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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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Dealer to Dealer: March 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Dealer to Dealer: February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Dealer to Dealer: November 2019

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, November 19, 2019
What is one big trend are you watching as you
begin to prepare for 2020?


"Pontoon Inventory levels.” - Chad Taylor, Taylor’s South Shore Marine

"Triple & quad center consoles” - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Works, Inc.

"Watching the alternative propulsion methods. GreenLine Yachts is building the only true Hybrid currently available in the US market. So we have jumped into this space to be on the leading edge of the next wave of boating. Moving away from fossil fuels. “ - J.R. Means III., Bayport Yachts

"We are watching for a trend in boat leasing.” - Bryan Schiffli, AMC Marine


What trends are you currently following? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  continuous improvement  customer experience  dealer development  future-proofing  industry insight  marine industry  member spotlight 

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Prepare for the Next Recession – Online and In-Person

Posted By Mike Davin, Tuesday, September 24, 2019
We’re often asked whether we have tools to help dealers survive the next recession. The answer is “yes.”

It's impossible to know when the next recession will arrive; however, as anyone who experienced the last downturn will attest, you'd be crazy not to be prepared when it does.

To help with that process, MRAA has a couple of tools available from Spader Business Management, one that is available online now, and one that will be hosted at Dealer Week in Tampa, Dec. 8-11.

The first is John Spader’s online course “Become Bulletproof for the Next Recession,” which is available via MRAATraining.com through February of 2020.

As John Spader notes in his description of the course, if your dealership survived the last recession, you may feel ready for the next one. But feeling ready isn’t the same thing as being ready. The course walks dealers through some tough questions like, “Have you and your business really gotten better since the last recession or have you just been riding the rising tide?”

The course explores what will be different about the next soft market compared to the last one, what will be the same, and walks dealers through assessments to determine the strength of their businesses. It also provides concrete benchmarks to measure your staying power and adaptability, whether you have the right people in the right seats, how well you’re steering the bus, and the speed with which you can change direction.

The course is available for purchase or for free with a Silver or Gold MRAA membership.

The second opportunity comes from David Spader, who will present “The Agile Dealership: Confidently Responding to Change & the Unknown” at MRAA’s Dealer Week.

The two-hour workshop is designed to help marine dealers identify, monitor, and respond to the key issues that their businesses are facing now and in the future. The workshop will walk through the characteristics of an agile leader, the six concerns employees have during change, key people indicators, key economic indicators, and share a dealership case study.

The course will cap off The Dealership Pathway at the Dealer Week. Early registration for Dealer Week runs through Sept. 30.

Tags:  Annual conference  best practices  continuous improvement  dealer development  future  industry insight  marine industry  MRAA member  resources 

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MRAA History: Shirtsleeve Sessions

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Thursday, August 2, 2018
MRAA’s Shirtsleeve Sessions, which launched in 1977, represented the earliest days of MRAA’s Annual Conference. Leading dealers discussed and provided insights and solutions on the leading challenges and opportunities facing the marine business.

#MRAAhistory #dealerfocused #throwbackthurday

Tags:  Annual conference  dealer focused  industry insight  marine industry  mraa history  shirtsleeve sessions  solutions  throwbackthursday 

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32 Ways You Can Beat the Workforce Crisis

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The workforce challenges we face can be debilitating. One day, we hire a rockstar to fill that critically important position, and all is right in the universe. The next day, we’re blindsided by the loss of a key employee, and we find ourselves reaching for the Tums. When will it end?

The honest truth is that it will never end. Just as our businesses evolve in the products and services we offer and in how we deliver them, the way we staff our businesses is in constant flux as well.

At the moment, however, the technician shortage may be the exception to that rule. It’s challenging to think we’re in constant change with our techs when it seems we just can’t find the right people — let alone the wrong people — to fill open positions. There’s not a dealer anywhere who wouldn’t hire a technician on a moment’s notice if the opportunity presented itself.

One of the greatest takeaways that sunk in with me while finalizing the just-published “10+1 Strategy: A Marine Industry Guide to Growing the Workforce,” was the revelation that in the not-so-distant future (like, maybe right after you read this), workforce planning will take precedence over financial planning.

Think about that. We all spend time budgeting, comparing actuals to budget, contemplating how our margins are being squeezed and working hard to meet our projections. But how often do we consider our strategy when it comes to staffing our operations? Our largest financial investment is in our people, but yet, our financial planning rarely includes strategic staffing considerations. We react to personnel changes rather than planning for and taking control of our future.

With the introduction of the, “Marine Industry Guide to Growing the Workforce,” we at the MRAA, along with our co-authors at the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, are giving you more control than you’ve ever had when it comes to the workforce challenges. We’re not just offering you a high-level, industry-endorsed, 11-prong strategy; we’re offering you 32 specific tactics you can engage with today to begin your rebellion against the workforce challenges.

This Guide has been designed as a tool for us to all collaborate on addressing the issues from a national level — that’s us at MRAA and our national trade association colleagues; from a regional level — that’s our industry’s regional/state trade associations; and from the employer level — that’s YOU. Download this guide today; use the 32 tactics and the 20-plus live resources it features; and turn workforce planning into your competitive advantage.

Tags:  downloadable guide  Industry Guide  industry insight  technician shortage  workforce  workforce issues 

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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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