Where’s your next employee?

It’s a new year, but one thing hasn’t changed: the boating industry is still facing a workforce crisis.

We’ve written about it extensively in the pages of Boating Industry over the last few years and will surely continue to do so heading forward. Almost every dealer I talked to at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in December tagged it as their No. 1 issue.

While there are plenty of other obstacles facing the industry, finding good employees is going to continue to pose a challenge. It affects every other aspect of the industry, from affordability (being able to pay employees what they need and produce a reasonably priced boat) to improving the customer experience (long service wait times or subpar work) to myriad other issues.

One of the oft overlooked – and most important – aspects of the Top 100 program is its gathering of best practices. The Boating Industry Top 100 is about much more than the 100 companies that make the list or even the other top dealers that apply. The greatest benefit of the entire program is sharing the best practices of those top dealers with the entire industry. It is why the manufacturers and service providers that support the program do so. It’s a recognition that, if you’ll excuse the cliché, a rising tide lifts all boats. In other words, it’s good for everyone for dealers to continue to get better. As the point of first industry contact for many potential buyers, a dealer can make or break a boater’s entire experience.

Not surprisingly, there are a number of Top 100 dealers making progress with creative solutions to finding employees.

Take, for example, Miami Nautique International, which recognizes that making the right hires is the key to its success in customer service. The company focuses on hiring for attitude and values – the important aspects of a good employee that can’t be taught. Products and process comes later. 

The dealership works with a human resources consultant to screen applicants using tools such as personality and communications assessments.

When employees leave a job, two top reasons they most often cite is the inability to advance or to feel as if they are making
a difference.

Parks Marina, another Top 100 dealer, has put an emphasis on creating an atmosphere of opportunity for its employees. 

For Butch Parks, there are four key characteristics to a good employee … and being successful in life: 

1) Enthusiasm – If you have a little more than the average person you will prosper. 

2) Discipline – If you can work or play hard and get up and achieve for the day a little bit better than average, you will develop self-confidence that will carry you through the toughest situations. 

3) Endurance – If you can endure a little bit longer than average, you will win.

4) Values – You know right from wrong and if you practice doing more rights than wrongs, it will soon become clear in your life the definition of success. 

In fact, the dealership listed “Provide a secure and prosperous future for all employees of Parks Marina” as its No. 1 goal on its 2017 Top 100 application. 

The company does that by continuing to grow and expand, with acquisitions of a new store, opening a boutique and investing in improvements for the marina and storage facilities. Parks has long focused on diversifying its business through restaurants, entertainment and more. That has helped the company be profitable for each of its 34 years under Parks’ ownership, which only helps to provide greater growth and opportunity for employees.   


Speaking of the Boating Industry Top 100, the application for this year’s program should be available by the time you read this. You can find it on the Boating Industry website at BoatingIndustry.com/top-100/application.

Jonathan Sweet is the director of the Boating Industry Top 100 program and former editor-in-chief of Boating Industry magazine. He can be reached at jsweet@boatingindustry.com or 763-383-4419. Follow him on Twitter at @JonathanWSweet.


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