Sometimes, the simplest ideas bring the most success. A local restaurant on a high traffic road allows Saratoga Boatworks (Ranked 54) to display two boats on its property in exchange for placing menus at its marina store. Last year, that exchange accounted for four boat sales for the dealership.
Hoffmaster’s Marina, Inc.
With customer service and training among Hoffmaster’s Marina’s (Ranked 57) top priorities, it’s no surprise that the Woodbridge, Va.’s service employees are required to brush up on their interpersonal skills regularly. Both the dealership’s service writer and shop foreman must attend at least one class addressing customer service every year, in addition to any technical or other training courses they take. Customer service training helps the two interact with customers in an even more professional manner and gives them tips for dealing with difficult customers in a positive manner.
Marine Connection Inc.
Many Top 100 Dealers are proud to say they respond to Internet leads within 24 hours, but when a customer visits Marine Connection Inc.’s (Ranked 14) Web site, they can now communicate with the dealership in real time. Through this new online feature, “visitors from around the world can now open a live chat session with either our sales or service departments and receive instant answers to their questions or schedule an appointment,” Marine Connection explains. “And to top it off, along with English, we can chat in Spanish, Finnish, Swedish or French.”
Liquid Sports Marine
There are excellent research outlets available dealers can use to learn more about the demographics of their customers or to prepare for the next boating season, but few dealers are doing original research. That’s why we were so impressed to learn that Liquid Sports Marine (Ranked 45) was. The Orlando, Fla.-based dealer has commissioned an outside company to call all boaters in specific areas to ask about their likes and dislikes about their current boat, their favorite and least favorite features and the top three things their “dream boat” would have.
George’s Marine & Sport
This Canadian dealership (Ranked 52) recently began a program to allow customers to purchase a winterization or storage contract up to five years in advance. Not only does this price protect the customer against inflation and save them from booking the services each year, it allows George’s to plan for the future — and serve its customers’ future needs — better. As its owner explains, the program is a win-win for everyone.
Quality Boats of Clearwater
Quality Boats of Clearwater (Ranked 31) has adopted a boat show quote form that allows a customer to lock in show pricing and incentives for one week following the show. The dealership says this gives it a tool to get customers back to its showroom and informally contract customers on boats they are interested in. Given that the company’s average sale exceeds $100,000 and its customers seldom make impulse buys, these are important inroads to make.
To take full advantage of the potential of its newly redesigned Web site, Strong’s Marine (Ranked 22) has added a “Make an Offer” feature that allows customers to do exactly that on the dealership’s entire inventory, which is listed on the site. While all the offers may not be practical from the outset, they jumpstart a dialogue with a potential buyer who has proven interest in making a purchase.
Employee benefits can be difficult to navigate, but Lynnhaven Marine’s (Ranked 28) online employee benefits access makes the process easier. The Virginia dealership’s employees have access to a Web site that includes benefit descriptions, links to benefit plan providers and access to forms and other documents to allow employees to better manage their benefits. The site aims to enhance employees’ understanding of the plans available to them. Along with benefits information, the site has a health and wellness section that connects users to Web sites that can help them live better, healthier lives.
Woodard Marine’s (Ranked 21) “talking boat show” is an inexpensive but effective way to keep the sales process open even when the dealership’s doors are closed. By installing a simple radio transmitter in the salesroom and posting signs on each of the boats in its outdoor display directing customers to a designated frequency, Woodard is able to broadcast specific performance, pricing and other information for each boat in its display. This allows after-hours visitors to easily learn about the boat they’re interested in whenever it is most convenient for them to do so, which in turn helps Woodard sell more boats.