More than 530 dealers have already registered for Dealer Week, the annual conference by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas — and nearly 300 registered in October alone.
The MRAA’s announcement that the event would move online helped spur the jump in registrations, according to the association.
The 294 dealers that registered during the month of October eclipsed the previous single-month record for dealer registration, which was set in October of 2014, by more than 11 percent.
“We took a calculated risk this year, making the decision to delay the creation of our educational programming to help us ensure that our courses meet the needs of the evolving market place,” said MRAA president Matt Gruhn in a statement. “We saw our normal early-registration curve pushed back by the uncertainty the pandemic caused, but we have believed all along that, with the move to an online environment, followed quickly by the announcement of a powerful educational line-up, the dealers would find great value in the event. And that’s exactly what we have seen happen.”
Gruhn said the MRAA waited until the last possible moment to develop content for dealers who are facing economic conditions and hurdles they have never faced in the past.
“A guy who didn’t know what a boat was two weeks ago is today in a dealership making a buying decision,” Gruhn told Trade Only Today.
With an inventory shortage, unprecedented numbers of new boaters, and a workforce challenge, dealerships are struggling to keep up with boater education, customer followup, and service.
“All these problems, we created Dealer Week around them,” said Gruhn. “We waited as long as we could to build this educational program because we knew the market was changing so quickly. There’s this changing marketplace that is terrifying because nobody knows what to expect. I think that’s one thing we can expect — it’s going to be another unpredictable year [in 2021]. I think Dealer Week is a powerful deal at $249 a person.”