Dealer Week 2020 Was “Another First”

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The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas’ Dealer Week 2020 focused on the issues that recreational marine retailers are facing today in light of the pandemic — a dynamic that has amplified challenges dealers were having already.

“Once again, [MRAA president] Matt Gruhn and his team came up with another first,” Joe Lewis, owner of Mount Dora Boating Center and Marina, told Trade Only Today. “Last year they reinvented the conference and expo with the first Dealer Week, and this year they reinvented it again. That team has not met face to face since last March. They were able to do all of this remotely.”

The event stressed making cultural changes in the business to create new habits, said Mike Davin, brand manager for the MRAA.

“Culture is what you do without thinking,” said Davin. “I want lasting changes rather than looking for quick fixes. It takes time and repetition, but as best practices become part of the cultural thinking, it becomes second nature.”

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“One of the great things about Dealer Week is, it reminds us that you can change you,” said Valerie Ziebron of VRZ Consulting, one of the three educational hosts.

Gruhn emphasized the importance of following up with customers — particularly new boaters — no matter how busy dealerships find themselves.

“You have no idea what their experience is until you ask,” said Gruhn, listing an example of a dealer that had bought a boat at one establishment, but swapped to another dealer for service because his experience at the initial dealership was so poor. “Until you pull the canvas back and figure out what it is holding your customer and their experience back, you will face the same thing. I challenge you to take follow-up seriously and to get started today.”

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