Dealer Week, which takes place in Tampa this week through Wednesday, kicked off yesterday with a field trip of more than 80 dealers to three different non-marine businesses.
According to the MRAA organizers, who did a practice run earlier this year, the field trip was designed so that marine retailers could experience best practices outside the boating world. The all-day excursion included visiting the changing Tampa waterfront, talking with the head of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning about dovetailing with community events, and learning about succession planning from the fourth- and fifth-generation owners of Columbia restaurant in Tampa’s Ybor City.
“The owners of the Columbia restaurant showed us how to do succession planning right,” said Valerie Ziebron, president of VRZ Consulting, who led the field trip. “They gave us ways to keep our visions alive and how to make sure that learned lessons from past hardships get passed on to future generations.”
The third stop on the trip was to Lazydays RV Center, a large mega-facility with more than 100 service bays and 100 trained technicians. As with the marine industry, the RV industry faces challenges in recruiting and retaining service labor.
The MRAA dealers heard from Lazydays officials how their techs average 14 years of experience, and their method of rotating work orders from quick fixes to more complicated repairs enhances their technicians’ senses of accomplishment, while also creating more efficient service bay scheduling.”
“That visit provided excellent insight,” says Ziebron. “We wanted to identify areas where we can shorten the repair cycle, increase cash flow and profit, and still deliver the experience a customer expects.”
After the field trip, the group took part in a classroom session on finding creative ways to solve local tech shortages. Ziebron spoke about how the dealers could apply the best practices they learned at the three businesses to their own dealerships.
“The field trip really exceeded our expectations,” said Liz Walz, MRAA’s vice president, who also hosted the tour. “The leaders who opened their businesses provided a tremendous number of insights and best practices. Valerie also did an incredible job of helping our attendees imagine how best to apply them in their dealership.”
Dealer Week officially opens this morning with a keynote address by Vince Poscente, who will talk about “Learning to Thrive in the Age of Speed.” The four-day event will also include multiple education sessions, an exhibit hall and networking events.