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Improve your consumers’ confidence

By By Tom Kaiser

Making a big purchase can be scary, even if you’ve got the wherewithal to splurge. Whether it’s a motorcycle, boat or RV, many customers wonder if the initial purchase price is just the tip of the iceberg when insurance, storage, maintenance and fuel costs are factored in.

How can you put your customers at ease and get them to focus on the excitement of boating, rather than the costs or risks? Focus on the family fun time they are buying, throw in a reminder of some other costs (lake cabins aren’t cheap, nor are annual treks to Disney World), and make sure you are offering all customers a service plan at the time of purchase that reassures them that they are covered no matter what happens.

Talking to dealerships that focus on service plans, they cite increased loyalty, growing revenue, happier customers and improved CSI scores. Every person at the dealership should talk about the service plan, and discuss it as if its inclusion in a unit purchase is inevitable. Not everyone will take the bait, but many have been surprised by the take rate of service plans.

Sure, some people have enough cash that such worries are mere background noise. And there are a lot of these very well-heeled folks, judging by sales of Teslas, multi-million dollar condos and two-story pontoons with their own waterslides. But the more down-to-Earth among us want confidence that the major purchase of a boat isn’t the financial equivalent of asking Cousin Eddie to move in to your place.

Another resource of your customers’ to always consider is time. Think of the time and effort that goes into loading up a boat and bringing it in for service. Dealerships that value the time of their customers make sure that one visit to the service shop won’t be needlessly repeated anytime soon.

Do a walk-around of the boat with its owner. Talk about how and where they use it, touch anything that catches your eye, find out what’s important to them. Maybe that scratch on the paint has been bugging them for years. Maybe they never figured out how to use a given feature.

Upselling can be a courtesy — not an annoying sales pitch — that shows your attention to detail in terms of the boat and respectful consideration of its owner. This time together is where customers bond with your staff.

I’m a high-anxiety customer. While I fear the cost of the unknown like anybody working for the money, I’m put at ease by shops that show they’re truly looking out for me — and communicate that mindset so I can relax and focus on “the big show.”

You better have a show and a service plan, or people like me will likely tune out and go elsewhere.

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