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How Buckeye Marine is using Dealer Week online

Capitalizing on the Opportunity

MRAA Gold Member Buckeye Marine is All About Team Training

While some dealerships could have potentially viewed Dealer Week’s switch from an in-person event to a virtual format as a negative, Carly Poole, Operations Manager, at Buckeye Marine in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Canada, views it as a tremendous opportunity for her team to train, learn and grow together.

“We looked at the cost of what we normally would have spent — normally we would have sent managers, typically about 4 to 5 people — so to send 13 to Dealer Week’s virtual event is still saving us a bunch of money,” she explained. “We’re happy and excited to be able to include so many of our staff for a couple of reasons.”

Her first reason deals with removing the fade and uncertainty that can come from smaller teams attending an event. Many dealerships understand that scenario — where fresh ideas arrive with the dealership principals or managers upon their return, but quite often fail to be installed within the first couple weeks due to a disconnect with the rest of the employees who didn’t attend.

“That happens in every dealership, because you go to these things and you get really fired up and learn these new ideas,” she explained, “but it’s really hard as a dealer principal to try to translate it and translate that excitement through to your staff. Having all our frontline staff be able to attend Dealer Week and share in that excitement is a super powerful thing for me.”

The next reason is the cost savings. “With a dealership of our size, it’s not something that would be palatable if we were going to an in-person event, because I couldn’t take half my team out of here, to fly from Canada feed them all and put them all in hotels for a week – I couldn’t afford to do that,” said Poole. “It’s a huge opportunity we want to capitalize on.”

One critical aspect of Dealer Week for Poole is the potential for team learning. Last year, some of Buckeye Marine’s managers did the same education tracks and then sat at a roundtable together to discuss what they had learned, took notes and discussed strategies for implementation.

“I’m hoping we can do that, but on a grander scale, to get the entire team headed into the right direction,” she said. “I do believe that team-learning is a powerful tool. The goal will be to have discussions on what we want to accomplish and what our learning goals will be so we can have a fairly focused discussion.”

The Buckeye Marine staff will receive boxed lunches or whatever is allowed due to Ontario COVID-19 protocols and may also close the doors for this training. “It’s a good time of the year for us because we won’t have any foot traffic in the store,” she added. “If there’s a day that it would be beneficial for all of staff to be focused on doing something, then I would consider closing a half day or for the day.”

And despite being located in cottage country, Buckeye Marine offers the best setup in Bobcaygeon, with a full-size meeting room in the dealership and a big, flat-screen TV to help entice complete focus and team interaction. The contingency plan, if the pandemic forces more restrictions, includes at-home training on personal laptops and Zoom meeting breakouts to facilitate team discussions. Poole is a big fan of live participation, but says the extension of the content through March of 2021 is significant.

“I would like them to do it live, but I am super pumped for it being available until March 31 because: A) you can kind of give them some homework; B) they can go back and look at it again; C) when there are two or three things they want to see, but those courses are scheduled at the same time, now they can go back and watch them all,” she explained.

For Poole and Buckeye Marine — like most boat dealers — 2020 has been outrageous, but she’s pleased to know the majority of her staff are either new in their position or really eager to learn and are seeking and asking for this kind of training.

“I mean after the crazy year that everyone has had, crazy busy and crazy unusual and anxiety-provoking - even just on a personal level,” she said, “the idea of doing something together when we’ve been really forced to do things separately is a really powerful thing all on its own.”

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