A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Dealer lobbies for MRAA

I have strong feelings about the lack of participation by marine dealers in the Marine Retailers Association of America.   The National Automobile Dealers Association  has a very strong body of dealers that give it a voice in the automotive industry. The RV Industry’s Recreational Vehicle Association, formed out of nothing by some friends of mine, is a powerful force and voice for the dealer. The MRAA is as powerful a voice as it can be given the limitations imposed on it by the very people it seeks to serve.The MRAA works with a very limited staff and makes miserly use of a dealer’s contributions. If MRAA were a charity it would be very attractive because it makes very effective use of it’s money compared to it’s peers. The services it offers truly benefit the boat dealer. Using the Fed Ex discounts saved a dealer friend of mine over $1,000 this year alone and that all goes to the bottom line. If a dealer takes advantage of all of MRAA’s programs it will save enough money to cover the paltry $750/year a $5,000,000 and up dealer pays in dues and the cost of attending the Vegas convention (unless you’re a bad gambler).I contribute to my state trade association as well as the MRAA. That’s because the stronger the trade association system we have the better they can work in tandem with the NMMA to promote our sport, something badly needed for all of us. And I attend the MRAA convention. This year I got great ideas to use at my dealership that will pay me over and over again.
A dealer can do many things to change our industry-recruit new members, achieve certification, volunteer to help the local or national trade association, or even just give the associations feedback about the issues you face or dumb legislation they need to know about. But at the very least give them your tax deductible donation. It takes 2 minutes to write a check. Please visit www.mraa.com and download their application today. And don’t waste my time at a dealer meeting or sales school complaining about the situations we face today unless you do. Because that makes you a whiner and I only have time to talk to winners.

Joe Hoffmaster
Hoffmaster’s Marina


5 comments on “Dealer lobbies for MRAA

  1. Larry Tague

    I can’t agree more. If we as a industry don’t get behind our organizations both with numbers & money how can we expect to receive any of the benefits ? Todays business needs are bigger than just payroll. We have need of legislative representation on both the local & national level. How can we expect a few dealers in the MRAA to support the rest of the industry ? It is time for this industry to step up to the plate and grow up. If you have a state organization support it ,if you don’t have one start one.

    Larry Tague
    Lake Viking Marine

  2. Ed Lofgren

    Joe – it seems that dealers in this industry need an overwhelming crisis in order to rally and do what’s right. (some of us remember the OMC fiasco and the resulting challenges). If we keep going like this, NOT INVOLVED and NOT TOGETHER, there may come a day that we have no whilte knights like Bombardier and Genmar to bail us out of the next major fiasco. You are right on – a strong association is a deterrent to crises and a major front end problem solver.
    Take a look at what a strong association can do for our industry on http://www.boatma.com; note the professional development conference the Ma. association is hosting january 16, 2007.
    Every dealer that wants progress for their business and advocacy for their industry should be a member of MRAA, and not merely a member, but a contributing member.
    Thank you for your timely dissertation. Best, Ed Lofgren, 3A marine Service, Hingham, Ma.

  3. Gary Briggs

    Joe Hoffmaster is a very insightful person. The value of memberhip in MRAA, it’s host of member benefits, and it’s potential collective force within the industry, seems to go unnoticed. That must be changed.

    One of the many “great benefits” comes from simply attending the annual MRAA Convention in Las Vegas. There, every person within the industry can “drink in” great ideas, hear about new opportunities, and gather the business accumen brought to us. The outstanding speakers and dynamic presenters bring mental candy that we shouldn’t let get away. It is “powerful stuff” if we get it, learn it, and use it! But you must to be present “to win”.

    Every marine retailer (from the top of the ‘Top 100′, on down) needs to constantly be seeking to improve their level of professionalism as a business person. That’s how consumers will become better served, and how our bottom lines will improve. MRAA can help.

    So, if what MRAA brings to us, is that good (and it is), why don’t we have REAL PARTICIPATION from the builders, through their full attendance at the MRAA Convention, their complete backing of it, and their full support at the convention. After all, raising that level of professionalism of their dealer body will result in more sales, forevery one of them.

    MRAA has multiple categories and levels of memberships, and no industry person has ever been refused attendance at the Annual MRAA Convention. Get there, learn with the rest of us, and take it back to your dealer body.

    MRAA is not a renegade organization in opposition to the ultra powerful (and well financed) NMMA, and its many builder members. MRAA is a handful of of good retailers, trying to get better! It is time for all segments of the industry to learn more about MRAA, get solidly behind it, and bring a better boating experience to consumers through a more professional dealer body.

    A key management person, of one of our industry giants, recently told me about his companies’ new found familiatity with the Spader Companies. He remarked about the powerful programs, and training sessions, offered by Spader. He was very impressed.

    As a reminder, The Spader Companies and all their teachings, were brought into the marine industry by MRAA in the late 70’s (please thank MRAA for that). That was some thirty years ago. It is through Spader, that retailers can get int a 20 Group. The absolute ” best business management tool” available to us, as retailers, is membership in a 20Group. Bar none! Few builders do more than pay lip service to 20 Group membership. Why don’t they demand it of their key retailers ?

    The day that manufacturers perfect their products to the point that they do not need retailers, they can ignore us and they can ignore the MRAA.

    However, until then, dosen’t it make sense for ALL the Builders, Reps, and Distributor members to concur that (for the last 35 years) the jaundiced look at, and the mistrust of, MRAA, it’s members, and all retailers has been misplaced.

    As a long time retailer, I want to make an open invitation, for every supplier, at every level of the indusrty, to join your retailers, and to stop hindering their efforts, to professionalize themselves. Why is this simple reality so difficult to grasp ?

    Gary E Briggs

  4. Anonymous

    Been around this business a long time and quit the trade association scene years ago. Sorry, but MRAA is nothing more than a dog and pony show hosted by Keeter & Russo Productions. It’s the same old same old year after year. Uniting the industry…, Dealer manufacturer agreements…, Warranty rates…, Grow boating…, Certification…, and where does it get us? The marine industry has been in decline since 1990. While there have been some bright spots in some locations, it’s practically over for many small dealers as economies of scale and dead markets are forcing what consumers are left to travel greater distances for product and services. In case anyone forgot, this industry has been drive by independent mavericks, each with their own agenda. Both MRAA & NMMA lack money and political clout to ward off the ever increasing onerous regulation and taxation perpetrated by Washington and the states. It’s over for many retailers and no one want to admit it. With ever increasing demands to push more product at higher prices, increased costs due to technology demands, lack of skilled workers, changing demand, and skyrocketing realestate costs, it’s not hard to wonder why Marine Max is changing the landscape. My state doesn’t have a top 100 dealer nor do we have a trade association or anyone interested in boating issues. The result is that the free market will prevail; dealers will operate in a personal manner in which he determines the success or failure of his business and will serve the the needs of his customer accordingly. The smart ones will survive and demand will continue to increase or decrease supply of our goods and services.

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