The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas will update dealers and the industry on a weekly basis to keep pace with the rapid changes in information and guidelines as the coronavirus continues its wreak havoc nationwide.
That’s part of a five-part plan the MRAA will work to deliver in light of COVID-19, said MRAA president Matt Gruhn and vice president Liz Walz during a webinar on Wednesday.
The first step has been to curate useful information and link it on a COVID-19-specific website, said Walz. The national group is coordinating with state marine trade associations to cross-reference all pertinent info.
Step two is to expand their Ask the Expert webinar series and increase the frequency; it used to be monthly.
“The idea is we are going to gather experts from around the industry, and tap them with questions you have,” said Walz. “We are working on those experts and topics right now.”
The third step will be to launch a dealer-to-dealer forum so dealers can learn from one another as they navigate uncharted territory, said Gruhn.
“In everything we do, we see that dealer-to-dealer interaction tends to be the most valuable part,” said Gruhn.
The fourth step will be to make all of MRAA’s standard online educational programming free to any dealer that wants access, now through May 31 said Gruhn.
“If there’s a way you can pencil in training time … that can help your sales and team come out of this in a better spot than when you came in, that can help position you to ramp up later,” said Gruhn.
That training can help dealers with phone skills — it’s not unreasonable to think at least most commerce will be done online and via phone in the medium-term future — and that can help. The group’s website also has training about video, which will alsoincrease in importance, and using apps like VidYard, said Walz.
The fifth step will be collaboration. The MRAA is soliciting concerns to bring to Washington D.C., said Gruhn.
“Most of you mentioned cash flow,” said Gruhn. “That is the number one concern that dealers have right now — they say we’re looking at cash flow, employees, how to handle that, when to send them home and paid time off and sick leave, and how to navigate that. And floorplan financing. Those have become the three main priorities.”
MRAA is talking with the National Marine Manufacturers Association and floorplan providers to take a potential solution back to the government, said Gruhn.
“Today the conversation is more likely around, how we can get dealers support on the interest side of things,” said Gruhn.
NMMA president Frank Hugelmeyer also reached out to members on Wednesday, pointing to the mix of concerns and optimism for outdoor recreation in general in a time of seclusion.
The group is working to have tariffs removed and seeking small business support and help with event cancellations.
To that end, the group cancelled the American Boating Congress slated for May 12-14.
“Additional information regarding the American Boating Congress and how we will continue our advocacy work will be provided in the coming days, but we wanted to inform you of this scheduling change at this time,” said Hugelmeyer in a statement.
“Please know that we hear you and are committed to helping you and the entire industry navigate this ever-changing situation,” said Hugelmeyer. “As such, we are proactively engaging the Trump administration and Congress as they work to address the rapidly evolving situation and provide relief to American businesses.”