Being a Top 100 dealer means a lot of things. It means constantly improving your business, making tough decisions and planning for the future of your brand.
What impressed me so much about Marine Sales was they were able to do all of these things and more in the span of one fiscal year, to the huge benefit of their business.
Marine Sales centered its changes in 2014 on the theme “United As One” with the goal of bringing consistency and uniformity to its two locations in Pickwick and Kentuckiana. This was a heavy and multi-faceted undertaking for the dealership.
This began with the completion of the Five-Star Marine Certified Dealer program. After a year of defining the processes, policies and procedures through MICD certification, the management team evaluated the processes, business cultures and management styles at each location and established best practices to become one dealership with a clear and consistent focus. This required regularly scheduled meetings that questions why things were done certain ways rather than accepting the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality.
To further unify the businesses, the dealership purchased the domain name marinesales.com. A unified web presence was a priority for the dealership, but each location already had two well-established websites. Marine Sales chose to invest significant capital in a primary domain name for the company, which includes a simple landing page for each location. The landing page includes the hours, contact information and a link to each location’s website.
All print advertising includes both locations under one name with contact information for both, and social media channels were merged as applicable. The dealership also updated logos and procedures on all documentation from employee evaluations to social media guidelines.
Search engine ranking efforts are focused on the individual location websites and the landing page is used for simple marketing. The Kentuckiana location domain name changed to reflect it no longer sold yachts and a 301 redirect, which is permanent, was created for the new URL.
“We felt it was extremely important to keep the current websites because of their high search rankings but we also knew we needed to establish ourselves as one dealership,” said Mike Tutor, dealer principal at Marine Sales.
Another major focus for Marine Sales was consolidating the locations’ combined inventory and brand offerings. The dealership identified profiles of its existing customers and looked for opportunities where it could expand its customer base. This meant taking on new lines and dropping others, which is never an easy decision to make.
“Instead of carrying different brands at each location, we needed to be positioned with brands that could be offered at both locations,” said Tutor. “Having a clear description of our market segment gives us the ability to sustain a competitive advantage and guarantee strategic strength at each location. It also helps us identify factors that would ultimately assist us in establishing a brand offering for the dealership.”
The dealership merged the locations’ business offices by purchasing a singular DMS system and upgrading the Internet at the Pickwick location, a process that was not as fast or smooth as anticipated but ultimately improved processes at both businesses. Management is able to monitor the success of each department by location or the dealership as a whole and brings consistency to the dealership’s reporting. The advanced reporting in the new DMS allows Marine Sales to track the same data at both locations or merge the data and collect dealership results.
“We have drill down capabilities [that] allow us to find the root cause of issues or opportunities,” said Tutor.
The software and hardware represented a significant capital investment that ultimately paid off for Marine Sales in the long term.
“We felt it was a requirement to uniting the locations and building a business that could further be expanded in the future,” said Tutor. “We are proud to say our DMS is now functioning as intended. We are seeing results. June 2015 we finally completed CRM training with the sales team. We will start managing each step of our sales process, including follow-up times and frequency of communication. We already see the potential of how we can better analyze and work more efficiently.”