Dealership service departments are on the ropes. Coming into 2020, they were already stretched thin. Then Covid hit, and dealerships were forced to close. Those were some of the most critical days of a service department’s year, as teams raced to rig newly sold boats, prep storage boats, and deliver them all for customers who wanted to boat themselves out of shelter-at-home orders.
When service departments came back online, they were not only overwhelmed, but were also forced to resume day-to-day operations under new health and safety guidelines that complicated and slowed their processes. Following a record sales season, there’s more pressure on these understaffed dealership departments than ever to take care of customers, winterize boats and finish the long list of boats waiting for service.
That’s just one example of the challenges you must navigate. The crazy summer has surfaced many concerns for dealers in the year ahead. Catching up with service is among the most-timely, but you can already hear the other concerns on dealers’ minds: How do I sell boats with limited to no inventory? How do I generate leads if my boat show gets canceled? And what do I do about all those customers who I rushed through the sales process and sent out on the water to figure it out on their own?
The 2021 model year is shaping up to be as unprecedented as the year we just experienced. But it doesn’t have to be as unexpected and chaotic. There are answers to the questions that dealerships have, and our team here at MRAA has built those answers for you through Dealer Week 2020, which has now moved online and has become more accessible than ever.
Dealer Week’s lineup of educational courses offers you critical ways to maximize your service business in the year ahead. With the session “How to Catch Up in Service,” we will share a new process you can use to plan your service business and a few tools to grow service revenue immediately. In “Turn Your Shop Inside Out,” you’ll learn how to track the effectiveness of your interdepartmental handoffs, gain insights into which key service positions build the most loyalty for your dealership, and how you can set those positions up for success. And not only will you identify opportunities for improved customer experiences, but you’ll also discover how to get more qualified sales leads from your service department.
In the year ahead, we don’t know if these first-time boat buyers will change their minds and seek to sell their boats or if they’ll hang on to them for another summer. No matter what, your dealership needs to be on top of the preowned boat market, so consider taking advantage of the Dealer Week course “Get Ahead of the Coming Pre-Owned Opportunity.” This session will help you learn the processes that can drive up preowned boat profit margins and how to ready your dealership to ride the wave of preowned product that hides around the corner.
Perhaps the most timely of the concerns on our minds today is the status of boat shows. What I write about today would surely change by the time you read this, but suffice it to say, if you want to know how to build your marketing plan for 2021, no matter if boat shows happen or not, you will want to participate in Dealer Week. Not only do we have a session on that precise topic, but the educational lineup offers no less than four other digital marketing sessions on how you can grow your customer base with Facebook ads, use digital to personalize the customer experience, become a video-first dealership and more. All are fundamentals that will serve you well both during and after the Covid era.
Dealer Week 2020 offers 18 in-depth educational sessions on the most critical issues facing dealerships today. It features a keynote presentation on rewiring relationships to respond to the growth in business we experienced in 2020, as well as a number of thought-provoking insights from industry leaders you should consider before finalizing your plans for 2021.
But there’s more than that. When you register for Dealer Week, you gain immediate access to weekly webinars, exclusively created for Dealer Week attendees. You gain full access to the event — including exhibits and networking opportunities, in addition to the education — and you will retain access to all of this guidance through March 31 to help give you the clarity you need as you navigate the year ahead.
There is no doubt that 2021 forces numerous questions on our businesses. It’s our job here at MRAA to make sure we have answers for you, and now, for $299, you can register and gain access to the most critical answers your business will need. I hope you’ll join us online for Dealer Week. Learn more at DealerWeek.com. n
Matt Gruhn is president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.
This article was originally published in the November 2020 issue.