Parker Boat Co.

As president and owner of one of the oldest family-owned boat dealerships in the country, Roy Parker, Jr., has put his business in a position where he could step back and let it run on the momentum it has built over the last 81 years.
He could spend his days at Disney World, rather than his company’s Parker Boats of Orlando location, or go into year-round spring-break mode instead of spending time at Parker Boats of Daytona, the new sales and service facility his business opened last year.
But the hands-off approach doesn’t suit Parker, or his dealership. The company’s mission statement is “To bring joy and happiness into the lives of our customers,” and providing those people with the products and services that allow them to get out on the water with family and friends is a good start. However, Parker Boat Co. goes much further, literally, in fulfilling that goal.
For more than 30 years, Roy Parker, Jr., has personally led a week-long trip to the Bahamas each summer and has, by his count, taken more then 1,000 customers and 600 boats along during that time. The dealership makes all the bookings and necessary arrangements for everyone who participates and brings technicians and spare parts with, as well, in case there are any problems.
The fleet cruises the Abacos island chain, and some boaters even continue the voyage for a second week as Parker then guides them through the Exumas. The trip is one of more than 30 events the dealership sponsors, organizes and hosts for its customers every year to provide them ongoing opportunities to use their boats.
“By offering more and better boating events than our competitors each year, we achieve our goal of helping our customers enjoy their boats, and secure customer loyalty at the same time,” Parker says. “In these market conditions, we have to keep our customers boating, or we are going to lose them.”
The bond that Parker Boat Co., has been able to forge with its customers through the events it holds is obvious in the amount of repeat business (about 60 percent) which the dealership enjoys. And the positive word-of-mouth “advertising” these trips generate all but guarantees any friends or relatives of Parker Boat Co. customers who are looking for a boat will have the dealership at the top of their minds when that search begins.
“These trips serve as a strong selling tool for people shopping for boats,” Parker says, “and I believe they set us apart from other dealerships.”
But the events are more than a sales tool. Roy Parker, Jr., and his sons Brad, who is general manager of the Daytona location, and Bob, who is brokerage manager and a sales executive at the Orlando location, each bring their wives and families along on the Bahamas trips. Customers feel like they’re part of a family outing because they are, and it’s that sense of family that is at the heart of Parker Boat Co.’s success.
“Many of our customers have such a good time on the Bahamas trip that they come back with me to the Bahamas year after year,” Parker says. “Over the years, many of them have become our dear friends, which makes this trip not a busman’s holiday but, instead, the highlight of our year. Of course, I’m delighted when they decide they need more space onboard for the trip and trade up to a bigger boat.”
Events are an important part of Parker Boat Co.’s success, but top-notch facilities and business practices are the foundation on which that success is built. Parker Boat Co. was a founding member of Spader 20 Group 101 in 1977, is a Marine Industry Certified Dealer at both of its locations and has been a Sea Ray Ambassador Dealer since 2005. In order to achieve that designation each year, the dealership has had to meet more than 110 customer-care and operational standards as well as 11 more criteria measuring overall performance quality, outstanding customer satisfaction and a commitment to delivering a superior customer experience. An independent consultant provides an annual on-site inspection every year during the recertification process to make sure those standards are being strictly adhered to.
The dealership’s service department is another area of strength, annually operating at above 100-percent efficiency and the company uses its promotions for the department wisely, ensuring a steady flow of business throughout the year.
With the systems and staff it has in place and more than eight decades of experience to build on, Parker Boat Co. is about as established as a business can get in any industry. But Roy Parker, Jr., isn’t about to sit back and let his company drift.
“It is hard to judge the wind by watching the trees moving outside your window,” Parker says. “You have to stand in it and feel it in order to truly experience it. That is how I feel about Parker Boat Co. … If I was going to buy a boat, this is the only place I would want to do it – and I work here!”

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