2021 Best in Class: Best Training

Mark's Marine, Inc.
Hayden, Idaho

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a new list of challenges to getting training accomplished in 2020, yet that didn’t stop Mark’s Marine from facing the challenges head on to ensure its team was prepared for success.

With an ongoing transition through a succession plan, as well as shifting job roles around to accommodate additional growth in various aspects of the business, training has been more important that ever for Mark’s Marine.

“We are beginning to transition along our succession plan and we’re shifting job roles around to accommodate the additional growth and increase in phone and digital traffic,” Mark’s Marine vice president Aaron Thykeson said.

With many in-person training events cancelled in 2020, the team at Mark’s Marine took it upon themselves to divide and conquer across a multitude of online training options.

“We continue to invest heavily in training for our staff and while 2020 put a crimp on in-person training with travel restrictions, we participated heavily in e-learning opportunities,” Thykeson said.

By doing weekly or bi-monthly — depending on the time of year — internal training meetings before the store opens in each department, the team at Mark’s Marine is able to go over specific educational items related to each particular department.

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The dealership also does weekly computer training meetings with counter employees in parts, service or just the general office, along with monthly computer training meetings with the sales staff and service technicians.

In order to assist technicians with regular e-learning opportunities and certification processes, Mark’s Marine has set up a classroom onsite at the dealership.

“Utilizing our classroom setup, we set the techs up in pairs for their certification tests, that way they can feed off of each other and increase retention,” Thykeson said.

As the only NMEA dealer in its area, Mark’s Marine also sends its staff to all electronics certification opportunities it can, including NOLA learning from Lowrance, Garmin certification training, Sea Star training with Optimus certification and additional NMEA training.

“Our focus on training, process and continual improvement in the realm of marine electronics and fishing technologies have become our reputation and our claim to fame in the inland Northwest region,” Thykeson said. “We pull from hundreds of miles away because of that reputation and it gives us a strong competitive advantage.”

Aside from training its own team members, the crew at Mark’s Marine also puts an extra emphasis on offering training to both current and potential customers to be help everyone be a better, more informed boater.

“There’s training built into every part of our deliver process,” Thykeson said. “We also provide a series of detailed seminars and classes.”

For example, the electronics gurus at Mark’s Marine offers water electronics classes up to twice a week, as well as offering mini seminars on all accessories at portable displays throughout the dealership’s store.

“We pride ourselves as the single best electronics boat dealer in the Northwest and we spend a huge amount of time doing fish finder seminars, free updates and complementary diagnostics for our customers,” Thykeson said.

Mark’s Marine also supports customer training with additional off-water and on-water general boating education sessions.

All in all, the team at Mark’s Marine is always busy learning from each other to push the entire team to be better and maintain an excellent customer experience that the dealership is already well-known for.

“Pulling together as a team to manage an unforeseen pandemic with demand outstripping supply and time, the crew at Mark’s Marine always found that unobtainable prop, or somehow got the boat rigged on time,” Thykeson said. “2020 was a year that none of us will forget and we certainly came through stronger and better.”

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