Dealer conference opens with advice for small businesses

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LAS VEGAS — For a small business to be successful, owners must develop a vision for which they have passion and take time each day to think like an entrepreneur and beyond day-to-day operations.

That was the message keynote speaker Karin Iwata, from E-Myth Worldwide, had for attendees at this year's Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, sponsored by the Marine Retailers Association of America and Boating Industry magazine.

Iwata urged the audience of dealers to carve out time each day to do the strategic work, not just the technical work.

"Work on your business," she said, "not just in it."

Iwata said marine dealers need to learn to delegate tasks to trusted employees who buy into the company's vision. An owner, she said, can't do everything if a business is to be successful and continue on beyond it's founder's time there.

About 400 people from more than 225 dealerships are registered for the conference, which opened last night and runs through Wednesday, MRAA president Phil Keeter told Soundings Trade Only. That's up from last year, he added.

"I feel wonderful about that number. In these times that's a wonderful number," Keeter said. He said there are also about 50 exhibitors on hand for the duration of the show.

The event will feature nearly a dozen seminars and sessions designed to help dealers survive and thrive in a down market. Today's sessions are scheduled to include such topics as best dealer practices, value-based selling, and service department best practices.

Also planned for today are the presentation of several awards, including the Supplier of the Year Award and the Irv Rosenthal Award.

John Vallely, of Vallely Sport & Marine in North Dakota, said this year's event was designed to provide dealers with information they can use immediately to help make them more profitable once they return home.

"We started with a new name and an entirely new concept," said Vallely, who chaired the conference committee.

— Beth Rosenberg


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