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2016 Editor’s Choice: Buckeye Sports Center, Inc.

By Brianna Liestman

Buckeye Sports Center, Inc.

Peninsula, Ohio

This year’s Top 100 was incredibly strong and led to some very difficult decisions. For me, my editor’s choice was not one of them.

Buckeye Sports Center had a great 2015. When we talk about improvement year over year, we want to see dealers make significant steps to enhance their businesses. The changes themselves don’t have to be huge, but they have to make an impact; after all, no dealership has hit perfection.

Buckeye Sports Center dedicated 2015 to making impactful changes in the business. In 2015, the dealership built a new 8,000 square foot showroom; doubled its paved parking area, boat drop-off and pick-up area, and outdoor boat display; fenced and graveled a new 50,000 square foot boat storage area and added a one-acre pond with a 20-foot wide concrete boat ramp and dock.

While the investment was expensive for the dealership, “we feel it will pay for itself within three years by establishing us as the leading trailer boat dealer in the Midwest with over 70 boats on display in the summer, on-sight demonstration and a great atmosphere for getting excited about the boating lifestyle,” says Jim Armington, treasurer of Buckeye Sports Center, Inc.

The dealership took internal steps toward improvement by joining a Parker Business Planning 20 group, and ended up implementing over 40 recommendations from its groups, for which the dealership saw immediate improvements. Among these changes were an increased labor rate, adding a second floorplan source, implementing a “Smart Buyer Program,” and adding a Platinum Protection program.

Buckeye Sports Center added a one-acre pond with a 20-foot wide concrete boat ramp and dock in 2015.

Buckeye Sports Center added a one-acre pond with a 20-foot wide concrete boat ramp and dock in 2015.

With all of the various changes Buckeye Sports Center made, the company increased labor income by 40 percent and added over $75,000 to its annual bottom line.

“The 20 Group has proven to be a very important source of improvement and information for our business,” says Armington.

In an effort to improve the customer service experience, Buckeye Sports Center hired a customer service coordinator to be the lead contact for service customers. Responsibilities include handling parts calls and sales, writing work tickets for service boats, selling additional service and scheduling service work. This individual also calls customers with status reports and calls new boat customers to introduce himself in case customers have any questions.

“The addition of this person help improve our new boat CSI and our Mercury Marine service CSI from 94 percent to 100 percent making us the only dealer in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, New York and West Virginia to achieve that level of CSI and helped increase our average service tech efficiency to 91 percent,” says Armington.

The dealership is also committed to safety and employee satisfaction. The dealership hired The Dell Group to conduct a one-year training plan to work toward complete OSHA compliance.

“It’s been very worthwhile,” says Armington. “Each quarter, at one of our weekly meetings we discuss with the staff available training and programs to see what they feel would be beneficial, then schedule it for the next quarter.”

Buckeye Sports Center also completed the Ohio Clean Marina program on the suggestions of employees who wanted the business to become more “green.” In 2015, the dealership was able to reduce its damage by 45 percent.

And after all of the major business changes to Buckeye Sports Center, the dealership still remembered to take care of its greatest asset: its employees. Buckeye Sports Center added more on-water, in-store and after-hours employee events in 2015, including a monthly “Week Night on the Water” for employees and families to enjoy the boating lifestyle and improve camaraderie. According to Brunswick Dealer Certification, the dealership’s employee satisfaction index (ESI) scores are well above industry average.

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