Improve Your Repair Event Cycle Times

Service department meeting

Amidst the craziness of today’s pandemic-fueled boat marketplace, your service department faces more pressure and more challenges than ever before. And just when you thought it was as bad as it was going to get, along comes an industrywide focus on Repair Event Cycle Times (RECT), or the amount of time it takes to get boats repaired and back on the water. Don’t fret, however. Now that industry cycle times, or RECT, has been documented, there’s an emerging path to improve your own cycle times and ultimately the competitive advantage your service department delivers. This page and the following resources are that path. Tune in here regularly as MRAA seeks to help you capitalize on what is, perhaps, the biggest opportunity your dealership has in today’s market.


MRAA, VRZ Consulting Service Department Study
You manage your service department YOUR way. Others manage THEIR way. In aggregate, there are some insightful data points and commentary on what it takes to manage a marine industry service department in the heart of the pandemic. Check it out through the results of this in-depth Service Advisor Survey. 

BLOG: RECT: The No. 1 Customer Experience Metric
The customer experience has always been so challenging to define and measure. Is it related to CSI? Net promoter score? Some other magical number? In today’s world, and one could argue, at all times, the customer experience can be measured by the amount of time your customers are off the water due to service repairs. We call that RECT, or Repair Event Cycle Times. Check out the data and insights that have fueled a renewed focus on service department performance. By MRAA President Matt Gruhn

One Question to Change Your Service Perspective
The brother-sister combo of Carly and Jay Poole at Buckeye Marine in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, have had plenty of challenges on their hands just like other dealers across North America. Then, their 20 Group provider dropped an interesting question on them regarding the performance of their service department. Check out this interview for a deep dive into how this one question has changed their approach, in addition to how they’re addressing their own Repair Event Cycle Times. 

Integrated Dealer-Manufacturer Relationships
The Repair Event Cycle Times, through the lens of your dealer association, may feel like it’s targeting dealers and dealers alone with the tools and resources highlighted on this page. However, the focus on getting customers back on the water more quickly must include both dealers and manufacturers if we are to find success as an industry. This column, authored by MRAA President Matt Gruhn and published in Trade Only, discusses what it will take to solve the problems we create for our customers.

Keep Boaters Boating Survey
In the build up toward MRAA’s strategy meeting on improving Repair Event Cycle Times, Valerie Ziebron surveyed several dealer groups and dealer meetings around the country on topics specific to getting boats serviced more quickly. This document outlines some of the insights gleaned from those surveys and subsequent conversations. Find some great data points, as well as some keen insights into how we can approve our approach across the industry.

The Authority on Marine Service

In our world here at MRAA, when we need to explore issues with dealership service departments, we turn to the authority: Valerie Ziebron of VRZ Consulting. Val has been an Education Host of Dealer Week every year, she moderates our service-related educational programs, delivers thought-provoking, idea-packed workshops, and regularly helps dealers with in-store consulting. We turned to her for this interview to discuss some of the key ingredients of reducing Repair Event Cycle Times. Enjoy.

WEBINAR: How to Hire a Coordinator or Expeditor
It’s the time of year where you are ramping up your team in the Service department. With that, a key consideration to this should be answering, “How do I reduce the amount of time it takes to get boats repaired and back on the water?” Answering that will prove critical to improving your number one metric for the customer experience as business and customer traffic increases, and that is your Repair Event Cycle Time, or RECT.

One solution to not only managing your RECT “score,” but also improving your RECT is to put the time into two crucial roles. Those are the Service Expeditor and the Coordinator. Now is the time to weigh the benefits of these positions. The Expeditor will help your technician, and the Coordinator is supporting your Service Advisor.

In this webinar, hear from Matt Santomenna from Race City Marine and Sarah Hassildine from Strong’s Marine on how they have incorporated these roles into their dealership. This MRAA Ask the Expert Webinar is powered by BoatyardRegister for free now.


Let’s be honest. In any discussion of the challenges your businesses face, it’s easiest to just cut to the good stuff: The solutions. This section of our Repair Event Cycle Times coverage hopes to offer you insights, tactics, strategies and best practices you can implement. We encourage you, however, to venture further into this and explore the courses and all of the amazing ideas and inspiration they offer as you seek to further strengthen your service department.

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Service Process Best Practices (MRAA Members only)
In service, like other areas of your business, process mapping reduces errors, creates consistency, provides for a better customer (and employee) experience, and drives business success. Use the best practices on this page to refine your service processes.

Case Study: Inland Boat Co.’s Service Communications (MRAA Members only)

In a pandemic-fueled world where boats are ordered sight unseen and parts are hard to come by, keeping customers in the know on the status of their boat became an overwhelming proposition. That is, unless you developed a best practice approach like that found at Inland Boat Co., of Raleigh, N.C. The leadership team at Inland devised one of the best communication platforms, complete with regular updates and sincere transparency, and their customer response has been nothing short of amazing. Here’s how they did it.

A Strong Approach

When the Repair Event Cycle Times topic first surfaced, the team at Strong’s Marine sprang to action quickly. The first order of business: Sit down as a team to identify all of the obstacles that get in the way of getting customers back onto the water more quickly. This blog and corresponding document highlights the takeaways from that meeting, offering great insight into the challenges dealers face, and some ideas for solving some of the issues. There are even some tips our manufacturer partners can consider. Guest content provided by Jeff Strong, President of Strong’s Marine.

RECT Thought Starters For Your Team (MRAA Members only)
If you’re ready to jump in and being reducing the amount of time your customers are off the water, use these thought starters, compiled by the MRAA and Valerie Ziebron of VRZ Consulting. This exercise, conducted with your team, can surface numerous ideas for strengthening your service department, completing more repairs, getting customers back on the water faster, and driving greater profits in service.

Back to the Basics: 6 Fundamentals & 1 Pro Tip

When it comes to sharpening up your service department, or any part of your business for that matter, oftentimes getting back to the basics — the fundamentals — can make a big difference. From the perspective of a technician-turned-customer experience manager, these 6 core fundamentals (and 1 pro tip) can help you tackle the Repair Event Cycle Times quickly. Guest blog written by Jesse Swain, VP of Customer Experience, Barletta Boats


Accurately tracking and monitoring your Repair Event Cycle Times can be a challenge. Turning to your dealer management system to get a gauge on how long your repair orders have been open is likely the easiest, most accurate way to make it happen. Dealer management system providers like MRAA Strategic Partner Lightspeed provide the reporting for you to help you stay on top of the issue. Check out this pre-recorded webinar from Lightspeed to get a pulse on industry benchmarks and expert insight. The RECT conversation begins about 9 minutes in.  


There are numerous ways to slice and dice the Repair Event Cycle Times conversation, and equally as many ways to begin solving the challenges you face. But at its core, fixing cycle times means fixing issues in your service department. And as any business leader knows, you can’t run a fine-tuned operation without the right structure, the right staff and the right accountability. The following resources can help you strengthen your service department from the ground up.

Job Descriptions: 
The MRAA features more than 50 job descriptions for common marine dealership positions. Use this link to craft your dealership’s own job descriptions and better communicate the expectations you have for each employee? Is there a lack of clarity or too much cross over between positions in your shop? Job descriptions can help. Get started today.

Employee Handbook: 
The MRAA offers this sample employee handbook to be used as a template for creating your own employee handbook, and modified in accordance with local, state, or federal law in effect at the time of its creation or revision. Please consult with your legal counsel before implementing any policies contained within this sample employee handbook or distributing this employee handbook to employees.


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Combat the Assault on Your Shop’s Repair Time

Service and Parts Departments are facing a perfect storm of more work combined with more challenges. From increased boat sales and boat usage, to new product requiring significant warranty work to be water-worthy, to supply chain parts issues, workforce shortages and more. It’s a dangerous combination leading to longer than ever repair event cycle times for both customer pay and warranty work. The latest data and real-world feedback from hundreds of front-line service advisors suggest this trend is only going to get more challenging moving forward. Waiting for this to “fix itself” is a recipe for disaster. 

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 will be. This course explores how shops of all sizes can fast track service and close out a larger percentage of work orders quickly. It uncovers the top areas where work gets stalled and shares best practices on how to pick up the pace in your shop. Learn from service department expert and noted trainer Valerie Ziebron, alongside Carrie Stacey who has worked in the “trenches” as a dealer, GM, CFO and dealership consultant. Bonus: Check out this “Dealer Feedback Edition” we produced to follow-up with the original course.

Too Much _____ + Not Enough _____ = Service Stress

Think you can answer this equation? And if you can, have you done it? Maybe it’s too many customers and not enough employees, too many expectations and not enough empathy, too much demand and not enough supply. No matter the variables used, they all have one thing in common, and that is … what we’ll be exploring in this session. Join dealership trainer Jordan Schoolmeester of Garage Composites for this session to help you identify department-wide opportunities and discover how they are structured. Most importantly, we’ll explore how solving the stress equation can result in not only a better workplace environment, but increased department profitability.

Update Your Service & Parts Playbook

In your Service and Parts Departments, your team is servicing more customers while facing more challenges than ever before. You are experiencing incredible pressure … but there are things within your control that you can do to keep your team’s sanity and improve your profitability. Learn how to better track the workload and the parts (much of which is backed up), uncover and document warranty (with far more quality issues), and keep up with customers (many of whom are frustrated and even angry) in this powerful, interactive session led by industry expert Valerie Ziebron of VRZ Consulting. 

Super Service to the Rescue! 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a service department that keeps the dealership operational! In a world where inventory is low, expectations are high, and “don’t hold your breath” is the only answer you get from parts suppliers, your very own superhero is in your very own backyard. From the service department’s role in pre-owned inventory to the ability of service to pay all of your dealership bills, this session by John Greene of Garage Composites will explore how you can shift your focus to change your dealership’s destiny.

Increase the Profit of What’s Already on Your Lift:

If a boat isn’t sold today, you can try again tomorrow. But if you don’t sell all of your available labor hours, you’ve lost that revenue forever. How do you successfully add more hours to every invoice? This session by Jordan Schoolmeester of Garage Composites focuses on the science of selling and how this process can be engrained into the conversation of every service writer or advisor. It’s time to get more than just the low-lying fruit. 

While the courses above are the most timely and relevant for helping you drive improvement with your repair event cycle times, these courses, also available at (and free for MRAA Silver and Gold Members), can help you further strengthen your service department:

  • How to Catch Up in Service: If you feel the need to get your service off life support and back to running on all cylinders, this course is for you.
  • The Future of Service Efficiency: Your ability to make the most of your service staff’s time is critical to your profitability and customer loyalty equations. Use this course to help you improve.
  • Keep Your Surgeons in Surgery: Your technicians’ labor hours are the most profitable product in your shop. Tap into this course to optimize your techs’ time and produce stronger cash flow.


Want The Best Courses ALL THE TIME? 

We know how difficult it is for you to come up with a training plan for your team. We also know how difficult it can be to sift through more than 200 courses in MRAA’s catalog to find the one that would be best for you at this moment. That’s why MRAA created Training ‘N Tactics, or TNT, a monthly educational program for our Silver and Gold members. On the first business day of each month, MRAA introduced a moderated version of the most timely and relevant course that can impact your business. The opportunity for you is to use that course to educate your team. Watch it and discuss it as a group; or assign it out, watch it separately, and then gather to discuss what was learned and what you can improve upon. TNT’s course of the month for MRAA’s focus on Repair Event Cycle Times? Optimize your techs’ time and produce stronger cash flow with “Keep Your Surgeons in Surgery.”


Turn Your Shop Inside Out

Your service department plays a critical role in your dealership’s success, whether you’re looking at the business from the inside out or the outside in. To improve both the bottom line and the customer experience, this course will turn inward to examine 5 ways your dealership can break down walls and improve its service processes. As manager and owners, you will learn how to empower your service team to grow its contribution to dealership profitability and customer satisfaction. In this course, you will learn:

  • How to create a dealership culture that encourages service department profitability, collaboration between departments and a great customer experience.
  • How key service department processes (write-up, scheduling, quality control and CRM) impact dealership profitability and the customer experience.
  • Opportunities to refine these service processes to drive more profitability and a better customer experience.
  • How to update your service processes and communicate these changes to their team to serve today’s customer and the bottom line.

Service Department Process Map

In Lead Certification Consultant Bob McCann’s blog on service department processes, he focused in on the seven key areas that all dealerships should include in their process map. But as dealerships grow and improve, there’s much more that they could focus on to enhance their service systems and processes, not to mention their efficiency, profitability, customer experience and Repair Event Cycle Times. MRAA’s Dealership Certification offers a comprehensive sample service process map for you and your team to use. Want to learn more? Contact Bob or Certification Manager, Liz Keener.

Process Maps Increase Efficiency
Refining your service department into a well-oiled machine requires the implementation of and continuous improvement offered by process maps. In this blog, Dealer Certification Manager Liz Keener explains how process maps can help you maximize the efficiency of your service department and ultimately help you get your customers back on the water more quickly.


Dealer Week Discounts!
If you want to stay on top of all of the most up-to-date trends and issues, as well as the strategies, tactics and best practices that can help you tackle them, then you need to attend MRAA’s Dealer Week. Held each December, Dealer Week brings together the leading experts, the leading dealers and the leading manufacturers and suppliers for three days of collaborative learning and connectivity. And bonus: MRAA Members save $200 per person off of registration.

MRAA’s Virtual Business Development Center: 
Curious how your service department is stacking up through the eyes of your customers? Through MRAA’s Virtual Business Development Center, or vBDC, MRAA and its partner, Customer Service Intelligence, Inc., will handle your customers with great care, following up with them with gratitude and empathy and will report any issues (and of course, positive feedback) to you so you can keep them happy and on the water, as well as in the queue for that upgraded boat in the not-so-distant future. Learn more or enroll today so we can begin helping you strengthen the future of your business.

Discounts on Dealership Certification: 
For the most comprehensive support in helping you strengthen your foundation, sharpen your operations and take the best care of your customers and employees, Dealership Certification brings together the best of all MRAA programs and services into one great program. Use Certification, its resources and its consultants to build bulletproof systems and processes that will help you deliver world class-level customer experience.

About Boatyard, March MRAA Spotlight Sponsor: Founded in 2015, Boatyard’s mission is to improve the experience of boat ownership through technology. Boatyard began as an on-demand consumer service engine, driving consumers to marine businesses while helping boaters navigate the murky waters of ownership, repairs, and maintenance. In 2021, Boatyard launched a brand-new version of their flagship product – an easy-to-use customer communication platform that transforms the boat service experience for boaters and service providers alike. Now, Boatyard continues to innovate and pushes the barriers of our industry to bring groundbreaking user experiences to boaters and businesses of all sizes. Boatyard’s customers range from small service businesses to multi-location retail operations, including MarineMax, Huck’s Marine and Resort, and Y Marina. More information on Boatyard can be found at