Top 100 Profile: Galati Yacht Sales, No. 2

The Galati Brothers (Joe, Carmine, Mike and Chris) may not read Robert Frost, but they know all about the road less traveled. In fact, they’ve built a few of their own.
The executives at the helm of this $200-million Florida yacht dealership see no limits when it comes to customer satisfaction. It isn’t their numbers — though with an average CSI of 95, their numbers are good. It’s their philosophy: if there’s a gap in their customers’ boating experience — no matter where it is along the supply chain — they’ll find a way to fill it, something that has led the company to places no other U.S. dealer has been.
In some cases, that’s literal. When customers have problems with their boats, Galati has been known to fly technicians as far away as Central America to fix them.
“The Galati’s learned from an early age that it is much easier and more profitable to keep a customer than get a new one,” said one company executive.
But what really stands out is the dealer’s willingness to turn outward, entering new industries to better serve its customers. To date, Galati has launched a film company and a marina management firm, and it’s exploring the creation of a captain’s school.
The idea for EPIRB Films arose from the dealer’s observation that the owner’s manuals provided by boat builders weren’t user friendly and the massive amount of information provided during the orientation process was impossible to memorize, often leaving boat buyers at a loss early on in their ownership experience. EPIRB Films creates interactive DVDs that walk owners through the operation of their yacht. Each section of the DVD consists of an audio/video presentation given by a Galati employee on their yacht. Not only is Galati marketing this concept to boat builders, it’s also looking at ways these DVDs can be adapted to serve as training tools for service technicians.
In addition, Galati has launched a marina management company to gain control of boat slips for its customers and is looking to create a captain’s school to help address a shortage of qualified skippers in the Florida market.
Galati’s customer satisfaction philosophy has also led the company to turn inward, refining its processes to a level of excellence few can match. One example is its Single Point Make Ready location, established several years ago. Prior to that, the dealership often found that preparation of new yachts for sale was competing with its service business. By creating one location with its own staff of technicians where all yachts are assembled, rigged and prepped, the company was able to offer better, faster service for its current customers.
It all comes back to doing what’s right for the customer, something that resonates with its employees. Galati hasn’t been affected by the shortage of qualified technicians, for example, which it attributes, in part, to its commitment to its long-term focus on profitability.
“This is extremely important to our techs,” Carmine explained. “Many of them tell stories of their experience working for other dealers where they were stuck in the middle between an unhappy customer and a dealership … taking a short-run/profit maximization view of the situation.”
Employees also appreciate the investment the company makes in training them and providing them with up-to-date tools, equipment and facilities. Education has become an increasing center of focus for the dealership, which is currently in the process of creating a customized management training program and Standard Operating Procedures for each of its positions. Galati invested about $120,000 in training in 2005 and expects to have spent more this year, when all is said and done.
These types of bold investments may ring of corporate America to some. But Galati Yacht Sales is a family business in the best sense of the word. It has grown from the one tornado-devastated marina Michael Galati Sr. purchased in 1970 to an eight-location yacht sales and service powerhouse, managed by his five children.
Despite the size of the company and the senior executive status of the family members, the siblings often interact with customers through the sales and service process, and at the long list of fishing tournaments the company’s three boats compete in. Many boat buyers have experienced the Galati family’s passion for boating, fishing and their customers first-hand.
“We stay very close to our customers to ensure that they have a good experience and listen to any concerns or problems they might be encountering,” Joe stated. “This ‘listening’ is the source of ideas and new initiatives that Galati pursues. If we want to continue to grow, we know these concerns must be resolved, regardless of whose responsibility it might be to solve them.”

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