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New continuous certification course launched by MRAA

By Tim Hennagir

The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas has rolled out a new educational curriculum for certified dealers that will help them learn the latest trends, strategies and best practices on topics critical to business success.

Currently, dealers are certified with a series of “check the boxes” exercises that demonstrates to consultants that they’ve met certification requirements. Once they’ve met all the requirements, they are stamped with the certification, and they go on.

The following year, dealers have to go through the same process, check the same boxes, and demonstrate they have met the same requirements all over again.

“It got cumbersome and tiring for dealers,” said MRRA President Matt Gruhn. “There’s been a lot of issues with the whole concept of re-certification.”

For the last two years, MRAA has been working on the concept of continuous certification, moving to an education-based program where great value will be added to what dealers are getting from the program. MRAA is also switching learning management system platforms.

“We are upgrading to a single sign-on platform with API integration, all built into our association management system,” Gruhn said. “The user experience will go way up.”

The pilot course that launched today is free and open to anyone in the industry. “That includes manufacturers and suppliers, as well as dealers,” Gruhn said. “The course is called, ‘Buyer Motivation: The Key to Building Value.’ It’s basically sales tactics and how to drive more sales while improving customer loyalty.”

The four quarterly courses that MRAA will offer starting in January 2018 are designed to support the tenant of the certification program, Gruhn said. The courses will feature three main pillars: Operational excellence, employee engagement and customer satisfaction and loyalty tracking and will feature learning modules with video, exercises, quizzes, homework assignments.

“Over the past four or five years, we’ve had a lot of conversations with dealers about how they approach improving and growing their business,” said MRAA Vice President Liz Walz.

Many dealers run four or five different kinds of businesses under one roof, each of which has its own unique set of factors that need to be considered and managed in order to be successful, Walz said. Other challenges come from seasonality, economic ups and downs, workforce shortages, and the unpredictability of Mother Nature.

“Our goal has been to offer tools, education and resources that can be quickly and easily put to work,” Walz said. “However, despite the best of intentions, most training and education for dealers isn’t designed to truly make a difference for all employees. Most dealers don’t have a training or HR department that can pick up where other trainers and educators leave off."

MRAA’s mission isn’t just providing as much value through Marine Industry Dealership Certification as possible. "That’s not enough,” Walz said. “Dealers trust us to help them make a real difference in their businesses and in this industry, not just once, but on an ongoing basis. And that’s what continuous certification – and everything we do at MRAA – is all about.”

Certified dealers don’t just have the desire to improve and grow, she said. They’ve made a commitment to laying down a foundation, a stable platform to build a better future. “When they take on a new training initiative, they’re different from the average dealer. They have processes in place to quickly and effectively adopt new strategies, and respond to changes in prospects and customers, and in technology. That’s why we’ve made the investment in developing this continuous certification curriculum. We’ve partnered with the best educators out there, those who are truly committed to our industry and have a track record for making a real difference.”

Here’s an overview of the pilot and 2018 MRAA Continuous Certification Curriculum:

  •  Pilot: Buyer Motivation: The Key To Building Value, with Jim Million
  •  First Quarter: Take Your Dealership from Good to Great with CRM, with Sam Dantzler
  •  Second Quarter: Improve Loyalty with a Customer Experience Mindset, with Theresa Syer
  •  Third Quarter: The Essentials of Accountability, with John Spence
  •  FourthQuarter: The Strategic Dealership, with David Spader

While the Continuous Certification curriculum will be made available exclusively to Certified Dealers, the courses themselves will be available to all employees at the participating Certified Dealership location. And the Pilot Course will be made available to anyone that is interested. The Continuous Certification curriculum will be re-loaded each year with four new courses that feature a hybrid approach to education, asking dealers to watch, listen, converse, test theories, and grow through what they learn.

Continuous Certification enrollment is available only to those dealers who have achieved Certification status through the Marine Industry Certified Dealership Program. Dealers who have not yet achieved Certification status can enroll at mraa.com/certification. Upon becoming Certified, they can immediately gain access to the Continuous Certification curriculum. Dealers that were due for “Re-Certification” at any point during 2018 should enroll in the new program by Jan. 1, 2018,  to maintain their certification.

The annual curriculum for Continuous Certification is available for only $999 as a standard rate and only $899 for MRAA Members. Visit www.mraa.com/certification for more information.

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