Canadian dealers returning from the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo this week are sharing positive feedback of their experiences at the event. The conference and expo was held at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) and the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Florida.
The show featured informative sessions divided into three tracks, Sales and Marketing, Service Department and Powering Profits. Since sessions in each of the three tracks we're held simultaneously, dealers needed to bring sufficient staff to fully benefit from all of the show's content.
Following the sessions on the Tuesday and Wednesday, the show opened its trade show portion, which included some 115 exhibitors.
Some delegates also attended dealer conferences held in conjunction with the show. Rob Rule, General Manager of Maple City Marine in Chatham, ON, was able to attend a Regal dealer conference before heading to the MDCE sessions. “You always take two things from this show, networking with your colleagues and good advice from the sessions,” describes Rule. “I always like the sessions where they have three marine dealers talking about what they did to give them a unique advantage in a disadvantaged marketplace. One of them was a gentleman from South Shore Marine in Ohio who refers to repossessed boats as rescue boats. They restore the vessels to and their policies are very interesting.”
Rule says he plans to bring someone from his service department next year to benefit from the show's service track sessions.
Many dealers who brought their service personnel were glad that they did. Sue Warren, who works for the service department at Ed Huck Marine, in Rockport, ON, attended this year and found the service track sessions beneficial. “I thought the sessions were fantastic,” says Warren. “There were great speakers and a lot of information on stuff we're looking forward to getting into practice here. I appreciated the information on making incremental changes rather than doing a 180-degree turnaround. That's something we're going to look at doing.”
Several dealer principals found value in more than one track. “I've got pages and pages of notes from the show to go through. We definitely learned some new ideas that we're planning to implement,” says Jeff Wilcox, President of George's Marine and Sports in Eganville, ON. “I really enjoyed the tip on generating more service dollars with the multipoint inspection report card. The other advice I liked was from the Pay Plans That Work presentation. We're big on making all of our departments incentive-based. We only have two positions in our company that are not benefiting from the profitability of our company and that's going to change. I'm committing to bring more people next year.”
Wilcox's only suggestion for the show is that he would like to see more aftermarket product exhibitors at the tradeshow in the future.
“It was fantastic again this year,” reports Deborah Paris, Owner of Paris Marine in Peterborough, ON. “They add value to the show every year. I mostly stayed in the management and marketing tracks. The good news is that our 20 group divided up the sessions and then shared what we learned afterwards. Some of the promotion ideas we're great. I loved the kiss the boat promotion. A dealer did a radio promotion to get into a contest where people had to hold their lips against the prize boat. The one who held on the longest won the boat. It was out of the box thinking and it was really good.”
Paris says she enjoyed the tradeshow and appreciated being able to compare product all in one room. Her dealership is looking for a new software system and feels the information gathered at the show will allow them to make an educated decision.
Next year's Marine Dealer Conference and Expo is scheduled from November 13 to 16 inclusive.