“Take care of your customer and they will always take care of you.”
That’s the principle Anna Maria and Michael Galati, Sr. instilled in all of their children when they founded Galati Yacht Sales in 1970. It’s a simple formula for success. But the absolute commitment of the five Galati siblings to that concept makes the company the premier boat dealership in the country more than 36 years later, driving its growth and culture of continuous improvement.
Take its finance and insurance department, for example. Except that Galati doesn’t call it that. This piece of the company is called the Business Office “to ensure making the customer’s experience more pleasurable comes before making money.” While Galati’s business office is clearly a financial success, the company says it achieves that success because “income production is secondary to meeting our customer’s individual needs.”
The dealership demonstrates its adherence to this philosophy by offering products that are most advantageous for the customer — such as engine manufacturer extended service products — as opposed to those that favor any short-term profit motives for the company, such as their own coverage.
Additionally, Galati offers customers the most competitive finance solutions even though this doesn’t maximize the reserve opportunities provided by its lenders. Galati’s unique approach to its F&I business also includes its quality control coordinator, who works to decrease the chances for mistakes and create a smooth customer transaction, and its closing coordinator, who serves as the liaison for the client throughout the F&I and delivery process. While these policies may seem to hurt Galati’s individual loan profitability, the company says it is more than offset by the total annual loan volume they help generate.
Galati has never hesitated to take on a new business if it believes it will benefit its customers, and 2006 was no exception. The Florida-based dealer partnered with an insurance agency to create an innovative product offering that helps its customers save money. By offering home, auto and marine coverage in one package, it’s often able to provide its customers a substantial savings over other options.
Another example of Galati’s commitment to the customer occurs in the service department, which features 25 mobile service vehicles. When techs are visiting local marinas for dockside service, for example, they are trained to stop at any Galati vessel and ask if there is anything they can do to help them.
In addition, this department embraces what Galati calls proactive customer support. When a boat comes in for service, techs are trained to inspect the entire boat, not just the problem area, to ensure the customer is aware of any additional items needing to be addressed. Then, sea trials are performed after every repair.
Galati’s executive team is looking for any opportunity to improve its customers’ experience – and they know how important employees’ experience is to achieving this goal. In fact, it recently established an e-mail address – firstname.lastname@example.org – specifically to allow employees to share ideas, best practices and concerns with management. Mike Eiffert, CFO, receives the e-mails and distributes them to the executive closest to that area of the business so that the company has the opportunity to take immediate action when warranted.
Another way Galati strives to exceed its customers’ expectations is through its unique sales department structure. The company features brand managers, who are responsible for overseeing the company’s relationship with each manufacturer; creating marketing strategies for their brand; negotiating incentives, discounts and rebates with the manufacturer; evaluating model mix in inventory; managing distribution of product amongst the locations; organizing sales training on their product; and developing and implementing pricing strategies.
Galati takes a similarly specialized approach to its salespeople, each of whom has either a Primary Focus, Secondary Focus or Able to Sell Focus for each brand, depending on the level of training they’ve undergone.
Training is a major focus for the company. In fact, it is in the process of creating a customized training curriculum for its management team, which it expects to launch by the end of the year. In addition, all its managers have been assigned iPods for listening to audio training materials. Each quarter, they’re given a book or training session to listen to and then discuss as a group.
The Galati family says their parents started the business with a dream of providing the best service experience possible, without exception. Without doubt, Joe, Carmine, Fran, Michael, Chris and the rest of the Galati team are making this dream come true. But what truly makes them an industry leader is that they understand this must be accomplished one day, and one customer, at a time.