The recently revamped Marine Industry Certified Dealership Program has made great strides since its soft launch in November of last year, and has already seen a 33-percent increase in the number of participating dealers, according to Sonja Moseley, Director of Certification and Benefits at the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, who administers the program on behalf of the Grow Boating Initiative.
In a presentation at the Miami International Boat Show’s Industry Breakfast, Moseley shared insights into the changes that the MICD Program has undergone, as well as the momentum it has gained within the industry. In November, Moseley introduced the changes to the program at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo and garnered renewed interest from a number of dealers.
“We listened to the industry,” Moseley explained, “and tailored the new program to the needs of the dealers and other industry constituents. It has been exciting to guide this evolution toward a program that is more cost- and time-effective, more value-minded, and more accessible to more dealers than ever before. ”
The MICD program has focused its recent changes on improving accessibility, cost and value. The revamped program allows dealers to move through three tiers of Certification en route to the pinnacle of the program, the Five Star MICD status. Not only does this format allow dealers to work at their own pace, it also provides for an entry point of less than $600 and breaks up the investment in a pay-as-you-go format.
The original premise of the MICD program, and the goal of the program today, is to assist dealers in their efforts to provide the best possible boating experience for their customers. The new, tiered format provides dealerships of all sizes a direct opportunity to improve their operations in a way that is proven to deliver a consistent, quality experience for today’s boat buyers.
“The new format opens the door to many dealerships who simply did not have the capacity in the past,” says Joe Lewis, general manager of Mt. Dora Boating Center, a one-location Certified Dealership, and Chairman of the Grow Boating board of directors. “It has been an outstanding evolution for the program because sometimes those smaller operations miss out on opportunities for professional growth due to limited staff and funds.”
At just $575 for the first tier of Certification, the cost for a dealer to get into the Certification program is 80-percent less than the previous cost structure required. What’s more is that the new program has eliminated the contribution that Grow Boating used to make toward helping dealers get Certified, and that money has been redirected to a marketing program that will increase exposure for Certified Dealers.
For dealerships that want to go straight to the top, the program offers a Fast Track option for $2,465, which combines three steps into one and saves the dealer a total of $375. Additionally, recertification requirements have been reduced to an every-other-year format, saving dealers half the time and cost of maintaining their status.
“These changes have helped us tell a great story about this program and have led us to an impressive increase in program participation,” Moseley explains, “but we’re very much looking forward to formally launching this program in the coming months because we are literally just getting started with our efforts to make Dealer Certification the useful tool that it was designed to be.”