By David Gee
A short boating season of 90 days or less, combined with a relatively remote location, in a small market with a lower-than-average household income. Those are some of the inherent business challenges Hagadone Marine Center faces.
So how and why do they continue to grow, including a 34% increase in revenue from 2020 to 2021? They do it with a relentless focus on customer service and customer experience. By having a high market share penetration. By continually expanding the products and services they offer. By making a concerted effort to attract – and keep – quality people. And by constantly finding new and creative ways to market to customers.
The family-owned dealership is overseen by Brad and Todd Hagadone, the sons of Duane B. Hagadone, founder in 1986 of The Coeur d’Alene Resort, a luxury waterfront hotel.
Hagadone Corporation emphasizes “Great Guest Moments,” and this same hospitality mindset informs every boating customer interaction.
“Our people know the art of truly serving,” says HMG president Craig Brosenne. “Many dealerships have multiple stores and locations throughout the areas they serve, but we have everything in one package: sales, service, pro shops, rentals, detailing, a fleet of excursion boats, marinas, and an on-the-water-bar. This makes a major difference in the customer experience, from first impressions to a better buying experience to faster service response.”
The dealership headquarters and service center are located at Hagadone Marine Center on Blackwell Island, near the intersection of the Spokane River and the 25-mile-long Lake Coeur d’Alene, with over 100 miles of shoreline.
According to their Top 100 application, the guest experience begins when driving into the entrance, lined with lush green fairway grass and red geraniums. Guests see smiles, sharp uniforms and are introduced to efficient customer service in a bright, clean and welcoming space.
For boat sales, a professional and friendly sales associate promptly meets guests at the entrance. Guests are paired up with the right associate on a rotating basis. This applies to phone sales as well. The upscale interaction has been honed by sales training, learning from other dealerships and from touring fine car dealerships to understand their VIP sales process.
The sales process flows seamlessly, beginning with a conversation in the conference room, where the big screen system allows virtual boat shopping and customization. For service, there are a series of separate pods with service staff, so no guest has to wait in line.
During the height of the pandemic, they increased staffing levels, including hiring a new general manager to make sure “the right people were in the right seats,” and also added a People & Culture director to the team to boost internal communication and job satisfaction.
They also doubled their rental fleet, and made the decision to build Idaho’s first ever dry stack facility to house 360 boats. They can now store a total of 2,500 boats indoors.
Hagadone Marine Group also claims to own and operate the largest single-point service center for small boats anywhere in the country.
They do Boating 101 classes monthly, and Women Making Waves training exclusively for ladies in a calm, supportive setting.
As for boat shows, they now put all of their efforts and resources into hosting one big winter show themselves. This is called the Coeur d’Alene Boat Expo, and it is staged in early February, with an expectation to sell 75 boats.
Besides selling, servicing and storing more boats, expanding their product and service offerings, and growing revenue and profit, the employees at Hagadone Marine Group have one other expectation, according to director of marketing Cally King.
“We are most proud of this,” she said in their Top 100 application. “In 2021 our team had more FUN than we have ever had. There is a special energy that comes with growth and our team had a lot of unique and special momentum.”
That attitude was even on display at the Boating Industry Top 100 Gala Celebration. Check out the photo with Cally and colleague Lindsey Olmstead, Hagadone Marine Group’s Director of Marinas, as they accept their trophy with their own special flair, paying homage to a certain cinematic secret agent. Having fun on – and off – the water! That’s what we do, and that’s what we sell. Well done Hagadone Marine Group, and best wishes for another successful year in 2023.