For our April issue, I wrote an article on customer service and creating raving fans.
One of the people I talked to for that article was Johnny Padgett at Modern Marine, which has won Chaparral's No. 1 CSI award for the last nine years.
During that interview, something we talked about that didn't make into the article was his "Driveway Sales Event." If you're a Chaparral dealer, you're almost certainly aware of this as it has been discussed at dealer meetings, but if not, it's worth reading about one of Padgett's creative ways to sell boats for his Nashville dealership.
Let's say a potential buyer comes into the dealership, but wants to get their spouse's opinion or maybe just isn't ready to make a decision yet. If Padgett feels like they are a strong prospect, he will take a boat to them, drop it off in the driveway with a sign addressed to the prospect, a wife, the kids -- whatever he feels appropriate. It's a tactic he has been using for years.
"Well-here I come … I’ll pull up in your driveway around dinner time after you’ve had a hard day at work and need a surprise," Padgett says. "Your family will come outside and see the new boat and the sign telling about the 'Driveway Surprise' – your friends will see the boat and come over to see it and then you’ll have all the time you need to sit in it and sell yourself on the excitement of owning it. I’ll leave my cell number on the sign – then, you call me and I’ll come get the boat – and hopefully your deposit and the fun begins!"
The boat is not ready to go, of course, and is designed to be something they can look at and whet their appetite for ownership.
Padgett does this about 10 times a year and has an 82 percent ratio of closing deals for boats he drops off.