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The Answer to Disruption is Discipline

How MRAA’s Dealer Week can make a difference for the future of your dealership
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For the last two years or so, your business has been running on overdrive. First demand skyrocketed. Then inventory sold out, and the workforce disappeared. Don’t even get me started on supply-chain issues.

The pandemic caused a disruption that drastically changed the business of boating. It changed the way we sell boats, how we manage inventory, and how we run service and parts departments. It changed the pathway to success for businesses, and pandemic-fueled profits aside, it forced us to work harder than ever.

But we’re not done yet.

With more disruption on the horizon — inflation, interest rates, fuel prices — uncertainty prevails. Questions about the supply chain, stock market volatility and the threat of a recession rule the day and threaten to extend well into 2023. Of course, no one can predict when conditions will normalize, so how do you prepare your team and dealership for whatever the marketplace throws at you?

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Overcoming the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities of a rapidly changing economy and marine market requires confidence in your decision making. It requires a strong foundation of systems and processes that satisfy the lofty expectations of today’s consumers. Finding success in today’s marketplace requires “discipline amidst disruption.”

At this year’s Dealer Week — the signature annual event of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas — leading dealers, suppliers and experts will gather to share insights on how to create a foundation for sustained success for a future that will require more preparation, more discipline, more adaptability and better execution. With a focus on helping establish discipline amidst whatever disruption may come, Dealer Week 2022, to be held Dec. 5-8 in Austin, Tex., is an opportunity for you and your team to reset and prepare your business for the year ahead. Dealer Week offers nearly 30 educational courses, more than 100 exhibitors and 1,000-plus attendees who gather to improve and grow their businesses through fresh ideas, insight and inspiration.

Your sales team may have become lazy after a couple of years of order-taking. Does the staff have the ability to generate and nurture leads, or remember how to overcome objections and close a sale? Have they lost their focus on follow-up? In the current environment, it’s crucial to understand how your customers — their needs and their expectations — have changed, and you must be prepared to change with them.

In the service department, it’s been easy to point a finger at supply-chain issues and workforce shortages when things aren’t going well. But as the economy appears to slow and the pandemic issues level out, you must have your own house in order. Are you using the best systems, processes and technology to maximize profits in service?

In a normal recessionary period, cash flow and inventory management become the king and queen of the business. While they will remain critically important to running a successful dealership, you should be sitting on plenty of cash after the last two years, and having too much inventory shouldn’t be an issue until sometime after you actually have enough inventory. In the meantime, you should be putting the pieces in place to solidify the foundation of your business. Are there investments you can make or alternative profit centers you can introduce? Can you refocus your team’s priorities on the customer experience to enhance loyalty, create repeat buyers and hold on to some of the growth of the past few years?

Now is the time to refocus and commit to the discipline it takes to run a dealership. Whether there are specific issues holding your dealership back or other, general challenges, there are time-tested, proven fundamentals of running a boat dealership that you’ve been lured away from with all the disruption of the past two years.

At Dealer Week you will be able to:

• build efficiency by working on your business model and instilling the fundamentals of proven dealership operations

• gain access to the latest products and services, the industry’s leading vendors and key educational offerings, giving you the tools for success

• connect with other dealers to learn how their businesses are adapting to the changing marketplace

• network with leaders from every sector of the marine industry to help you listen, learn and grow your dealership

Uncertainty and disruption are nothing new. The types of disruption you will experience, however, present new challenges and opportunities for you and your business. Will you be ready? Dealer Week and its focus on discipline amidst disruption can help you be ready. Learn more and register at DealerWeek.com. I hope you’ll join us. 

Matt Gruhn is president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.

Matt Gruhn is president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.

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