By Nancy Smith, owner and vice president, Colorado Boat Center, Loveland, Co.
One of the most significant challenges that I see in our industry as a whole is to get the vast majority of dealers certified by the marine industry. I believe that it is a crucial area to keeping people in boating and attracting new boaters. As a certified dealer, we believe that any dealer who is not practicing the certification processes, whether they are certified or not, only hurts our industry as a whole and can actually eliminate boaters who we may have otherwise been able to sell a boat to down the road. If the consumer has a bad experience or doesn't receive the support and education they need to thoroughly enjoy their boating experiences, there is greater potential to lose those boaters for good. It is also important to sell the experience of boating long before you sell the boat. I certainly see the Grow Boating Initiative leading the way, but it's going to take a much larger force to keep the momentum going.
In respect to women in the industry and in boating, I feel that there are many dealerships who are "missing the boat" by not filling diverse positions in their companies with women and embracing the power that women have on the buying decision. At Colorado Boat Center, half of our staff is female, including our parts manager, service writer, sales coordinator, accounting and administration. We have created a well-rounded group that compliments the needs of each department. In regards to our consumers, we consider the woman to be an equal part of the buying decision, so we incorporate her needs and desires into the selling process. After the purchase, we offer a women's only on-water class and a men's only on-water class. It gives both an opportunity to get women more involved in the actual boating and gives both men and women a chance to learn in a very relaxed and unintimidating environment. This has been a very big selling tool for the women.
This contribution is one in a series of solutions to the industry’s challenges as offered by female boating business professionals for the March 2008 issue of Boating Industry magazine. To view the article, Leading the way, including links to the entire list of solutions, click here.