Top 100 Update: Kelly’s Port customer referral program


Christopher Gerber (
June 26, 2012
Filed under Features, Top Stories

Last year, Osage Beach, Mo.-based Kelly’s Port decided to decrease its traditional advertising budget and ramp up its customer referral program. Since then, the dealership has found success through local real estate agents who refer new homeowners.

Referral bonuses start at $150 for a referral that results in a used boat purchase and have gone as high as $1,000, which was given to the person who referred the buyer of a Regal 46 Sport Coupe.

Kyle Kelly, operational manager at Kelly’s Port, said the program has grown in the last year, and as a part-time salesperson, Kelly said his own sales originating from a real estate agent’s referral have nearly doubled.

For now, Kelly said marketing of the referral program has been through word of mouth and has been aided by the dealership’s location adjacent to the office of the area’s largest real estate company. This offseason, Kelly’s Port plans to more aggressively market the program to customer-service-focused businesses throughout the Missouri resort town.

The gradual growth of the program was by design, according to Kelly, to ensure the dealership would be able to give each new customer adequate attention.

“The one thing we didn’t want to do is have this massive internal influx and not take care of the customers,” Kelly said. “We wanted to slowly initiate it so it was a win-win for everyone involved.”

Kelly’s Port did make one addition to the program before the summer by allowing its own employees to receive referral bonuses for sending prospects to the sales staff.

Kelly said the arrangement has been successful not only in generating new boat sales but also by eliminating departmental barriers that can exist between the sales staff and other operations.

“For someone in the parts department, for example, their focus is on the part and getting it going. Now, we have seen it has opened an awareness of the sales department,” Kelly said.

This is part of a series of updates on initiatives from last year's Top 100 Dealers. As determined by Boating Industry magazine, the Top 100 is an annual list of dealerships that are unsurpassed in overall business operations, customer service, professionalism and all the characteristics that go along with them. Applications for the 2012 Top 100 Dealers Awards Program are currently being accepted online. The deadline for applications is July 15.


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