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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: marine industry  dealer development  continuous improvement  MRAA member  member spotlight  business advice  growth  fun facts  dealer focused  customer experience  Annual conference  dealer to dealer  best practices  discussions  certification  mraa history  resources  Continuous Certification  experience  MICD  Education  relationships  training  Annual meetings  industry insight  MRAA  employee satisfaction  employees  Experiences  intent 

Prepare for the Next Recession – Online and In-Person

Posted By Mike Davin, Tuesday, September 24, 2019
We’re often asked whether we have tools to help dealers survive the next recession. The answer is “yes.”

It's impossible to know when the next recession will arrive; however, as anyone who experienced the last downturn will attest, you'd be crazy not to be prepared when it does.

To help with that process, MRAA has a couple of tools available from Spader Business Management, one that is available online now, and one that will be hosted at Dealer Week in Tampa, Dec. 8-11.

The first is John Spader’s online course “Become Bulletproof for the Next Recession,” which is available via through February of 2020.

As John Spader notes in his description of the course, if your dealership survived the last recession, you may feel ready for the next one. But feeling ready isn’t the same thing as being ready. The course walks dealers through some tough questions like, “Have you and your business really gotten better since the last recession or have you just been riding the rising tide?”

The course explores what will be different about the next soft market compared to the last one, what will be the same, and walks dealers through assessments to determine the strength of their businesses. It also provides concrete benchmarks to measure your staying power and adaptability, whether you have the right people in the right seats, how well you’re steering the bus, and the speed with which you can change direction.

The course is available for purchase or for free with a Silver or Gold MRAA membership.

The second opportunity comes from David Spader, who will present “The Agile Dealership: Confidently Responding to Change & the Unknown” at MRAA’s Dealer Week.

The two-hour workshop is designed to help marine dealers identify, monitor, and respond to the key issues that their businesses are facing now and in the future. The workshop will walk through the characteristics of an agile leader, the six concerns employees have during change, key people indicators, key economic indicators, and share a dealership case study.

The course will cap off The Dealership Pathway at the Dealer Week. Early registration for Dealer Week runs through Sept. 30.

Tags:  Annual conference  best practices  continuous improvement  dealer development  future  industry insight  marine industry  MRAA member  resources 

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MRAA Hits the Road

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The past few weeks have been busy for dealers like you. Just as you’re seeing the last blast of summer sales, you’re also jumping on planes or driving across the country to visit your reps and peers at manufacturer dealer meetings. And we have been, too!

In the past month, members of the MRAA team have visited meetings for Chris-Craft, Lowe, Bennington, Tiara, Alumacraft, Barletta and Chaparral. And we have more coming soon! We’re spreading the news about Dealer Week, MRAA membership and the Marine Industry Certified Dealership program with the goal of offering you solutions to improve your business and fuel your growth. We’re also sharing information about the Dealer Week Early Bird discount, which ends Sept. 30, and passing along a Certification bundle that allows you to bundle Bronze membership with Certification to take advantage of valuable resources and benefits while completing the Certification program.

If you missed us at your meeting, or if you want more information on anything MRAA has to offer, Nikki can help. Reach Member Development Manager Nikki Duffney at 763-333-2420 or at for the full scoop.

Tags:  Annual conference  certification  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer education  growth  leadership  marine industry  MICD  MRAA member  networking 

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9 Highlights from a Podcast on Dealer Week

Posted By Katie Eichelberger, Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Mike Davin, MRAA’s Director of Education, was recently featured on the Boat Dealer Profits Podcast talking about our reimagined conference experience, Dealer Week. We’ve summarized the 30-minute podcast into nine key highlights listed below (with timestamps). You can listen to the whole interview here.

  1. Dealer Week is built for dealers, by dealers. (1:50) We sat down with leading manufacturers, suppliers, and most importantly dealers and asked them, “What would make Dealer Week most valuable for you?” The collaboration was amazing, and we are excited to share the many things we are implementing this year according to their feedback.

  2. We did something dorky … we studied how people learn. (2:18) A conference is more than just sitting in the room and listening to the speaker. With Dealer Week, there will be opportunities to reflect on what you learn.

  3. NEW! Mike explains Education Hosts. (3:09) Sam Dantzler, Jim Million and David Spader will serve as your guides through the education at Dealer Week. (More about Education Hosts at the 13:00 mark)

  4. Extended educational session times with built-in dealer-to-dealer learning. (5:20) Through our research as well as experience from past conferences, we know the value that comes when dealers learn from each other. These conversations about challenges and opportunities will be integrated into our Education Pathways.

  5. What will be familiar? (7:34) Our mission and focus on education, industry connections and celebrating the accomplishments of dealers in 2019.

  6. What’s a Pathway? (9:00) Previously known as “tracks,” our breakout education sessions have transformed into Educational Pathways. Rather than being focused on specific areas of the dealership, they cut across various departments and will attract a cross-section of attendees. The Pathways are: the Dealership, the Customer and the Employee. We believe if you’re successful in those three areas, you’ll be successful as a business.

  7. Sneak peek into the education! (11:47) AKA the pain points you have in your dealership.

  8. NEW! 10x10 Sessions. (16:46) 10 industry leaders will spend 10 minutes discussing their take on the hottest topics in the marine world today.

  9. The goal of Dealer Week. (20:36) Dealer success always has and always will be the MRAA’s goal. At Dealer Week, we’ve brought together partners who believe in that mission as well. You can meet them in the Expo Hall!
Be the first to know when the Educational Pathway schedules are released as well as other fun Dealer Week news by following us on Facebook. Click here to see who’s already coming!

Tags:  Annual conference  conference experience  dealer education  Dealer Week  Education  pathways  podcast 

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Tell Your Boss MDCE Is Right for You

Posted By Liz Keener, Tuesday, October 30, 2018

You’ve looked at the MDCE lineup and schedule and have determined the 2018 conference and expo is the right place for you to grow your dealership and advance your career. Now how do you convince your supervisor that this is the right training for you? The MRAA has developed a letter for you to deliver to your boss, helping you explain all the reasons you should attend, including which sessions would bring the most ROI to your dealership and what other events and activities can aid in your learning and networking. The template is laid out in a simple form – just add your personalization, turn it in and be prepared to discuss why MDCE 2018 will help you and your dealership flourish.

To choose your best lineup, read through all the material on the MDCE website. If you need further guidance, reach out to education specialist Liz Keener.

Dear Supervisor’s Name Here,

I’ve been researching the upcoming 2018 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, which will be held December 9-12 in Orlando, Florida. I would like to attend the conference and represent our dealership at the event this year.

In particular, I believe the following sessions would allow me to learn more about my position within the dealership, how I can better serve the dealership and some best practices that I can share with the team when I return.

Those sessions include:

Session Name:
Session Description:
How I believe this could help our dealership:

Session Name:
Session Description:
How I believe this could help our dealership:

Session Name:
Session Description:
How I believe this could help our dealership:

Session Name:
Session Description:
How I believe this could help our dealership:

Of course, there are others I will attend as well, including the opening keynote, “Build Trust or Die in the New Economy” and the closing keynote, “Future-Proofing Your Business.”

In addition to gaining knowledge in the educational sessions, I plan to participate in the Dealer Roundtables, which will allow me to bounce ideas off fellow boat dealer peers and learn from their failures and successes. I also intend to attend all of the networking events with the hopes of meeting fellow dealers, speakers, industry advocates, manufacturers and suppliers in order to glean insight from them.

The cost to attend the conference will be the registration fee, travel expenses, additional meals not included in registration, the hotel and transportation within Orlando.

  • Registration: $449 for MRAA members, or $529 for non-members

  • Pre-conference workshop: $185

  • Flight: Varies

  • Additional Meals (lunch and breakfast are included Tuesday and Wednesday): $150

  • Hotel (needed for Sunday through Tuesday nights): $189.75 per night for a total of $569.25

  • Transportation to and from the airport: About $50

  • Total expense: Varies
Although this is a sizable expense, I know from looking at the session Walk Away Withs and from the variety of testimonials shared about the show that I will bring back ideas worth more than the dealership’s investment. The MDCE is designed specifically for boat dealers and their employees, which will make its sessions, networking events and expo hall especially pertinent to what we’re trying to accomplish here.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope we can discuss this more this week!

Your Name

Tags:  Annual conference  continuous improvement  dealer development  mdce 

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MRAA History: BoatPAC

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Thursday, October 25, 2018
In honor of BoatPAC reaching this year’s fundraising goal, let’s throwback to the BoatPAC event at MDCE 2016.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Annual conference  Annual meetings  BoatPAC  dealer focused  fundraising  mraa history 

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MRAA History: Shirtsleeve Session Workbook

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Thursday, October 11, 2018
The 1977 Dealer Shirtsleeve Sessions Work Book, brought to you by MRAA and the Boating Trades Association of Texas.

Tags:  Annual conference  Annual meetings  dealer focused  mraa history  shirtsleeve session  workbook 

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MRAA History: A Year of Firsts

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Thursday, October 4, 2018
The 1987 MRAA Conference was deemed a success. The Caesars Palace welcomed a record-setting number of marine dealers, the first Woman of the Year was recognized, and the number of accessory exhibitors increased by 90% over the previous year.

Tags:  Annual conference  Annual meetings  dealer focused  mraa history  Women of the Year 

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MRAA History: "Change...for the better"

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Thursday, September 27, 2018
The theme of the 1985 MRAA Annual Conference was “Change… for the better.” If you could make one change to MRAA’s Annual Conference today, what would it be?

Tags:  Annual conference  dealer focused  mraa history  throwbackthursday 

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To attend or not attend MDCE

Posted By Katie Eichelberger, Friday, September 21, 2018
According to science making a decision is a 7-Step process. Let’s say that’s true for deciding whether to attend MDCE or not. But really, it shouldn’t be that hard. The answer is yes. To humor you and ourselves, we’ll empower you with the information to make this decision, step…by…step…

Step 1: Identify the Decision
  • Not attend MDCE (Not probable)
  • Attend MDCE (Probable)
  • Attend and bring teammates along (strongest probability)
Step 2: Gather relevant information
  • Like world-class education? > 
  • Like in-depth workshops? >
  • Like Dealer-to-Dealer Roundtable discussions for moving the industry forward by working through obstacles and opportunities with other dealers? >
  • Like the current MDCE schedule, event list, educational line-up, and a grand list of testimonials both written and spoken?
Step 3: Identify the alternatives
  • None?
  • Name something bigger, more dynamic and beneficial than MDCE
Step 4: Weigh the evidence
  • We went out and hired super-secret personal detectives to investigate the MDCE, this is what they said... just kidding, we didn’t hire fake detectives, these are REAL people, REAL attendees and these are their stories.
Step 5: Choose among alternatives
  • The alternative: sit at home in your dealership while your competitors better themselves for 3 days straight
  • The alternative: sit at home in your dealership and listen to customers complain that you don’t have the ZL-4 in electric blue.
  • PS: we have the tools to manage situations like this like the customer-centric dealership that you are and should be.
  • PPS: ZL-4 is not a real boat model, we googled it and Jay-Z came up.
These may be great, but how cool would it be to step away, engage with world-class education, connect with over 1,000 attendees looking to make the industry the best it can be and discover your dealership’s true potential?

Step 6: Take action
  • Or keep reading and then register
Step 7: Review your decision and its consequences
  • You go, meet new people, gain new insights and learn a ton to help your dealership be successful in 2019.
  • You don’t go and you risk asking yourself what you could have been if you had attended.

After all this reading, was it worth it? Or was your decision made before you even read the list? We think you probably knew you were meant to attend and the answer is yes. Yes, to engaging with the opportunities offered at the MDCE to challenge and drive you and your dealership to improvement. Yes, to connecting with dealers and partners that will change the way you view your dealership. Yes, to discovering what you and your dealership can do in 2019 and beyond.

See you there.

Tags:  Annual conference  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer focused  dealer to dealer  marine industry  mdce 

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MRAA History: Phil Keeter

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Thursday, September 20, 2018
The 2011 MRAA Annual Conference celebrated the career of Phil Keeter, who retired as MRAA President. Keeter was one of the founders of MRAA and was employed by the association for more than 20 years.

Tags:  Annual conference  Annual meetings  history  Keeter  members  mraa history  President  retirement 

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