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Make this your Top 100 year to shine

By Jonathan Sweet

When we look at the dealers that apply for the Boating Industry Top 100, one of the most important factors is how they improve from year to year.

No matter how good a company is, it can always get better. That is what makes the best dealers stand out from the thousands of boat dealers in North America.

And like you, we work to make the Top 100 better every year as well. While we make several changes every year, the one I am most excited about for 2018 is our consumer outreach program.

Later this year, you’ll start seeing advertisements and promotion of the Top 100 in national and regional consumer boating magazines, through social media campaigns and more. We want to make sure boaters and potential boat buyers know about your accomplishments and recognize the importance of doing business with a Top 100 dealer.

There are several other benefits to being part of the program.

Once again this year we’ll be offering a marketing package for each Top 100 dealership, including press releases, boat show sign templates, window clings and more, as well as an updated marketing best practices guide showing how other Top 100 companies have leveraged their Top 100 status to grow their businesses.

We continue to simplify the application process. We have made several changes to the application this year reflecting your feedback on the process.

We continue to work on other new benefits as well, so stay tuned for updates.

Most importantly, countless dealers have told us that simply filling out the application makes their business better as they take a hard look at their operations and processes.

Maybe you recognize all these benefits, but still haven’t applied because you’re worried it is too big of an undertaking. I won’t lie to you. It’s not easy – but it shouldn’t be. On the other hand, it’s not as daunting as you may think at first glance.

With that in mind, here are five tips for making the application process easier for you – and to help you stand out from the crowd. 

1. Start early. Applications aren’t due until June 25, but don’t wait until the last minute to apply. You know you’re going to be busy in late spring and early summer. Get started on it now and you can spread the work over several months. Those of you have applied (or started to apply) in the past know it’s going to take some time to put together your best application.

2. Keep it simple. One of our favorite pieces of advice is that “bullet points are your friend.” In other words, not every question requires a novel. Many dealers put more pressure on themselves than they need to when it comes to writing their answers. Give us the key info, but don’t worry about how polished it is.

3. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Get your entire team involved. Someone should be the lead person on putting the application together, but don’t expect one person to do the whole thing. By dividing the work, you can make it more manageable, as well as capture the best practices from each department.

4. Document everything. Your photos help you tell the story of your dealership. It helps us to see what your dealership looks like, especially if the Boating Industry team hasn’t visited in the recent past. Sending copies of marketing materials, CSI reports and other documents help support your application.

5. Ask us for help. Every year, I talk to dealers who tell me they had questions about the application but were afraid to ask us about them because they thought it would reflect badly on them. Don’t worry about it – we know it can be quite an endeavor. You can always contact any of us with any questions.

All Top 100 companies will be recognized in the January issue of Boating Industry and on BoatingIndustry.com, as well as at the Top 100 Gala on the last night of the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo. You can apply at BoatingIndustry.com/top-100/application.  

Jonathan Sweet is the director of the Boating Industry Top 100 program and former editor-in-chief of Boating Industry magazine. He can be reached at jsweet@boatingindustry.com or 763-383-4419. Follow him on Twitter at @JonathanWSweet. 


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