Moving the needle

Most of us have a list of things we know we should do. But if you’re anything like me, you struggle to find the time to get to them. Instead, we let our list of “have to” items fill our days.

People-related tasks often end up on the “should” list. While we acknowledge that they’re important, they don’t have deadlines so they’re easy to put off for later.

But we know better. Whether we’re training an employee or co-worker on a new skill, recognizing their good work, addressing a behavior problem or taking the time to recruit and hire right, we typically move the needle for our organization farther than almost any other task we could complete.

That’s especially true in dealerships today. During the industry’s slow recovery the past few years, demand for talent has increased, which has made it both harder to retain current employees who now have more options and to find new employees because competition for them has increased.

Hiring the right people for the right positions, training them properly for their job and giving them the support and tools they need to perform at their peak has never been more critical.

That’s why the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas has put a major focus on providing you with tools and education to help you excel in this area. One example is the MRAA Career Center, formed in partnership with the American Boat & Yacht Council and available at Not only can you post job listings on the site, but it also provides a members-only Sample Job Description Portal, featuring more than 40 job descriptions that dealers can download and customize for their organization.

When it comes to education, not only does MRAA partner with Boating Industry magazine to produce the annual Marine Dealer Conference & Expo and partner with Dominion Marine Media to produce the Marine Retail University series of one-day educational conferences, but this year, it also video recorded a selection of MDCE sessions and is making them available via the MRAA Interactive Virtual Training System at

Build your dream team

One of the most highly rated sessions at this year’s MDCE was the “Build a Service Dream Team” pre-conference workshop by Valerie Ziebron, which is now available at Not only does she provide some incredible tools dealers can take back to their business and put to work immediately, but she also shows how easy it can be to become a better manager and improve your company’s results.

Research shows that one of the most common reasons great employees leave a job is because management is ignoring unacceptable behavior in other employees, according to Ziebron.

Sometimes that unacceptable behavior takes place because employees don’t understand what’s expected of them. That’s one of the reasons that job descriptions are so powerful, she suggests.

Other times, employees do know what’s expected of them, but are failing to live up to those expectations. One way to address these problems is what Ziebron calls the 20-Second Challenge. It is a script for a one-way conversation that goes like this, for example: “There are times when you’re late to work. I need you to arrive on time.” This simple technique allows managers to clearly communicate the problem and the solution without a lot of drama.

Get fueled up

Another highly rated MDCE session is “ESI Fuels CSI” by Sam Dantzler, which is also available at In it, he reveals that front line employees typically have more stress in their lives than the executives that manage them.

In order to perform at their peak, your employees need to trust both their teammates and their manager. If they don’t, not only will they struggle to deliver the sales and customer service outcomes you expect from them, but they’re also more likely to start looking for other job opportunities.

Liz Walz is vice president of MRAA. To learn more, visit or email her at 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *