By Chris Kourtakis, Owner, H20 Limos Marine Service — The October issue of Boating Industry magazine featured a story on preventing a blood bath. If we are to have a blood bath over the winter, will the dealers that survive have the resources to take care of the customers from the dealerships that went out of business? Or will customers be put on an infinite waiting list to have their boat serviced?
Recently, Crocker’s Marine announced that after 40 years, they have closed their doors. The real question now becomes, who will service their existing customers? Are the local dealers certified, adequately staffed and equipped to handle the increase in business? Will Crocker’s old customers get the attention and level of service that they deserve or will they be put on an endless waiting list because another local dealer is barely hanging on, has cut their staff or does not have access to parts until weeks later.
I have spoken with several consumers who are frustrated that they cannot get the needed parts for the brand new boat. With many suppliers going out of business and boat builders furloughed until further notice, the consumer is often put on hold and a bad impression is left.
It is up to all of us to help out each other in any way that we can. We have to ensure that the consumer is our first priority, as our industry cannot afford to lose any more customers. This down turn will come back. When it does, who will be prepared and have the skills and resources to step forward?
Many dealers and manufacturers are not willing to invest in the future of their companies now. Will they exist in three months, six months or a year if they are not taking the appropriate measures to ensure their company’s livelihood?
There is no better time for boat builders to be designing new models, acquiring tooling and preparing to deliver a better and more technologically advanced product to the consumer. And there is no better time for a dealer to be properly training their support staff and getting their technicians certified (not only in the products they sell or currently service, but other possible revenue generators). If a dealership has not already, they need to get involved in the marine certification program and certification process, invest in lead generation programs and software management programs, and find ways to strategically promote and communicate with their present and prospective clients.
The devices are readily available. It is up to us to embrace them. The dealerships and the boat manufacturers that adopt these best practices will flourish. Some people believe our industry is shrinking due to circumstances out of our control. Let’s ensure that we don’t neglect a consumer because we could not provide them with the products and services they expect and deserve.