Editors Pick: Islamorada Boat Center

Record-breaking sales are nothing new for Islamorada Boat Center. Founded by Brian Lesko back in 1996, the Florida Keys-based dealership has done nothing but improve on its sales totals every year.

Its humble beginnings were solidified in the pre-owned business, where Lesko developed and built his success on a certified boat program. By selling quality pre-owned and consignment boats, Islamorada Boat Center (ranked 52) began attracting a growing number of customers — and manufacturers.

After just one year in business, both Angler Boats and Outboard Marine Corp. came knocking. The OMC offer was new business, but the Angler offer presented a challenge, as Lesko and his staff of three took the business from an area dealer who had sold only five units the prior year.

The team met the challenge head-on, though, selling 40 new Anglers and 60 pre-owned and consignment boats over the final 10 months the following year. That year, Islamorada Boat Center realized a growth of 25 percent. The following year was much the same, with another 25-percent gain.

As the business expanded, the growing team developed a strategic continuing growth plan. Lesko’s original vision of putting the customers’ needs first remained intact, and Islamorada Boat Center added four boat lines and two engine lines to round out its product mix over the next few years.

Even today, some seven years, and six-times the revenue later, the 13-member team at Islamorada Boat Center remains focused on one thing: pleasing customers. While other dealers in the Keys may have taken business as a given, Lesko wrote in Islamorada Boat Center’s Top 100 application that it took nothing for granted.

With numerous accolades from its manufacturer suppliers — including reigning Top Dealer for Angler for four consecutive years — the relative new kid on the block in the Keys continues its growth right through 2005. And to no one’s surprise, word of mouth has become the company’s No. 1 advertising program, after all, customers are treated like royalty.

Every employee at Islamorada Boat Center meets and greets its customers. And after a boat is purchased, the company follows up with a thank-you card, discount coupons for additional products, more discounts for repeat customers, and a gift package that includes a registration holder and keychain bobbers and T-shirts.

Even before the customers arrive, however, they’re already being treated well. Each and every boat is tested before they take delivery. It’s then tested again when the customer is present.

To ease their transition from being a new boat customer to becoming a service customer, an introduction to the service manager is made at the time of boat delivery. And the high-quality treatment continues in the service department, where its 80-percent efficiency rating gets customers’ boats in and out quickly. The company also takes pride in making sure that every boat leaves its facility cleaner than when it came in, something that definitely keeps the customers coming back.

Happy customers begin with happy employees, though, and Lesko says plainly: “a qualified employee is a happy employee.” He creates a successful atmosphere by placing the right employee in the right position, and he knows that constant education and training is what gives the business its competitive edge.

When you’re turning in sales numbers like Islamorada Boat Center has, it’s more likely that your competition is living on the edge.

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