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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 

Customer Relationship Management

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Intent: We need to see that the dealer is promoting boating and the boating lifestyle in their market. In doing this, they should also be getting their name out in front of prospects.


It’s true … everyone loves a good party, especially when boats and water are involved. We are sure you had a great turnout for you latest event. Did you get contact information from those in attendance? And the most recent mail campaign, how was the response rate? Did people respond to your strong call-to-action and contact the dealership?

After the fun is had and the calls come in, how are you reporting, tracking and following up with these potential new boat buyers? Do you have a system that your entire staff has bought in to and utilizes consistently?

This is what the intent of the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Process of the Marine Industry Certified Dealership program. The program wants to make sure that not only are you spreading the word about boating, but actually following up with your leads in order to sell more boats and getting more people out on the water.

Tags:  best practices  continuous improvement  dealer development  intent  intentions  marine industry  Marine Industry Certified Dealership  MICD  resources 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 nikki@mraa.com 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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Continuous Certification: It’s Like Learning How to Swim

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Last week, MRAA Lead Certification Consultant, Bob McCann, used the analogy of learning how to swim during our MICD Certification consultant training.

You can imagine it... You’re a kid in a pool. A trusted adult is standing a few feet away and motions you to swim toward them. At the last second they take a step back. What?! You were almost to the finish line and they made a step backwards that challenged you to go farther, to do more.

The MICD Continuous Certification curriculum is kind of like that. Each quarter offers new content that is designed to challenge the way you run your business. We want to make you think.

In Q1, Jim Million takes a step back and provides information on how you can work toward a coaching and mentoring culture that will lead to a more effective workplace.

Q2 addresses the productivity of your leadership team. Ty Bello takes a step back and identifies the areas that may be blocking you from being productive.

Liz Walz and a panel of experts take a step back and help you reconsider how you allocate your staff’s time and talent in sales, marketing and customer service and how your departments collaborate to grab the attention of prospects and customers in Q3.

And if you have caught on, you would guess that Q4 is sure to push you further and challenge the way you run your business in order to bring greater success, as Theresa Syer shows you how to understand and influence your customer’s Key Emotional Drivers.

We hold our Certified dealers to a high standard. They have proven that they have the desire to be the best and be a dealership that continues to strive to be better. So we will continue to take a step back and challenge you to swim.

Tags:  boating industry  continuous improvement  continuous process  dealer development  growth  marine industry  MICD 

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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 

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Morale Matters More Now. Here's Why.

Posted By Nikki Duffney, Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Does it really matter if an employee is happy when they show up to work? They showed up on time, the work is being performed at a mostly satisfactory level, they are taking the scheduled breaks and leaving when the work is done or the shift is over. That’s enough, right?

Wrong. Employee morale impacts every aspect of your business. Distracted and unhappy employees are more likely to cut corners to perform the minimum to get the job done. Attitudes are contagious, whether the unhappiness or grumpy attitudes are being spread to other employees – or your customers – unhappy employees are a problem. So how can we make our companies a place that employees come in with joy to share with everyone they interact with? It’s simple, invest in your staff with compassion and open dialogue to reap rewards.

We don’t know what we don’t know and if you aren’t having open and honest dialogue with your employees about what makes them happy at work, chances are you are missing an opportunity to create engaged, happy employees. By engaging with your crew, you are bringing them into the conversation around what is important to them from a workplace. Sometimes small changes can have major outcomes that leadership can miss without that open conversation. By investing in your employees’ overall happiness, you will see returns through improved relationships and communications with your external customers and your internal customers (other departments and staff). Could something as simple and small as providing a coffee machine for your crew to stay amped up impact your overall employee happiness? If you don’t know, you can ask!

Compassion is underrated by many employers, and by society in general. Humans can’t just leave their emotions at home or the door when they walk into work, no matter how great they are at compartmentalization. When you are in pain (emotional or physical), you carry that with you. Emotions live in your hands as you write a work order or turn a wrench, the tension is there. Life’s struggles are in your face as you engage with a customer that is stressed about their boat not working or unsure about the part they need. Creating space in your dealership for people to experience their humanity and emotions can have minor disruptions to a short period of time, yet not addressing a pain point for one of your staff when it is happening can turn the current problem into an enduring problem.

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” says Sybil F. Stershic, author of Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care. By making your employees feel as important as the customers, you will see the customer service experience improve. When I enter the marketplace as a customer, I can usually tell which companies are invested in their employee through the way I am treated while at their business. If the service staff treats me like I am an old friend (even if it is my first time at the establishment), I walk away feeling that the leadership and owners care about their business and all their stakeholders equally. That is what drives my loyalty, spending my dollars at companies who care about their crew.

Why does this matter now, when the marine industry is in the busiest time of the year? This is when you have the most interaction with your customers and leaders need to find time and energy to ensure employees are happily engaged to “infect” your customers with happiness while at your dealership. The sales could happen due to the demand for summer fun on the water, however, will the customer be loyal and return to you for service and storage if their sales experience was lackluster and flat? Maybe. If the customer service experience exceeds their expectations because the employee was excited to serve the customer, that is where loyalty is created.

If you’re still reading, by now you may be wondering, “what can I do to foster employee happiness and engagement at my company?
” Great question and good news, MRAA and the MICD program have designed the template for engaging your staff to inform leadership on how to shape a meaningful workplace for your crew. Interested in learning more, contact Nikki at MRAA.

Tags:  attitude  certification  CSI  employee satisfaction  employees  MICD 

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How to Protect Your Dealership’s Most Valuable Assets

Posted By Bob McCann, Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What’s most valuable to your dealership? Is it your customer database, physical assets, your boat brands? These are all important for sure, but none of them are more important to your business than the knowledge and know how of the people that do the work, which is captured in your dealership’s processes.

Such valuable assets need to be saved and protected. How? Through process documentation, the collection of mapped out visuals that anyone in your organization can easily navigate. The dealers who conceived the requirements for the Marine Industry Certified Dealership program knew of this thinking years ago and brilliantly decided to make process mapping a standard for a Certified Dealership.

Some dealers look at the prospect of creating process maps for everything they do a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be. Dealers have found ways to make quick work of this requirement, and I have some tips that can help too. But first, let’s look at the many payoffs.

    1. You can become certified, which offers a ton of marketing, sales and dealership operations benefits. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    2. You can easily use customer and employee feedback to improve dealership productivity and provide a higher quality and more consistent customer experience. All you do is use what you learn to continually update your process maps.

    3. As an educator, process maps allow me to deliver highly effective training that takes a fraction of the time to understand. The same will be true for you when you have new team members to train. With complete roadmaps to study, the newbie will become a useful part of the team in a fraction of the time it would take relying on the old guy’s memory!
Those are just a few of the benefits of dealership process mapping. Now, let’s look at how to do it fast and easy. Many dealers have found that they can make quick work of this requirement by getting their employees involved. Together, they can use a whiteboard to jot down everything that happens in their department. Once in place across all departments, these processes become the tool to visualize how everything in the dealership is done, which is critical for effective management.

So, once you’re ready to document your processes, the whiteboard exercise is the key to making the project easy and an effective use of time. Dealers say: “We don’t have whiteboards large enough to capture everything.” No worries. That’s why the MRAA invented smartphones with cameras! Just take a picture of the whiteboard, erase, and continue with your sub processes until the desired level of detail is captured.

The long pole in the tent to process mapping has always been publishing a good visual representation of the process. With the software and apps available today, this has become the easy part. I’ve become so comfortable with using PowerPoint (PPT), I lean on it to create most everything for desktop publishing, including my maps. But not all dealers are experienced with PPT. To find a simpler way, I Googled “Process Map Software.” It returned pages of solutions, and I tried out a few.  All were so much easier and intuitive than using PPT for creating maps. I settled on Lucidchart because it was simple and cheaper than the others!

So, don’t go another day without protecting your dealership’s most valuable asset. We’ve heard of dealers spending large amounts of money for consulting firms to interview their employees and create the documentation. Save the money and bring the benefits of process mapping to your dealership though Marine Dealer Certification. You can save thousands by using the experience gained by MRAA consultants who work with marine dealers every day. Learn more at MRAA.com/certification.

Tags:  certification  document  employees  MICD  process mapping  processes 

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