The MRAA’s new conference will include dedicated “education hosts” who will oversee and act as guides throughout the four-day event in December.
The inaugural Dealer Week, the the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas’ conference and expo, is on a trajectory to be the most comprehensive educational program for the industry’s retailers and service operators in the 40-plus-year history of MRAA, and now is the time to book flights to Tampa, Fla.
Dealer Week is the rebranded and reimagined conference that’s shaping up to be a must-attend meeting. For example, MRAA is providing three top industry trainers to serve as “education hosts.” These dedicated hosts will oversee and act as guides throughout the week to help draw connections, provide deeper context and, ultimately, move dealers toward the implementation of this year’s three Education Pathways: the Dealership, the Customer and the Employee.
David Spader, of Spader Business Management, will host the “Dealership Pathway”; Sam Dantzler, of Wheelhouse College, will host the “Customer Pathway”; and Jim Million, of Million Learning, will oversee the “Employee Pathway.” These pathways will include presentations, case studies, workshops, dealer-to-dealer interactions and interviews with leaders in the marine and other industries.
Dealer Week will include a kick-off field trip opportunity Dec. 8, where participants will tour local businesses and gather lessons on customer experiences, business operations and employee relations from brands that are innovating in those areas. “The field trip will provide perspective from outside the marine industry on how marine retailers can best serve their customers,” says Mike Davin, MRAA’s director of education. “We’re convinced attendees will walk away with inspiration and ideas that they can go home and implement.”
For the field trip, conference veteran Valerie Ziebron, of VRZ Consulting, will act as host and provide additional insights. During the site visits, Ziebron will help participants draw connections between what they are learning from the Tampa-area businesses and the marine retail industry. Her goal is to uncover best practice “golden nuggets” that help dealers flip the switch from reactive to proactive for greater profitability and customer loyalty. Ziebron is veteran of more than 5,000 presentations, and her client list includes Chrysler, General Motors and Yamaha Motor Co., among many others.
“This new field trip concept is experiential learning that complements the educational lineup attendees will enjoy at Dealer Week,” says Liz Walz, MRAA vice president. “With Valerie leading the way, this is certain to be a conference highlight for those attending.”
Bestselling author Vince Poscente (The Ant and the Elephant, The Age of Speed and others) — a former Olympic competitor and award-winning salesperson — will address attendees with a timely keynote presentation on how marine dealership owners, managers and their teams can flourish in an unpredictable and competitive landscape. It will lead into the expanded Education Pathways with experts from within and outside the marine industry, professional educators, consultants and notable innovators from the front lines of marine retailing. The Education Pathways represent the three pillars of MRAA’s education strategy — dealerships, customers and employees — and are designed to engage a cross-section of dealership makeup.
“We are particularly thrilled three of the most requested trainers from previous MRAA events will take on an expanded role,” Davin says. “Not only will each present material during the conference, they will be personal guides for the dealers and ensure that our educational programming builds toward a greater whole.”
MRAA held a Dealer Week early-bird registration period back in March, which broke all records for early registration at any MRAA event. More than 250 dealership personnel committed to Dealer Week, a nearly 30 percent increase over early registration for the most recent MRAA conference.
Dealer Week takes place Dec. 8-11 at the waterfront Tampa Convention Center. Hotels and entertainment downtown and in surrounding areas are plentiful. And warm December weather is virtually guaranteed!