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The Dealer Week educational lineup is here!

Curious for what you'll learn and who you'll see at Dealer Week? Check out the full educational lineup here. Keep reading for a brief explanation, via our Press Release.

TAMPA, Fla., Sept. 6, 2019 — The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas recently announced the education lineup for its inaugural Dealer Week Conference and Expo, which includes new and old faces from past MRAA events; experts from inside and outside the marine industry; and a mix of professional educators, expert consultants and innovators from the front lines of marine retail.

“At the MRAA, everything we do is motivated by our vision statement, which calls for ‘A thriving marine industry, driven by dealer success,’” says Matt Gruhn, MRAA President. “Dealer Week is a big part of our strategy to make that vision a reality. The education presented at the conference was developed in direct response to the biggest challenges that dealers have told us they are facing today.”

Dealer Week will kick off with a keynote presentation from bestselling author, Olympic competitor and award-winning salesperson Vince Poscente before breaking into three “Education Pathways,” which will host topics centered around The Dealership, The Customer and The Employee.

Dealer Week will take place Dec. 8-11 at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla. Registration is now open at Attendees can save up to $125 on registration with Early Bird pricing through Sept. 30.

Opening Keynote

With everyone gathered for the opening of the conference, New York Times bestselling author Vince Poscente will deliver an entertaining and thought-provoking keynote on how marine dealership owners, managers and their teams can flourish in an unpredictable and highly competitive landscape. Poscente will share a formula for driving behavior change in yourself and your team that he used to transform himself from recreational skier to Olympic athlete in just four years.

“The dealers on the MRAA Education Committee raved about Vince,” says Liz Walz, MRAA Vice President. “What stood out to them were his unique combination of abilities as both a wildly entertaining storyteller and a highly effective coach. Given what’s happening in the market right now, they saw how powerful it could be to learn new strategies for thriving in fast-changing and often unpredictable conditions.”

The Dealership Pathway

Kicking off the Dealership Pathway, Tony Gonzalez, Garage Composites, will present a session called “Create a Culture That Delivers.” Culture can make or break your dealership. While we have all heard this idea preached before, have those preaching it mapped out what you should DO about it? This session will provide that and more.

Next up David Spader, Spader Business Management, will host a Dealer Case Study on “Succession Planning.” He will interview Carrie Stacey, Carrie Stacey & Co., a CPA in the U.S. and Canada who owned and operated two powersports dealerships and has worked in both RV and marine. The conversation will include topics such as business valuations, preparing your business for sale and turnaround support.

DJ Stringer, Garage Composites, will use both humor and real-world examples for his presentation “F&I: Does That Stand for Fairies and Imps? ... No, The Money Is Real.” According to Stringer, just like fairies and imps, some people believe in F&I and others don’t. Those who do believe get introduced to a magical world of profits that people who don’t believe can never even imagine.

David Foco, A World of Training, will share strategies to address one of the most common challenges faced by dealers in his presentation “Ease the Pain of Seasonality Through Better Processes.” If you’re a marine dealer, the seasonality of the business is a brutal reality. Well, what if there was more you could do to ease the pain? This advanced course is for those dealers who are ready to get their hands dirty improving their service and marketing processes.

Rich DeLancey, Dealership Toolkit, will offer practical advice for “How to Hold Your Digital Accountable.” Developing a gorgeous website, producing stunning videos and posting social media content that gets shared across the Internet is great, if it generates enough leads to be worth your time and money. During this session, you’ll learn what data to collect, how to collect it and how to analyze it to determine how your digital marketing is performing.

The Dealership Pathway will conclude with Education Host David Spader, Spader Business Management, presenting a two-hour workshop titled “The Agile Dealership: Confidently Responding to Change & the Unknown.” Most dealers have accepted that change and volatility are the new norm. This workshop will help you identify, monitor and respond to the key issues your dealership is facing now and in the future.

The Customer Pathway

Sam Dantzler, Wheelhouse College, will serve as Education Host for the Customer Pathway as well as kick things off with “Stop Letting Data Get Between You and the Customer.” Most consumers, and, let's face it, dealers, are getting bogged down by the noise created by all the data, advice and insight available today. Dantzler will cut through the clutter dealers face every day and focus on overlooked strategies you can use with customers and your team to improve the buying and ownership experience.

In the next session, Dantzler will interview Kevin Zoodsma, Action Water Sports, about “Segmenting Customer Data.” If your dealership has started tracking data that’s a good first step, but are you actually using the data you have about prospects and customers to drive decisions about marketing and buying? Kevin will share insights about how his team slices and dices (i.e., segments) their prospect data.

Longtime MRAA favorite Valerie Ziebron, VRZ Consulting, will be joined by Carrie Stacey, Carrie Stacey & Co., to teach a session on “Reducing Repair Cycle Time.” The faster your shop can get boats serviced properly the happier your customers and the more efficient (and profitable) your shop. This session will look at what shops of all sizes can do to fast track service and close out a larger percentage of work orders quickly.

Next up, MRAA’s own Lead Certification Consultant Bob McCann will be joined by Graham Anderson, Co-Founder of business texting platform Kenect, to discuss “Texting Customers: Do’s, Don’ts, and How to Make It A Win-Win.” This course will help you discover ways to improve the customer experience with texting. It will explore the legal and privacy considerations of texting, sample scripts, how to create a texting policy, the best practices for outreach, team training and what the future of texting looks like.

DJ Stringer, Garage Composites, will present a second session titled “Let's Play Detective and Solve a Mystery: The Customer.” You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, or even Scooby Doo to be a good salesperson, but to be great, you do have to possess some investigative skills. This session will explore the psychology of the customer as it relates to the greet and discovery, and how to use the information you have to get all the clues you need to solve the mystery of how to sell more.

Theresa Syer, Syer Hospitality Group Inc., will conclude the Customer Pathway with the two-hour workshop “Supercharge Your Customer Experience.” In this session, she will share the 7 Key Emotional Motivators that can shift the tide emotionally for customers. She’ll also show you how to develop Key Emotional Drivers that will affect those Emotional Motivators and keep customers coming to you, working with you and ultimately buying from you.

The Employee Pathway

The high-energy duo of Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz, Courage Crafters, will open the Employee Pathway with their presentation “Go For No.” Sales experts Fenton and Waltz believe that the relationship you have with the word “no” is the single most important factor in determining the level of success you achieve. Learn how a simple change in attitude and perspective can transform you and your team from being slowed down by failure and rejection into actually being energized by it.

After that, Education Host Jim Million, Million Learning, will chat with Eric Smith, Colorado Boat Center, about “Combating a Local Tech Shortage.” The team at Colorado Boat Center has been creative over the years in its approach to hiring in the service department. This session will dive into some of the innovative ideas they’ve used to combat the common dealer challenge of finding good technicians.

The next session features Samantha Cunningham Zawilinski, Portratz Partners Advertising, discussing “Intrapreneurship: Developing Early Adopters & Harnessing Innovation in Your Company.” There have always been go-getters in companies who push the status quo to become champions of your brand. In this presentation for organizational leaders, you’ll walk away with actionable steps to nurture a successful intrapreneur, learn how you create an environment and culture that enables intrapreneurs to thrive within your organization, and understand how intrapreneurs help to build a stronger, more progressive business in a competitive landscape.

Next up Allison Chaney, Boot Camp Digital, will share a roadmap for “Developing Your Personal Brand.” This interactive presentation will empower and motivate the audience to proactively create a powerful, positive and purposeful image of themselves online. At the end of this session participants will understand how their personal brand contributes to boosting their credibility and growing their reach. They will also have the tools to bring the brand to life in an impactful way.

After that Art Hill, University of Minnesota, will present “The Managing Me Workshop.” Most people struggle keeping up with the flood of “stuff” in their world (emails, phone calls, meetings and commitments) that far exceed their mental and emotional capacities. As a result, they lose track of their goals and experience stress, worry and guilt — and are far less productive. The Managing Me workshop takes the latest research about personal productivity, makes it practical, and creates an engaging experience that helps people apply the life-changing principles.

Wrapping up the Employee Pathway will be Education Host Jim Million presenting the two-hour workshop “Telling Ain't Training.” This “training for non-trainers” session will teach managers how to take the information they've learned during Dealer Week and share it with their teams in a way that will engage them and help them remember it.

About Dealer Week

For more than 40 years, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas has delivered world class educational programming to dealers, retailers and service operations that power the boating industry and serve today’s boaters. Dealer Week evolves as MRAA’s rebranded and reimagined annual conference and expo, a profoundly new event experience designed to engage, energize and empower the dealer community. The MRAA envisions a brighter future for marine retail, and Dealer Week is the preeminent means for bringing that vision to life. Learn more at

About the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas At the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, we believe that for the marine industry to thrive, the retail organizations that interact with the boaters in their community must thrive. With that in mind, MRAA works to create a strong and healthy boating industry by uniting those retailers, providing them with opportunities for improvement and growth, and representing them with a powerful voice. For more information, visit or contact us at 763-315-8043.

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