MDCE 2012: MRAA touts membership benefits

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The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas tripled the number of benefits it offers members in the year Matt Gruhn has headed the organization.

That was Gruhn’s message for attendees at a breakout session of the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, which is taking place in Orlando, Fla., and produced by the MRAA in conjunction with Boating Industry magazine.

Now the association is trying to get the word out so members can take advantage of savings that more than offset the cost of membership, Gruhn said, such as the group’s shipping program and insurance program.

The MRAA also released a “Guide to Success” for 2013, a 40-page document with at least 100 ideas dealers can use to maximize success. The document has reports from experts about making dealership square footage the most profitable, tracking efficiency and generating positive online reviews and why that’s important, MRAA director of membership and marketing Liz Walz said during the session.

It includes a section on managing risk with insurance plans, written by Norman Spencer Marine owner Mark Yearn, who is also the national program manager for the Marina and Boat Dealers Insurance Program.

The topic carries particular significance now, Walz said. “Hurricane Sandy just came through. We need to make sure we have the right protections,” she said.

Another guide the MRAA released this fall was the Federal Regulatory Compliance Guide, Gruhn said.

“The government is ramping up enforcement of these regulations and I’m not kidding — they can put you out of business in a minute,” Gruhn said.

The group also is trying to demonstrate the benefits of being an MRAA member, Gruhn said. A resource center on the association’s website, made public for the first time, is a place where members can access forms, best practices, privacy notices, contracts and other tools for guidance on everything from changing regulations to having the right kind of insurance for your business.

“The list we have is incredibly long and we’re racing to get everything up by Jan. 1,” Gruhn said.

Read more about the MRAA endeavors and the dealer conference in January’s Soundings Trade Only.

— Reagan Haynes

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