Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join
MRAA Blogs
Blog Home All Blogs
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.

 

Search all posts for:   

 

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 

Education and Training Records

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Intent: Too many dealers are relying exclusively on OEM training. The more knowledge their team puts into place, the more the dealership will have opportunities to improve and grow.


What does training look like in your dealership?

From the conversations we have with dealers from all over the country, we know that many of you have great training and education programs that foster a culture of continuous improvement. But are you taking the time to record and track what team members are being trained and what they are being trained on?

Oftentimes, marine dealers, even the dealers who value education, become very one-sided in their training. Many fall into a routine of sending their sales team to OEM sales training at model year or enrolling technicians in manufacturer-based training to maintain their tech certifications. That is all great and valuable insight into the products you sell and service, but what about the rest of your team and the skills that they possess?

As part of the Marine Industry Certified Dealership program, you will be asked to record your staff’s training schedules (or provide training logs you already have!). From this exercise, you will be able to see gaps in your training programs and clear paths to ensure everyone is receiving the training they need to be successful in their job roles.

If you’re not currently tracking staff training, your Certification Consultant can provide you with a Training Matrix, which outlines the training topics and goals and results for each topic, so you can best assess which training is working and which training you should offer to more team members.

Tags:  best practices  Continuous Certification  continuous improvement  dealer development  intent  intentions  marine industry  MICD  resources 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

The Employee Process

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Intent: To assure that dealers are taking care of their staff. Employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction.

Certification Requirements:
  • An employee handbook... check!
  • Branded clothing and/or name tags... check!
  • Performance evaluations... check!
  • Quarterly Management Review process... check!
  • Process Improvement Reports... check!
As part of the Certification program, we want to make sure that your employees have the tools and resources necessary to be successful in their unique role at the dealership. The processes that you will work so hard to create and refine throughout the Certification process are only as good as the people who will execute on them daily. As most of you already know, happy and fulfilled employees tend to produce desired results and drive revenue within your business. So it is critical to take the time to check in with your employees.

So do your employees understand their job roles and responsibilities? Do they feel like their opinions and ideas are being heard? Do they have a cohesive look that makes them feel part of the team?

The intention of the Employee process ensures that your dealership is ready to take on the changes that the Certification process will bring.

Part of the Employee process is also the Employee Satisfaction Survey, but we will get into the intent of that in a later blog.

Tags:  best practices  Continuous Certification  continuous improvement  dealer development  intent  intentions  marine industry  MICD  resources 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

The Pre-Certification Assessment

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Intent: For the Dealer to understand where they need improvement and for the consultant to understand where and how they can help.


The Marine Industry Certified Dealership program’s Pre-Certification Assessment is the base from which the program begins.

We could argue that the Pre-Certification Assessment is one of the most important steps in the MICD program. It is the step that sets the context for the work that you will be doing (and achieving!!) throughout the Certification process. The Pre-Certification Assessment allows you to take a hard look at your business and analyze which areas you believe you’re already strong in and which you believe your consultant can help the most with.

So our challenge to you is to take time on your Pre-Certification Assessment. Really think about where your processes break down, or where you need more structure. Be thoughtful and honest in your completion of the assessment. Doing so will help you get the most out of the Certification program, allowing you to draw on the experience and knowledge of your consultant and the entire Certification team in helping your business improve.

Tags:  best practices  Continuous Certification  continuous improvement  dealer development  intent  intentions  marine industry  MICD  resources 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

There's Always A Reason For That

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, January 15, 2020
When I think of the word intent, my mind often takes a step further and thinks of the word intentions. With anything that you make a commitment to – relationships, your health, continuing your education – there are always intentions attached.

So much like everything the association does, there is intent behind each resource and program that is built. For example, the Marine Industry Certified Dealership program…

Since the initial program was built, the intention of the program has always been to provide a set of standards or benchmarks that marine dealerships can strive for. It is not the intention of the program for a third-party (MRAA) to come in and tell marine retailers (you) how to run a business. The most rewarding part of the process for the MRAA Certification team is to witness the unique ways dealers across North America run their operations. Now that they program is 15 years old, we can tell you with confidence that not one location is exactly the same as another.

This is why we have clear intentions for each step of the program. Over the course of the next few months, members of the MRAA Certification team will walk you through the intentions and thought process behind each section of the MICD program. Make sure to follow along!

Tags:  best practices  Continuous Certification  continuous improvement  dealer development  intent  intentions  marine industry  MICD  resources 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Market Yourself: MICD Offers Best Practices for Certified Dealer Marketing

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Certified Dealers have a wealth of qualities to brag about, yet some aren’t patting themselves on the back publicly, so the consumer knows what to expect from a Certified Dealer. We recommend you Certified Dealers post the following message on a Certification page on your website, or perhaps your blog. And when you do, send us a link. We’d love to see it!

The Boat House, a newly Certified Dealer took to their homepage to celebrate their Certified status. For more tips on how to do this, reach out to Certification Manager Liz Keener at liz@mraa.com and watch the Q3 Continuous Certification course “Align Your Dealership with Today’s Customer.”


Why You Should Buy a Boat from a Marine Industry Certified Dealer

By The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA)

When the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, we all know that dreams of owning (or upgrading) a boat begin to set in. To take that vision and turn it into a reality, however, working with a professional and knowledgeable boat retailer truly makes the difference.

Marine retailers who have completed the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas’ Marine Industry Certified Dealer Program have proven that they operate a solidly run business and employ industry best practices.

Through a third-party consultant, Certified Dealers are audited to verify their commitment to excellence in key areas related to dealership operations, employment and, most importantly, customer satisfaction.

Certified Dealers have proven that they have a strong customer experience plan to help ensure a smooth transition into boat ownership.

Certified Dealers are required to pledge to the Consumer Commitment. The Consumer Commitment states that, as a boat buyer and potential customer of their business, you should expect a higher standard of professionalism when working with a Certified Dealer. It is their commitment to you and it is your right to hold them accountable to that level of service.

When you’re daydreaming about yourself in that new boat, take a moment to think about the purchase experience you want to have — both before and after you get on the water — and choose the retailer you purchase from wisely.

Tags:  best practices  certification  consultants  consumer marketing  Continuous Certification  continuous improvement  MICD 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Track customer experiences at your dealership

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Wednesday, July 25, 2018

It’s been 19 years since Joseph Pine and James Gilmore authored their groundbreaking book, “The Experience Economy,” which boldly predicted that “future economic growth lies in the value of experiences and transformations — goods and services are no longer enough.”

Whether Pine and Gilmore were premature in their prediction or it’s simply that their insight has multiplied over the last two decades, it’s become extraordinarily clear that their speculation has never been more accurate than it is today.

Experiences matter more now than ever before, and everywhere we turn, experts and businesses alike are preaching on the power of experiences. And please note: Customer experience-focused approaches for businesses are far different than the rather bland thinking that surrounds customer service and customer satisfaction.

As author, consultant and speaker Theresa Syer noted in her Dealership Certification Course, “Improve Loyalty With A Customer Experience Mindset,” customer service is defined as the most basic of interactions between a customer and a company. Its core focus is a single transaction that takes place at a specific time. “The customer asks for something. The employee provides it. Transaction complete,” Syer notes.

The customer experience, on the other hand, is the sum total of every interaction a customer has with your business. It includes the customer’s overall perception after every moment of contact throughout their relationship with your business. It’s the net result of your website, your phone greeting, your in-person meet and greet, your sales process, all the way through to interactions with the delivery person, service team and the yard staff. Customer service is a part of the experience, but it doesn’t define it, Syer explains.

In this scenario, you might provide outstanding customer service, but one other touchpoint — as small as it may be — could destroy the customer experience. Do you know for sure, how well your employees are focused on providing an outstanding customer experience?


Here’s a tool for you, courtesy of the Continuous Certification Course Theresa created for MRAA and its Certified Dealers. It’s just an introductory experience log that introduces participants to this course, which is rich with many other tools and resources to help you provide your customers with a much more rewarding experience. Print this form and use it to log the experiences you’re having every day when interacting with other businesses. And then use again to think through how your customers are interacting with your business. I recommend you have some of your customers log their experience with you so you can learn from it.

As Pine and Gilmore predicted back in the late 90s, customer experiences are the currency we deal with today. They matter more than we ever could have expected. Over the next few weeks, you’ll hear stories in this blog about some incredible experiences our staff members have had, and you’ll hear stories about some horrible experiences we have had.

Let’s start working today to ensure your customers are having only incredible experiences.

Tags:  Continuous Certification  continuous improvement  customer experience  customer service  Experiences  relationships  resources  Theresa Syer  tools 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

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 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

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 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

5 Reasons To Engage with the New Certification Program

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, 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 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Taking on Dealers’ Challenge, Part Two

Posted By Bob McCann, Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Certified Dealers challenged us to make Recertification as valuable for them as Certification. So, we’ve spent the past year formulating a plan for how to do that and gaining industry insight into our plan. Read more about how we went about that in my last blog: Time for a Professional Change.

Now, we’re focused on execution. Our mission? Design relevant, timely and high impact education developed specifically for Certified Dealers and designed to drive continuous improvement in their dealerships. We call it Continuous Certification.

As we sketched it out, we knew the education needed to feature the topics that are most important now. Like how do you get a return on the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software you pay for each month? Or maybe even more importantly, how do you get a return on all the time and money you invest in getting people to contact and ultimately do business with your dealership?

That’s why the course we’re featuring in the first quarter of 2018 is: Taking Your Dealership from Good to Great, by Sam Dantzler of Garage Composites.
 
This session would be best learned when you need it the most – during prospecting season, also known as boat show season. When you execute a perfect CRM strategy, your CRM efforts will bring more traffic to your boat show display, traffic that you have a greater chance of selling at the show. More importantly, you will learn to start the follow-up process for those who don’t buy at the show and, as a result, sell more boats all year long.
 
Of course, boat show season is what makes this topic so timely. But relevant? How is this for relevant? Garage Composites estimates that dealers are letting 40 percent of their potential unit sales slip through their fingers, which could be solved through disciplined use of a CRM strategy. Get ready to learn from this session because Sam Dantzler takes this subject personally. He is going to show you how to adopt the core principles to make any CRM system work, including how to generate team buy-in, what data to capture, what to do with that data, and how to use your CRM to increase your customer satisfaction and loyalty.

I’m equally as excited about our second quarter course topic: Improve Loyalty with a Customer Experience Mindset, by Theresa Syer of Syer Hospitality. This is a perfect course for Certified dealers who are always looking for ways to exceed customer expectations.

Let’s get real: We serve customers with very lofty expectations. We are meeting and greeting prospects, many of whom likely drive two or more premium luxury cars, own large well-appointed homes, and have enough money left over to buy a boat that cost as much as a house! What do you think their service expectations might be? 

The NMMA CSI scores show that Certified Dealers already outperform dealers those who are not Certified. Is measuring the buying experience with other boat dealers using the right watermark? Should we look further?

Many of these prospects enjoy vacationing at hotels and resorts managed by the Four Season or Fairmont Hotels. I’m betting we can learn a thing or two from someone who trains and consults the upper end of the hospitality industry – not to mention several marine industry leaders. Someone like Theresa Syer.

Armed with the training this course provides, you will learn to provide a better retail experience, thus positioning yourself to sell more boats with improved profitability and retain more customers.

Stay tuned to this blog for information on the two other high impact topics for 2018: Accountability and Dealership Strategy.

In the meantime, have you and your team taken our Pilot Course, Buyer Motivation: The Key to Building Value? If not, it’s time! Simply sign into MRAATraining.com with your MRAA username and password, and scroll down to New & Popular Courses at the bottom of the homepage. Don’t have a username and password? Email us at info@mraa.com or call 763-315-8043 to receive a username and password today.

The only investment required for this course is your time. We have opened our new learning system to you at no charge so you can experience this interactive, online course firsthand.

This training is sorely needed in our showrooms to make sure that our salespeople are effectively presenting a boat’s features and benefits to each customer. We know that Certified Dealers already have a documented, well-followed sales process. This course will complement your sales strategy and help you close more deals sooner.

Tags:  certification  Continuous Certification  Education  industry insight  MRAATraining.com  Sam Dantzler  Theresa Syer 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 
8401 73rd Avenue North, Suite 71, Minneapolis, MN 55428