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Hagadone Marine Group and Dealer Week

Making Virtual Personal

Hagadone Marine to Deliver Dealer Week Conference as Bonafide Growth Experience for its Employees

The team at Hagadone Marine Group was excited to read the news that Dealer Week, MRAA conference, had switched to a virtual event. As an organization that typically brings up to 12 people to this event, the new virtual format presented it with an opportunity to expand its total team participants to 20. Along with its team size increase, the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho dealership also doubled down on its strategic efforts to maximize the impact that the annual MRAA Dealer Week educational conference will have on its employees, making the virtual event more inviting and engaging to promote authentic growth.

Cally King, Director of Marketing, and Sales Consultant Tayler Petticolas created attendance plans for Team Hagadone, which will participate in nearly every aspect of the conference. Petticolas, a Co-Chairwoman of the MRAA Young Leaders Advisory Committee, said their objective is to mirror the interactive nature of Dealer Week and the togetherness, unity and community building it represents, those aspects a virtual conference typically cannot reproduce.

“If we can make that kind of community — and I feel that’s more important than ever right now — get that feel, camaraderie and that connection going, it just seems to flow better for our team when we can facilitate it up front and support that side of it, and they seem to ride with the content better that is being provided to them,” she explained.

Community and interactive opportunities, which are meant to entice the team, help team members stay focused and increase their willingness to participate, will also include meals and social offerings.

Hagadone Marine will host breakfast and coffee one hour each day before the conference starts to encourage social time. Lunch will also be held off-site, with the entire team, before returning for more sessions and roundtables. They also have plan for an open bar and snacks to match the roundtable times each day and for broader, interactive discussions.

“The idea is to relax, do social things, enjoy everyone’s company and others’ company on Zoom while networking during the roundtable discussions,” said Petticolas.

In addition, King said they have enhanced the experience by planning for:

  • Email invitation sent to their team Nov. 4 (to the 20 HMG employees who have been selected to participate)

  • Foam core boards: An easel will be outside each break-out room highlighting the session and details. Marketing staff will swap out the boards as the sessions change.

  • Notepads: Cardboard-back notepads they had designed for the event will be supplied for attendees for note taking. They may add their own session worksheets as well.

  • Uniforms/Swag: King said they were exploring either a polo or jacket complete with the HMG and Dealer Week logos as a way to connect their employees to the event.

The notepad, clothing, meals, happy hours and gatherings all are designed to recreate the feel and the attraction of participating at an in-person event. “And it’s really about keeping them on track to engage,” added Petticolas. “If that was specific to them, then they can take pride in it and, not only take pride in that fact that they were there, but bringing back the ideas and the implementation of them.”

Another best practice concept generated for Team Hagadone is a punch-card for setting goals and for interaction with vendors.

“Set a goal, hit a mark, get a punch,” said Petticolas. “We set timeframe reminders and check ins and we get to hear from these people on how they put their plan into action, what it looks like and what had to change. The punch card idea is like running to a coffee stand – familiar, tangible and also something they will engage in and see success in, program wise.”

And because vendor participation with virtual events is a current topic of discussion, Petticolas says their team has an idea for that, too. They may create their own Dealer Week passport. “They had a passport at previous MRAA conferences,” she added. “There were four colors (red, green yellow, blue) and you had to get so many of each color and then you could turn your passport in. We discussed a similar deal for our team, assigning vendors different colors and having our employees check in with them.”

For training, Hagadone lets its employees determine some of the sessions they will take, but also has requirements if the topics, departments and employee roles and responsibilities mesh. Petticolas says it’s often easier to determine which tracks they should be in because the MRAA topics are very appropriate to what the dealers are needing and wanting to see.

“We want them to engaged and fully participate,” said Petticolas. “What they want to go to is important, of course, but we do have guidelines where leadership will say we really want to see people at certain tracks and the rest is up to them. We can determine if the service team needs to attend a session or the entire team should attend because it’s something we really need.”

Hagadone Marine, which values personal growth, has a lot of new people attending Dealer Week because the content is well rounded, applicable and encourages improvement.

For those of us who have gone and experienced it in all of its glory, it really is a special opportunity,” said Petticolas. “And there is a lot that can come out of it that is beneficial for them as a professional, as an individual, their team and co-workers and the company as a whole.”

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