our co-authors at the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, are giving you more control than you’ve ever had when it comes to the workforce challenges. We’re not just offering you a high-level, industry-endorsed, 11-prong strategy; we’re offering you 32 specific tactics you can engage with today to begin your rebellion against the workforce challenges.

This Guide has been designed as a tool for us to all collaborate on addressing the issues from a national level — that’s us at MRAA and our national trade association colleagues; from a regional level — that’s our industry’s regional/state trade associations; and from the employer level — that’s YOU. Download this guide today; use the 32 tactics and the 20-plus live resources it features; and turn workforce planning into your competitive advantage.

Tags:  downloadable guide  Industry Guide  industry insight  technician shortage  workforce  workforce issues 

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Dealer to Dealer: May

Posted By Mickaela Giese, Monday, May 7, 2018

What is the most important to your organization- mission, core values, or vision? How do you instill that key element into your company’s culture?


"Core values come first. I’m not sure you can set a vision or create a mission statement you can follow without having a code of ethics in place as a guide.  

Customers are not going to judge a company on what they say they are in their mission statement. Some may commend a company for having a great action plan in place to achieve their stated vision. In the end, however, a company will be judged on its actions.    

Part of our initial training starts with refreshing new hires on using the manners their mothers taught them. We go beyond saying please and thank you. Living put these core values on and off the clock are essential for being part of our team.

Always tell the truth. Show up on time. Do what we say we will do. Charge what we quote or less. Use the manners our mothers taught us. Be in control of our attitude at all times. Give a little more than is expected."
- Rob Brown, Clark Marine

"Core Values" - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Works, Inc.

"Core Values" - Kristina Litjens, Boulder Boats

"Employee & Manufacturer Relationships" - Ken Sorley, Marineland Boating Center

 

Each month, MRAA connects with dealership management on a timely and relevant topic and publishing their insights at MRAA.com. Tell us what you have to say about this month’s question by commenting below and participating in the conversation. Also, watch for next month’s question coming soon

Tags:  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer to dealer  discussions  growth 

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Practice What You Learn

Posted By Bob McCann, Monday, May 7, 2018

In the Continuous Certification Q1 course, “Take Your Dealership From Good to Great with CRM,” instructor Sam Dantzler opened our eyes to asking how customers want to be contacted. Since then, I’ve been taking notice how the businesses that I interact with contact me. This week, I needed to get my bike tuned up and have the handle bar tape replaced.

I rode the bike to the shop and was greeted enthusiastically by the service team. They threw the bike on the rack and asked what I was looking for. I told them the rear derailleur needs adjusting and the bar tape replaced.

They grabbed a repair order and started filling it out with my name, my phone numbers and when I needed it back. After some small talk I tucked my copy of RO in the pocket, looked at a couple of new bikes and walked home.

Later in the day, when I was emptying my pockets, I noticed some boxes that were built into their RO that weren’t used. Based on what I learned in that Continuous Certification Course, I thought the bike shop missed two great opportunities to build a better relationship with me and build in more efficiencies.

The RO has two permission boxes for texting and emailing. These are built into the RO to remind the employee to ask the customer how they want to be contacted. Neither was used. I can only imagine the amount of time that could have been saved for both the shop and myself if they simply sent me a text that my bike was ready. I do believe if a business or representative can move into the customer’s text space, the relationship advances. And a growing number of people prefer to be contacted by text these days.

The second opportunity seems light years old and obvious: How could anyone miss out on collecting email addresses these days? We’ve been preaching to boat dealers at our annual conference for years to always capture a customer’s email address. Even after all these years, email marketing arguably gets you the best bang for the buck.

So, my question to you, are you executing on what you’re learning or are you missing these same opportunities?

Tags:  bike shop  communication  continuous improvement  CRM  relationships  repair order 

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#trainingdaywithMRAA Recap: What I Can't Stop Thinking About

Posted By Mickaela Giese, Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It has almost been a week since last Friday’s #trainingdaywithMRAA, and I can’t stop thinking about what Theresa Syer said in her session, “Make Customer Service Your Competitive Advantage.”

“According to the IPSIS Mori Study, emotionally engaged customers are 3-times more likely to recommend you to others.”

Whoa. We all know that the moment a potential buyer can picture their children (or dog, in my case) sitting in that new boat, the sale is closed. People are emotional creatures. So how can we use this information to keep customers returning to your dealership and bringing their friends?

Theresa says we need to shift our focus from the single task that needs to be completed (ie. selling a boat) to a future focus that will keep customers coming back for more. This happens when the customer is greeted upon arrival, is escorted to the place they need to be, is offered professional advice without cost, is given an above and beyond customer experience that they can’t stop thinking about.   

We shouldn’t strive to get customers in and out of the door as soon as possible; but instead create a unique experience for them to be wowed by. They are going to remember their experience when they need service on their new boat because you made things different for them.


Join the #trainingtrio on Twitter every Friday morning for their weekly #trainingdaywithMRAA session.

Tags:  #trainingdaywithMRAA  #trainingtrio  buyers  customer  customer experience  customer service  emotional  focus  training 

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Experiences > Products

Posted By Nikki Duffney, Monday, April 16, 2018

Experiences are greater than material products.

I’ve been hearing this mantra from many directions lately. For example, Instagram is using influencers and ads to capture the experience you will get from engaging with the product – to capture the feelings and emotions tied to using their product. Going to a conference has changed; it used to be the land of samples, dry education, and services or product information. Today’s conferences have focus on the guest experience; food and drinks, location, engaging education and entertainment, and community building.

The membership team at MRAA went to a seminar in early April, the Secrets to Engagement, to learn about how we can continually improve how we serve our members. The emphasis on impressions and experiences was impactful, and it helped us take a look at how we welcome new members into the association.

We know marine retailers join for our tools, resources and education – what can we offer as the staff to turn our products into experiences? It seems so simple as I put these words down: It’s about the human interaction; it’s about making people feel important and heard; it’s about responding to a need with compassion and support. MRAA members are our customers, and we need to maintain focus on how to continually improve how we deliver excellence with interactions that result in meaningful experiences.

To further develop this thinking, the MRAA staff is participating in the elite education put together by the Continuous Certification team for Certified Dealers in quarter two – "Improve Customer Loyalty with a Customer Experience Mindset," by Theresa Syer. Theresa points to a similar mantra around experiences; detailing the emotional experience that retailers must deliver to move from delivering in customer service to deliver an engaging customer experience. When customers visit a marine retailer, the staff needs to focus on the experiential mindset that combines the sum of all moments while at the dealership. That means the entire staff ensures the guest feels cared for and addresses their needs in an intuitive and human way. It seems obvious, I know, but it’s challenging in practice. Theresa underscores the importance of success in this area, however, when she says, “The Human Factor is the behavior that directly influences your customer based on how you made them feel.”

The time for change on how we deliver on experiences over selling products is now. We only have one moment to make a lasting impression that could create a loyal, raving fan of a customer. And the boating industry is noticing this trend. We need to shift from selling boats (the product) to remaining focused on delivering boaters a world-class lifestyle (the experience). What can we do to increase the positive experiences for customers, members, and guests, to impact future spending and commitment to each of our unique brands? In some cases, it will be as simple as a genuine smile!


Are you interested in learning more about enhancing the customer experience at your dealership? The Marine Industry Certified Dealership program has the template for developing the resources and processes to create loyal fans as customers.

Tags:  certification  Continuous Certification  continuous improvement  customer experience  customer service  Experiences  moments 

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Dealer to Dealer: April

Posted By Mickaela Giese, Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2018

What is your most effective marketing tactic to attract prospective customers to your dealership this time of year?


"We are finding that making contacts at boat show and then inviting them to the dealership has been pretty effective. Whether it is cost effective is another question." - John Ladner, Breath's Boats & Motors

"Open houses" - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Works, Inc.

"On water demo days work well for us." - Stuart Litjens, Boulder Boats

"Boat handling skills training" - Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center

"I found using Radio has been very good for us. We have short 30 second commercials played often that way clients know to come to us first." - Nancy Struthers, Roger's Marina

 

Each month, MRAA connects with dealership management on a timely and relevant topic and publishing their insights at MRAA.com. Tell us what you have to say about this month’s question by commenting below and participating in the conversation. Also, watch for next month’s question coming soon.

Tags:  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer to dealer  discussions  growth 

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3 Real Changes Dealers are Implementing TODAY

Posted By Mickaela Giese, Tuesday, April 3, 2018
All it takes is one small (or large) change at your dealership to increase your odds of success. At MRAA’s annual conference, the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, we often remind attendees to not bite off more than they can chew and to prioritize a manageable list of their top three conference takeaways home with them. So, to celebrate open registration for the 2018 MDCE, here are three ways 2017 MDCE attendees are maximizing their success right now:

1. Tools and Resources
“We will be implementing the YMCA tool from Schooly [Jordan Schoolmeester, of Garage Composites], re-visiting our process maps, with the staff from each department and making improvements/changes as necessary.” - Vanessa Orchard, C.A.S. Power Marine Ltd.

2. Streamlining and Implementing a CRM System

“We will be able to organize our service and sales departments better, and we will be implementing a CRM system.” - Rufino Cruz, Regal & Nautique of Orlando

3. Creating an Superb Online User Experience
“We took a marketing seminar and the guy was focused on getting websites up to date. It’s inevitable because the world has gotten digital, so we’re going to concentrate on making our website more user friendly and work on our mobile devices as well.” - Derrick Collins, Boat Owners Warehouse

Change is hard, but progress is necessary for the success of your dealership. The 2018 MDCE can help you make incremental improvements to your dealership’s success.

If you are interested in experiencing what other dealers already know, join us at the 2018 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo. Click here.

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OEM Boat Show support is only the tip of the iceberg

Posted By Bob McCann, Tuesday, February 27, 2018
The take away from another Miami Boat Show is always the amazing amount of manufacturer’s support for their dealers at the show to guarantee their brands are well represented in front of world’s largest boating audience. Major financial investments with impressive displays and reinforced staffing.

I took particular note of the investment because of the conversations we are having with boat builders to help their dealers continue the exceptional experience after the show is over. Once the gates close, all focus turns to the delivery process and the oh-so-critical follow-up for the numerous leads collected. And of course, once they buy, we need to elevate the ownership experience from a customer relationship management and service standpoint.

Nearly every manufacturer supports their dealers during show selling season, but only a few continue this level of support beyond the show, during what all indications suggest is the most critical time of the cycle.

You see, once the boat leaves the factory, the dealer takes over, and to deliver an exceptional customer experience that creates higher customer satisfaction that results in loyalty, repeat business, referral business, raving fans, and lifetime customers, it’s the ownership experience that needs the most attention and investment. This requires more than product knowledge and sales training. It requires that the dealer and its employees are operating on all cylinders in every department.

Our trip to the Miami show proved that there are more manufacturers than in recent memory who are looking to put a focus on dealer development, and we are thrilled to be a part of that conversation. From the numerous performance-minded benefits we offer, to our world-class educational programs and all the way through to our blueprint for dealership success — Dealership Certification — our one and only mission here at MRAA remains focused on helping dealers grow and find greater success.

This is exactly the reason that MRAA now delivers a one-of-a-kind educational curriculum for our industry’s Certified Dealers. MRAA and its training partners deliver timely real-world dealership development that continues the improvement process for our already strongest dealers — and the brands they represent — with a modern educational curriculum that ensures dealers stay current with up-to-date technology and retail practices.

I encourage you to take a fresh look at what MRAA and Dealer Certification can do for you and your business.

Tags:  boat show  certification  continuous certification  continuous improvement  follow-up  OEM 

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5 Reasons To Engage with the New Certification Program

Posted By Mickaela Giese, Thursday, February 1, 2018
Updated: Thursday, February 1, 2018
The Continuous Certification Program that you all have been hearing about over the past few months has launched!

As we prepared for this day, many dealers asked us how the program’s courses differ from all the other educational content we offer. The answer is, actually, simple: It was designed to do more to help dealers like you improve your team’s results. And real results are worth talking about.

Here are the 5 reasons you will tell your friends about the new Continuous Certification program:

Learning Objectives. To maximize your takeaways, we designed each course with a specific list of objectives those marine dealers who take it should be able to know and do by the time they finish it. The difference maker? Each objective is measurable, so you and your team will be able to track your return on the time invested.

Hybrid Education. The courses were built with all types of learners in mind. Yes. Even you. You have probably heard of those who are visual learners or those that learn best through listening or doing. Well, the program has a variety of content to promote the engagement and retention of each type of learner.

Real-World Application. The program is for marine dealerships. The new insights you gain and strategies you test are designed specifically for the boating business.

Customized for Certified Dealers.
Each semester, the assigned course will build on the processes that you create through the initial Certification process. The content will support your procedures and help you implement change throughout your dealership.

Repetition and Follow-Up.
You have heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Well, research shows that learners do not retain new educational material in their long-term memory unless it is repeated. To ensure the success that comes with repetition, the course material is available to your dealership as long as you maintain your Certification. You (and your employees) can watch it over, and over, and over.

So if you are enrolled in the program, jump into the Continuous Certification process and the results will soon follow. And if you’re not enrolled, see what you are missing out on.

Tags:  application  certification  Continuous Certification  Education  Learning Objectives  Real-World  rentention  repetition 

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