It may seem difficult to effectively train employees, reach out to new and seasoned marine customers and sell boats, but Prince William Marina, located just outside of Washington, D.C., has managed to strike a balance between all of those things and more through a number of creative initiatives.
Owned by Carlton Phillips and Bob Bagley and in business for more than 46 years, Prince William Marina strives to be a “one stop shop” for boaters, Phillips said. To that end, the marina offers slips, a boatel, storage, a complete parts and service department, play areas, a swimming pool and is in the process of adding a restaurant to its location on the Occoquan River. All repairs, except canvas work, are done in-house. If a boater has trouble and is unable to bring their boat to the dealership, Prince William’s mobile service will come to them.
Customer service is a central component of Prince William Marina. From offering basic maintenance classes to an aggressive CSI strategy, the dealership wants everyone who comes into its facility to be completely taken care of, no matter what it takes.
To aid good customer service, Prince William’s service department has an extensive service write-up process and technician process charts, written to streamline the customer experience with the department and to minimize miscommunication between the customer, technicians and other marina departments. Although it might seem like second nature to some, this consciousness of process can only help a dealership in terms of efficiency, and it shows at Prince William. In fact, the dealership’s service department averages more than 100 percent technician efficiency.
Such high efficiency might cause some to think that a dealership’s customer service index scores suffer as a result of quick turn around, but Prince William Marina manages to achieve high CSI scores as well. If a customer ever does have a complaint for their CSI card, those at Prince William hope it won’t be a complaint for long. Phillips personally oversees and responds to all CSI reports at the dealership, lending a personal touch from the top to help smooth things over with disgruntled customers and making any changes around Prince William to improve the customer experience.
The dealership has already had its customer service consistency, as well as multiple other facets of its business, tested by fire: Prince William is the only full-line Sea Ray Ambassador dealership, and the company recently added Baja to its catalog of boat brands.
Although Sea Ray’s program has designated more dealers as ambassadors since Boating Industry finished accepting Top 100 applications, Prince William was among the first dealerships to meet the standards set by the boat builder for excellence among its dealers, and the only one at press time to be a full-line ambassador. To earn this stature, Prince William first had to achieve Master Dealer status, through a third party review, and then endure further scrutiny and meet higher standards of customer satisfaction, retention and sales performance.
Hiring, training and retaining quality employees is another integral part of Prince William Marina. The dealership stresses ongoing education and encourages customers to recognize employees who they feel are doing a particularly good job. Prince William provides employee incentive programs in all departments to promote continued education, including weekly service training and online training opportunities. The dealership has also instituted an apprentice training program to attract younger technicians to the marine field.
Prince William management congratulates and rewards employees for a job well done, just as most dealerships would, but customers aren’t often given the chance to personally recognize someone they’ve worked with for doing a good job. Prince William has an employee recognition form for that purpose. Customers can use it to share how someone from the dealership provided them with exceptional service and the dealership can, in turn, recognize those individuals that are making an impact on the people who enter the dealership.
Prince William hosts a number of events to show appreciation for its customers and to give back to the community it is a part of. Phillips points to Prince William’s annual Boatload of Gifts as one of the marina’s best events, in which the gifts are distributed to the needy. The dealership also holds an annual September 11 Patriot’s Weekend, including fireworks, and a Christmas boat lighting contest, among other events.
Prince William Marina strives for excellence in every aspect of its dealership and encourages its employees and customers to do the same. The dealership’s commitment to balance and growth is all too rare. If Prince William continues down the road it is on, its future success is certain.