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How Superior Boat Sales, a lifelong conference attendee, is handling Dealer Week online

An In-Person Dealer Week … virtually, of course

Who says Dealer Week 2020 can’t happen in-person?

With major events and other large group cancellations scarring the economy in 2020, Bob Bense knows the ups and downs of a year compromised by the coronavirus. It was not even a full day into the Sacramento Boat Show when the event’s producer shut it down due to concerns over the fast-spreading virus.

That was March 2020, and now, as Bense, who owns and operates Superior Boat Repair & Sales in Rancho Cordova, California, begins to plan for participation in another annual in-person event, he’s come up with a creative approach.

Dating back to 2013, Bense and his team have used MRAA’s annual conference, now known as Dealer Week, to strengthen their business and prepare for the year ahead. In most years, Bense has brought two or three teammates to the conference with him to maximize the takeaways. Notably, last year, he was the 100th registrant for Dealer Week, and he and his wife Kathy penned a list of 100 reasons why they attend.

As Dealer Week moves to an online format for 2020, Bense has taken the opportunity to think differently about how he can help his business capture the opportunities that 2021 has in store for him. In fact, he’s going to host his own personal Dealer Week event right in the confines of his Sacramento-area dealership.

“The way I look at it, we save so much money not traveling to the event this year, that I’m going to register virtually every person on my staff,” he explained, “and then we will close down for three days, and we’ll create an atmosphere like we are at the conference.”

Bense’s plan includes participating alongside all of his 14 employees. He expects to set up his showroom and adjacent offices as the three classrooms Dealer Week typically offers and will then show the live feeds from the event on screens in each of those classrooms. He even plans to cater lunch in for the team.

“I look at it as an opportunity to get everyone involved for a couple days, and you know, it’s not going to cost me as much as it would to send my typical four people,” he explains. “Everyone could be watching on the big screen, but we’ll try to create those three tracks. I’d have three different screens up in my showroom. Three people over here watching the sales seminar, the next group over here watching something on the service department.”

The team approach to Dealer Week gives Bense and his team the ability to learn together, digest the information and talk through how the ideas and strategies can impact the dealership’s success going forward. They’ll have the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers, participate in chat sessions and dealer-to-dealer forums, connect on-camera with exhibitors and other dealers and will otherwise be able to capture more opportunities in an inclusive, all-team format.

Many dealerships bring multiple teams to Dealer Week each year, and they can be found in all areas of the conference sitting and discussing what they learned and how they might implement it. Bense and his team are capitalizing on the opportunities that 2020 has presented to ensure learning and continuous improvement remain key elements of the Superior Boat Repair & Sales culture.

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