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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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Make Meaningful Connections, Always

Posted By Mickaela Giese, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

You never know when you are going to meet someone that will change your life. The woman you had a conversation with while waiting for take-out might turn into the future you’s best customer, or your mailman who you see every morning may become your best source for referrals. How are your current, everyday connections shaping your future success?

Tricky question, right? Some of you are natural sales people who do not struggle with asking the “right” questions or directing conversation in order to learn more about others. Unfortunately for the rest of us, connections and the act of networking, does not come as easy.

The MRAA team recently attended a conference that held an entire session on networking. The speaker introduced the idea of ROR, return on relationships. His idea was that when you turn the conversation away from making a sale you could find yourself building a lasting relationship that will continue to drive ROI well into the future. Any interaction in any place could lead to a relationship that leads itself to a sale.

This idea isn’t exactly profound. We have all heard that relationships = ROI, but are we truly taking full advantage of this idea? Just think about this and don’t forget to say hello to your mailman in the morning!

Tags:  connections  continuous improvement  Education  networking  ROI 

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Dealer to Dealer: June

Posted By Mickaela Giese, Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What do you do in order to keep your team motivated through your busy season?

"Remind them everyday how much they are appreciated. Always make a point to recognize good work, even just the smallest thing. We do a free staff lunch every Thursday. Share positive feedback from customers (social media, emails or verbal comments, etc). Treat employees like they are the most important person in the dealership because THEY ARE!" - Mark Payne, Payne Marine

"At South Florida Marine, we motivate our staff by having bi-weekly staff meetings. We meet on Tuesday mornings and review any issues or accomplishments that has happened in the previous weeks. We give a Employee of the month certificate and 50.00 gift card to one person each month. This employee of the month is voted on by the staff with a sealed ballot. The owners also give a free lunch to anyone who is mentioned or has helped us receive an online review. These accomplishments are awarded at the meetings and help keep our staff in service and sales motivated. We also discuss any problems and try to work through them as a team, instead of only one department trying to resolve the issue alone." - Jana Wood, South Florida Marine  

"Get out and work with them. When ever the work load gets a little overwhelming having the boss recognize the problem, willing to get in the trenches and work through it is a big morale boost." - Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center

"During the early season, motivation is not too difficult. Once the season starts to drag on, that is when folks get tired. We monitor the energy and tolerance level of our employees and delegate additional paid time off accordingly. Balance is important." - Rob Brown, Clark Marine

"Having a motivated team is not just what happens at the office but also after hours. We noticed 6 years ago that almost all of our employees loved hockey so we started our own summer hockey league once a week. Every Tuesday night 90% of the staff gets together on the ice to play a weekly game of hockey. This is not only a great motivator but also a great team building opportunity. We have also used our summer hockey league as a way to attract future employees and it as become a part of our recruiting tools. We found out that motivating your employees is not always done with money, you need to listen and find out what works in your environment." - Marc Savage, Orleans Boat World


Each month, MRAA connects with dealership management on a timely and relevant topic and publishing their insights at Tell us what you have to say about this month’s question by commenting below and participating in the conversation. Also, watch for next month’s question.

Tags:  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer to dealer  discussions  growth 

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Dealer to Dealer: May

Posted By Mickaela Giese, Monday, May 7, 2018

What is the most important to your organization- mission, core values, or vision? How do you instill that key element into your company’s culture?

"Core values come first. I’m not sure you can set a vision or create a mission statement you can follow without having a code of ethics in place as a guide.  

Customers are not going to judge a company on what they say they are in their mission statement. Some may commend a company for having a great action plan in place to achieve their stated vision. In the end, however, a company will be judged on its actions.    

Part of our initial training starts with refreshing new hires on using the manners their mothers taught them. We go beyond saying please and thank you. Living put these core values on and off the clock are essential for being part of our team.

Always tell the truth. Show up on time. Do what we say we will do. Charge what we quote or less. Use the manners our mothers taught us. Be in control of our attitude at all times. Give a little more than is expected."
- Rob Brown, Clark Marine

"Core Values" - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Works, Inc.

"Core Values" - Kristina Litjens, Boulder Boats

"Employee & Manufacturer Relationships" - Ken Sorley, Marineland Boating Center


Each month, MRAA connects with dealership management on a timely and relevant topic and publishing their insights at Tell us what you have to say about this month’s question by commenting below and participating in the conversation. Also, watch for next month’s question coming soon

Tags:  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer to dealer  discussions  growth 

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Practice What You Learn

Posted By Bob McCann, Monday, May 7, 2018

In the Continuous Certification Q1 course, “Take Your Dealership From Good to Great with CRM,” instructor Sam Dantzler opened our eyes to asking how customers want to be contacted. Since then, I’ve been taking notice how the businesses that I interact with contact me. This week, I needed to get my bike tuned up and have the handle bar tape replaced.

I rode the bike to the shop and was greeted enthusiastically by the service team. They threw the bike on the rack and asked what I was looking for. I told them the rear derailleur needs adjusting and the bar tape replaced.

They grabbed a repair order and started filling it out with my name, my phone numbers and when I needed it back. After some small talk I tucked my copy of RO in the pocket, looked at a couple of new bikes and walked home.

Later in the day, when I was emptying my pockets, I noticed some boxes that were built into their RO that weren’t used. Based on what I learned in that Continuous Certification Course, I thought the bike shop missed two great opportunities to build a better relationship with me and build in more efficiencies.

The RO has two permission boxes for texting and emailing. These are built into the RO to remind the employee to ask the customer how they want to be contacted. Neither was used. I can only imagine the amount of time that could have been saved for both the shop and myself if they simply sent me a text that my bike was ready. I do believe if a business or representative can move into the customer’s text space, the relationship advances. And a growing number of people prefer to be contacted by text these days.

The second opportunity seems light years old and obvious: How could anyone miss out on collecting email addresses these days? We’ve been preaching to boat dealers at our annual conference for years to always capture a customer’s email address. Even after all these years, email marketing arguably gets you the best bang for the buck.

So, my question to you, are you executing on what you’re learning or are you missing these same opportunities?

Tags:  bike shop  communication  continuous improvement  CRM  relationships  repair order 

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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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Dealer to Dealer: April

Posted By Mickaela Giese, Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2018

What is your most effective marketing tactic to attract prospective customers to your dealership this time of year?

"We are finding that making contacts at boat show and then inviting them to the dealership has been pretty effective. Whether it is cost effective is another question." - John Ladner, Breath's Boats & Motors

"Open houses" - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Works, Inc.

"On water demo days work well for us." - Stuart Litjens, Boulder Boats

"Boat handling skills training" - Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center

"I found using Radio has been very good for us. We have short 30 second commercials played often that way clients know to come to us first." - Nancy Struthers, Roger's Marina


Each month, MRAA connects with dealership management on a timely and relevant topic and publishing their insights at Tell us what you have to say about this month’s question by commenting below and participating in the conversation. Also, watch for next month’s question coming soon.

Tags:  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer to dealer  discussions  growth 

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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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