There may not be a dealer doing more to shake up the marine industry than Singleton Marine and its parent company, OneWater Marine Holdings.
Since the beginning of 2014, the company has made big changes that will affect the company – and the industry – for years to come.
First, in the fall of 2014, it partnered with two-time Boating Industry Top 100 Dealer of the Year Legendary Marine to form OneWater Marine Holdings. This year, OneWater acquired three more dealers: American Boat Brokers, Captain’s Choice Marine and Rambo Marine.
“We recognized the opportunity to consolidate a host of smaller dealerships into a single entity and saw the vision for becoming a megadealer,” said Evan Davis, director of marketing. “We recognized that the perfect time for this to happen was right now.”
While the 2015 Top 100 is technically about the achievements of the recognized companies in 2014, it is difficult to ignore what Singleton has done since then as well. They are achievements that make Singleton and OneWater key companies to watch in the Top 100 going forward.
Most importantly, Singleton laid the groundwork for the new model throughout 2014, recruiting partners and working with banks and lenders.
(These moves also prompted Boating Industry to name CEO Austin Singleton a 2015 Mover & Shaker. You can read more about that in the October issue or at BoatingIndustry.com.)
The OneWater model is designed to give dealers an exit strategy that allows them to stay involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, while eliminating the worst aspects of ownership.
“We lift the burden of the majority of the things in the business that they don’t like today,” Singleton said in that October interview. “Most of your entrepreneurial boat dealers love the customer interaction, the excitement of being a dealer, seeing people enjoy the water. They don’t like dealing with floorplan companies, co-op, HR, receivables and payables – all the stuff that’s come over time that makes doing business harder.”
Singleton also opened several new locations and renovated existing ones as it continued on the growth trajectory it has been on for the last several years. That was accomplished without hurting the financial results, with an 11 percent increase in sales and bottom-line year-over-year growth of 48 percent from the company’s record-setting 2013.
“For any organization to accomplish so much in such a short period of time requires a massive vision, a monumental amount of hard work, and a team of people focused solely on the mission at hand,” Davis said. “I’m proud to say that in 2014, we were just getting started!”
But the innovation at Singleton is about more than growth. The dealership has taken a creative approach to all aspects of the business, especially in marketing.
For example, customer research showed that Singleton customers were twice as likely as the average consumer to listen to Pandora Internet Radio. To take advantage of that, Singleton ran a mobile-centric campaign targeting 1.9 million unique Pandora users in 14 counties.
The company built two mobile microsites, MeltMyStressAway.com and UltimateHookyDay.com, to capture leads and drive attendance to Singleton’s “Ultimate Hooky Day.” The event was a chance for customers to take wakeboard and wake surfing lessons on the water, while seeing a wide variety of boats in action. Cobalt, Regal and Harris pontoon boats were all available for test drive.
The campaign captured 24,087 unique visitors and 131 sales leads. Forty-four of the 120 attendees at the Ultimate Hooky Day cited Pandora as how they heard about it. The promotion resulted in $2.8 million in sales, with a campaign cost of only $24,000.
“In all, we had over 120 people show up on a rainy Tuesday for the event,” Davis said. “The day is still one of the single-biggest sale days in our wake shop since its inception.”