MDCE 2017: Dealers urged to make training an important priority

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Consultant Sam Dantzler told MDCE conferees that they should hire people who are interested in receiving ongoing training.

Consultant Sam Dantzler told MDCE conferees that they should hire people who are interested in receiving ongoing training.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The No. 1 reason people leave their job has nothing to do with money.

The main reasons that people leave jobs is lack of training and poor management, said sales consultant and speaker Sam Dantzler at the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo, which wrapped up Wednesday.

Hitting on the common theme at the conference regarding the workforce shortage, Dantzler said dealers should change the way they hire.

“I’m not interested in someone on my team who’s not interested in ongoing training,” Dantzler said. “The best technicians are home-grown. What do you think loyalty’s like with an employee you buy? What else do you buy? All their bad habits. The kid that you groomed along the way, they don’t leave you. They’re loyal because you gave them a shot.”

Training might not be the No. 1 priority for dealers, but it shouldn’t be the last, either. It takes about $25,000 to turn over an employee after accounting for hiring, training and losing them, and some stores suffer from 200 percent turnover, he said.

At one seminar Dantzler gave, a dealer told him that staff was his biggest expense.

“I said, ‘Really? How much money do you spend on staff?’ $1.2 million. ‘OK, how much do you spend on inventory?’ $1.3 million,” Dantzler said. “And he’s doing this in a public forum, so I said, OK, I’ll roll with this. I said to him, ‘It sounds like inventory’s your biggest expense.’ ”

“His argument there was that he needed to have inventory, so he viewed it as an investment. But I can make the argument that if your staff was clicking and having fun, your customer would wait for your inventory,” Dantzler said. “That’s the true definition of loyalty. Loyalty is when you’ll suffer inconvenience or pay a premium to do business with you. I believe the team to be your No. 1 asset.”

Training was another common theme at the event, which is organized and run by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating Industry magazine. During his state-of-the-industry speech, MRAA president Matt Gruhn discussed a new Continuous Certification program that the MRAA unveiled for dealers in October. The new program replaces a previous one.

MRAA is tapping people like Dantzler and other favorite speakers at MDCE, such as Theresa Syer and John Spence, to help dealers continue to train themselves and their workforce in quarterly installments that are geared to the most relevant topics, Gruhn said.

It offers employee satisfaction surveys and will generate an anonymous report “of what is happening on the front lines of your business,” Gruhn said. “We believe it’s an effective tool, something that can really help you develop a stronger workforce right inside the dealership.”

“One of the impressive things about this program is it’s not just for the dealership principal. You can sign up anyone,” Gruhn said.

Here’s an overview of the pilot and the 2018 Continuous Certification curriculum:

  • Pilot: Buyer Motivation: The Key to Building Value, with Jim Million
  • First Quarter: Take Your Dealership from Good to Great with CRM, with Sam Dantzler
  • Second Quarter: Improve Loyalty with a Customer Experience Mindset, with Theresa Syer
  • Third Quarter: The Essentials of Accountability, with John Spence
  • Fourth Quarter: The Strategic Dealership, with David Spader.


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