By David Gee
FB Marine Group
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Teamwork makes the dream work! If you spend much time around Kim Sweers, or her husband Randy, who together co-own and operate Florida’s FB Marine Group, you will no doubt hear that statement a lot. You can see the slogan on their website and sprinkled around their dealership locations. It’s also apparent, though, they put it into action when it comes to the way they treat their employees – and customers.
“By having a happier team, we have found that our customers are then treated with exceptional service,” says Kim, who is the managing partner. “We have a genuine interest in who we call our ‘internal customers,’ or our team members. We get to know our employees and their families, their hobbies, and life outside work. We celebrate their life's victories, both personally and professionally, every day at our dealership. We like to say we don't have job openings at FB Marine; we have career opportunities for those who want to be part of a fantastic work family.”
Kim, who is the self-described “Boat Boss,” and has a podcast by the same name, says they have taught team members the rules of engagement for customer service excellence.
“We preach that personal success leads to professional success. So we encourage them to focus on their personal success at home by waking up early, spending at least 20 minutes a day exercising, listening to music and having an attitude of gratitude.”
The company also spends six figures annually on training, and strongly believes in advanced training for all of its team members, including top management, middle managers, technicians, sales, and administration personnel.
“Annual training is mandatory for all technicians, and many of them have received advanced training and certifications through various organizations, including Mercury, Yamaha, Volvo Penta, Formula, ABYC, and OSHA,” stated Kim in their Top 100 application. “Our salespeople new to the industry are also required to take the Yacht Broker Institute's ‘Fundamentals & Essentials For Yacht Brokers’ course. Also, they must attend annual IYBA training and weekly in-house training at our weekly company meetings.”
Randy Sweers, who has a long history in offshore powerboat racing, started FB Marine Group in 1994 as a brokerage specializing in high-performance boats. Kim eventually left the corporate world to join her husband. They then grew the boat sales business to a full dealership model, offering clients new/pre-owned sales, service, financing, parts, electronics repair and installation, fiberglass and paint repair, custom engine builds and rigging. They also offer yacht management services and have a government services division that has long-term service contracts with numerous agencies.
In fact, because they service harbor patrol boats and other government-owned marine vessels, FB Marine Group was deemed an essential business and remained operational during the initial coronavirus shutdown, with administrative and sales employees working remotely. Partly as a result of that, they were able to keep all of their 30 employees on payroll even as sales took a hit.
It also helped that at the start of 2019, FB Marine Group grew their charter division to include 27 vessels ranging from 35-150ft. They offer a wide variety of charter choices, including short-term, as well as weekly charters. As a result, charter revenue in 2019 was up 733% YoY, as they try to find more ways to tap into the $12 billion boating industry in South Florida.
There is more growth on the horizon. FB Marine Group will soon relocate its headquarters to a new 23,000-square-foot marine building off I-95 in Pompano Beach, that will serve as a dealership and service/refit center.
One thing won’t change though, and that is FB Marine Group’s commitment to teamwork, and to their customers – both internally and externally. “We have successfully transitioned our dealership from a performance boat sales company into the full-service, multi-location operation we are today,” said Kim, who shared some of her passion for boating, and experiences in the business, as a Boating Industry Top 100 panelist at the recent ELEVATE SUMMIT. “We find our customers are having a more profound impact on our business. They are well informed and increasingly in charge of the process. We know their individual needs and try to go above and beyond to deliver personalized attention every time they touch our dealership. We're evolving every day and believe our customer experience strategy is our dealership's top competitive differentiator.”