2012 Best in Class: Best service department

Gordy’s Lakefront Marine
Fontana, Wis.

Boat sales can be fickle, and for this reason many have increased focus on their service department. At Gordy’s Lakefront Marine, service was nearly its only business for most of its first 40 years of existence.

Before it added boat sales in 1997, the revenue centers at Fontana, Wis.-based Gordy’s were service, storage and boat rentals. Today, it is a full-service, perennial standout in our Top 100 program, but it has not forgotten its roots.

“Service is still the backbone of our company,” says Rallee Chupich, service manager at Gordy’s.

In 2011, Gordy’s 17-member service team recorded a 92-percent efficiency, a number that is even more impressive when you consider all technicians are also responsible for repairing its vast rental fleet, which is non-billable.

As the only service team with a lakefront facility open seven days a week on Lake Geneva, Gordy’s does not take the responsibility to keep families boating lightly. A current customer or not, the dealership quickly responds to any emergency and prides itself in saying “yes” to any reasonable request.

“We truly understand that the boating season in the Midwest is short and that families sometimes have only a few weekends to enjoy boating together,” Chupich says.

Gordy’s effort is part of what Chupich describes as being a good neighbor. It is not to add to its service client base, since all 117,000 square feet of storage space at its vast Cobalt Farms location is occupied.

And for its own customers, Gordy’s adds the following extra touches to show their appreciation: same-day service for minor repairs and three-to-five-day fixes for major repairs; loaner boats; and free pick up, delivery and detailing.

Gordy’s also captures the excitement of spring for its customers by sending them a picture of their boat when it is delivered for the season. Chupich says such small gestures more often seen in sales are equally effective in service.

“It is just as important in service, and people love looking at their boat, like they would their dog, children or house,” she says.

The personal touches with customers are part of a dealership-wide plan aimed to make each customer feel a part of the Gordy’s family. This focus on the customer distinguishes the dealership and its various offerings.

“It is more than just sales, or service, or a restaurant; it really is a culture,” Chupich says. “The different experiences compliment each other, and that is what makes us unique.”

The investment has paid off for Gordy’s, which has been a Cobalt Platinum Dealer since it began selling the brand in 1997 with a CSI score of 97 or better each year. In 2011, its CSI score for Cobalt, the only boat brand it sells, was 99.12, and for the service team specifically, its Mercury Mercruiser CSI was 100 percent.

It takes more than a smile to make a happy customer, however, and Gordy’s ensures its technicians are beyond competent through a minimum of seven training opportunities annually.

“We are lifelong learners, and we are all about evolving and improving, learning from other people,” Chupich says. “And these guys take a real interest in their personal jobs, as well as their department.”

Chupich says each technician is given specific goals for the upcoming year, as well as issued bonuses related to billable hours throughout the year. Technicians also receive a dealership-wide bonus if Gordy’s is again a Cobalt Platinum dealer.

Each process, offering and incentive adheres to Gordy’s fundamental culture based on urgency and a willingness to help the customer. The focus is apparent in the company’s core strategies, where customer satisfaction is Gordy’s primary objective, sitting atop year-end profit, department goals and planned business initiatives.

“We want a family-work balance, but our technicians also know they may have to work certain Saturdays, come in early and stay in late. And they are more than willing to do it,” Chupich says.

Employee satisfaction is also a top-line goal at Gordy’s, and this is evident in their gestures of appreciation for such willingness. These efforts include numerous recognition events, tickets to sold-out sporting events, gift certificates and an employee-driven rewards and recognition program.

“Great businesses have great people, and we are fortunate to have a qualified, service-minded, Gordy’s-obsessed, guest-maniac spirit throughout the company,” Chupich says. “We view them, like our customers, as being members of our extended family.”
That mindset, combined with a skilled staff, has made Gordy’s service department an indispensible lifelong partner to Lake Geneva boaters.


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