MDCE Preview 2014

Expanded conference offers more education, expo time

We’re only weeks away from what promises to be the biggest Marine Dealer Conference & Expo yet, with more educational sessions for attendees, an expanded expo hall schedule and plenty of networking opportunities.

MDCE 2014, scheduled to take place Nov. 16-19 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, is produced by Boating Industry and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.

For the first time in the event’s history, attendees can select from four educational tracks – Leadership, Sales, Marketing and Service Plus – designed specifically to address the most critical aspects of marine dealer operations. In addition, following the successful launch of the MDCE Pre-Conference Workshops in 2013, this feature will return with an even more impactful line-up of hands-on sessions attendees won’t find anywhere else. Finally, attendees will now benefit from both opening and closing keynote addresses.

Opening and closing keynotes

This year’s opening keynote will be presented by leadership guru and New York Times bestselling author Chester Elton.

Co-author of several successful leadership books including “All In,” “The Carrot Principle,” and “The Orange Revolution,” Elton is considered an expert in the field of company culture and employee engagement. His research shows that the most successful businesses deliver extraordinary results by developing a team culture in which employees believe what they do matters.

“Leadership was the number-one topic dealers asked for in our pre-MDCE surveys, and there’s no better way to demonstrate leadership skills than by establishing a strong, positive dealership culture,” said Liz Walz, MRAA director of education. “The research Chester will share during his Opening Keynote address demonstrates how big an impact such culture can have on a business’ bottom line.”

During Elton’s high-energy keynote presentation entitled “All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture that Drives Big Results,” attendees will learn real-world strategies to engage, enable and energize their employees, strategies that are proven to boost revenue and profitability for businesses of any size — from mom-and-pop shops to corporate entities.

Elton’s keynote is sponsored by Smoker Craft, which has sponsored the opening keynote for several years running.

For the first time, MDCE will also include a closing keynote, delivered by Ryan Estis. He is world renowned for helping companies, leaders and salespeople embrace change, accelerate growth and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy.

During his closing keynote address, entitled “Lead Your Business to Breakthrough Performance,” Estis will help prepare MDCE attendees to compete for and win more business in the market. Attendees will learn about: The evolution of customer buying behavior; where to spend the most time to get the biggest impact; creating a sales culture of accountability and performance; coaching your team to maximum productivity; using technology to engage customers and shorten the sales cycle; and how to develop a plan to take immediate action. Attendees will also walk away with a 23-page e-book called “Leading Breakthrough Sales Performance: How the World’s Best Brands are Turning Customer Transformation into an Opportunity for Growth.”

Estis was recently recognized by Meetings & Conventions magazine as one of the “best keynote speakers seen or heard” alongside Tony Robbins, Bill Gates, Colin Powell and Mike Ditka. He works with a number of category-leading brands and companies, including AT&T, Mayo Clinic, Adobe, MasterCard and the National Basketball Association.

“We are fortunate to have a speaker of Ryan’s caliber on the docket to deliver the first-ever closing keynote at the 2014 MDCE,” said Boating Industry editor-in-chief Jonathan Sweet. “It wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of the dealers who make up Boating Industry’s Top 100 Hall of Fame. They volunteered to sponsor this closing keynote, and we are incredibly grateful for their contribution to the success of the MDCE and the dealer community at large.”

The Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame consists of MarineMax, Inc.; Galati Yacht Sales; Prince William Marine; and Legendary Marine. Dealers are awarded a spot in the Hall of Fame after being named the No. 1 Dealer in North America by Boating Industry for two years.

Pre-conference workshops

MDCE-48511After their successful introduction in 2013, the pre-conference workshops return in 2014.

The 2014 MDCE will feature seven Pre-Conference Workshops, scheduled for the morning of Monday, Nov. 17. Attendees have the option to take in either a single, three-hour workshop or up to two, one-and-a-half-hour workshops.

“Attendance at last year’s workshops exceeded our expectations,” Walz said. “Many rooms were chock full of attendees, and we expect some will sell out this year. The Pre-Conference Workshops offer value MDCE attendees won’t find in the individual educational track sessions. Attendees are led down the path of building new processes, plans and strategies that translate into real results when they are implemented back at the dealership.”

In 2014, workshop topics will include leadership, sales, marketing, social media, succession planning, video production and editing, and the service department. Each workshop will feature takeaways (job descriptions, workbooks/guidebooks, report cards, tip sheets, etc.) to help attendees implement what they learned in the pre-conference sessions without delay upon returning to their respective dealerships.

“The Pre-Conference Workshops are unique in that these are small-group sessions, designed to encourage maximum participation between attendees and speakers in a hands-on, classroom-type setting,” Sweet said. “Because attendees leave each workshop with tangible worksheets and the like, it’s easy for them to incorporate what they learned into the fabric of their daily operations.”

Pre-Conference Workshop seating is limited and is available on a first come, first serve basis. A separate registration and additional fee is required to attend these workshops. MRAA members may attend each three-hour session for $135; the non-MRAA member price is $175. One-and-a-half-hour sessions are $99 for MRAA members and $129 for non-MRAA members.

Expanded education lineup

MDCE-40969The 2014 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo will feature the most powerful educational lineup in the history of the event, offering more sessions for today’s marine industry professionals than ever before. Twenty-four experts will provide 30 presentations at the MDCE, and half of those speakers will be presenting at the event for the very first time.

To best serve its audience, MDCE organizers seek a blend of the foremost experts in marine retailing with leading authors and professional trainers who can offer fresh insight and best practices from other industries.

There are a total of 12 new speakers presenting at this year’s MDCE: Lisa Buller, ARI; Lauren de Vlaming, Dominion Marine Media; Tom Deans, Ph.D., Every Family’s Business; Chester Elton, The Culture Works; Jeffrey Englander, GE Capital; Ryan Estis, Ryan Estis & Associates; David Martin, Mar-Kee Group; Kelly McDonald, McDonald Marketing; Lenny Rudow, Dominion Marine Media; Samantha Scott, Pushing the Envelope Inc.; Matt Sellhorst, Boat Dealer Profits; and Brad Smith, ARI.

MDCE organizers use four tools to build each year’s educational agenda: The 2014 Pre-MDCE Dealer Survey, which is conducted each winter to gain insight into dealers’ unique needs in the current marketplace; the MDCE Call for Presentations, a process by which subject matter experts can submit ideas for educational sessions to organizers for consideration; attendees’ session evaluations from the prior year’s event; and insight from the MRAA Education Committee, a group of dealers and other industry insiders that provides guidance to organizers on a number of aspects of the MDCE.

The speakers returning to MDCE this year include Don Cooper, The Sales Heretic; Sam Dantzler, Sam’s Powersports Garage; Bob McCann, ARI; David Parker, Parker Business Planning; Jan Kelly, Kelly Enterprises; Pat Kennedy, Parker Business Planning; John Spence, John Spence Inc.; David Spader, Spader Business Management; and Valerie Ziebron, Yamaha Marine.

More expo hall time

MDCE-87868Finally, based on feedback from attendees and exhibitors, this year’s MDCE will include more time for networking on the expo hall floor. It’s a great opportunity to learn about and see new products from leading manufacturers and service providers, or to touch base with current partners.

“While education is a top priority for MDCE attendees, dealers have also asked us for more networking time on the expo floor,” Sweet said. “In response, we took a fresh approach to the schedule that will allow both attendees and exhibitors to make the most of their time at MDCE.”

Full registration for MDCE is $499, with MRAA members receiving a $75 discount. For more information on MDCE or to register, visit


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