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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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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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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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Fact or Fiction? Customers Will Give You Their Contact Info

Posted By Katie Eichelberger, Wednesday, July 11, 2018
According to research conducted by Discover Boating in its “First Time Boat Buyer Research,” the answer is, “FACT,” for 66% of buyers. But only after they have purchased from you. Which makes it obvious, that trust is an issue.

Members of the MRAA team attended a presentation by David Horsager, and we can tell you that 1. There’s a reason he calls himself a “trust expert,” and; 2. It is the exact reason we’ve chosen him to be our 2018 MDCE Opening Keynote. He taught us that in order to successfully build trust amongst consumers, it first starts with your employees and their relationship building skills with those customers.

Relationships are built on asking the right questions, showing your genuine desire to find them exactly what they want. Consumers are looking for a unique and personalized experience.

I know, I know, you have heard this before. But are you actually taking the time to ask the right questions to build that relationship and in term, their loyalty?

Once a positive relationship is built, you are one step closer to having their loyalty. But not until then. After you have their loyalty through relationship building, they’ll refer to you as the expert and share that positive experience with everyone they know. And therefore, your business has greater success.

Tags:  customer experience  dealer development  Discover Boating  experience  first-time boat buyer  keynote  loyality  mdce  trust 

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Increase Attendance at Annual Meetings

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Tuesday, August 1, 2017

In a recent article for The Membership Management Report, MRAA President Matt Gruhn wrote about the association’s role in growing the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, which is co-produced by MRAA and Boating Industry magazine. Here is an expert from the article Matt was featured in:

Increase Attendance at Annual Meetings

“The Marine Retailers Association of America’s annual convention has grown by 1,100 percent over the last decade. Here’s how:

  1. “Authenticity. We exist to help our members find success and grow. We live and breathe that directive every day, so it’s very natural to extend the authenticity of that mission to our conference.

  2. “Curiosity. We could never fully understand the intricacies of our members’ businesses like they do. We need to remain curious about our members’ needs, so we ask them several times what they want to learn at our conference: in pre-event surveys, in personal conversations, in our committee meetings, in session evaluations, following a keynote, and in post- event surveys. And then we deliver exactly what they ask for.

  3. “Focus. We stay very focused on why this event exists: to educate our dealers. Association conferences tempt us with distractions to take us off of our mission, but we remain diligent about delivering a first-class educational experience. If we succeed in this effort, every other interested party succeeds as well.

  4. “Humility. We have a deep understanding that our formula is effective because our members gave us the opportunity to make it work. We owe our success to them for giving us the opportunity, for believing and trusting in us and for encouraging us to keep pushing forward. So, we shower them with gratitude in the form of complimentary tools and resources, in addition to personal outreach, handwritten cards and, sometimes, little thank-you gifts.”
— Matt Gruhn, President, Marine Retailers Association

Attached is the entire Membership Management Report.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  \  Annual meetings  attendence  authenticity  Conference  curiosity  focus  humility  MDCE  Membership Management Report 

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CRM: A look in the mirror

Posted By Liz Walz, Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags:  BDC  CRM  Dantzler  mdce  MRAA  training tuesday 

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