2019 Best in Class: Best Training

Spicer’s Boat City
Houghton Lake, Mich.

Having the right people on your team means everything to running a successful business. However, it’s not just about having the right people. A strong dealership needs the right people paired with continuous training and improvement. The top dealers consistently invest in their teams to grow stronger.

Training efforts are required across the entire dealership in every department, from sales to service.

Spicer’s Boat City is one dealership consistently seeking out and implementing new ways to better its team. And 2018 was no exception for Spicer’s in strengthening its team through training.

“We work hard on employee development,” president Phillip Spicer said. “This year we grew significantly and grew our investments in staff and development along with that.”

In 2017, Spicer’s made the jump to attend Disney Institute training. Now in its second year, the dealership continues to implement specific standards it developed after attending and learning from Disney Institute.

“These standards allow us to better communicate and train all employees to attain ‘Disney’ levels of customer service,” Spicer said. “We developed a training program around these standards. All employees attend a company meeting to cover this in depth and new hires receive a booklet covering the standards. We have banners throughout the company and integrate the standards into other meetings and trainings. We explain how holding each other to these standards serves to improve our customer service.”

The dealership breaks its own specifically-designed standards into four designated columns: friendliness, skillfulness, cleanliness and speed, with a fifth standard being safety which Spicer labels the “ultimate standard.”

Within the dealership’s skillfulness standard, Spicer’s stresses the mantra “I am a master at what I do. I take pride in what I do. I take all training available.”

“Our commitment to training is to take advantage of all training provided by our manufacturers, but also provide our own in all areas,” Spicer said.

With this mentality across the dealership’s service department, Spicer said the dealership hasn’t felt the pain in the industry-wide crisis of finding technicians.

“We identify people with mechanical aptitude and start them in rigging. From there we may train them to be technicians,” Spicer said. “We work on career paths for many of our employees to ensure we retain them and train them correctly.”

Spicer holds weekly service meetings with service advisors and shop managers to share new techniques helping the industries, improve customer relations, as well as addressing necessary issues. In a following weekly meeting, Spicer’s brings in the entire service department to discuss training, workload, and any other relevant information to the department.

Spicer’s relies on team teaching and spreading the wealth of knowledge from all training opportunities. For example, Spicer said that when any technician comes back from a training event, they are required to put on a shop meeting to discuss what they learned.

Aside from also following the Spicer’s four standards, on the sales side, Spicer’s provides a very upfront list of responsibilities for salespersons right off the bat.

The document clearly lays out responsibilities that are expected to be performed on a daily basis, along with the expectation that the responsibilities are carried out with a good attitude and to the best of the employee’s abilities.

Much like the service department, Spicer’s uses a variety of off-site training events and programs as well as in-house training and team learning to maintain a high level of customer service across its sales department.

By clearly laying out expectations for all departments and maintaining an open line of communication and constant learning, Spicer said his dealership sees great success in both the dealership’s new hires and employee retention.

“We refined our hiring functions and continue to expand or training and career development. Along with that we try to fill vacancies from within and move people up the ladder,” Spicer said. “All in all, we have continually improved teamwork and employee retention and satisfaction.”

Spicer’s Boat City continuously proves that if you build the right team and continue to invest money and knowledge into it, growth and success follows for both the individuals and the dealership as a whole. 

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