Bring them together

Drawing boaters together can get them excited about boating, their boats and your dealership. Here are a few ideas with good follow-through examples:

• Open Houses. Not your grandma’s open house with crackers and clowns, today’s events are strategically timed for the beginning of the season or post-boat show and include factory representatives (Comstock Yacht Sales and Marina, Ranked 75 in 2006), entertainment (Rayburn’s Marine World, Ranked 55 in 2006) and are catered (Utah Water Sports, Ranked 67 in 2006).

• Brand-Specific Events. While the original ideas for many of these events originate with manufacturers, many dealerships have been able to develop them into their own unique outings. Erickson Marine (Ranked 57 in 2006) took its Cruisers Yachts Customer Rendezvous to a riverside casino, gave out manufacturer and dealership-logoed gifts, held carriage rides, brought in a comedian and built stronger relationships with its customers. Sea Ray dealers host annual AquaPalooza festivities. They are open to anyone who would like to attend and this year attracted more than 30,000 people.

• Customer Appreciation Events. These can run the gamut from a demo day get together (Omaha Marine Center, Ranked 92 in 2006) to a V.I.P. blowout with cocktails and valet parking (Colony Marine, Ranked 25 in 2006). Legendary Marine (Ranked 52 in 2006) hosts its customer appreciation party at a local restaurant and uses the opportunity to introduce new boat models.

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