Dealers share approaches for bettering the bottom line
Top dealers understand the importance of cultivating new revenue.
Planning is critical, and the path to a better bottom line often begins when the current boating season starts to wind down and thoughts turn to the year ahead.
A number of Boating Industry’s 2017 Top 20 dealers took unique approaches when it came to crafting new revenue streams.
Keeping a sharp focus on improving F&I, developing plans to renovate the pro shop, opening up a satellite office, making other facility improvements, or spiffing up special promotions space all have the potential of generating future revenue.
Pride Marine Group, based in Bracebridge Ontario, Canada, procured facilities to provide heated indoor storage, filling the building to capacity and increasing winter and spring work for its Lake of Bays location for the boats in storage at this site.
The move allowed Pride Marine to penetrate a new market for boat sales and service. During the 2016 summer season, Pride Marine opened a satellite sales office and fuel dock in the heart of Huntsville, which increased outdoor showroom traffic and generated more exposure to potential customers.
Action Water Sports in Hudsonville, Mich., developed a boat winterization program that features an advance twist. A free “Summarization” push helps guarantee customers return in the spring, allowing the dealership to address dead batteries or other issues that may occur while the boat sites dormant during the winter months.
“Our winterization customers get a ‘$20 Thank You’ gift card in the fall after they’ve serviced with us,” said Kevin Zoodsma, marketing manager. “The gift card must be used before the Christmas season so it gets customers back in the door even though their boat is sitting in a storage building and helps move year end product.”
Jim Armington at Buckeye Sports Center in Peninsula, Ohio, aggressively promotes an “Easy Button” concept to customers by offering accessory advisor, service pickup and delivery, mobile service and boat storage. Those improvements contributed to a significant increase in boat and accessory sales in 2016.
“We want to make owning a boat as easy as possible,” he said. “So, we handle all of their boating, accessory, titling, licensing, financing, service, and storage needs. That creates the ‘Easy Button’ that so many of today’s consumers are seeking.”
Seventy percent of West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Marine Connection’s customers requested Garmin or Simrad electronics products be installed on their new boats. Due to the popularity and demand among buyers, Marine Connection enrolled in a training and certification program in late 2015, certifying a mechanic from every store for both brands. “Beginning in 2016, we were able to access all the latest software updates for inventory units, install these products with exact factory specifications, and enjoy ongoing support,” said Owner Danny Goldenberg. “Our ability to capture rebates, warranty claim income and unit registration funds has had a positive impact on bottom-line revenue.”
And, as sales volume grew in Marine Connection’s Vero Beach store, the demand for service followed. “We updated the service department with a larger service counter which allowed us to better manage the volume of paperwork and parts in process,” Goldenberg said. “With the larger counter, the customers see a more organized, efficient workspace. We now accommodate three customers at a time versus one.”
Russell Marine in Alexander City, Ala. changed the look and feel of its pro shops, and the move paid off with additional sales and a double-digit increase in revenue.
“We created a destination in our marinas that is fun for our customers,” said President Dave Commander. “We added a Sea Doo shop at our Kowaliga location which allowed us to become a premier dealer with Sea Doo, giving us additional back-end money. We also added a stereo area at our Ridge Marina allowing us to have music in the store with additional after-market sales.”
Finally, continuing to invest time, energy, and resources to improve the F&I department continues to represent a huge opportunity for additional income for South Portland, Maine-based Port Harbor Marine. President Rob Soucy introduced a complete care program and finalized the dealership’s menu program process.
“This program has proven to be a nice addition to our product offerings, and has been a very good cash-generating initiative,” Soucy said.