DUCK KEY, FLA – The Texas division of the Freedom Boat Club, which operates in five locations, was honored as Franchise of the Year at the company’s annual gathering held here this week.
It is the top honor given by the Freedom Boat Club, the nation’s largest and oldest boating club, with 73 locations in 15 states.
“Our Texas group was not only recognized for their impressive growth in membership and revenue but also for their exceptional record of customer service,” said CEO John Giglio. “They have been excellent stewards of our company’s brand and culture.”
The award-winning Texas division operates at five locations: Lake Austin, Lake Travis, Clear Lake, Lake Conroe and most recently, Galveston Bay.
“We believe in providing hands-on service,” said Texas franchise co-owner Scott Isaacks. “You will often find the owners of the franchise out on the dock, helping members on and off boats. Exceptional customer service is the key to our success. Our best advertising has been word of mouth from our members.”
The Freedom Boat Club, which began in 1989 in Sarasota, has experienced a steady growth in membership and franchise locations based on its model of offering affordable, hassle-free boating. Members not only have a choice of multiple boats at each location but avoid the typical frustrations associated with boat ownership: maintenance, repair, storage, cleaning, towing trailers, etc.
“Freedom Boat Club is a winning concept,” said Ken Vollbreckt, co-owner of the Texas franchise, who operates the Clear Lake location. “I have been involved in the marine industry for 23 years and this is the most fun I have ever had. It does not matter if you are a first-time boater or a veteran. We provide all the training people need to feel confident at the helm. And I get the reward of seeing a smile on people’s faces as they pull up to the dock for the first time.”
In being named Franchise of the Year for 2013 by FBC, the Texas division had to overcome a challenge that was well beyond control of company leadership: an ongoing drought in the state.
“We work hard to make sure our members are getting the most value out of their time and money,” said Bill Marquardt, co-owner and operator of the Lake Austin and Lake Travis locations. “We are a true club. Only members have use of our fleet of boats. We do not rent them out to make extra income.
“We also provide a variety of other services, and host a number of social events throughout the year. We even started a wine-tasting club that has about 30 people who meet each month. In many ways we seem more like an extended family than a club.”
And though the Texas team is thrilled with its recognition as Franchise of the Year, Isaacks believes the best is yet to come.
“The more people hear and learn about the Freedom Boat Club the more they like it,” Isaacks said. “We have a great model to follow with a track-record of success that is second to none. It is our plan to stay true to that model and to continue to grow.”