Matching your market

The Sportsman, one of Boating Industry’s Top 100 dealers, is located in San Benito, TX, about 15 minutes from the border of Mexico. Ninety percent of the population surrounding its dealership is Hispanic.

“It’s not that we cater necessarily to that particular market – it is our market,” said Rob Youker, president of The Sportsman.

The staff at The Sportsman, which is also 90 percent Hispanic to reflect its market area, works every day to ensure its Hispanic buyers are comfortable in the dealership and are given the respect and confidence they need to buy a boat. Part of how they achieve this is to identify the varying cultures within “Hispanic.”

Youker says 20 percent of his business comes from customers who are a Mexican National population. These customers relate more to a culture of immediate respect.

“We have a saying in Spanish, ‘Estamos a sus ordenes,’ and … ‘We wait for your request’ is what that means in English,” said Youker. “We respect what you have to say, we’re going to listen to you and be respectful of you. They relate to that because that’s how they were brought up.”

The second culture of Hispanic buyers in Youker’s market is a Mexican American population, which places a heavy focus on the importance of family.

“In Spanish I would say … ‘Estan en su casa,’ and that means ‘Make yourself at home,’” said Youker. “Our greeting when [customers] walk in our door is ‘Welcome, we’re glad you’re here,’ not ‘How can we help you’ or ‘Do you need to buy a boat?’ We establish that familiar feeling of ‘You’re welcome into my house.’”

Youker says his real key to success is simple: caring from the heart. As long as dealers do this for any person who walks in their door, they will be successful.

“Our whole thrust, approach or business plan is based on that culture that we live in. I’d like to tell you that we specialize and do stuff especially for those people, but they are our people. They are our clients. We’ve learned over the years how to communicate with them very well,” said Youker.

He realizes this is much easier said than done but encourages salespeople to give it a try anyway and be less concerned about what customers will put in their pockets.

“They’re scared that won’t work for them. They’re scared that if they do that, the guy’s going to walk out the door and go buy the boat from somebody else. If you just trust that [‘I take care of you, you take care of me’ mentality] and you really mean it, you’ll be very successful,” said Youker. “It’s not so much about who walks in your door as far as their culture, feelings and background. It’s how they perceive you. That’s stuff we can control. We can do anything we want about that but you’ve got to work at it.”

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