By Peter Granata, President, Granata Design and the Marine Design Resource Alliance — As a kid on summer vacation, there was nothing like the two weeks in which the family would trek into the far north of Wisconsin in search of the best fishing. My grandfather was the proud owner of a Johnson Sea Horse outboard engine, and although he didn't own a boat, the fishing resort that we would frequent always had a wooden round bottom boat awaiting his motor. I remember the awed anticipation of watching Grandpa lower the motor into the water, set the choke, and adjust the throttle.
Finally, He would stand and the moment was at hand. He'd give a good tug on the rope and that engine would roar into life. I remember the scent of the engine, the rickety wooden dock and the fresh pine air. We would spend hours together out on that lake either watching the shoreline go by, casting and getting tangled in the weeds, or waiting for a bobber to bob.
When we returned to the lake cabin with our catch, the older folks would rest - but not me. It would be time for me to jump into a different boat and play "pirate" with my friends. The days were all like that, the lake, the boat, friends and family. Those are the memories that produced my love of boating, memories that have lasted a lifetime.
I know each of us has our own story. We have experienced something on or around a boat that made an impression and gave us a perspective that we might have missed without our boats. Maybe now is a good time to renew the thoughts of those memories. We've been so wrapped up in the bottom line for a long time. We start to look at those unsold boats on the sales floor as "product."
But those boats ... they are more than that to your customer. Each boat holds the promise of a memory that will last a lifetime. Boats are memory-makers. Don't forget to tell your customer about your memories and build a real connection. Show them more than prices and options. Show them the memories they'll begin making. No matter how long that boat has been out on your lot waiting for someone to take it home, it holds the glorious potential to enrich many lives.
Don't give up on that aging inventory; just work a little harder to find its owner. Talk about the boat and its equipment by sharing a story or a memory instead of quoting numbers. Turn each element into a picture that forms a mosaic of memories yet to be made. Price, financing, and slick technology are important but really, these are only temporary justifications that enable him to make the purchase. His real desire is to be fulfilled by the promise of where that boat can take him, and what can be gained in the enrichment of life. Almost every father and grandfather desires to give their children and grandchildren what my grandfather gave to me.
One can dream of owning a boat, or one can live the dream. Endeavor to provide your customers with the gift of a memory because every boat holds a promise.