2019 Top 100 Dealer of the Year: Quality Boats of Clearwater, Inc.

“Our mission is to make our customer’s boating experiences magnificent and memorable.” Now, how about some metrics to go with that mission? There was a 33.17% increase in total revenue from 2017 to 2018, they have attained double digit revenue percentage growth in 15 of the 25 last years, they earn an annual dealer CSI averaging higher than 95%, the percentage of sales from repeat customers runs above 40%, and their service customers come back at a rate that exceeds 90%. Meet Quality Boats of Clearwater, Inc., our 2019 Top 100 Dealer of the Year.

“We have been family-owned and operated since 1974, and have built relationships with generations of boaters, cruisers and fishermen who share our passion and enthusiasm for being out on the water,” said company CEO Dan Bair, who now owns and runs the business along with his brother David. “We’re trusted for our experience and knowledge of boats and the Gulf waters, our unmatched level of personalization and service, and our strong after-sales support.”

All in the family

Ted Bair, the late founder and patriarch of Quality Boats, was a road-weary sales executive with Weyerhauser Paper Company in Chicago in 1973 when he saw an ad for a marina that was for sale in Clearwater, Fla. He and his wife Linda parlayed $20,000, lots of sweat equity and a dream into an award-winning, 45-year-old business.

Although Ted famously went to work 364 days a year, taking off only for Christmas, family was always his top priority. It was through their regular Sunday morning fishing trips Dan and David experienced firsthand the incredible impact boating can have on a family.

“While we have the history and feel of a ‘mom and pop’ dealership, which is what we desire and strive for, we are consistently ranked among the top dealerships in the world for our product lines in sales and customer satisfaction index,” said Dan. “We are the longest tenured family boat dealership in the largest boating county in the largest boating state with ownership on-site every day.”

Bair says they are also very proud of their physical facilities. They have three indoor sales showrooms, a waterfront service department in Clearwater, a waterfront sales and service location in Sarasota and a seven-acre waterfront service and storage facility in Englewood.

This past year saw some changes to those physical buildings, as well as to the staff.

It was a very good year

Quality Boats remodeled their Clearwater sales showroom by adding sales offices, new guest and employee bathrooms, a larger space for the marketing department, and a new guest waiting and reception area that now features a video wall with rotating photos and videos of their products, personnel, and locations.

Two certified marine technicians, including a Yamaha Master Technician, were added to the service team to more efficiently process service work and sales deliveries.

A vice president of customer relations was hired to improve customer relations systems and efficiencies.

They hired a new sales manager who greatly improved their sales and closing percentage.

A dedicated Grady-White sales person was added to the team that has led to an increase in Grady-White sales and CSI results.

The marketing team was beefed up to produce new ideas and assist with the execution of large and comprehensive marketing plans covering four locations.

They hired and trained an additional boat delivery captain to increase boat delivery efficiencies including improving the ability to deliver more than one boat at a time.

Company data was moved from servers to the cloud resulting in greater security and adaptability.

Several transport trucks were replaced with new trucks to improve the reliability of the delivery department’s transportation of boats between locations as well as pickup and delivery of customer’s service and trade-in boats.

They moved their Sarasota sales location into Hidden Harbor Marina in March. They now have a two-story indoor showroom as well as an outdoor display for new and pre-owned boats to go along with an on-site service department. Bair said the move “has improved our visibility on the same major thoroughfare through Sarasota (Route 41), and has improved our efficiency with on-site service and delivery as well as additional space to display new and used products.”

Quality Boats also acquired additional boat slips from local marinas, municipalities and country clubs to assist with the growth of the sales and service operations.

Charting a future course

The preceding is an impressive list of recent accomplishments. Now what about future goals?

“We want to consistently earn a Top 5 ranking among the Boating Industry Top 100 Dealers in North America with the ultimate goal of attaining Dealer of the Year honors.” said Dan Bair in their Top 100 application form. They can check that box!

“We also want to continue to be among the Top 10 dealers in sales volume and CSI for our flagship boat lines Grady-White, Pursuit, Regal and Tiara.

“We want to increase our market share with each of our boat lines by at least three percent each year. We want to continue to utilize and manage the company’s cash position to minimize the need for debt. We want to be mentally and financially prepared for any future economic downturn. And we want to maintain and even increase our current average of 10+ years of tenure with our current staff of team members while adding qualified long-term team members as need and opportunity arises.”

The list goes on, way on in fact, but we’re just about out of space. And while Bair looks to the future, he also always keeps a profound appreciation for the past, and the fundamentals that have brought their family such spectacular business success. “Our careful planning and successes have paid dividends. We have never laid off an employee during any economic and business downturn. We invest our profits back into the company. Our ownership and management work alongside the rest of the team every day. We truly are a hands-on operation. We are very proud of our history, reputation and longevity. As our tagline states, “‘The difference is quality, the foundation is family.’”

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