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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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The Path to Today’s Bottom-line Results

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Thursday, November 1, 2018

Excel. [ik-sel] verb. to exceed all expectations and achieve a level higher in performance, quality, or degree.


It was a truly memorable moment of my career. The boss and I were out on the road sharing the concept for an all-new program, trying to create buy-in. The meeting had arrived at the moment of the close, and she leaned in, focused and sincere: “We’ve really built this program to ensure that we can over-promise and under-deliver.”

The faux pas wasn’t lost on the group. We got a good laugh out of it then, and I still get a chuckle out of it when I think about it more than a decade later.

As author and sales guru Grant Cardone suggests in his book, “10X. The Only Difference Between Success and Failure,” even the culturally acceptable idea of under-promising and over-delivering is a poor way to capture business. Think about it. Let’s under-promise and tell our customers that the boat will float most of the time, so they’re surprised and delighted when it never actually sinks. How many more boats do you think you would sell?

In our demanding society, and particularly in a want-based industry like boating, where expectations are continually on the rise, there is still an easy pathway we can take to excel – to exceed all expectations and achieve a level higher in performance and quality. That pathway is to create better experiences for our customers.

A friend, who is the CEO for a fast-growing tech company, calls it the Amazon effect, noting that price, availability and delivery are no longer points to compete on. “So what’s left?” he asks. Brand and reputation … which are shaped by the experience you provide.

Experiences are today’s currency. Experiences – again, particularly in a want-based industry like boating – are what make or break our businesses and indeed, the success of our entire industry. How are you doing with the experiences you and your business provide? How is your team doing? And how do you know?

Several brief mystery shopping exercises around the marine and RV industries suggest that somewhere between 35 and 40 percent of the leads sent to our dealers are going unanswered. But not at your dealership, right? What does this tell you about the experiences our industry is providing?

Similarly, a recent study by AVALA Marketing Group showed that more than 40 percent of consumers who made it through the initial contact hurdle and have actually bought a boat never hear from their dealer again. There was no “thank you.” No, “how did we do?” No assistance. Just, “here’s your boat. And good luck.” Are you sure that doesn’t happen at your business?

If you want to excel in today’s market place, you have to focus on the experience. You have to make a commitment to creating world-class experiences and to over-delivering on that promise every step of the way. You have to exceed expectations. It’s not just a feel-good manner of taking care of your customers; it’s clear that this approach will not only set you apart from the competition, but will also offer you a long-term strategy with real-world, bottom-line business results at stake.

Tags:  dealer development  dealer focused  excel  future  growth 

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How do you stay energized?

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Thursday, October 18, 2018
I’m having issues with batteries these days. In our mobile, always-on-the-go society, batteries are more and more frequently the power source of choice. And while, yes, they’re getting better all the time, they’re still largely unpredictable.

I watch my daughter struggle with battery management on her new cell phone. Is it normal for teenagers to always hover around two-percent battery life? A coworker’s dead car battery nearly stranded her at the office. I have two dead – and very heavy – batteries I carry around in my cordless drill case. And I can’t tell you how many times the rechargeable battery in my trimmer has left my facial hair half manicured and half gray and shaggy.

This issue I’m having serves as a constant reminder that staying energized is not about recharging batteries. Recharging suggests you let your battery die or dwindle in its power before you give it life again.

I like to think of “energize” as a constant state of power, not something we allow to dissipate before we refuel. It’s the fuel that we use to attain goals at work, to foster meaningful relationships, to engage in hobbies, and to be passionate about anything we do. As Webster says it, it means to inspire action with invigorating effort.

Inspiration comes in many forms. You can find it in meeting a goal, selling that boat, landing that client, creating a relationship, taking a vacation, reading a book, hearing a great message, running a marathon, learning a new hobby, or countless other options. When it comes to your own power source, your own method for being energized, that diversity in where you find it is important. It can’t all come from work. It can’t all come from play. The balance is critical to not letting your batteries die.

At MRAA, we want to be your professional power source. We want to offer you the means for finding inspiration in your everyday work life and help you achieve the goals you’ve set. And we’re willing to provide the invigorating effort to make that happen.

Whether you’re looking for business solutions through membership or our annual conference, we can connect you with the right partners. Whether you’re looking for educational opportunities online or in person, we’ve got a world class catalog to offer you. Whether you’re looking for simple inspiration in a specific area of need or a proven template for running your entire dealership, MRAA wants to be your power choice of source to energize your performance and your business to bigger and better things in the year ahead.

Our means of being energized comes from the passion of the team that surrounds us here at MRAA. The passion that each of us pour into delivering inspiring, invigorating opportunities for you. Look at today’s opportunity alone. Membership Development Manager Nikki Duffney is celebrating her own birthday by delivering a powerful, energizing educational opportunity: A live webinar on how to unify your sales and service departments for delivering optimal customer experiences. “Happy birthday to me. Here’s an incredible gift for all of you.” That kind of passion is what we mean by Energize and it’s why we’re confident in becoming your power source of choice.

(NOTE: If you missed the live version of this event, there will be a recording available soon.)

Tags:  dealer development  dealer focused  energize  future  growth  inspiration  refuel 

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Explore a Brighter Future

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Thursday, October 11, 2018
This past summer, I took the most incredible vacation ever. We over-planned, over-packed and over-spent on a two-week road trip to Glacier National Park, where we explored the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever laid eyes on.

The incredible memories and this park’s unpredicted rise to the No. 1 spot on our family’s list of favorite National Parks, can be directly attributed to the numerous hikes we took to explore Glacier’s dramatic scenery and sheer beauty. But I think the risk-and-reward factor came in to play with that, as well.

You see, I’m a tough guy. An outdoorsman with cushy hiking shoes, a Camelback, air conditioning and a memory foam mattress (with matching pillows). And so nothing — NOTHING! — scares me. Particularly in front of my wife and two daughters. Nothing. At all. Except … perhaps … possibly … the near-certain likelihood that any hike in Glacier National Park would assuredly end in my being mauled by a grizzly bear.

It’s true. The signs warn you to be “bear aware” on the way into the park. Gift shops sell bear spray in double-barrel packages at prices that suggest your mere survival depends on its ownership. Trail heads let you know that bears frequent the area. Rangers walk around for the sole purpose of protecting you and also for conducting blood transfusions and CPR on you. And to make being death charged by a bear even more likely, my ladies all sported chapstick scented with huckleberry … which, by the way, happens to be the grizzly bear’s favorite food. Right behind “adult male human,” I suppose. Do you even realize how many grizzly bear encounter videos you can find on YouTube?

Now, I know that, as a business leader, you don’t have irrational fears. There are no grizzly bears in your world. You don’t worry about losing your top employee or whether or not that new boat line will pay off. You don’t think about how deep that next recession will be or how much it will slow down your sales. The competition and that brilliant move they just made? Not even on your mind. You never wonder to yourself if, maybe, sacrificing margins in favor of market share is truly the best strategy. It doesn’t cross your mind how you’re going to rid yourself of excess costs, inventory or inefficiencies. And you certainly don’t question your own leadership or management abilities. You’re tough and brave, too. I get it.

But in the event that maybe you are not 100-percent clear on what the future looks like, I want to challenge you to explore it and create it for yourself. I want to challenge you to break out of your comfort zone, take a few risks, experience something new.

In business, as in life itself, the most rewarding experiences are those that at one point seemed the most dangerous. The most risky. The most plotted in harm’s way. They are the opportunities you’ve explored only after overcoming obstacles and hardships. They are the ones that come with constant warning signs and reminders that you could be eaten alive without notice.

All of those bear fears could have, and almost did, deter us from taking those hikes. We could have taken the safe route and just gone to Disney World. But despite the risks and the high number of warning signs, it was not only the visit, but in fact, those hikes and the exploration that took us to the hidden lakes, the beautiful vistas, the waterfalls and glaciers, and yes, even a few grizzly bears — that turned out to be frightened by us, by the way.

As you create your plans for the year ahead, challenge yourself to break out of your regular habits. Learn something new. Try a new direction. Consider a new strategy. Break out of the mold. Envision a brighter future for yourself and your business. And do it by exploring new opportunities. Even those that come with risk.

Just know that as you venture out to explore unknown trails, your MRAA Team stands by to help you pave the way. We’re armed with the bear spray to protect you, and we’ve got the Park Rangers to guide you around the dangers that lurk out there. And we’re quite confident that we can help make your 2019 the most incredible, most rewarding year yet.

Tags:  dealer development  dealer focused  explore  future  growth  MRAA 

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Envision a brighter future

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Thursday, October 4, 2018

Envision.

[en-vizh-uh n] verb. imagine as a future possibility; visualize


When you close your eyes and envision your future, what do you see? Are those vivid pictures centered around your family? Perhaps on that dream vacation or in retirement? Do you imagine professional accomplishment like bountiful sales or a new location? Or are you dreaming of something even more aspirational, like smooth operations with no HR headaches or odd-hour service calls?

Over here at the MRAA, our team envisions a brighter future for marine retail. We envision a day when the fundamental problems that lead to today’s less-than-ideal boat buying and ownership experiences are behind us. We envision a day when we work hand-in-hand, on an even deeper level, with our manufacturer and supplier partners to aid in the success of our dealers. And we envision a day when, together, we can propel boating, once again, to the No. 1 choice in outdoor recreation.

It’s a lofty vision for sure, but rest assured, that your MRAA staff is made up of a dozen of the hardest-working, most passionate marine industry professionals anyone could dream of working alongside. Our mission is to provide you and your team with the tools, resources and educational opportunities that will inspire you and empower you to reach the growth and success goals you set.

Translated, that means the future you envision is the future we envision. And no matter how you define success, your MRAA team wants to help you get there. Especially if it’s that dream vacation and you want us to go with.

Tags:  dealer development  dealer focused  envision  future  growth  MRAA 

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Dealer to Dealer: September

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What do you do to foster teamwork between dealership departments?


"We provide lunch for our entire crew, every day, 12 months a year. When we are extremely busy, the crew will eat on the run and not leave the dealership. When things are little slower we gather around while eating and have a daily meeting from all departments in order to address problems and listen to suggestions. We work with a local restaurant to provide lunch daily for $60.00. Granted it’s close to $20k a year, but all it takes is a couple missed boat sales or infuriated customers because of the lack of staff over the lunch hour to cost us even more!" - Dennis Robbins, Robbins Marine

 

 


Each month, MRAA connects with dealership management on a timely and relevant topic and publishing their insights at MRAA.com. 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: August

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Thursday, August 16, 2018

What is the most impactful lesson you learned about consumers during this selling season?


"That everything I thought before about consumers is still true…when people feel like they have money and economy is good, whether they really can afford it or cannot, they wish to spend money and spend it less frugally." - Ray Fernandez, Bridge Marina

"Today's customers sure know where to find us when it comes to - close to - DEMANDING immediate gratification when it comes to service but, when asked about their recent parts/accessory purchases, have all kinds of reasons/excuses why we seem to have been forgotten. We do our best to compete with the Amazons of the world but today's mobile purchase habits are getting stronger by the minute." - Ken Grabowski, Custom Marine, Inc.

"We have learned the following about consumers during this selling season:
  • Many don’t want to own they want to rent boats
  • People do have money to spend
  • Many consumers we are finding are looking for more family time
  • We are finding our old customers are getting old, retiring and getting out of boating
  • Finding a lot of consumers are very rate/payment conscious
  • Consumers are not buying at the shows, they are very educated on the product before they even get to the showroom" - Carlton Philips, Prince William Marine Sales


Each month, MRAA connects with dealership management on a timely and relevant topic and publishing their insights at MRAA.com. 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: July

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, July 25, 2018

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge leaders are facing today?


There are "co-biggest” problems. 1) PreK-12 education - current model is not developing an employable product. There is excessive remedial work required whether by the post-secondary degree programs or employers. 2) Workers Comp /Health insurance - the cost continues to rise at an unsustainable rate. The delivery models do not seem to be user friendly or efficient. - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Works

Finding qualified mechanics. - Dennis Benish, Winona Marina

Finding and keeping good service personal. - Robert Paton, Patona Bay Boat Service

The biggest challenge we have in this industry in my opinion is attracting motivated staff members. I don't want to get all political or anything although I think we need to put more effort into vetting people migrating to this country who want to work. As much as I hate to admit it I believe our growth in numbers are going to come from people who are more motivated then the average young American citizen. We need to focus on investing in people who look at being a mechanic or tradesman as an opportunity and not an entry level or stepping stone job. - Rob Brown, Clark Marine

Buyouts and staffing of employees are some of the biggest challenges for leaders today. - Ken Sorley. Marineland Boating Center


Each month, MRAA connects with dealership management on a timely and relevant topic and publishing their insights at MRAA.com. 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: June

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, 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 MRAA.com. 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 Hilleren, 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 MRAA.com. 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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Dealer to Dealer: April

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, 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 MRAA.com. 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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