Best in Class

Slalom Shop Boats & Yachts
Highest-Ranking Dealer with 1 or 2 Stores

Managing growth is often a business’ toughest challenge. With five acquisitions rolled into its business over the past six years, this North Texas dealership has proven it’s one of many skills in its arsenal. In fact, the company makes it look easy, continuing to treat its ever widening customer base like one big family while simultaneously pursuing a higher level of professionalism. Most recently, for example, Slalom Shop Boats & Yachts (Ranked 5) has added a new employee training tool, upgraded its lead management software, redesigned its Web site and adopted a new payroll process – all of which have contributed to its steady climb up the Top 100 list. Growth and improvement are the sole responsibility of its owner, Darrell Wilson, who uses participation in two 20 Groups, four dealer councils and two trade associations, as well as trainers and consultants, to collect new ideas for his business. While Wilson says “no one has a lock on great ideas,” at the very least, Slalom Shop has demonstrated its ability to recognize and implement them, to the benefit of its customers, employees and any marine business humble enough to learn from them.

Action Water Sports
Highest-Ranking Dealer with 3 or 4 Stores

As one of the most well-rounded companies in the Top 100, Action Water Sports (Ranked 13) is a business to emulate. With myriad best practices noted throughout the company’s application, it comes as no surprise that general manager Jerry Brouwer says, “[This application] is a description of the major components it takes to run a dealership successfully. What’s ultimately just as important are the thousand of details we do every single day. And if we do them right every day, we can’t help but be successful.” By using an incredibly strong marketing strategy, one of the best training programs in the Top 100, and an intense focus on ensuring a high-quality ownership experience for the customer, Action has put itself into a position to be able to open a new location and acquire a third. Even in Michigan, where the economy has been challenging, Action increased its revenue 36 percent year over year, and boasted one of the highest net profits of all the Top 100 Dealers. “Many people will say that the little things aren’t important,” Brouwer says. “But you have to do those things to become the best. The most important of those little things are often unseen by the customer and hard to connect directly to the bottom line. But we absolutely know they work.”

Seattle Boat Co.
Highest-Ranking Dealer with 5 or 6 Stores

This Washington state dealer has had a stellar year. Its revenues are up, its profits are high, its service efficiency is strong, its employees have never been better trained, its CSI scores are close to perfect and few others have produced such innovation. On top of that, it jumped 13 places in the Top 100 Ranking from No. 16 to No. 3. All of this success can be tied to one major strength. Seattle Boat Co. is one of the industry’s best at setting aggressive goals, mapping out the steps to reach them, tracking its progress and ultimately meeting them. No matter how high its performance today, Seattle Boat Co. has a detailed plan for reaching higher. And that plan extends from one end of the company to the other, from facility improvements to employee orientations, from ad campaigns to CSI scores. That’s why the company is delivering such dazzling results now and why its future shines even brighter.

Quality Boats of Clearwater
Most-Improved Dealer

Each year the quality of the dealers that apply for, and are selected to, our Top 100 list improves. So when we see a dealership that not only makes the list for a second time, but makes a big move up it, that business catches our attention. Quality Boats of Clearwater (Ranked 31) is just such a company. With a list of no fewer than 18 specific improvements from last year, the company’s jump in the rankings is no surprise. We noted several best practices in its application this year, including a video brochure function on its new Web site that displays photos – and both a written and audio narrative – of a specific boat when a customer views it. Quality Boats has also developed a lost-customer survey that it sends to prospects that didn’t buy a boat from the dealership in an effort to determine what may have been done differently in its sales process. And the dealership also created a boat show quote form that allows a customer to lock in boat show pricing and incentives for one week. If innovations like these continue, there’s nowhere for Quality Boats of Clearwater to go but up.

Woodard Marine
Highest-Ranking Dealer with Revenue under $4 million

At its current rate of growth, Woodard Marine (Ranked 21) may not be eligible for this award for much longer. The single location dealer has increased its revenues more than 100 percent over the course of the last five years, including a 17-percent increase in just the last year. With the year-over-year improvements the Vermont dealer has made, coupled with its plans for the future, it may not be long before this blossoming business becomes a force around New England. In just the last year, it has acquired a second location, added a rental division, completed an extensive in-house cross-training initiative, expanded its list of consumer events and became both a Marine Industry Certified Dealership and a Brunswick Dealer Advantage Platinum member. But it’s not looking solely internally for improvement. The dealer principals organized and re-instated the Vermont Marine Trades Association after calling all potential members and organizing the first meeting. It’s these types of efforts that should help Woodard Marine continue on a strong growth path and increase an already strong bottom line.

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