Why dealers apply for the Top 100

If you’re a regular reader of Boating Industry, you’ve read probably dozens of columns, blogs, articles and emails urging you to apply for the Top 100.

So instead of my telling you how your company can benefit from the Top 100, I thought I’d share the thoughts of some of the companies that have made the list.

From Nautical Ventures CEO Roger Moore, a recent addition to the Top 100: “If a picture is worth a thousand words then having the Top 100 moniker displayed in our store and promotional materials is worth a million.  We initially applied to test our mettle against our peers, but we reapply annually to test our mettle against ourselves. Being a Top 100 dealer is important to us, to our customers, to our manufacturers and suppliers, but most of all its good for our industry.” 

Marine Connection, No. 14 on the 2017 list, uses the annual Top 100 process as an opportunity to improve its operations.

“One of the most exciting times of the year for Marine Connection is our annual Top 100 application workshop,” said President Danny Goldenberg. “It provides an in-depth and holistic look at our company: where we can analyze practices, habits, strategies other dealerships have found successful. We feel that the Boating Industry Top 100 program is one of the most important in the industry - as it drives us and so many other dealers to be better.”

Top 100 dealer, Parks Marina

Quality Boats of Tampa Bay finds value from the program on many levels.

“From a retail consumer standpoint we believe it automatically builds credibility with the consumer that we are a legitimate boat dealership that is recognized on a national level by a respected and unbiased third party source,” said Co-owner Dan Bair. “From a supplier standpoint we believe that it proves we are a reputable partner that is representing them in a professional light with the goal of always improving our business and reputation. From a team standpoint it builds pride that together, as a team, we have attained and continue with the goal of doing things the right way that is recognized throughout our industry.” 

One thing I’ve heard from a lot of dealers (even those who are on the list) is that they don’t quite understand how applications are evaluated. I can’t speak for the early years of the program, but I can tell you for the past seven years, it’s not designed to be a big mystery.

It’s a pretty simple process that I’ve shared with any dealer who has asked over the years. There are several stages to evaluation, but here’s a quick rundown. 

On first read of the applications, they are evaluated using a scoresheet. Each application is given a score out of 500 points, with points divided between the five sections of the application: Organization, Sales & Profits, Service & Customer Satisfaction, Training & Education and Marketing. Using those scores, we then group companies into tiers, allowing us to discuss as a team which companies should be considered for cuts, which companies should be considered for the Top 20, etc. The most important factors for consideration are commitment to improvement, financial success and CSI scores, among other criteria.

The process takes about three months, so this is obviously a condensed version. If you’d like more details, feel free to contact me.   

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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