The Ultimate Demo

There’s no better place to try out the boating lifestyle than Gordy’s Lakefront Marine (Ranked 12).

It sounds a little biased – and perhaps a tad bit strange, considering the Lake Geneva, Wis.-dealership carries only one brand — but that conclusion is based on this: no other dealer we know of offers consumers so many different ways to try out boating and boating activities.

Its businesses include not only boat and boating accessory sales, but a boat and boating equipment rental business and a kids’ ski school, all of which were included in the more than $1 million in improvements the company made in 2006.

Gordy’s purchased a new rental fleet of 13 boats – six Regal models and seven Cobalts, implemented an online rental reservation request form, upgraded its automated reservation system, hired a second assistant manager for rental operations and purchased a new 23-foot Correct Craft ski boat for its Big Foot Recreation Ski School Program. The ski school, which lasts for three weeks every summer, provides ski and wakeboard lessons to kids at a significant discount in an effort to plant seeds with the potential to develop into life-long boating enthusiasts.

The dealer’s new Pro Shop policy – which allows customers to demo all ski equipment and water toys and apply the demo price toward the purchase – simply takes the company’s already outstanding commitment to the boating lifestyle one step higher. It already had a policy of making all Cobalt boat models it sells available for demo, for example.

“We believe that five minutes after talking about boating, customers should be able to test drive the Cobalt difference,” says Gordy’s President Thomas Whowell. Now, the same philosophy applies in its Pro Shop.

This policy in and of itself may not be a best practice that makes sense for all dealers. But the commitment to the boating lifestyle behind it is something everyone could benefit from adopting.

“We do not just sell boats, we make people boaters for life,” Whowell says. Lots of dealers say that, but Gordy’s clearly sets the bar for doing it.

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