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The Next Generation: Lauren Woodard-Splatt

This interview is part of the article The Next Generation.

Lauren Woodard-Splatt – General Manager
Woodard Marine, Hydeville, Vt.

What do you see as the industry's biggest challenge?

To me the biggest challenge as a whole is getting new boaters into boating. I feel that once you are into boating, you are “hooked for life.” But I feel the immediate challenge is how do we get the new generation of boaters “hooked.”

What makes you optimistic about the industry?

It seems the industry is getting less hesitant to talk to each other for advice and help. In the past it seemed the dealerships and manufacturers were afraid to compare notes, because no one wanted the “competition” to get a leg up on us.

How can we attract more young people to the industry as boaters? 

I scratch my head on this question all the time. It seems the younger generation is price driven and used to getting everything within seconds at their fingertips.

I think the connection to getting more young people as boaters is to show the value of boating, through family, friends and heritage. If we can keep the boating lifestyle and memories of a great childhood through boating, when these youngsters grown up they will want to share and experience these memories and values that they remember growing up.

What do you think the younger generation brings to the industry?

We bring energy and a new sense of marketing and communicating. We need all the generations to be present in the industry to make it tick, and we always will.

How did you get involved in boating?

I’m pretty sure I was born in a boat. I grew up in our familyowned and operated business since I can remember. During my teen years I spent my summers working at the family dealership helping with the day-to-day activities. In 2001 I graduated from college with a degree in pre-medicine. At this same time, one of our dealership’s business owners (my uncle) was diagnosed with cancer. At that time, I put my medical school on hold and moved back to help out the dealership and family.

I moved through all the ranks at the dealership for the next nine years and learned every detail I could about the business, engines, boats, etc. As of 2010, my husband and I manage the dealership together.

Why did you join the YLAC?

I remember our first meeting, and we all seemed to join for the same reason: To show that the young generation has a lot to learn from our elders. But also it is to show that we are ready to step out and show the industry that there are young people ready to take action and make this industry stronger with all age demographics.

What can boat builders and other manufacturers do to help dealers be more successful?

Better dealer sites for parts, warranty, and more need to be built. To have a site that is not on the new web platforms can be hard to manage. We carry seven different boat brands and three engine brands in our dealership. It is very difficult training our staff on 10 different dealers’ websites.

We have to learn 10 different warranty processes, parts ordering, invoicing, schooling, etc. In my dream world all the manufacturers would work together and make one dealer site platform that works identically across all manufacturers. I think it would streamline the questions to the manufacturers from dealers and vice versa.

How has your perspective as a young leader helped you improve your company?

Being a young leader has helped bring our dealership up to date with legislative, EPA, manufacturer issues and concerns. Also, it is nice to have the other members of our YLAC group all working toward the same goals, a better industry.

To have these other dealers’ ideas and support is a great tool. At any time, I know that I could call any of the dealerships on the YLAC or MRAA community and they will help me get to the next level.

 

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