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2016 Hall of Fame: Best Practices

Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame:

MarineMax – Clearwater, Fla.
Galati Yacht Sales – Anna Maria, Fla.
Prince William Marina – Woodbridge, Va.
Legendary Marine – Destin, Fla.
Gordy’s Lakefront Marine – Fontana, Wis.

The Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame recognizes dealers who have won the coveted Dealer of the Year award twice. These companies support the Top 100 program through their continued excellence and growth. In this annual feature, we specifically highlight best practices from each of the Hall of Fame dealers.

Adding a new product line to your dealership can be a daunting task, especially if you historically carry one or two brands. The following are tips from Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame dealers on how to seamlessly integrate a new product in your dealership.

Do your research

“When we’re evaluating a product line, we really want to know from the other dealerships that are carrying it, are the people within that business … keeping the consumer first in everything that they provide,” said Darren Plymale, vice president of Galati Yacht Sales.

“The consumers are going to pay close attention to who you choose to do business with, what products you choose,” added Tom Whowell, principal at Gordy’s Lakefront Marine.

Look at your existing brands

When Prince William added Bayliner in 2014, the dealership identified the brand as one that would attract the same kind of customers who were buying used Sea Rays that the dealership could convert into new boat buyers.

“A new Bayliner is priced similar to a used Sea Ray,” said Carlton Phillips, owner of Prince William Marina. “Almost all [Bayliner customers] say ‘One of these days, I’m going to buy a Sea Ray.’ [Bayliner] does the same thing used boats did for us: It gets the people involved with boating.”

See each new product as a relaunch

When launching a new product, dealers should treat it like they know nothing about the boat. Go back to the basics of the boat and learn everything about it – propulsion, hull construction, everything.

“We look at it in terms of launching a brand in a market just as a complete relaunch,” said Chuck Cashman, chief revenue officer of MarineMax. “We really look at it as if we were going to open a store with only that brand.”

Get on the water

“We would do different things behind the boat, understanding each product, what the nuances are,” said Katie Nutt, sales manager of Gordy’s Lakefront Marine, which added MasterCraft in 2014 and MarkerOne in 2015. “We ... take a deeper dive into the new products and ... that on-water training, getting the feel for each boat and each model, is really where it shines.”

Don’t lose your service

Whenever you’re integrating a new product, it is important to make sure your service quality doesn’t decline. At Gordy’s, the dealership looks at what the service department will need for infrastructure, tools, education and training needs, and meeting the customers’ needs.

“What do we need to make sure … we hit the ground running at the same level we’re doing with the brands that we’ve had for so many years,” said Rallee Chupich, director of service and restaurant operations at Gordy’s Lakefront Marine.

Promote the product

Legendary Marine hosted a massive launch party when it added Pursuit in 2015, called “The Pursuit Crown Jewels Event,” which was very successful with existing customers.

“That theme more or less told our customers that lineup was the crown jewel of Legendary Marine,” said Todd Royall, general sales manager of Legendary Marine.

Plymale said boat shows are still a great opportunity to put a dealership’s best foot forward when bringing a new line to market.

“If you do your job during the year, you’re going to attract those people to your display who are going to come see what you have to offer,” he said.

Whowell emphasized the importance of using digital marketing to help supplement the traditional forms.

“All these tools we have that are very cost effective to market to the public and to customers specifically, whether it’s broad-based or very narrow sniper shooting, it certainly helped us market all these new products,” he said.

Utilize 20 groups

20 groups are incredibly helpful for picking the brains of other dealers who have the same or similar lines.

“Other dealers in our Cobalt 20 group or dealer network had some ideas, suggestions, recommendations and were great to reach out to,” Chupich said. “That sharing of information in the industry in general has been huge and it’s so impactful to raise the level of the customer service that everyone’s able to give.”

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