By Matt Sellhorst
Your sales are through the roof. Margins are up due to insane demand and stunted supply. Your service department is busier than ever, even if some parts and materials are harder to come by.
The question is, are you doing an outstanding job taking care of your clients across the entire dealership to ensure they continue as your ‘happy clients?’
Here are three areas to monitor through this unprecedented time and a few suggestions to ensure you strengthen your client relationships instead of weaken them.
1. Are you communicating expectations and conditions clearly?
For those not inside the industry, they are often surprised to hear the demand is so high for boats right now. They certainly don’t understand the disruption in the supply chain. And, have your clients ever really had correct expectations of turnarounds in your service department? Of course not.
When your clients want something, they want it now. And, for most that just isn’t a possibility right now. That’s where setting proper expectations upfront is 100% necessary in today’s environment.
Here’s a suggestion: create a video talking directly to the camera explaining the current state of the industry, your service department and your access to major units and parts.
In the video, express your frustration that even your suppliers cannot accurately provide delivery dates because of the kinks in the supply chain.
In an unemotional setting, the stage is set for what to expect in the future if they find themself in a situation where specific expectations cannot be set (or met). Now, when you have to tell a service client that you’re not sure when their warranty part will be in, its not the first time they are hearing about such a situation. They may not be happy; however they will likely be more understanding.
2. Are you taking the time to do complete deliveries (especially with your first-time boater clients)?
Boats are flying out of your showroom - and inventory - in record time. One dealer I spoke with has over 100 boats on order, and he can’t do anything but just wait for them to be delivered.
If you value long-term client relationships, I suggest doing a complete delivery with your clients, especially if they are new to boating.
Reason number one is boats are being built so quick right now that the shakedown period is often finding more issues that need to be addressed. With a full and detailed rigging and on-water delivery when possible, you will identify these issues and set proper expectations from day one.
And the newer to boating your clients are, the larger the disappointment and possibly anger at you for delivering them a boat that’s not 100% perfect.
The second reason, is there are so many more boaters on the water these days that having the knowledge and skills necessary to operate their boat safely from day one is key to their happiness and safety on the water.
Skipping this step I believe will impact their time living the boating lifestyle and potentially, your long-term success in the industry.
(Email me if you are interested in a resource for first-time boat owners to improve their skills and ability on the water, Matt@BoatDealerProfits.com)
3. Are you pro-actively communicating with your clients?
Yes, things are booming right now. You likely can’t sell more because you just can’t get product. However, in two or three years from now when the supply chain has caught up and inventory is back to traditional levels, there will be hundreds of thousands of people still looking to buy a new boat.
Many of them are your current clients and are in your contact database already. By taking the time to solidify a relationship with them now will pay off big in the coming years.
Many dealers are too busy to keep with their client retention systems (you do have one in your dealership, right?). I believe that’s a big mistake.
There will be new winners and losers that come out of this COVID era. And, their fate will partially be based on how they handle their clients and communication during this time.
The question is will you be a market share winner or loser?
CHALLENGE FOR THE MONTH: Ask yourself if you’ve been reactive or proactive in your communication strategy in the past 15 months. Then ask, where can you improve and deliver a better experience to your clients and take action on it immediately. This is a tremendous opportunity. How will you take advantage of it?
Matt Sellhorst is the founder of Boat Dealer Profits Marketing Agency and author of the only business-building book for the retail boating industry, “Boat Dealer Profits; How the SPLASH System can help you sell more boats, make more money and have more fun.” Claim your free copy at www.BoatDealerProfits.com/freebook.