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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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50 Reasons to Attend Dealer Week by our 100th Registrant

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Bob Bense, of Superior Boat Repair & Sales, was the 100th individual to register for Dealer Week! With the help of his wife, Kathy, the couple compiled a list of 50 reasons why they continue to support the MRAA and, now, Dealer Week.


We signed up for the Dealer Week because the MRAA team continues to deliver information and resources that help us to prosper and grow as a marine dealer. Here are half of one-hundred reasons why we love attending and how participating has been a really good thing for us as the owners of Superior Boat Repair & Sales, Inc.

    1. We get excited about the coming year and helping our boating community.

    2. We share quality time with other dealers.

    3. We enjoy time spent meeting dealers from all over the country and the world.

    4. We get ideas, fresh ideas, to implement at the dealership.

    5. We find solutions to problems we are facing at the office.

    6. We really enjoy being with so many other people that do the same thing for a living.

    7. We get to hear really entertaining and thought provoking speakers that inspire us to be better and do better.

    8. We are taught by marine industry experts in the educational work-shops.

    9. We get to get away and get a break from the dealership, which helps us to relax and unwind with our  staff.

    10. We bond with our employees and get quality time to talk to each other.

    11. We have the opportunity to win scholarships, which our dealership has won.

    12. We keep up with up marine industry news.

    13. We are able to meet with new vendors and learn about new products that we can purchase to help our business grow, like software.

    14. We rekindle relationships with old friends that work at the boat manufacturers’, some that are decades old.

    15. We get a chance to stop and think about our dealership, what we have done right and where we can improve.

    16. We learn from dealers that have been doing this so much longer than we have.

    17. We learn how to ride the wave through the good years and how to hold on to what we have created, during the bad.

    18. We pick up great ideas from new dealers that we meet over lunch.

    19. We get to see sunny Florida and get some vitamin D.

    20. We break out and each person from our dealership goes to a different workshops so we come back with so much more useful information to help us prosper.

    21. We make new contacts and network.

    22. We get the opportunity to enjoy our success with others.

    23. We get to hear what  the financial experts at the lending institutions predict the economy will do in the coming year(s), which helps us when ordering our inventory for the coming year.

    24. We get to visit the manufacturers for the boat lines that we carry, when we’re there in Florida.

    25. We get the opportunity to visit with our dear friends in our Parker Twenty Group.

    26. We get the privilege of meeting other husband and wife dealership owners and we share what makes it all work.                                                                            

    27. We can win prizes.

    28. We are given delicious food, like key lime pie, which we don’t get in California.

    29. We get SO excited again about owning a dealership and providing families with the joy that boat ownership brings.

    30. We learn tricks of the trade, like how to bring up and train your own mechanics, since there is such a huge shortage of technicians across the country.

    31. We get to wear shorts during the winter.

    32. We build up our sales-team and motivate them to sell more.

    33. We learn strategies on how to sell our business to others and market our business wisely.

    34. We can ask so many questions, questions regarding all aspects of owning a dealership.

    35. We hear how other dealers found solutions and what those solutions were, regarding the same problems we are facing at our boat dealership.

    36. We are reminded of important practices we must have in place to have a secure and healthy dealership... like having at least two lines of credit to get through the downturns.

    37. We learn vital lessons on how to make more money and get higher margins.

    38. We hear how to sell smarter and to close faster.

    39. We were able to get expert advice and helpful guidance when we were a brand new dealer, especially during a severe drought and terrible recession.

    40. We learned so much, all the while earning the respect of other dealers, because after implementing what we learned we grew by leaps and bounds.

    41. We are reminded that we sell JOY, memories and a great quality of life.

    42. We hear about other dealers that have gone out of business, why they closed shop and how we can learn from their mistakes, if we can.

    43. We are able to take a much needed cruise vacation, before we get slammed in the busy months, by taking a short drive to the Atlantic and hoping on one of many ships.

    44. We are challenged to think and grow in our roles at the dealership, through the many workshops.

    45. We are given the opportunity to purchase things, like insurance and flooring, at a much better rate, which saves us money and helps us stay in business.

    46. We really enjoy the whole experience.

    47. We are proud to be a dealer, when we realize there aren’t very many people selling boats across the country.

    48. We hear in the seminars what we are doing right and that is uplifting.

    49. We exchange contact information with other dealers selling the same lines, which helps us to be able to call them in the future, if we can ever sell each other inventory.

    50. We really, truly see the value of all that encompasses attending the Dealer Week and what we take away from that experience.

Take advantage of the lowest prices of the year by registering for Dealer Week before March 31, 2019.

Tags:  dealer development  dealer education  dealer focused  Education  experience  supporters  testimonials 

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Make Meaningful Connections, Always

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, 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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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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No time for training

Posted By Bob McCann, Tuesday, March 21, 2017

During my early days running a dealership and then later at Channel Blade, we constantly made or heard the excuse: “We don’t have time for training. We need to work the phones or sell or fix something.” 

We learned later that not dedicating time to training cost us a ton in wasted time! Not to mention lost customers and sales because the crew wasn’t up to speed on their product, the competitor’s products, or the sales skills to help people buy.

Dealers today still find it difficult to dedicate time for training. That was the subject of a conversation I had with Liz Walz leading up to MDCE 2016. If you know Liz, you know that she is extremely passionate about dealer education and works vigorously to produce hours of training on multitudes of topics by industry experts, available at MDCE and MRAA.com in the MRAA Resource Center and MRAA Interactive Virtual Training System. She gets frustrated knowing that dealers are struggling to take advantage of training that could make a real difference for their team.

That’s where I came in. Liz asked me to create a training workshop at MDCE to show dealers how easy it is to create a simple plan to educate their people without adding more hours to the day. Fortunately, Liz asked me early in the year, as it took most of that time to find ways to make the process simple, with just a few steps.

We gave the workshop at MDCE, offering a complementary workbook to help attendees learn:

  • The why behind training
  • Who needs training
  • How to define your training needs and set training goals
  • Where to find training resources
  • How to schedule training
  • How to track and assess the results

It’s really that simple: determine who needs training, what training you need, what’s the goal for the training, find the training, and then schedule it! Schedule it? That’s the problem! We can help you find unique ways to work training in more often without working longer hours.

Now, we’re taking the research we did for that workshop and expanding upon it, transforming it into an MRAA Guide to Training that will walk you and your team through the planning (and if needed, budgeting) process from start to finish, offering you the chance to customize your strategy to fit your dealership’s and your team members’ unique needs and interests.

We spend time on getting buy-in from both employees and management. You simply need to find out what your crew wants to learn and keep it in line with management’s priorities. As we mentioned in a recent blog on job descriptions, marine dealers can see a big benefit from performance evaluations. This is yet another reason for them: So you can find out what your employees want and need to learn, instead of just checking the box that you did training. Click here to access the MRAA Member Resource: 10 Tips for Marine Dealership Performance Reviews.

Lastly, to keep training perpetual in your store, it’s important that every course your dealership attends or conducts has a goal and that you track the results. We are confident that when you train on a certain area, you will get better results in that area. When you get better results, you will keep doing what got you the results.

Tags:  education  resources  time management  training 

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The 20 Group Advantage: An Interview with John Spader

Posted By Liz Walz, Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Following Spader Business Management's launch of a new type of 20 Group, MRAA's Liz Walz sat down with John Spader to discuss the impact of 20 Group participation on marine dealers, the thinking behind the new type of group being developed, and the new education and training discounts offered to MRAA Retail Members.


Liz Walz (LW): Spader Business Management has a long history as a 20 Group Provider to MRAA Members. For those who haven’t experienced a 20 Group, can you tell us about how they work and the benefits they offer to participating dealers? 

John Spader (JS): 20 Groups are groups of non-competing marine dealers who share financial info and successful practices with one another. Belonging to a 20 Group gives you the opportunity to get ideas and strategies from other marine dealers who may have similar goals and objectives as you. Your 20 group becomes, in a sense, your own personal “Board of Directors” that can help you identify ways to make your business more successful and fulfilling. 
 
LW: When we talk to members who have not experienced a 20 Group before, the three most common concerns we hear about joining are: the time away from the dealership, the sharing of sensitive financial information, and the investment required to participate. Can you speak to these three issues? How do you reassure dealers that it’s worth it to take this leap? 

JS: These are all very common concerns indeed and let's address those one by one.  

With respect to time away from the dealership, in our 40 years of operating 20 Groups, a common comment we hear is: “Before the meeting, I was trying to figure out how I could carve out the time for this meeting, but after participating in the meeting and gleaning so many new ideas and action items that will significantly help our business, I am so glad I came!” 

Sharing sensitive financial info is another hurdle to overcome, but that is the difference between a 20 Group and just a business meeting where people get together to talk about ideas without the actual results to see how good the ideas are working. The financial info only has value when it can be benchmarked against other data. The sharing of financial info amongst members is a cornerstone to the success of 20 Group members. 

The comment we have had from members in regards to the financial investment is that they save more by attending the first meeting and implementing the ideas learned than the first year of membership costs. And is it worth it? Well, let's just say our top performing Marine Industry 20 Group Members are earning 8% to 10% plus nets. Is that worth it?
 
LW: In our experience, dealers who participate in 20 Groups have a distinct advantage over those who don’t, as they not only are held accountable by their 20 Group peers and facilitators to show real improvement, but they also have a larger network to turn to for advice and best practices when they encounter challenges or opportunities. Do you have any data to back up the idea that 20 Group members are indeed outperforming the marine market or that 20 Group participation delivers a return on investment?  

JS: Whenever we have had the opportunity to compare the average nets of our 20 Group members to aggregate averages of manufacturers or industry lenders, we typically find the 20 Group members average 1.5 to 2.5 times greater net profits. Also, during the last downturn, there was no doubt that 20 Group members, on a whole, adjusted and fared better than the masses. This was confirmed to us by several manufacturers and lenders as well.
 
LW: Through MRAA’s Young Leaders Advisory Council and Young Professionals Community, we get the opportunity to talk to a lot of up and coming leaders in the dealership. As this new generation takes the helm, they often face the decision of whether to continue their dealership’s participation in a 20 Group or whether to join a 20 Group for the first time. Can you talk about the relationship between succession planning and 20 Group participation?   

JS: In the "Information Era," it's not uncommon for younger professionals to question the impact of 20 Groups since, on the surface, it appears to be all numbers. However, our members would likely tell you: "Yes, the numbers are the numbers, but the secret sauce is not only WHAT the numbers are telling you but more importantly HOW others, in the same industry, can and are producing some amazing results." Not only would I highly recommend 20 Group membership to an up and coming young leader, I would also recommend they get in touch with others who have made the transition and have been thankful to have been part of such a peer group.

After offering 20 Group services for 40 years we have had the opportunity to witness many successions from one generation to the next, and it's very gratifying to know we've played an integral part in many of those successful transitions. So much so that some of our members are 3rd and 4th generation dealerships and a few have recently celebrated 40 years with us. It's just amazing. Transitions, especially within families, have many emotions, issues and challenges that have already been experienced and overcome by other members in the 20 Group. We have seen firsthand the mentoring that takes place within a group as dealerships transition from one generation to the next. It truly is a great place to share with others, to learn and to be coached. 
 
LW: I understand that Spader Business Management is launching a new 20 Group for the marine industry that is a little bit different than those of the past. What can you tell us about it? 

JS: The objective of this new group is to be more of a developmental peer group for smaller volume dealers who need more hands on training and coaching incorporated into the meetings, seek more coaching and consulting in between meetings and who would benefit from less time away from the dealership. This group will have two face-to-face meetings per year and two coaching/consulting calls between meetings, yet still benefit from the typical benchmarking of data and transfer of successful business practices.  
 
LW: What types of dealerships would most benefit from this new type of 20 Group? 

JS: Smaller volume dealerships that are seeking the benefits of sharing with a peer group but would like to do it in a format that doesn’t require as much time away from the dealership and gives more one to one coaching and consulting both at and between the meetings.
 
LW: Why are you launching this new type of 20 Group now? Is there something happening in the industry or within Spader Business Management that is driving it? 

JS: We've identified a need to make the benefits of 20 Group membership available to a broader base of dealerships. 
 
LW: Of course, 20 Groups aren’t all that Spader Business Management offers. You also provide a host of dealer workshops on topics as diverse as leadership, management, hiring, sales and the service department, as well as one-on-one consulting and even virtual training. If a dealership professional is looking to improve their results, how would you recommend they get started working with Spader?  

JS: In our many years working with dealers, we have created dealer assessments that have proven to be very effective at identifying the best course of action for the greatest impact for a dealer. I would encourage these professionals to contact Spader and speak with someone about administering an assessment for their dealership and then use those results to determine the next steps. 
 
LW: The MRAA is proud to work alongside Spader Business Management to help our members improve and grow. Can you outline how MRAA members can benefit from our long-term partnership?

JS: Spader Business Management enjoys long-term relationships with MRAA members coast to coast in the United States and Canada. In nearly every situation presented to us, we know of another dealer with the same or similar challenges, how they addressed it and where they are today. A relationship with Spader and MRAA is a combination of not only excellent networking opportunities, but also decades of knowledge, best practices and trends that everyone can benefit from. Both organizations are truly interested in the improvement and profitability of those with which we interact.

Tags:  20 Groups  continuous improvement  education  interview  marine dealer  spader  training 

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Reasons To Do Business With a MRAA Dealer

Posted By Michael Geatz, Friday, July 12, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2019

 Why You Should
Do Business with a Member
of the MRAA


1.) Financial strength

MRAA members gain financial strength using exclusive benefits and resources.


2.) Education

MRAA members receive discounts to attend educational events, keeping them up to speed with economic trends and changes.


3.) Professionalism

The MRAA's mission is to provide opportunities for growth and improvement. Members have access to these efforts on an ongoing basis.


4.) Benefits

Special sales, marketing, financial, operations, and F&I offered only to MRAA members gives them a leg up on the competition.


5.) Grow Boating

MRAA dealers are actively involved with industry wide efforts that promote the boating lifestyle and improve the boating experience for customers.


6.) Lobbying

MRAA members contribute to MRAA's efforts in Washington, efforts that fight to make boating more enjoyable.


7.) Certification

Certification provides certified dealers with an official seal that speaks to their level of professionalism and desire for continuous improvement, ask your dealership if they are certified today!

Tags:  benefits  certification  education  financial strength  Grow Boating  lobbying  MRAA member  professionalism 

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