Saving with certification

There aren’t many business owners these days who would walk away from an opportunity to cut costs while improving their company. And yet that’s what those who dismiss or postpone the pursuit of Marine Industry Dealership Certification are often doing.

One recently certified dealer, for example, saved $2,500 on items like uniforms and antifreeze through efficiencies gained from the process mapping required by the program. In addition, the business improved its return on investment in its dealer management system, among numerous other improvements.

“Dealers are saying that this is a great fundamental organizer for their entire business,” says Bob Williams, president of Five Star Solutions LLC, which administers the Marine Industry Dealership Certification program. “It’s founded on lean thinking and lean processes, which save money, reduce costs and eliminate waste. All of the savings go to the bottom line and are tenfold over the cost of the program, some dealers say.”

In addition to savings, dealers are using certification to give themselves a competitive advantage in their marketplace, according to Williams: “Dealers have told me, ‘I’m doing this so that in my community, I have a differentiator from other boat dealers: third-party certification. That is priceless.’”

Taking it online
The value of the program aside, Grow Boating Inc. leaders realize that dealers have less time and money to spend in this downturn.
Their response has been the creation of online Launch Workshops, which reduce the cost of the program by about $1,000 per dealership. Add in the travel costs avoided — airplane tickets, taxi fare, hotel, meals — and the additional time participants can spend in the dealership, and the savings really adds up.

In the end, if you divide the price of the program by 12, dealer certification costs about the same as a monthly cell phone bill, Williams points out. In addition, recertification costs have declined by about $1,000 per dealership for those that take advantage of the new Web-based process.

Another advantage of the online workshops is that they can be spread over two days rather than crammed into one eight-hour session.

Thus far, the reception from dealers has been positive. In fact, the Webinars have gone so well that Five Star Solutions is developing a series of online classes designed to serve as professional development tools for the service department.

Breaking the 500 barrier
Despite the value offered by the program, Williams doesn’t believe certification is for everyone. But he does encourage dealers to attend the workshop, after which they have the option of continuing or not.

“When it’s right for your dealership, you’ll join,” he says. “It’s for those who want to become the best they can be, for those that want a competitive advantage in the marketplace when the market does come back.”

And Williams does expect dealerships to take advantage of the new online Launch Workshops. While only five dealers participated in the first one this January, Five Star plans to offer them throughout the year. In the end, the company aims to certify 100 new dealers this year, making for a total of more than 500 certified dealerships nationwide.

But the success of the program for Williams seems to come not so much from adding up the numbers as from the individual results, especially in today’s economic climate when so much is often at stake.
“This is the new reality,” he says. “And it’s going to be like this for a while. We need to adjust our businesses, our structure, our overhead, to be successful in this reality. And that’s the goal of certification. You have to rethink everything, start your business over in some ways. If you structure to this reality, you’ll be that much better off when it does return. It’s not a time to just hunker down and wait it out. You’ve got to take action, because others will.”

Leave a Reply

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