The Right Business

Dealers, if you think you're in the boating business, you’re wrong. At least that's what William H. McGill, Jr. believes.
Boat and engine dealers are actually in the people business, says the MarineMax Inc. CEO, president and chairman of the board. It’s this focus on people that allows the company to outperform the industry.
“Some people say we sell boats,” he explains. “What we really sell is a lifestyle. We call it delivering the boating dream.”
Part of delivering this dream involves training the customer, something many dealers don’t believe in, according to McGill. Instead, they “shove them off the dock,” which he says is why the industry hasn’t kept pace with recreational growth.
MarineMax makes a point to understand customers’ needs, show them products to meet those needs, demonstrate how to use them, allow the customers to get comfortable with them and then follow it up with second-to-none service, he says.
Take MarineMax’s getaways for example. The dealership leads 20 to 50 boats to a destination for a weekend, or longer, during which MarineMax employees and their families show the boaters how to navigate, tie up at the marinas and have fun on the water. Getaways cost MarineMax money, McGill explains, but if it allows the customers and their families to enjoy the boating experience, it’s worth it.
People with discretionary dollars live in a “I-want-you-to-do-it-for-me” type of society, he says. “They don’t want the hassles, but don’t mind writing the check if they get what they expect, or beyond what they expect.”
In fact, it’s by showing the customer the value of the boating experience that MarineMax can charge a premium and thus run a profitable business - a business that’s growing. Because of the company’s success, McGill earned a bonus of $1.1 million for the year.
He isn’t resting on his laurels, however. The 61-year-old executive says he plans to stick around for a while.
“I’m going to see MarineMax become a two-plus billion dollar company before I retire,” he declares.

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