ORLANDO, Fla. — Health care costs have been one of the biggest challenges for boat dealers, making it difficult to retain workers.
Workforce has been front of mind, as service technicians are increasingly tough to find and keep on the payroll — something the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas is trying to change.
The association is addressing both challenges, MRAA president Matt Gruhn said during a state-of-the-industry address at the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo.
Dealers will be able to save 25 to 30 percent on health-care coverage because of a new program the MRAA is rolling out and announced at the MDCE. The average savings per employee will be about $1,600, Gruhn said.
“One of the biggest challenges we have in our businesses when retaining employees is health care,” Gruhn said. “I stood here two years ago and said I’m looking for a health-care program we can bring our membership.
The plan comes through Bukaty Companies — a distinguished partner with all the major carriers that’s licensed in all 50 states — and includes major medical, dental, vision, wellness programs, health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements.
“The best part of this in my opinion is, other than the cost benefit, you can get the best program for you,” Gruhn said. “There’s no one-size-fits-all program.”
In the pilot program one dealer saved more than 25 percent and offered the same benefits; the second dealer hasn’t signed yet, but shows savings of 30 percent.
“The average savings per employee is $1,600 per employee,” Gruhn said.
The MRAA also has partnered with the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association and its executive director, Wendy Mackie, to put together an industrywide initiative that addresses the growing workforce problem.
Customers now face long waits at dealerships for service and repairs on boats and engines, Gruhn said. That leads to frustration and people leaving the recreation.
RIMTA is building a business plan and the MRAA expects to roll it out early next year.
“A lot of the workforce challenges we face we can tackle in our own dealership looking at the way we lead,” Gruhn said. “The main two reasons people leave our businesses is because we’re not training them and because of bad managers. So if we can fix those things, we can make some progress. If we take a look at the way we lead and manage, we can make some progress.”