2014 Top 100 Hall of Fame

Prince William Marine

Like many dealers, Top 100 Hall of Fame company Prince William Marine has faced its share of challenges over the last several years.

But one of the strengths that sets Prince William apart from other dealers – and helped it garner Dealer of the Year honors in 2010 and 2011 – is its willingness to adapt as the market changes.

“As we take time each year to look at the complete business … in 2013 we took a hard look and continued to make some changes during the year as needed,” said owner Carlton Phillips.

After disappointing sales, Prince William opted to drop pontoon boats from its offerings last year. At the same time, the opportunity to add Bayliner gave the dealership an entry-level companion to its Sea Ray products.

The company also revisited its trade-in policy to encourage more sales, most notably accepting trade-ins on brokerage boats.

“With taking selective trade-ins we were able to produce almost 10 percent more good clean trades that were later sold,” Phillips said. “As a result the used and brokerage sales increased 10 percent or better and all departments benefited as a result of the sales.”

Advertisement

Prince William stayed committed to an aggressive marketing plan in 2013 playing to the strengths of the dealership’s marina community.

“We still stood by the philosophy we have to ‘spend money to make money’ as it continues to work thru the years,” Phillips said. “The content of the marketing plan for 2013 continued to focus around the ‘boating lifestyle’ and what PWM had to offer to customers.”

As part of that plan, Prince William increased its presence at Costco Road Shows and tested the market at a local festival. The company focused more attention on local advertising with print, Internet and local cable television.  Prince William also continued with its community involvement and increased participation in several local events.

The use of Prince William’s rolling billboard also continued to be a great advertising investment. The sign is two-sided, approximately 20 feet long and 10 feet high, attached to the top of an old trailer. Ahead of the boat show and other events, an employee drives the sign around the local area.

 

MarineMax, Inc.

Though MarineMax is the inaugural member of the Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame, the dealership hasn’t plateaued. It consistently evolves and grows in the ever-changing industry and is a role model to other Top 100 dealers.

To continue its growth in 2013, MarineMax introduced the United by Water campaign, a reflection of the way the dealership encourages its customers and staff to connect on the water, furthering dedication to selling the boating lifestyle – not just boats.

This story was well marketed by the in-house MarineMax marketing team, who had its first full year in 2013. Through a new website design, extensive consumer research and an aggressive social media campaign including numerous Facebook pages and YouTube videos, the team was able to increase website traffic, brand awareness and revenue for the company.

“This strategic move was put into place to better support the 55+ MarineMax stores across the nation and build consumer awareness of MarineMax as a premium brand,” said CEO William H. McGill Jr. “[Our marketing team] continues to expand and develop [the website] to meet the needs of our current and potential customers.”

One element of this campaign was the Customer Getaway trips. The dealership sponsors boating trips for all MarineMax new boat purchasers to various destinations, rendezvous gathering and on-the water organized events that promote the pleasures of the boating lifestyle. These trips vary in length, are without cost and continue to establish the MarineMax family environment for customers.

“For us, it’s about creating a relationship with the customer,” said Josie Tucci, vice president of marketing at MarineMax. “Understanding the lifestyle and providing the customer with the right boat for their needs and their family’s needs is part of creating a lifetime relationship with them.”

In addition to its successful initiatives and events, MarineMax acquired Parker boats, which came with two new stores in Orlando and Daytona, and added Scarab jet boats, Sailfish boats and national distribution for Azimut Yachts to its product mix.

MarineMax also worked extensively with Sea Ray in 2013 on the launch of Sea Ray’s new L-Class luxury yacht brand and on Sea Ray’s Venture 370 hidden outboard model, as there was a significant interest among MarineMax’s customer base in the line.

MarineMax’s legacy within the industry has allowed it to see all of the ups and downs in a positive light. The company is seeing customers getting more and more confident and ready to purchase new boats, which is a relief after years of a difficult economy.

“They’ve always been boating, boating has always been something our customers have been passionate about, but now there’s more confidence,” Tucci said. “2013 was a year where we saw people coming out, looking at boats again, buying new boats, participating in events and feeling confident about the future.”

 

Galati Yacht Sales

Innovation in the yacht market didn’t just buoy Galati Yacht Sales through the recession: it helped the company thrive through brutal economic conditions. That ingenuity earned Galati Dealer of the Year honors in both 2007 and 2008.

Since then, the company continued to innovate and change how it did business, always focusing on its customers.

“Galati Yacht Sales was started with a philosophy handed down by Michael Galati Sr. who said, ‘take care of your customer and they will take care of you,’” said operations manager Gayle Niedenfuer. “We continue adhering to this philosophy by listening to our customers’ wants and needs. By making a specific effort to engage with our customers in the yachting lifestyle, we gain our greatest insight and knowledge for developing our marketing strategies.”

To that end, Galati pushed into new markets to follow its demographic and continued to enhance its facilities, strategies and offerings.

The biggest project for 2013 was the opening of a new international sales office in Costa Rica.

“Our Galati International Yacht Sales office in Herradura, Costa Rica, is located within the beautiful Los Suenos Resort and Marina. The resort is designed as a total recreation destination, including a large marina, retail shops, restaurants, condos, and resort hotel,” said Niedenfuer.

Creating a welcoming atmosphere at its Anna Maria, Fla., facility was another major project with construction continuing on a new seaside restaurant.

“In 2013, the construction continues at our Anna Maria facility on a new high-end waterfront restaurant,” said Niedenfuer. “Above the restaurant will be a state-of-the-art sales offices and meeting rooms for brokers and clients.”

Drumming up new clients is always a daunting task, but Galati found new avenues to consumers by finding local partners who shared similar demographics.

“In 2013, we sought out new ways to get in front of potential boaters by partnering up with a local marina, a real estate developer and another boat dealership to participate in local events,” said Niedenfuer. “We turned a marina opening and a new waterside condo development open house into weekend sales events.”

Galati is also training brokers to sell better on the road. To bring great sales stars into the fold, the company created a sales apprentice program.

The top-to-bottom program taught apprentices everything they needed to know to broker yachts and manage the office processes from out in the field.

“In late 2012, we released our first broker into action after completing our two-year apprentice program. We are proud of his performance: In 2013 he was one of our top unit producers.  In 2013 we hired another apprentice to go through the program,” said Niedenfuer.

The year 2013 also saw the development of a robust new website that saw 1.3 million new visitors in just the first four months in operation and the addition of a new boat line.

 

Legendary Marine

Legendary Marine is the latest inductee into the Hall of Fame, joining the three other members at this year’s Top 100 gala.

The 2012 and 2013 Boating Industry Top 100 Dealer of the Year continued to grow and improve over the last year, making plans for a new restaurant and other expansion at the company’s flagship Destin location.

As it had for the last several years, Legendary invested in a host of creative events and other marketing efforts. Leveraging its Dealer of the Year status through digital and print outlets was a key part of that plan from billboards to extensive signage to email blasts and custom magazines.

After holding focus group meetings with the service department’s non-management employees, managing partner Fred Pace also implemented a series of improvements to the department, beginning in late 2012. No members of the service management team were in attendance, in hopes that full disclosure and open discussion would ensue. Multiple areas for improvement were identified, documented, addressed and implemented.

For example, in the past, the service bays at Legendary Marine’s Destin location were open. Focus group feedback recommended that the bays be enclosed on three sides and to maximize efficiency, that all needed support functions be fed to each of the bays.

Focus group feedback also noted that a “clean room” would be desirable for work on highly sophisticated engine rebuilds, coolers, heat exchange work, etc.  A climate-controlled 1,000 square foot room was constructed within the existing service area, utilizing a former work bay. Insulation, air conditioning and brighter paint and lights were added. Special tools and an injector cleaner were purchased and integrated into the clean room operations.

The technicians also requested that an outside cleaner be retained so that the service technicians could spend 100 percent of their time on service work vs. general cleaning. Technicians have expressed appreciation for management support of this recommendation, which ultimately allows them to focus their efforts on revenue-generating work, and to be more productive on their jobs.

This year, Legendary Marine embarked on a new chapter, as the two-time Dealer of the Year merged with fellow Top 100 company Singleton Marine.

Along with Phil Dill Boats and SMG Wake Houston, two dealerships already owned by Singleton, the companies in September formed the new, Atlanta-based OneWater Marine Holdings, LLC. All of the locations will continue to operate under their existing names.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*