Marketing strategies for growth: Profit through protection – doing it right

Myril Shaw Dealer Profit Services
By Myril Shaw

Are you offering all of your customers all of the optional protective products you can?

If the answer is yes, congratulations…you are part of a pretty small club.  If the answer is no, you are probably leaving money on the table.

Going back to the “yes” answer, are you making sure your customers know they have been offered everything? If the answer there is “no,” you could still be at risk.

Let’s start at the beginning. What are optional protective products?

Your unit comes with certain warranties and other protections direct from the manufacturer. These can include engine warranties for a specified term, accessory warranties, “stem-to-stern” or “full vehicle” coverages.

Notwithstanding the manufacturer’s products, there is a lot of room to give your customers even greater peace-of-mind. These optional protective product offerings may include things such as:

  • Pre-paid maintenance (great for customer retention)
  • Engine warranties with terms or coverages exceeding those of the manufacturer (note that these are typically transferable and so enhance the value of the unit on resale)
  • Accessory warranties with terms or coverages which exceed those of the manufacturer and/or non-manufacturer installed options
  • Interior and exterior protection products to ensure that your customer’s unit remains looking like it did the day they purchased it
  • Tire and road hazard protection which make sure that your customer is not stuck on the side of the road
  • GAP Waiver to protect the customer against out of pocket loss payments in the event that their unit is totaled
  • And more…

In some stores, there is a reluctance to offer these products. Some believe that they are a “rip-off,” others think they are just too much trouble. They are neither. Your customers are buying a lifestyle and all of these products are designed to protect and enhance that lifestyle. And they do, in every case.

Once you start doing this, you do incur certain responsibilities, and yes, liabilities. You MUST guarantee that every customer you sell to gets to hear about every (relevant) optional protective product every time (clearly, cash buyers don’t get offered GAP and people buying a boat with a Mercury engine don’t get offered a Yamaha warranty). 

Cash buyers must be offered all the relevant products.  Finance buyers must be offered everything – despite the fact that the amount of these products that can be financed may be limited (in which case, they could be added to the down payment).

Failure to offer everything to everyone could result in significant consequences. Customers who were not offered available products and who subsequently need them may hold the dealer liable…and they will be right, every time.

There is straightforward protection though. It is called the “Sign to Decline” or the “Optional Protective Products Disclosure.” During closing/delivery, the customer signs a document stating they have been offered and chosen to decline these products.

Two things can happen when the customer is presented with this document. They can sign and you are protected. Or they can ask questions, presenting another opportunity to present – and sell.

Make more money and sleep better at night. How good does that sound? 

Myril Shaw is the chief operating officer of Dealer Profit Services, a member of the Boating Industry Top 100 Leadership Alliance. He may be reached at

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