MarineMax prides itself in delivering boating. Not boats. Boating. There’s a big difference: big enough that a public company of its size could easily lose sight of it.
But not MarineMax. The company’s slogan —Delivering the Boating Dream — proclaims it and serves as a constant reminder for the company’s employees, not to mention every single one of its customers.
In fact, everything in MarineMax’s entire culture serves as a reminder of this mission. It demands it. It enforces it. And the company’s systems and processes guarantee it.
This mission has worked its way into every customer interaction, whether in person, on the phone or via the Web. And it has created a plethora of opportunities for both those customers and the employees who serve them.
In fact, MarineMax has long believed in the power of personal and professional development of its employees. In 1989, long before the term “corporate university” became vogue, MarineMax Universtiy made its debut and has since gone online to include more than 130 modules. Not only is each course offered in a variety of mediums — CD-ROM video, streaming audio, etc. — to maximize the stickiness of each course, but they are also mapped to the career path of each employee.
Ensuring each employee has an outlined path to success is equally important to MarineMax as is ensuring that the company has sufficient bench strength for future growth. To that end, it is mandatory for every employee to identify a specific individual capable of assuming his or her duties on a full-time basis. The performance reviews and fully mapped out development plans mesh the individual’s desired growth with the potential future staffing needs of the company.
Admittedly, MarineMax’s training budget exceeds the total revenue that many marine dealers realize in a single year. It is tempting for many companies to simply pad the bottom line and offer little to no training at all. But such a short-sighted approach is not the MarineMax way.
In addition to the more formal, training curriculum, MarineMax also puts employees through on-site product training with vendors, “clinics” instructed by service managers, and its on-water training called “Passion Days.”
This program presents an incredible opportunity for sales people, who actually live onboard a boat for four days, cruising, cleaning and using the products they sell, while manufacturer reps come aboard and train them on specific topics. Eleven Passion Days were held this year, with as many as 25-35 sales people attending at a time.
In addition to unsurpassed employee development opportunites, MarineMax is a firm believer in establishing benchmarks and best practices among its 71 stores and then sharing that data companywide. The internal 20 group-style program establishes minimum standards for various business components. The numbers are compared and discussed in a variety of forums including the company’s strategy committee (CEO, CFO, District presidents, VP marketing, VP team development and VP products), proprietor’s club (store managers and other management) and financial calls (store and functional managers).
An insightful eye picks up on the use of the title VP team development. From the use of this title (many would simply call it human resources) to CEO Bill McGill’s continual use of the phrase “It’s all about the people,” MarineMax is focused on developing its team. In fact, if you stay abreast of the latest and greatest business books on the market, you’ll find a case study on MarineMax’s integration of the concept of topgrading.
The book of the same title profiles how MarineMax outperformed the stock market by an incredible rate from the time it began topgrading — the practice of packing your organization with A players — through nearly a three-year span. McGill’s credit for the success? “We’re a people-oriented company,” he told the author, “equally passionate about helping our customers live their boating dreams and sincere in helping our own people progress from B/C [players] to A.”
Rest assured, however, that customers see just as many, if not more, rewards.
It begins with the Web, where a growing percentage of customers are finding MarineMax. There, customers find third-party reviews and videos of the products that interest them, and a new eBusiness team has been established to make quick and direct contact with those customers.
At the time of purchase, there are lengthy boat orientations. There’s the North/South Connection program that allows a customer to buy his or her boat in Florida during the winter, and MarineMax will ship it to their northern home port for the summer. There’s also the magazine Lifestyles that the company publishes for its customers.
All that, without taking into consideration the improved shopping and buying experience that the MarineMax training programs nearly guarantee.
And to top it all off, consider “Getaways,” the company’s self-proclaimed “most important marketing strategy” where boat owners come together to form a family with one common goal: having fun on the water.
There’s no question, MarineMax lives up to its mission.