Q&A: The Internet Inside and Out

The Web is always changing, and I’m sure Gordy’s online presence is as well. What new things are Gordy’s doing online?

We are in the process of redoing our website. We should have a new site ready to launch this summer. Some of the areas that we are focusing on with the new site include more imagery, less text, more video, a better look/feel for the user, simplicity, a focus on social media and cloud applications for our images and videos (especially for our events), improved boat sales pages, an online reservation system for our boat rentals and boat club, and an improved online shopping cart for our pro shop/Gordy Gear. It wasn’t too long ago that we redid our site, but this is something that we feel is critical to our business to stay fresh and cutting edge.
On Facebook, we updated our page this winter and have grown our friends to more than 2,300 people (we had only around 1,000 last summer). We post regularly, especially our upcoming events, and use this platform as our primary way to communicate to our customers/friends. We held an “Ice Party” this past winter and had more than 750 people show up. We sent out an e-mail campaign to our customers but attribute most of the turnout to social media – primarily Facebook. Once we sent out the invite on our Facebook page, it literally went viral, and we were bombarded with responses that people were coming.

We’ve been shooting much more video and posting on YouTube to then link to from our website, Facebook page, Twitter account and other social media sites. We’ve been primarily filming new and used boats for boat sales, but also shooting video at our events, boat shows and other fun things happening here.

We just launched our blog this winter. We are incorporating this into our new website as a tool to post fun boating stories and other news and events about Gordy’s, boats, boating, etc.

We use Yammer internally for our wellness program for our employees. Any employee can go on this private site and post all things related to wellness. We have employees posting activities they are doing, healthy eating tips, preventative care articles, etc. We just launched this during the winter, and it has helped get employees engaged in staying healthy. When employees see other teammates doing something healthy, it helps motivate that person to want to join them.

We use Zoomerang internally for a rewards and recognition program for our staff. Any employee can go on this site and fill out a survey and make comments about great performance they witnessed by a teammate. As managers, we review this feedback once a month and then announce to the entire company who got recognized and why. Winners and those who recognized them get Gordy gift cards.

Is the company able to take advantage of new technologies like smartphones and tablets?

Almost all of our lead employees have smartphones, and we use them constantly to communicate with each other. Besides all the ways we use them internally, we also have, through our [lead management system], customer inquiries that come through the Web routed directly to our sales staff in a round-robin type fashion to ensure instant response to a customer’s questions. We have experimented with an iPad and think that this can be a useful tool for many different applications in our company.

Gordy’s was around long before the Internet became a popular consumer destination. How has the Internet changed the business? What remains the same?

It has changed our business and industry in many ways, primarily in the way customers get information about our products and services. We know that once we get a prospect to our place of business, we have a good chance of turning that prospect into a customer. The challenge that the Internet creates is getting the prospect to the dealership. We realize that if we aren’t competing (promoting our business, brands, etc.) on the Internet, then we are loosing customers to those that are. That is why we are investing money, time and energy in our Internet presence.

What hasn’t changed, at least for us, is the need to give our customers a great and fun experience every time they do business with us. Delivering exceptional customer service and helping people experience the fun in boating is what has been the driver in our business from the beginning and still is today. The Internet offers many different ways to communicate and gain knowledge, but once that person is standing at our place of business – it is their experience with us that will primarily determine their judgment on the quality of our company.

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