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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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Start’em Young and Keep’em Forever

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, June 27, 2018
We all have an individual or two on our social channels that are quick to document their children participating in what is definitively the parent’s favorite past time. And that predictable caption? “Start ’em young."

If you’re anything like me, you give the photo a “like” and scroll onto the next thing. But slow down for a minute. What if you took that same idea and applied it to your business?

Here’s the question: What would be better than hiring an employee that has been a productive contributor within your dealership since before they could drive? As part of the “Marine Industry Guide to Growing the Workforce,” an industrywide publication addressing workforce issues, Strategy 4: Support initiatives in K-12 Schools offers several ways YOU could get community youth involved in your business and the marine industry:
  • Offer your time and/or facilities to support local efforts that align and connect learning with industry-specific work-readiness skills and competencies.

  • Join a school industry advisory council to help cultivate those connections and provide connective activities such as an industry tour, guest speaker, job shadow or internship.

  • Take on interns and host job shadows to increase career awareness and promote the “pride in product” work ethic

  • Invite parents, career counselors and other workforce development professionals to tour your workplace or the local boat show to familiarize them with the industry culture as well as the scope of positions available to their constituency.

  • Host an instructor for a week-long Teacher Externship can ensure that in-school subject matter connects to real-world application in the workplace.

Help combat your own workforce challenges by “starting’em young” and by tapping into this valuable resource. Who knows, you may be able to keep’em forever.

Tags:  community  guide to growing the workforce  k-12  marine industry  workforce  workforce issues 

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Cultivating Communities

Posted By Nikki Duffney, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Imagine walking into a room full of friends who share your best interests and are confident that you are invested in their best interests. What does that feel like? I liken it to walking into a room full of trust, learning and support.

That is the feeling I had when I walked into the Sunset meeting room in Rhode Island where the National Marine Trades Association Council met May 15-18. The marine industry has so much to share with each other and when we support the work we are all invested in, we cultivate community that results in collaboration and excellence. We do this on an association level at MRAA because we feel that we need to be united as an industry to fight the challenges that we all face, like the workforce shortage issue and getting new boaters on the water.

Turning this around, how can dealerships cultivate communities in their local area and is it worth the energy, and possibly financial, investment? Absolutely, it is worth it and the results of crafting a community around your company has dividends that will pay for years.

Creating spaces for people who live in your market to come out to an event that you put on or are present at to show investment in enriching the community will increase visibility for your brand and demonstrate your commitment to the people who live in your area. By partnering with your local marine trades association or your city’s chamber of commerce, you will increase your visibility to your market and show your investment to the community.

Partnerships with local groups to cultivate community could increase your access to potential buyers and employees. Putting your dealership brand out in front of the community, investing in children’s activities and your brand’s impact will holistically increase. For example, touch-a-boat events are targeted at getting children out and interested in learning about boats and boating. What do children bring with them? Adults! Those adults could be your prospect customers and potential employees.

Tags:  association  boating industry  community  NMTA  partnership  trust  workforce 

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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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The Dreaded Job Description

Posted By Bob McCann, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

We rarely get pushback from dealers on the need for job descriptions. However, this one requirement often slows down a dealer’s completion of their Certification checklist. For some reason, creating and updating job descriptions ranks right up there with cleaning out the head — except when it comes to the person whose job description is in question.

You might be one of the many dealers who doesn’t have job descriptions already created, in which case you’re likely thinking to yourself: “Where do I start?” Simple. If you’re an MRAA member, you have free access to 50-plus job descriptions in the MRAA Rewards Career Center. These descriptions are available as Word files for easy editing. For instance, if you have a Parts & Service Manager, we have separate descriptions for a Parts Manager and a Service Manage that you can merge. Just copy and paste them into one document to build a unique job description. Once you have reviewed and edited the document, share it with the employee and have them help you finalize the details.

One of the dealer best practices we have identified is to get your employees involved in the creation of their own job description. How? Incorporate it into their performance review, which, of course, is an important part of employee development and retention.

Updating job descriptions during a performance review is a surprisingly effective way to get productive conversation moving between the employee and their supervisor. Simply share the employee’s current job description or one just conceived for them and ask them to review the duties. Have them let you know if they are responsible for tasks that aren’t accounted for in your description, or if they aren’t responsible for certain functions listed in the document. This should lead to useful conversation, and the job description can be updated on the spot. Bonus: It’s much more pleasant than cleaning out the head, and gets your employees more involved in the coaching process.

Don’t forget to co-sign the description with your employee, and date it so you don’t confuse it with older versions.

Lastly, if you haven’t bought in to the idea of job descriptions already, here are several additional areas where they can move the needle for your business:

·       Interviewing/hiring

·       Onboarding

·       Goal setting

·       Career path development

·       Employee training/development plans

·       Cross-training

·       Performance improvement

·       Employee satisfaction and retention


As always, if you still have questions, concerns or get stuck with anything boat dealer-related, contact us at the MRAA, and we’ll do our best to get you the help you need.

Tags:  job descriptions  jobs  MRAA  training tuesday  workforce 

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