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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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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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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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Don’t forget the ING

Posted By Bob McCann, Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I know, I know, I’ve heard from ALL of you on the phone, emails, texts, Facebook and at dealer meetings: You are too busy this time of year! But to keep this thing called boat sales rolling for years to come, we need to remember to promote the “ING” in boating.

It’s easy when times are good to put off what got you back in the game when sales weren’t so plentiful. During those times, I watched dealers become good marketers and promoters of boating. Many of you found new ways of getting boaters involved in boating, whether it was thinking up a new trip or two for your boat club, adding another fishing tournament, or finding a spare weekend for Demo Days.

These events got your customers on the water and reconnected to their boats and families. Fortunately, a few prospects caught our beloved boating disease and made the jump. Imagine how those efforts would pay off today with customer confidence at an all-time high. But not if we’re too busy for the extra effort.

The dealers that formed the requirements for Certification knew that they needed to do more than just sell boats. They also needed to promote the lifestyle. So, they included requirements for a Certified dealer to have a CRM strategy and a process to keep improving it, as well as a list of customer activities and events to promote boating. The latter keep customers using their boats and move them to mingle with other owners. This gives them a chance to get reinfected with the disease, using their current boat more often or falling in love with one a foot or two larger.

This is especially important right now. It’s only a few days before the biggest weekend for boating. Have you promoted the best place to watch your local fireworks from a boat along with a few safety reminders? It’s not too late. A quick email will create a spark and inject the courage to pack up the family and watch the fireworks from the best place on earth: your own boat.

I’ve seen fireworks in New York, Washington, and at two Boy Scout National and World jamborees. The best fireworks experience is with my wife Carol, directly overhead our boat, with an unobstructed view, my own head, and booms that shake the T-top.

I hope your customers don’t miss a memorable 4th of July event on their boats. Hopefully, it inspires them to think about an even bigger boat next year!

Wishing a Happy and Safe America’s Birthday to all our dealer friends and families!


Sincerely,
Your partners at MRAA

Tags:  certification  holiday  lifestyle  marketing  social media  time management  upselling 

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Marketing Certification to Consumers

Posted By Bob McCann, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One of the most frequently asked questions by dealers considering getting Certified is: “What is the industry doing to make consumers aware of the benefits of doing business with a Certified dealer?” The answer is: Quite a bit!

  1. First and foremost, we believe in empowering YOU to tell your story of how Certification makes you a better boat dealer. We help you by providing resources like press releases, advertisements, sales strategies, the Consumer Commitment and more.

  2. Second, the Dealer Certification Program was launched by Grow Boating, and MRAA continues to work with a Grow Boating Committee to build a relevant program for today’s industry. Grow Boating, through its consumer-facing Discover Boating website, promotes Certified Dealers and why it’s important to buy and service a boat from a Certified Dealer.

  3. Speaking of why it’s important to buy or service your boat at a Certified Dealer, here’s an article we collaborated on with Boating magazine. Each year we work with Bonnier Corp., which publishes Boating magazine, to tell their subscribers about the value of doing business with Certified Dealers. Ads in their magazine and their newsletters, as well as custom content in their newsletters and on their social media sites, promote Certified Dealers and are distributed to boating consumers on an annual basis.

  4. Each year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association promotes Certified Dealers at its boat shows, providing a page in its show directory that highlights all the Certified Dealers displaying at that event as well as signage for Certified Dealers’ booths.

Tell Your Story
When you reach the pinnacle of the industry as a Certified Dealer and adhere the badge to your front door and your website, it’s a good time to take a breath and pat your team on the back for a job well done.

Then, use the marketing tools provided to you to create awareness and put the question in the mind of the boat buyer or owner: What does Certified mean? This is your team’s opportunity to blow their own horn and enthusiastically explain what a Certified Dealer must go through to reach this level of recognition.

This is the purpose of displaying the Consumer Commitment, aka ‘The Customer’s Bill of Rights.” Truth be known, customers come to your dealership to look at boats or to get their boat serviced. Reading plaques on the wall doesn’t rank high on their priority list during their visit. Therefore, mentioning Certification needs to become part of your pitch to every boat buyer or service customer. The plaque on the wall is simply a visual aid to help tell the story.

One of MRAA’s top performing dealer groups has taken this to the next level by restyling and enlarging the Bill of Rights to free standing banners that are proudly displayed in each of their many showrooms.   This group and others also bring the Customer Commitment with them to their boat shows because it helps separates them from the sea of fiberglass or aluminum at the show. They realize that a boat show often levels the playing field. The boat buyers only see bright shiny boats, all perfectly displayed for the weekend, and can’t see exhibitors’ decked-out dealerships (or not). I’ll never forget when one of our dealers told me that they walk everyone over to the Bill of Rights before they leave their boat show display and say, “When you’re looking around the Boat Show, make sure you look for dealerships that display these Bill of Rights.” He went on to say, “This sets up the next dealer for failure, and we enjoy a larger amount of B-Backs.” So, if you’ve been looking for the elusive B-Back powder, this might be it!

Bottom-line: You must beat your own chest and tell everyone you’re Certified because your competition won’t. Use all that we provide to help you create awareness and get customers asking: What does Certification mean?

Tags:  certification  competition  marketing  sales  service 

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The Tale of Two Milkshakes

Posted By Bob McCann, Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Hi, I’m Bob and I’m a chocolate milkshake-aholic!

Because of this addiction, I frequent places that serve such divine pleasure. One place that got my attention this week promotes a Happier Hour and offers milkshakes at half price. They are hand-dipped, old-fashioned shakes topped with whipped cream and a cherry, all for $1.61 including tax! What’s not to like? I’ll tell ya: The aggravation of getting one!

The only thing consistent at this shake establishment is a poor customer experience that starts with, “Is anyone helping you?” This after a several-minute wait with no other customers in the place, delivered by a checked-out employee. Yes, I do go into the restaurant with décor that gets me in the mood for this classic, smooth beverage. The reason I go into the restaurant is to confirm that they are open and there are people working. You can’t tell from the silence coming through the speaker in the drive-thru! Every time I manage to achieve one of these shakes, I’m thinking it will be my last because a place like this isn’t going to stay open long.

Serving vs. selling
Compare this experience with a place down the street that doesn’t have Shake in their name, a chicken sandwich place. How can a place that sells chicken compare with a place that serves Steak and Shakes?  The difference is that the chicken place SERVES their customers and the steak place SELLS their customers. Truth is, the shakes at Chick-fil-A are machine made and the flavor is spun in, but they don’t forget the whipped cream and cherry! It’s the pleasure of being served by such enthused employees that makes the shake taste better.

I’ve been a raving fan of Chick-fil-A for years, and they find ways to further delight me on every visit. I have always parked my car and gone into the restaurant because the line that wraps around the building for the drive-thru deters me. I went out today to do some errands and brought along our new puppy, Lilly. I had the urge to fulfill my addiction and pulled into Chick-fil-A knowing I couldn’t walk in for my shake because I couldn’t bring Lilly inside. Leaving a dog in a car in the Florida heat is not an option. There it was, the line wrapped around the building, and I had to wait for vehicles to leave the window so I could get in line!

As I was thinking, “Is this worth it?” a young lady walked up to my window and asked my name. “Do you know what you would like?” I gave her my order, and she asked if I was paying cash or card. Meanwhile, the line ahead of me is already rounding the first corner of the building, so she asked me to move forward and walked along with me. She told me that she could take my card, swiped it across her belt, and returned my card. Again, the traffic ahead had already turned the next corner, and I followed, encountering another young lady who was holding my receipt and said, “Here you go, Bob!”

I still hadn’t come to a full stop, and I saw a young man directing the car ahead of me forward to clear the window for me with their bag of food in hand. I finally could make a full stop and put my credit card away while another lady at the window asked, “How’s it going today, Bob?” as she bagged my sandwich and handed me my chocolate fix!

Wow! It took less time to get served from a line that wrapped around a building than it took for the other restaurant to say, “Is anyone helping you?” I don’t think I need to see the books for each of these businesses to determine which is more profitable or review employee satisfaction surveys to know which has happier, more engaged employees.

How they do what they do
How does Chick-fil-A do it? I’m certain it didn’t happen overnight. I’ve eaten Chick-fil-A sandwiches for too long, well before they started serving my version of crack. They were never this good. They went from good to great! They haven’t shared their secrets with me, and I’m not sure they will. But I’m certain it starts with a proper culture and training. Then lots of observing and talking with customers to find the less-than-desirable parts of the experience and make them a pleasure.

Can we do the same in the service department at a boat dealership? I think we can by creating a great place to work, always looking for ways to exceed the customer’s expectation that will naturally drive profits, thus having a viable company that will keep customers for life. Adopting the processes required to become a Marine Industry Certified Dealership is a good start to creating the right culture and making sure your dealership’s operations are in line with customer expectations. However, the process to stay Certified is the special sauce that keeps you looking for ways to further delight your customers on every visit.

I hope you enjoy your food and milkshake on your next visit to Chick-fil-A, and more importantly, enjoy how they serve their customers!

Tags:  certification  culture  customer experience  employee satisfaction  engaged  milkshakes  profitable 

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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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That was then, this is now

Posted By Bob McCann, Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
When I first entered the marine industry in 1999 after a long and rewarding career in the auto business, we were designing and building websites for dealers at a company called BoatVentures, which later became Channel Blade. During that time, we worked closely with a great number of boatbuilders that had Vice President- or Director-level executives leading Dealer Development staffs.

These departments were very concerned about the effectiveness of dealers’ websites and their response to leads generated from these websites. We became one of many companies that would work with a Director of Dealer Development and the associated dealer network to improve dealers’ results with prospects and customers. I recall arriving to more than one of these Dealer Development meetings aboard a manufacturer’s corporate aircraft. They were hosted at posh locations such as the Ritz Carlton in Chicago during IMTEC, where hotel clubs were closed for the night to entertain their dealers and guests.

It’s amazing what a great recession will do to make the jets and 5-star hotels a thing of the past! The frills may no longer be a priority, but the real need for Dealer Development remains. Most boat manufacturers see themselves building boats that boaters want and creating high brand awareness that sets them apart in the sea of fiberglass or aluminum. They see the dealer managing the purchasing and ownership experiences. Too many times, a lack of alignment between the two results in a poor customer experience, and the efforts of both the OEM and the dealer are out the window.

I don’t see Dealer Development VPs coming back anytime soon, but after over a year of working with dealers going through the Marine Industry Certified Dealership Program, I can’t think of a better avenue to bring dealers and manufacturers together. Dealer Certification is entirely focused on the customer experience — before, during and after the sale — and in a sense, it allows the MRAA to execute what was once the OEM’s Dealer Development efforts. The results are not only a better customer experience, but also a more efficient, effective and profitable dealership with staying power. Case in point? If you were the average dealer heading into the Great Recession, you had about a 65-percent chance of survival. But if you were a Certified Dealer, you had greater than a 91-percent chance to make it through. Certification makes that much of a difference.

From the moment that MRAA became involved in the Certification program, dealers have told us that manufacturer support is critical to its and their long-term success. When the industry comes together to make the customer experience a priority, it moves the needle for all involved.

If you are an OEM interested in learning more about the industry’s Certification program or a dealer who would like to see your manufacturer(s) get involved, please contact allison@mraa.com or (763) 333-2419. 

Tags:  certification  dealer development  recession 

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8401 73rd Avenue North, Suite 71, Minneapolis, MN 55428