When Sierra formed its first dealer council in January, it didn’t know what to expect.
Sierra made a strategic decision and chose 10 charter members who were not supporters of its product. This, they believed, would help the manufacturer win over new dealers.
At the council’s first meeting, the main message the dealers conveyed to Sierra was that the manufacturer’s story wasn’t reaching them. They didn’t know much about Sierra’s R&D, manufacturing processes or company culture.
Most were only familiar with a small percentage of Sierra’s range of products.
This was of particular concern because of the growth the company has undergone. In the 1980s, Sierra offered about 200 SKUs to the marine industry. Today, that number is more than 6,000. In the 80s, its sales were less than $2 million. Today, the division does about $50 million in sales per year.
Out of the dealers’ recommendations came the idea for Sierra’s new trailer, a trade show on wheels, which it debuted at the Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show in July. The trailer, which displays products from each category Sierra covers, will be sent to all the major distributor/dealer shows this year, according to Dennis Zirkelbach, director of marketing for Teleflex Marine, Sierra’s parent company. Next year, the trailer will be sent to individual dealerships, with a goal of targeting 15 dealers per week for a total of 500 per year.
In addition to its attempt to raise awareness of its products through the trailer, Sierra is creating a Nautical Miles rewards program for professional installers in the marine industry. Through the program, installers can send in the box tops off of Sierra products to earn points, which are redeemable for gift certificates at places like Home Depot. — Liz Walz
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