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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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6 Key Steps to Making Video Sales

Posted By Bob McCann, Friday, April 3, 2020

For the past decade, salespeople have typically relegated video to the “nice-to-have” category. It’s something they know has potential, but many still haven’t taken the time to invest in it as a legitimate channel to sell a boat. After all, with phone, email, and now texting available to help bridge the communication divide between buyer and seller, is there really a need for salespeople to add video to that list as well? The short answer: Heck yes!

We’ve introduced video to dealers as a tool to market and sell boats over the past few years at MRAA’s annual conference, Dealer Week. However, this current interruption in our sales process is the push needed to make the dealer use it and make them more comfortable with this tool. I’m certain that when things get back to normal, lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis will change the way we sell boats.

Even though texting has impacted the way we sell by making it possible to better connect with boat buyers, there’s still no replacing a face-to-face — especially when a salesperson is trying to get a deal over the finish line. Text messages and emails are time-efficient communication methods but are inefficient persuasion methods. Video chat can help you re-create product presentations and therefore make it easier to gain your customers’ trust, tap into their emotions, and help create mental ownership.
One of the main reasons customers still hesitate to buy online is because they can’t always see the product they will get. Your online photos will make for good lead generation, but people have learned to be suspicious of good-looking photos. There is nothing more powerful than a face-to-face conversation when it comes to building trust. And one of the big advantages of video chat is that you can showcase your boats live. It requires preparation beforehand, but it can go a long way.

So, I have prepared for you some best practices for using FaceTime or similar apps for boat sales. This and our “Lights, Camera, ACTION PLAN” will help you make sure you look professional and not like an amateur when on a video call.

1. The Equipment
I’ve heard and I’ve experienced first-hand that an iPad might be the tool of choice to make your video call, if you have one on-hand. That being said, go with the device in your collection that has the newer, faster processor and the better camera. While the iPad is nice for its larger screen and is easier to keep stationary, a device with a better picture that focuses faster and allows for lower lighting will be your best device for the job.

2. The Lighting
Speaking of lighting, pay attention to the basic rules of photography/videography. They are:

  • Check your lighting and your background.
  • Always try to show the boat on a neutral one-color background so it instantly pops and grabs their attention. Lighting is always really important and will be your friend.
  • If you are inside, turn ALL the lights on.
  • If you’re outside and if practical, move the boat into the sun. Remember, we said, if practical — not “if you’re not feeling lazy!”

3. The Background
Consider the background and tidiness of the boat.

  • Ideally, the boat should be isolated, in the water, by itself without other boats in the background to distract your customer’s attention.
  • After years of coaching dealers on taking pictures of boats for their web listings, we’ve seen all the background blunders including, dumpsters, rusty chain-link fences, and poorly maintained marina equipment in the shot.
  • Not to mention staging a smaller boat beside a larger boat that immediately dwarfs the customer’s dream boat!
    These points are important when you’re selling high-end products. People expect the boat that they are considering to look better than average, and they won’t take into consideration the fact that lighting or location might be the reason it doesn’t look as good as it should.
  • Run some tests beforehand to see how your boat looks on another team member’s phone before it’s show time.

4. Prepare
You also need to think about how you will present your boat.

  • Remember, these video calls are not product walkthrough videos and shouldn’t be organized the same way.
  • Determine what kind of buyer you have and customize your presentation accordingly.
  • Chances are, before a prospect will commit to a FaceTime call with you, you’ve already connected via email or phone. Hopefully if the connection began via email or chat, the conversation was moved to the phone so important information could be shared, like:
    • What’s important to them about the boat they are considering?
    • Do they have a boat now?
    • What they like about their boat or other boats they are considering.
    • Or, what they don’t like about their boat or other boats of consideration.
    • Not to mention the important relationship things like, family, occupation, how they would use the boat, their pets, and favorite teams!
    • The more you know about your customer and their reasons for buying a boat the better you video call will go.
  • So, before you open your app and dial up the customer, you might want to jot down some notes on what you want to cover, based on what you know and practice doing so before the call.

5. Practice

  • When you have your notes prepared, practice your presentation with a co-worker to make certain that the message is coming across the video call well.
  • Make sure you don’t stumble into bad lighting! Avoid spotlights, backlighting and other concentrated light sources which can throw off the exposure with overexposed hotspots or underexposed shadows.
  • Consider getting a stand for your phone. This is a good idea for a few reasons:
    • It frees up your hands so you can demonstrate some of the features on the boat.
    • It prevents you from creating a lot of motion for the viewer, which can lead to sea sickness!
    • It prevents the phone from moving around and creating a lot of handling noise that gets picked up in the audio mic.
    • Speaking of mics, consider using earbuds to hear and speak during your call. This will keep the audio level consistent for when you are moving around.
6. Look Your Best
  • Lastly, check the mirror! Even though this is a video call make sure to look polished and professional, you don’t want to start that call with cappuccino foam on your face! FaceTime isn’t the most flattering thing in the world, you MUST make sure you look as together as possible before you initiate a video conversation.
  • So, wear your branded polo, nametag, touch up the cosmetics, smooth down that cowlick, clean the spinach from your teeth, etc.

These might seem like details for you right now but going the extra mile here can make a big difference. Remember that when you sell boats you are often selling a lifestyle, a dream that is as important as the boat in itself. Look at Apple for example and how the Apple stores look. The design is built to create a modern, high-end atmosphere around the products. You can replicate the same on a video chat and sell the ING in BOATING.

What are YOU doing to win the virtual video sales game?

Tags:  best practices  business advice  continuous improvement  dealer development  online sales  video 

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Dealer to Dealer: March 2020

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, March 11, 2020
If you were to start a brand new dealership today, what would be your first priority for establishing a foundation for success?

“The key to starting and maintaining any business begins with your people and their culture.  You can be the best at what you do but without a strong team behind you, the long term successes will be short lived.  A formal plan to educate and maintain your team allows them to grow within your business.  Your people are the face of your business and who form the relationships with your customers.  As a business owner you can only wear so many hats and be successful.  Hire and take care of your staff and they will look out for you.” - Jeff Siems, Blue Springs Marine

“Creating an internal company culture which promotes and fosters individual growth through collaborative, team centric and employee focused programs. Build the company around building up your team. That foundation is unshakeable. Businesses should promote human flourishing, both inside and outside of the company. But we have to start with allowing our people to flourish.” - David deAndrade, White Lake Marine

“To make sure the team is clear on the mission of the organization. This goes for President to the lot person. This needs to be put in a handbook. That is used and not stored away.” - Ken Toby, Marine Sales

“The first priority must be hiring the best people for where you want the company to go.  Sometimes that means paying up for a better person, but in the long run it's worth it.” - Jeremy Anderson, Big Thunder Marine

“Putting a good business plan together would be the first thing I would do. You need to know the area and the opportunities that exist. Establishing relationships with banks and vendors, what products you would like to sell and what lines are available for that area are key. Specialize in something! Have a product or service that no one else has or can provide. Although location is always important if you specialize in something I believe it is not as important as it used to be.” - Lou Cecchini,  Off Shore Marine, Inc.

“One of my first priorities would be to have a well laid out plan for departments which would include clearly documented processes along with properly educated employees with clear job descriptions and proper training.  This has been one of our biggest challenges to implement after being in business for 30 years and allowing the business to grow without these items in place.” - David Muirhead, Willey’s Marine

“Purchase a on-water location so storage and rental could be included as revenue contributors.” - Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center

“Products are an important piece that can attract a new customer. Many products are available online, but a store that carries quality merchandise can give consumers their first chance to experience a feel/smell/touch of something that makes them decide whether or not it is the right choice and why it is important to carry a wide variety of different items when trying to see what your new area is in need of.” - Dave Larrison, Waterfront Marine

“[When you first start a dealership], you have nothing… and nobody knows who you are. My first priority would be to create vision, mission and value statements. As you go out into the world to create your dream business, people need to know who you are and what you stand for. Having these statements will inform and impress prospective lenders, vendors, employees and customers that you have a direction, how you intend to get there, and that you are someone that can be trusted.” - Larry Russo, Sr., MarineMax Russo

“My first priority would be finding the right people to help me run it. I truly believe that The Sportsman is very successful because of our staff. You have to have the right people in the right places to do the right things!” - Christi Romero, The Sportsman

“It would be the location! We’ve all heard the saying “location, location, location”  Where are your competitors located? How close are you to water for demoing? How many people drive by your location each day? Freeway visibility is a huge way to get your name out in the local community.” - Bob Bense, Superior Boats

“With experienced personnel at a premium, finding the best Dealer Management System has become more important than ever. Picking the product that has a foundation of managing the day to day business and not just an accounting system with management tools added, is critical. The time spent learning the pros and cons of the many DMS that exist will pay dividends for years to come.  The DMS will be the very foundation that the business will be built upon and will play a pivotal role  in achieving success.” - Frank Sublette, Marine Sales

What would be your first priority? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  best practices  business advice  continuous improvement  culture  customer experience  dealer  dealer development  dealer to dealer  discussions  employee satisfaction  growth  industry insight  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member  relationships 

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Dealer to Dealer: February 2020

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2020
How do you and your team inspire prospects and customers to trust you?

“Lasting trust is accomplished over time. If you view your walk ins and leads like “just a number” you are going in the wrong direction. Helping a client find what truly fits their needs and not trying to cram them into your oldest non-current is a good start. My take on trust comes down to this, ‘if you wouldn’t treat your mother that way, don’t treat your client that way.’” - Greg Harvey, Tobler Marina

“At the risk of using some overused expressions, we are basically honest to a fault. We believe in complete transparency and treat customers with the utmost integrity. We under-promise but over-deliver. Procedurally, our sales process is pain free - from sea trials to closing to service after the sale – our customer are made to feel at ease and treated like friends. We’re always accessible, we carry reliable products, and we maintain consistency throughout our six locations.” - Frank Ferraro, Nautical Ventures Group

“By assimilating my life and experiences to theirs. By demonstrating that I am a professional boat dealer and I give them answers that are correct and make sense to them. I ask questions and use their answers to "fit" the boat to their needs in a transparent and entertaining way.” - Jim Sabia, Top Notch Marine

“We have always taken the approach that we are to guide and educate them on the journey to boat ownership- not sell them.” - David deAndrade, White Lake Marina

“Tell the customer the truth […] and you will earn the respect and a good customer. I have been doing this for the past 57 years.” - Anthony Cavallo, Hi-Tide Boat Sales & Service

“Review reputation with Google and Facebook. Prior customers provides that first line advantage.” - David Nichols, Eric's Outboard Marine Sevice, Inc.

“Become an advocate / educator for your customers. Work hard to communicate with your customers on a regular basis. For example, email / post tips and articles for your customers and prospects to see. Offer to take existing customers on test runs of new models as they arrive at dealership. Both of you will experience a new model together with no expectation to purchase. You never know where the experience will lead to!  Hopefully an upgrade and trade of their existing boat or potentially a referral to a friend looking for a similar boat!” - Kim Sweers, FB Marine Group

"At the conference this year I heard the statement that sales sell the first boat at a dealership and service sells the rest. We fully believe in that statement. Many of our customers do business with us because of the service they received from us before the made any purchases from us. Those same customers are our best promoters. It always seems to come back to quality service in a timely manner. Customers for life or even customers for generations." - Jeff Sanborn, Handberg's Marine

“Integrity and  backing of the product you sell, strong follow through, open communication which includes “listening” to the customer.  What tops the list for me is reassurance of how we will take care of them “after” the sale.” - Shauna Reetz, Tracker Marine Boat Center - Sidney, Nebraska

“Attitude, kindness, and holding ourselves to a higher standard, use our mistakes as wisdom and correct our shortcomings and successes, and use examples to others in our communications to teach, inspire, and build truth into the relationship. Lead by example.” - Ed Brailsford, Charlotte Ski Boats

“We get told over and over again from prospective customers, recent new customers and ones who are on their 4th+ round with Rinker’s; why they not only chose us but keep coming back … and it’s not a surprise if sometimes they pop-in to say “Hi” and/or for a visit to catch-up. It’s simple … we are genuine in showing we really do care! Our always friendly atmosphere, personalized service and amazing, timely follow-ups makes all of our customers feel special and like they have become an extension of our family, not just a ’one-and-done’ experience/relationship just to get another boat out the door. At Rinker’s Boat World we strive to provide the most comprehensive and enjoyable experience overall for the customer as our major, #1 objective. We listen to what their needs are, develop great communication with them and show empathy. Empathy matters in sales, leading with empathy can mean the difference between a good salesperson and a great salesperson. When you're able to connect with a customer on a higher emotional level, the more likely they are to trust and believe in your ability to help. When salespeople understand and feel what the customer feels, they gain deeper insight into the emotional foundations of the customer's needs. This enables them in turn to define and articulate the best solution in terms that resonate with the customer.” - Carrie Ranney, Rinker’s Boat World

What do you and your team do to inspire trust? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  authenticity  best practices  business advice  continuous improvement  culture  customer experience  dealer development  dealer focused  dealer to dealer  discussions  employee satisfaction  growth  industry insight  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member  relationships  workforce 

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Member Spotlight: Patrick Green

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

As a young professional in the boating world, he understands the importance of continuous improvement. Since his first job, Patrick Green has grown as a professional at some of the industry's most reputable organizations.  Read on to learn more about how Patrick navigates the workplace in order to create a positive work culture.

Q: How did you get started in the boating industry?

Green: I got my first job working summers at Gordy’s in Fontana, Wisconsin on Geneva Lake. I actually was able to save enough money working my first two summers to buy a car on my own before I turned 16.

Q: Being a young professional, you fall into the category of Millennial. How do you navigate the workplace, as a leader, with that “label”?

Green: Reading the room. One of the biggest lessons I hope to carry with me 20 years from now, is understanding & learning from the generational gap. When a company's culture becomes stagnant so do its people.

Q: Tobler Marina is a Marine Industry Certified Dealership. As the Director of Certification, what benefits are you seeing within the dealership after completing and actively participating in the program?

Green: We’ve gotten in the habit of including the Certification Curriculum in our weekly manager meetings, and then trickling it down through weekly dept meetings. This has enabled us to reflect, but also allowed us to push forward with simplifying process. The accountability tools have also helped us understand why the process is so important. Employee feedback is key.

Q: As a professional who puts an emphasis on growing and continuously learning, what would you say was the most important thing you learned in the business this year?

Green: It’s important to have values in an organization that match personal values. This also relates to employees and customers - and the relationships that coincide.

Q: We always end our Member Spotlight interview with this… What are 5 things that people may not know about you?

  1. I was a zipline guide in Alaska for one summer after college.

  2. I went snowboarding every month for 23 months in a row.

  3. I love to rock climb.

  4. I studied Philosophy in college.

  5. I aspire to do the Great Loop.

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

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    Member Spotlight: Susan York-Duquette

    Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, October 31, 2018
    Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

    As a marine industry leader, who has spent her whole life in the boating business, Susan York-Duquette understands the importance of honesty and fostering positive relationships with the individuals of her community.

    Q: Since 2010, you and your husband, Rory, have owned and managed Lakeview Marine. What made you decide to take on the role of owner?

    York-Duquette: I became the owner of Lakeview Marine after the sudden passing of my father, who owned a dealership in our location since the early 1990s. I felt a sense of responsibility to our employees and clients to continue the business and the services we provide. Both my husband and my mother are both important members of our staff, and the decision to keep the business going was truly because of their support and also based on my love of the industry and a desire to make my career in the boating business.

    Q: What is the most interesting decision you’ve made while in the boating business?

    York-Duquette: Interesting decisions I believe are ones that are made with more of the big picture in mind, and not purely based on profits. There is a lot of talk in the industry about our customer base aging, and the need to encourage younger people to get on the water. In our community, many people feel like if they cannot afford a boat, they cannot enjoy our lake. With this in mind, we made the decision to expand our offerings to kayak and paddleboard rentals. These rentals are not a profit center but we feel that it is important to give the people of the community more chances to enjoy our lake. I am proud to offer this service and we hope that through it, we may gain new water enthusiasts and future boaters.   

    Q: We know that many of your family members can be found around the dealership. Do you have certain family values that carry over into your business?

    York-Duquette: I grew up in my father’s dealership, and as a result our family was centered around the business in many ways. Today, my children already spend time interacting with our customers and employees. I always advocate for honesty with everyone, and expect that my children will pick up on that as they grow up. I feel that you “get what you give” and if you work hard and treat people fairly then good things will happen for you and your organization. I learned this from my parents in watching how they did business and built positive community relationships over the years.

    Q: You currently sit on MRAA Young Leaders Advisory Council. Why do you feel it’s important that the younger side of the industry get involved with YLAC?

    York-Duquette: I believe that it is very important for the younger people in the industry to get involved with trade groups because the future of all of our marine businesses depends on having a vibrant and well-organized advocacy group on our side. Issues are being debated on the state and national levels of government that will have direct impact on how we do business, and there needs to be a voice of the industry working on our behalf.  Also, there are many issues that are found in common in dealerships around the country, and by working together to face these problems and by learning from each other’s successes and failures, we will be able to better serve the customers. There is strong leadership now working on important matters such as ethanol, water access, and technician availability, and now is the time for the next generation to step up and learn from them, so we may take over those roles in the future.

    Q: As always, we want to end with this... What are 5 things that people may not know about you?


    • My husband and I live in the house I grew up in with our two daughters (Raegan 5 & Sydney 3) and our American bulldog Linkin.

    • I am a big sports fan, particularly of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots! (I know most everyone from outside of NE stopped reading here, but that is ok)

    • I have a degree in Sport Management and before I took over the dealership I was intending to have a career in the professional sports world.

    • I love to travel and enjoy exploring new places. We are fortunate to be able to travel for dealer meetings each year, and always try to extend one or two of these trips into a vacation in a new place.

    • Christmas is my favorite holiday! I love decorating and hosting gatherings for family and friends. It is the one time of the year I get to spend time at home!

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

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    Member Spotlight: Monica Reed-Hurst

    Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, October 16, 2018
    Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

    Over the course of her career, Monica Reed-Hurst, of Spend-A-Day Marina, has held many titles (balloon inflator, Sales rep, leader of the conga line, just to name a few).  But regardless of title, she knows her passion lies in the boating industry and will continue to be a strong advocate for the future of boating.

    Q: You have been part of the boating world for a while, how did you get started in the boating industry?

    Hurst: I got started in the boating industry at a very young age.  My grandfather started Spend-A-Day Marina in 1950 as a boat rental facility and through the years it has grown to be what we are today sales, service, rental and marina.  I started by inflating clown balloons at the boat show when I was around 8 years old, then I graduated to giving customers their popcorn and soda and labeling mailers, at 14 I started working on the gas dock and in the rental department.  After college, and testing the waters outside of the industry, I realized that once the boating industry is in your blood, it is there to stay.  I came back to the marina in 2005 and I haven’t looked back since.

    Q: You currently sit on MRAA Young Leaders Advisory Council. Why do you feel it’s important that the younger side of the industry get involved with YLAC? What was your reason for joining?

    Hurst: It is very important that the younger generations in the industry get involved because we have to be in touch with the heartbeat of what is happening in the industry to secure a place for recreational boating in the future.  We have to look bigger picture and see who is going to be buying boats, not only today but in 20 years, what do they want, what do our manufacturer environments look like, what legislation do we need to be aware of and support.

    The boating industry's success is much greater than each individual stores’ success and YLAC is an excellent opportunity to share ideas, exchange best practices, and to learn and develop what we need as a boating community to continue to prosper and share the lifestyle we love.

    Q: What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing what you do now?

    Hurst: If I wasn’t involved at the dealership level, I would probably be involved in some other aspect of the marine industry.  I have tried a couple other avenues before re-entering our family business and realized that my passion lies in the boating lifestyle.  My degree is in marketing so I would probably be working with a marketing company with a marine industry focus or at the manufacturer level focusing on dealer relations and marketing.

    Q: What is your proudest moment at Spend-A-Day Marina?

    Hurst: My proudest moment…when I came back we decided to become Marine Dealer Certified, which is a very extensive process with a lot of mapping and documentation involved initially.  I led that project and we maintained the certification going forward.  I have also been able to create and implement some very successful events at our dealership, including scavenger hunts, raft-offs, cookouts, and poker runs.  These are important to me because they really allow us to see how much customers’ enjoy their boating lifestyle, young and old alike.  When our customers enthusiastically ask about the next event and look forward to sharing it with their family and friends it makes me realize we are doing something right here…this is what it is all about…making and sharing the boating memories.

    Q: As always, we want to end with this... What are 4 things that people may not know about you?


    1. I lived in NYC for two years and was a dermatology rep.

    2. I have visited 27 countries…goal is to visit one new country a year…well that was the goal before my husband and I had kids.

    3. I have two beautiful little girls, Giovanna 5 ½, and Maia 4.

    4. My big break was about 10 years ago when I was an extra in a Kevin Bacon movie that was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

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    Member Spotlight: Shawn Easton

    Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, September 19, 2018
    Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019


    This industry leader is the chairman of the MRAA's Young Leaders Advisory Council, the owner of Norris Marine, and a new dad. We had the privilege to learn about his background and what he is contributing to the future success of the marine industry.

    Q: Your family has been in the marine industry for years. Tell us about that and how you ended up where you are today.

    Easton: My father has been in the boat business since 1965.  He still owns and operates a dealership in southwest Oklahoma.  I certainly grew up around the business, but actually didn’t jump right in after college.  After college, I working as a mortgage banker for 6 years.  An opportunity came up to acquire Norris Marine and I am 7+ years in.

    Q: It seems to be a year for growth at Norris Marine. What are you doing differently today versus this time last year that has helped you stay competitive in your market?

    Easton: I can’t say there is any one thing that stands out this year over last year, moreover I believe our growth is a culmination of our strategic plan put in place 3 years ago.  Our team is always striving to be better and we are far from where we want to be.   But with hard work and a commitment to delivering first class service we look to continue to build our brand within our market.

    Q: We know that the Young Leaders Advisory Council is currently working on a few projects to help combat our industry’s workforce crisis. As the YLAC Chair, what are some of the ideas being discussed by our young leaders that you feel will have a positive effect on our industry?

    Easton: It's no secret that our industry has a skilled labor shortage, specifically a technician shortage.  The reality of most dealerships is that its nearly impossible to simply hire an experienced technician at will.  YLAC is focused on helping the MRAA potentially create a ‘blueprint’ for dealers on how to implement an apprenticeship program within their dealership and/or service department.  There are certainly talented young people that are willing to learn and by successfully implementing an apprenticeship program dealers can grown their own workforce.

    Q: To stay on the hot topic of workforce, what advice would you give to prospective Norris Marine employees?

    Easton: Our focus within our dealership is to delivery world class service.  If you want to succeed within our dealership, you must by in to the culture of delivering the best experience for the customer everytime.  If we can do this as a team, everything else will take care of itself.  I tell prospective hires that our customers write our paychecks, I just happen to sign them.  In order to succeed, new employees must buy into working as a team to deliver for our customers.

    Q: To end the interview, tell us 5 things that people may not know about you!


    1. My wife Ashley and I have a 9 month old boy who keeps us busy.

    2. I’m a huge Oklahoma Sooners fan... probably to a fault

    3. I enjoy the mountains and love to snow ski.

    4. I love to cook and am an aspiring chef in my dreams.

    5. Jesus is my lord and savior.

    If you have a nomination for the Member Spotlight section of our newsletter, please send an email to

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

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    Member Spotlight: Joe Lewis

    Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Thursday, August 9, 2018
    Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019
    Q: You have been in the boating world for some time, what is the most interesting decision you’ve made while in the boating business.

    Lewis: To stay in the business! (Kidding). The most interesting was to get into the business as a full service marina/dealership instead of a land-based dealership. It cost more up front, but it’s paid dividends over the years.

    Q: Your family works along side you in the dealership. Do you have certain family values you carry over into your business?

    Lewis: At the risk of sounding a bit cliché’, yes.  We try to treat all our customers like family, but not like your brother or sister!

    We’re are also a marina so we see our customers a lot more than the average dealership. Our goal is to make all those customer experiences as easy, as fun and enjoyable as possible.  Not sure you’d call them family values, but whenever issues arise that get in the way, we treat people the way we’d expect to be helped if we found ourselves under the same circumstances.

    That’s one of the dividends I was talking about in my first answer. We’re able to build relationships because we see them much more than the sales or service experience once or twice a year.  We’re able to connect with our customers, boating and local communities more often.  Each time we deliver a positive experience our stock goes up and we achieve a level of trust that’s hard for the competition to beat.

    Q: As the MRAA Board of Director’s Chairman, what do you see for the future of the association?

    Lewis: A very bright and exciting time ahead.  Over the last decade MRAA has become a trusted and valuable resource for marine retailers interested in improving their businesses.  Since forever sales and product information has been readily available from manufacturers.  But information about how to structure and operate a successful dealership business has been hard to come by. MRAA has stepped in and is providing these resources in a “BIG” way.

    Look for us to continue to expand these offerings as we begin to work on big picture issues like work force development.  Plus we’ll be making an announcement soon about something we believe will have an enormous impact on the success of our dealers and our industry.

    Q: In addition to being the MRAA Chairman, you are also the Chair of Discover Boating. What is one thing you hope to see the industry get behind in regards to attracting more people to boating?

    Lewis: I’d love to see dealerships with access to the water rent boats.  The First Time Boat Buyer research DB did two years ago revealed an incredible amount of information about who our FTBB’s are and what motivates them to buy a boat. We learned about the five “D’s”(Develop, Desire, Dream, Decide & Do), stages they experienced in their journey to boat ownership. The most important, that moment when Desire to own occurred, was during a boating experience.  The more we can do to get people on the water for the “AH HA” moment to occur the better.  Boat rentals is just one way that we’ve seen some success at our dealership.

    Q: Let’s finish this interview on a lighter note! What are 5 things that people may not know about you?

    1. Just celebrated my 26th anniversary with my wife Susan.
    2. We’re expecting to meet our first grandchild any day; Connor will be Julia’s first baby.
    3. I’m a model railroader and collect HO model trains.
    4. Enjoy scuba diving with my son Jay, wreck & cave diving especially.
    5. I’ll be reaching retirement age in two years.  People tell me I look much older!

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

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    Member Spotlight: Jana Wood

    Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Thursday, June 28, 2018
    Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019


    Since taking the leap into the marine retail business in 2001, South Florida Marine owner Jana Wood and her team foster an engaging and rewarding company culture as the dealership continues to grow and expand.

    Q: You and your husband started South Florida Marine in 2001, what made you decided to enter the boating business?

    Wood: Mike owned a Ski Boat and had a close relationship with the local inboard service center. There was an opportunity for Mike and I to purchase the business to sell and service inboard boats. We decided to take a leap and buy in.

    Q: What do you think was one of the biggest lessons you have learned since starting your business?

    Wood: The biggest lesson learned is to keep our staff engaged in creating a bigger and better dealership each and every year. Though good times and bad we keep moving forward even when tough times arise. We learned to have fun and keep a sense of humor.

    Q: You participated in last month’s Dealer-to-Dealer question. It is obvious that South Florida Marine values your employees. Explain how you maintain a positive dealership culture.

    Wood: At our biweekly staff meeting, we encourage our staff to pick an employee of the month. We work together as a team through problems in whichever department it may be. We keep a family atmosphere and treat all our employees like family.

    Q: What are you doing differently today versus this time last year that has helped you stay competitive?

    Wood: We try to be present in the community as much as possible, even in areas you don’t normally see boats displayed such as car and air shows. We have extended our hours and ask our staff to rotate so that we can stay more accessible for boat drop off and pick up.

    Q: What are 5 things that people may not know about you?


    1. We are the oldest Mastercraft dealership in Florida.

    2. We specialize in salt water series inboard service.

    3. We have two sons who plan to take over as owners and operators of South Florida Marine.

    4. We have been a Top 100 Dealer for the past six years and are a 5 Star Certified Dealership

    5. South Florida Marine is planning on expanding with a “ship to shore store” and doubling our property for our boat display in 2019.

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

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    Member Spotlight: Adrian Spiker II

    Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, May 22, 2018
    Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

    As natural leader with the drive for continuous improvement, Adrian Spiker, of Deep Creek Marina, continues to learn and improve the marina he owns and operates in in McHenry, MD.

    Q: How did you get started in the boating industry?

    Spiker: My mother had a 10% interest in a marina here on Deep Creek Lake and her partners decided it was time for them to sell.  It was not a profitable or well-run business at that time and the buildings /grounds were run-down. I thought I could turn it around and make a reasonable living at it.  Since it had an existing marina permit, I made the purchase and probably over-paid but it did get me started.

    Q: How would you describe your formula for success?

    Hard work every day, continuing to keep an open mind to new ideas and continually expanding my education through training courses, seminars and industry groups.  The challenge is to get the new ideas implemented because staff is always resistant to change, but they see me every day at each of our locations and it is my responsibility to lead the entire team.

    Q: What would you say is the most interesting decision you’ve made during your time in the boat business?

    Borrowing the money to build a new multi-million dollar showroom in late 2006 with the showroom then not being finished for operations until late 2007 – right at the start of the horrible recession.  Luckily, we survived but we had sheer moments of terror.

    Q: What are your hopes for our industry?

    The boating industry needs to do a better and more consistent job of creating a sales funnel for new boaters—they need to generate more enthusiasm for boating at all levels.
    Q: What are the 5 things that people may not know about you?

    1. Although I have a degree is business administration, my educational focus was law school.

    2. I love motorcycle racing and still try to participate even now.

    3. I am the “go to guy” at Deep Creek Marina when the mechanics are having diagnostic issues; I personally take the training classes and acquire the necessary certifications.

    4. My family has been natives of Garrett County since it was first settled in the mid-1700’s.  I am an 11th generation native, so……this is my home; I am a local.

    5. My mother was surprised when I did not major in mechanical engineering because when I was 9 years old, I completely disassembled my bicycle in her garage.  She was sure she would never park there again, but I did re-assemble and ride the bike.  I still like to get motors running smoothly, but I sometimes leave a trail of parts behind me.

    If you have a nomination for the Member Spotlight section of our newsletter, please send an email to

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

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