In Tough Times, Certification Keeps Dealerships on the Level

By Thom Dammrich

It’s no secret that 2008 is shaping up as a challenging year in the marine industry. Marine manufacturers and dealerships across the country are suffering in the wake of economic uncertainty, weakened sales and diminishing consumer confidence. In the existing retail environment, getting the most out of whatever resources we have available is absolutely critical to the survival of our businesses.

The Marine Industry Dealership Certification program has a process mapping component in place that allows dealers to focus on their end goals and determine what aspects associated with meeting these goals do—and do not—add value and help keep costs down. Process mapping is explained to dealers during the program’s mandatory Launch Workshop. Attendance at a one-day launch workshop is the first step in the Dealership Certification process. It is during the workshop that dealerships get together in groups and learn how to objectively look at their business practices, determining which processes are effectively “mapped” out already and which need to be more carefully defined and monitored.

One of the biggest benefits of process mapping is its inherent ability to help reduce waste and unnecessary expenses. When a dealership takes the time to lay out its business practices step-by-step, it highlights a clearer picture of which areas of a dealers’ everyday operations need to be tightened. Once those areas are identified, dealerships can take the appropriate measures to reduce costs, which is the ideal course of action in tight economic times. In essence, the program sets dealerships up to function as lean and effectively as possible when sales are thin. Normal business practice is to re-evaluate operations and costs in tough economic times, and Dealership Certification provides the ideal framework in order to make this transformation happen.

Certification provides an established set of tools and resources that the dealer can customize to fit his or her specific retail environment without ‘reinventing the wheel,’ so to speak. We recognize there isn’t one universal, magical solution that works the same for everyone, and the program structure takes this very important fact into account. It allows dealerships to formulate their own processes that set their specific businesses up for success. The program also provides a means for dealers to continuously evaluate aspects of their businesses that, as the retail environment changes, will allow them to react quickly to those changes.

When times are tough, Dealership Certification and they way it helps dealers organize and run their businesses give program participants a leg-up against their competition.

To date, more than 600 dealerships have enrolled in the Dealership Certification program—more than 400 which have earned the official “Marine Industry Certified” designation. The full list of Marine Industry Certified dealerships is available on both and, and the “Find a Certified Dealer” area of is now one of the sites’ Top 10 most visited pages.

For additional information about the Marine Industry Dealership Certification program or specific details regarding how to enroll, contact Dealer Certification program manager John Warnik at (312) 946-6500;

Thom Dammrich is president of Grow Boating Inc. and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA)

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