MRAA revamps certified dealership program

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The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas recently assumed responsibility for managing, administering and marketing the Marine Industry Certified Dealership program and that will translate to big changes in the Grow Boating initiative.

The group is planning to soft-launch tiered options for the program at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo that takes place Nov. 17-20 in Orlando, Fla., with a full launch planned for early 2014.

The change comes after a 2012 survey of more than 100 dealers, Sonja Moseley, the MRAA’s new hire tapped to spearhead the evolution of the program, told Trade Only Today.

The main challenges dealers cited with the program were accessibility, cost and value, Moseley says. “The original program had 72 requirements and it was all or nothing,” she said. That version cost dealers $2,800 the first time and $1,500 every year thereafter to become recertified.

“Now we’re breaking that into three different steps of 10 standards each,” Moseley said. “Each focuses on something different.”

The first tier, which costs $575, is focused on customer satisfaction, Moseley said.

“Changing from almost $3,000 to $575 for the first tier is night and day. I think that will be a big incentive for those who fell out of the program because of the high cost to get back in.”

The second tier emphasizes operational quality and costs $935. The final tier, which will still earn dealerships the Five Star Certified Dealership designation, costs $1,330 and focuses on best practices.

An MICD Fast-Track program is $2,465, and it will help dealers take a direct route to

Five Star Certification. Rather than reaching the highest level of certification through a three-step process, the Fast-Track program allows dealerships to move straight to a Five Star Certified Dealership with one process and 24 standards.

Additionally, dealerships will be required to recertify every other year instead of annually, nearly halving the recurring costs. The price for that is $1,645 and MRAA members get $50 off each tier, $100 off the Fast-Track program and $50 for recertification.

“The biggest thing we’re getting to now is the value piece of the program,” Moseley says. “We had a lot of dealers saying, ‘I get the program, I see the need for best practices, but why should I keep going through the program?’ It was a yearly program, so it’s now every other [year]. But we want to add tangible incentives that will be tied to every tier. We want to make it such that members feel like they can’t imagine how they did without these benefits and they will more than pay for the cost of certification. We’re asking ourselves, ‘For those members who reinvest, what do we do above and beyond in terms of benefits?’ Because they are high-level members, so what can we offer them to help provide value?”

— Reagan Haynes

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