MINNEAPOLIS — Warranty work is an essential part of doing business for marine dealers; critical to take care of customers’ needs, but not always cost-effective or profitable for the dealership. Membership in the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas takes the headache out of filing, managing and tracking warranty claims by giving MRAA members exclusive access to MarineLab, an efficient and profitable way to process manufacturer warranty reimbursements.
MarineLab is a cost-effective solution available solely to MRAA members that helps dealers of boats, motors, trailers and marine components and accessories dramatically increase warranty revenue at the dealership. The service allows retailers to maintain a fixed cost for warranty processing rather than relying on in-house staff, which adds to the retailers’ overhead and expenses. Dealers are able to tap MarineLab’s team of experts to address any warranty-related requests or concerns, as well as submit, track and review all warranty claims; dealers simply pay a percentage of paid claims in a given month for the MarineLab service.
MRAA members get exclusive access to MarineLab through the MRAA Rewards Program, which includes more than 30 tangible benefits that members can take advantage of for their $300 annual investment in MRAA membership.
“There’s no denying that warranty is a potential profit center for many dealerships; yet it’s hard to find the manpower and the time — particularly during boating season — to process, file and keep track of manufacturer claims,” says Sonja Moseley, MRAA director of benefits. “The beauty of MarineLab is that for a reasonably low cost, dealers can simply hand over the warranty reigns to experts whose jobs it is to exclusively focus on this type of work. Dealers basically ‘set it and forget it.’ Gone are the days of dedicating an individual in your service department or even your service department manager to handling warranty claims; MarineLab does it all for you, and you only pay them for the claims that are paid by the manufacturer.”
MarineLab is run by 35-year marine industry veteran John Lerma, a longtime service manager with a major retail marine outfit in Minnesota, who at one point oversaw warranty operations for all four store locations throughout the state, where reimbursements totaled around $1.2 million annually. Lerma says many dealers don’t realize that they should be collecting anywhere from 2 to 3 percent of their annual sales in warranty reimbursements, which can translate to thousands of dollars in paid claims throughout the course of a year.
“For larger-volume dealerships, monitoring and tracking warranty claims may already be factored into day-to-day operations, but for smaller, family-run or mom-and-pop shops, which comprise a majority of the industry, committing the time necessary to completing and following up on warranty claims with manufacturers is a bit daunting; so the work does not get done,” says Lerma, MarineLab general manager. “This leaves thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars or more on the table each year; money the dealership is not earning and is not adding to its bottom line. We manage the claims process from start to finish, including all phone calls, processing and tracking, follow-up, etc. Sometimes, depending on the claim and the manufacturer, we can get claims processed in as little as one hour.”
Lerma points out that warranty policies and procedures are constantly changing, which makes it difficult for service department personnel to stay on top of the moving target. Finding time to focus on the task at hand also is an issue, as dealers are busy servicing customers first and foremost.
“Often, dealers put off filing claims because they are just too busy,” Lerma explains. “And some manufacturers only give you 30 days to file. Time can be of the essence, and with MarineLab, dealers can rest assured they’ll never miss out on potential profits from warranty work.”
The personalized attention from MarineLab also helps with getting claims processed quickly and efficiently. MarineLab representatives are on a first-name basis with most manufacturer representatives. This familiarity and built-up trust helps reduce claim denials, not to mention boost dealership profits.
“Let’s say a dealer collects $5,000 in warranty claims in a particular month,” Lerma proposes. “The total cost for MarineLab services to collect that $5,000 would be around $350. There’s no way you could hire a full-time dealership staffer to handle all your warranty work for $350 per month. The value is unbeatable, and on top of that you have the decades of expertise and personal, longstanding manufacturer relationships that MarineLab brings to the table.”
MRAA-member dealers that are currently using MarineLab for warranty claim reimbursement submission, processing and tracking say they couldn’t be happier with the service, and that it’s easily worth the price of MRAA membership.
“We truly appreciate the work MarineLab is doing for our dealership,” says Paul E. Kammerer, service manager at Longshore Boats in Charleston, S.C. “The slightly reduced warranty receivables more than make up for the modest fee, not to mention how the program streamlines our collections process and makes my job easier. MarineLab allows us to provide better customer service to our retail clients, improves our cash flow and saves us the worry of warranty collection hanging over our heads.”
To learn more about MRAA membership or to join, contact MRAA membership coordinator Hannah Muerhoff at 763-333-2420 or hannah [at] mraa.com.