Advantage Brunswick

The cover of the booklet Brunswick Corp. distributed to dealers attending its Dealer Advantage breakfast meetings this spring addressed the question many have had on their minds since the program was introduced earlier this year.
Printed on the front were two sentences: “People ask us why we created Brunswick Dealer Advantage. The answer is simple.”
As they opened the booklet, mounted on the inside of the cover page was a mirror, in which the reader could see his or her reflection, with one word printed underneath. “You.”
Brunswick’s motive isn’t quite that altruistic, of course. The company expects that all of the time, effort and money it’s investing in Dealer Advantage will help its dealers become much more profitable, which in turn will boost its own bottom line. As Jeff Behan, Brunswick’s vice president of marine distribution, noted during a presentation to dealers in Minneapolis this April: “We believe by making you more profitable, we benefit.”
Dealer Advantage rewards dealers for doing business with Brunswick, and any dealer that carries Brunswick boat or engine brands is eligible for inclusion in the program, which is setup to reward three levels of participation — Silver, Gold and Platinum.
How it works
All that’s required to be a Silver-level member of the program is to be a dealer in “good standing” with the Brunswick boat and engine brands the dealership carries.
Silver dealers are eligible for benefits such as partner purchasing programs with several companies, including UPS, U.S. Bank, Staples, Sprint and CDW, which will offer discounts to program members. Financing and insurance programs are also available, as are real estate consultation services, an extended warranty program and a certification program.
Gold and Platinum dealers are eligible for these programs plus several more. In order to qualify as a Gold-level dealer, 50 percent of all new boats or outboards sold by a dealership must be Brunswick brands. A dealership may meet that threshold on either a boat or an engine basis and does not need to qualify for both. If a dealer carries sterndrives or inboards, 75 percent of those sold must be MerCruiser.
Dealers may measure retail boat or engine sales in either dollars or units, and there are no volume minimums.
Gold-level dealers are eligible for worker’s comp and property casualty insurance programs, payroll, tax administration and retirement services and scholarships for children of employees.
Platinum-level dealers qualify by reaching the 75-percent threshold for new boats or engines sold (90 percent need to be MerCruiser if they’re sterndrive or inboard) and must also meet certification requirements for program year 2008 that were yet to be determined as this article was written.
Platinum dealers receive two benefits that Gold dealers don’t — GM supplier pricing and long-term agreements. Supplier pricing gives dealers, and their employees, discounts on most of the cars and light trucks General Motors makes.
Of its long-term contracts, Brunswick writes in its brochure, “With your commitment to training and certification, we will be able to increase our commitment to you through long-term contracts that ensure stability for you, your family and your employees.”
Years to come
The long-term nature of the Dealer Advantage program was stressed several times during the meeting. Brunswick President and CEO Dusty McCoy told dealers, in a videotaped message shown at the beginning of the event, that Dealer Advantage “is a program we intend to have in place for years to come.” And Behan, who called McCoy the “driving force,” behind Dealer Advantage, echoed that.
“This is something we’re in for the long term and that’s something you need to see demonstrated by us, and we understand that,” he said.
One of the dealers who attended the Minneapolis presentation noted that Brunswick is not the first manufacturer to leverage its size to create a program of benefits for its dealers.
“OMC [Outboard Marine Corporation], before they went bankrupt, they were pushing pretty hard to put some of this stuff in place,” said Luke Kujawa, president and COO of Crystal-Pierz Marine. “But they were just getting it off the ground and they went away, so we never really got to see the benefit from it. But there are some good things here.”
One of the most appealing facets of the program for dealers is that Dealer Advantage was not designed with a take-it-or-leave-it mentality. The program is set up to allow dealers to pick and choose which, if any, services they want to use.
For example, Kujawa says some larger dealers may already have pricing agreements in place that equal or surpass those being offered by Dealer Advantage. That doesn’t pose a problem under this program. If a dealer already has a better agreement in place, he or she doesn’t have to discontinue it to get onboard with Brunswick. The company says dealers can use Dealer Advantage “as they see fit to improve their dealership.”
Getting results
Behan said Brunswick studied several dozen of its dealers’ profit and loss statements to determine where it could leverage its resources to help them out. He believes there are dealers that could get “up to a 50-percent improvement in profitability” if they take full advantage of all of the program’s benefits.
Brunswick will work with dealers to help them achieve the level of involvement they want with the program. Each model year the dealership must submit a “Benefit Level Affidavit” to determine Gold or Platinum level status. To sign up for one of the individual products or services Dealership Advantage membership provides, the dealer must contact that vendor themselves.
Betsy Lazzara, director of the Dealer Advantage program, says that 60 to 80 percent of the dealers who attended one of the first six breakfast meetings signed up for at least one product or service.
And for dealers who would like the program to include something it currently doesn’t, Brunswick is willing to work on that too.
“This is all about dealer input, so I encourage you to tell us where the pain points are and we’ll make things happen,” Lazzara says. “We’re always open for suggestions.”

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