The Key to Effective Onboarding & High Retention Rates

Your team is the heart-and-soul of your business, so it’s a necessity to hire correctly the first time! Your culture depends upon creating structure and process to give new hires greater success, an appreciation for their role and a vision of their individual career advancement. While many companies do a decent job of employee orientation, more have trouble with onboarding their staff.
An onboarding process, which can last from 30 days to up to the first full year of employment (some experts recommend a minimum of 90 days!), is critical if you want to cultivate a supportive environment that nurtures and engages employees. You need to view them NOT only as “assets,” but valuable, unique contributors to your mission, vision and values.

Another thing to remember is that it’s cheaper to retain employees than it is to hire new staff. Just look:

  • reports that it cost employers about 33 percent of an employee’s annual salary to find and hire a replacement.
  • Gallup estimates that to replace an individual employee it costs a range of one-half to two times an employee’s annual salary.
  • Gallup says decreased employee engagement (a $7.8-trillion hit to the global economy) and voluntary turnover (a trillion dollars annually in U.S.) are significant pain points in business.
  • Don’t forgot the soft costs: Increased stress and anxiety for managers and the new hires; reduced productivity; added pressure to perform; damage to your culture and more.

A successful onboarding process, complete with tactical employee engagement parameters, training and personal development can make a world a difference for your new hires, their career and your business’s bottom line.

Onboarding is One Piece of Your Employee Satisfaction Puzzle

Setting up an employee – especially a new employee – for success includes making sure they have the resources, skills, training and onboarding to do their job right.

A message on employee satisfaction and onboarding from Liz Keener, MRAA Certification Manager.
Begin with ‘GOOD’ to Become Great

Everyone at your dealership can benefit when you proactively look to improve your situation rather than sit around complaining about it. Whether it’s onboarding new hires or solving other workforce-related issues, it’s time for you to say “good” when issues arise, because your goal is to be great!

Jerrod Kelley, MRAA Content Manager dressed in blue shirt standing outside by a tree
image of subject matter expert, author and Dealer Week speaker Kelly McDonald and a special MRAA course on The Five Red Flags that Derail Recruiting and Retention Effort

Five Red Flags That Derail Your Recruiting and Retention Efforts

You know better than anybody, the worker shortage is real, and employee retention is also a definite challenge. So how do you find, recruit, hire and retain your employees to make your dealership stronger? You need winnings tactics.

Take these actionable solutions — like integrating stay interviews and developing individual professional development plans — and new insight from four-time, best-selling author and founder of McDonald Marketing, Kelly McDonald to help your dealership improve at workforce recruitment and retention.

This course is made available MRAA Members courtesy of the 2022 Continuous Certification Curriculum.

Silver & Gold Members ONLY:

[This course is being offered as a courtesy of the MRAA Dealer Certification program]

Not an MRAA Silver Member? Become one today!

How to Hire Ideal Team Players

Hiring is hard. We all know that. This blog from Mike Davin, MRAA Vice President of Business Planning, discusses tips and best practices for how to ensure that when you bring someone onto the team, you give yourself (and the new employee) the best chance to be successful.

MRAA blog author Mike Davin, Vice President of Business Planning, shown outside MRAA HQ in Minnesota
Cover page of MRAA SAMPLE Handbook; black font on white screen
Installing an Onboarding Process to Help Employees Find Success

Chances are that you’ve heard the terms “quiet quitting” and “voluntary turnover.” These phrases have become increasingly common when discussing employees and retention. Poor employee engagement and job dissatisfaction are often to blame, which can stem from inadequate training right from day one.

You don’t have to let this happen at your dealership. By creating an onboarding process that creates a better employee experience for your new hires you can promote improved understanding and career growth. From automating tasks to training new hires and more, you have the ability to change your hiring, onboarding and retention at your dealership.

Far too many organizations make onboarding a turn off rather than a turn on.” — Mitch Gray, author of “How to Hire and Keep Great People”


Formal onboarding varies in both definition and length for marine dealers we surveyed in the March MRAA/Baird/TradeOnly Pulse Report. While nearly 60 percent of dealers said they have a formal onboarding process, more than half of the survey participants stated they consider onboarding to last at least 30 days.

Members ONLY:

Not an MRAA Silver Member yet? Become one today.

MRAA Infographic with two graphs highlighting dealership feedback on onboarding processes and duration at their business

Employee Onboarding Made Easier: Introducing your dealership’s new hires to MRAA

As dealership managers, you spend a lot of time and energy recruiting, hiring and onboarding new team members. The good news is: Our crew at MRAA has just made it a little bit easier by launching a video you can share with your new hires so they can learn about MRAA and all the education and resources we can offer them, while celebrating this exciting step in their career.

There are two ways to access it:

• Share this link with them so they can watch the video on the MRAA website:

• For new hires who already have a username and password for logging into MRAATraining, they watch the Dealership Team Members: Welcome to a New Step in Your Career” video here.

NEED a username and password? Contact MRAA Membership Specialist Jennifer McLachlan [] to provide your new hire with an MRAA username and password. As you know well, this log-in information opens the door to MRAA’s most powerful education and resources for maximum value and impact.

How to Implement Effective Onboarding

Learn how to design and implement a successful onboarding program — including what tasks can and should be automated — so you can go beyond a one-week orientation format. Dealerships that automate administrative onboarding tasks increase employee retention by 16 percent and employee productivity by 18 percent!

Your culture depends upon creating structure and process to give new hires greater success, an appreciation for their role and a vision of their individual career advancement. Improving your onboarding will lead to better employee retention, improved customer experience and also improve your bottom line. 

Silver and Gold Members ONLY:

Not an MRAA Silver Member yet? Become one today.

Valerie Ziebron and Mark O'Dell share a digital conversation on onboarding at alpin haus
Tips for Onboarding at Your Dealership

Dealership success depends on employee success. As a leader in your dealership, your No. 1 responsibility is to prepare your team of employees to successfully bring the mission, vision and values of the company to life each and every day.

That’s why we’ve chosen Marine Industry Certified Dealership Alpin Haus and its outstanding onboarding strategy for this Dealer Case Study.

Valerie Ziebron interviews Mark O’Dell, Alpin Haus General Sales Manager, on how his company onboards dealership employees and how you can adapt their onboarding strategy for your business, no matter how big or small your team.

Silver and Gold Members ONLY:

Not an MRAA Silver Member yet? Become one today.

Strengthen Your Dealership’s Workforce

Finding outstanding people who fit your business and culture seems to be getting tougher. That’s why learning how to properly recruit, assess, interview, select who to hire and onboard them at your dealership is so critical.

Speaker Ty Bello shares with you tips and insights on an onboarding process designed to improve employee retention.

Silver and Gold Members ONLY:

Not an MRAA Silver Member yet? 

Why Your Dealership Needs an Org. Chart

Being great at workforce recruitment, onboarding and retention often comes back to mastery of the basics: things like creating crystal clarity for your employees about what success looks like and how to work with your team to achieve it. 

This can be made easier by developing some simple resources like job descriptions, an employee handbook, and yes … a dealership organizational chart. 

Mini-Guide Org Chart
MRAA Guide to Apprenticeship
Guide to Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship programs have been proven to increase staff engagement, morale and retention. Along with enhancing the culture of your dealership, you’re sending a clear message to your staff that your dealership is committed to ongoing training and education, and that you are investing in your team.

This 21-page digital guide walks you through the process — and potential advantages — of growing your own technicians rather than hiring “hard-to-find” veteran techs. It also highlights real-world apprenticeship programs that have led to employees with higher satisfaction levels, who outperform their peers, deliver increased levels of profitability and improve the customer experience.

MRAA Members ONLY:

Not an MRAA Member yet? Become one today.

“NEVER STOP ONBOARDING” – O.C. Tanner, an organization that improves workplace culture through personalized employee recognition solutions, says onboarding should be an ONGOING experience. A journey with regular scheduled intervals beyond the 1-week, 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals.

Need more resources to help your dealership improve at hiring, onboarding and retention?

Try these:

HIRE BETTER (Highlights: Create a Parts & Accessories Superstar; Rethink How You Find Great Techs and Advisors; Build a Service Dream Team)

EMPLOYEE RETENTION (Highlights: The Boat Biz podcast: Lou Cecchini, Off Shore Marine Inc.; 2022 Marine Industry Compensation Study; Job Descriptions & Employee Handbook)