Aiming high

If you ask Taylor’s Boats owner Taylor Richards what his company’s best feature is, he might tell you it’s the service department.

“We believe that without exceptional service as the backbone of our company, none of the other departments will prosper and grow,” he says.
With a technician efficiency rating of 138 percent for 2006, a service CSI score over 99 percent, with “almost 0 comebacks,” and an apprenticeship program that’s helping it “grow more technicians,” that’s not hard to believe.

Then again, he also might tell you his team is the company’s best feature. Richards says his Draper, Utah-based dealership wants to be judged in customer service as the best in any industry.

“Our goal is not to be the best in the marine industry,” he says. “We think in most cases that falls short – but to be on par with other industry leaders like Lexus, BMW and Nordstroms.”

Anyone can say that’s their goal, but when you look at his hiring record, it’s immediately clear he’s serious about achieving it. His business manager and sales manager came from Lexus dealerships, for example, and his service manager is a former lead engineer for Tigé Boats. All three have played a major role not just in raising the dealership’s CSI scores, but in increasing its professionalism and boosting its sales.

Richards understands that to hold on to such quality employees, the dealership must do its part, too. In fact, one of the main topics of discussion at the company’s 2006 managers’ retreat was associate satisfaction. As a result, Taylor’s Boats is currently working to add a 401K and profit sharing to its line-up of benefits.

In looking at the dealership’s recruiting abilities, those who don’t know better might guess Taylor’s Boats is a large, multi-location retailer with an established reputation in the community. In actuality, while it has achieved a level of professionalism typically associated with the boating industry’s big leagues, it’s a fairly young company, established in 2001, with only one location until just a few months ago.

What makes the dealership such a world-class business is Richards’ aggressive pursuit of excellence, leading him to seek out any source of information that could give his business a leg up.

As a result, Taylor’s Boats belongs to a Cobalt 20 Group run by David Parker, its staff attends Spader Business Management’s management training and Joe Verde sales training, and it consults with T.R. Clark and Associates. The latter firm offers Taylor’s Boats insight from the huge range of other industries in which it’s involved and provides executive coaching, both of which give the company “a fresh perspective in overall business improvement,” says Richards.

It’s no surprise, then, that Taylor’s Boats is growing. In fact, with revenues up 25 percent in 2006, and 49.7 percent in 2007, the company has been exceeding its own goals by millions of dollars. Further growth is expected this year. With the addition of a new boat line in 2008 — not to mention its sparkling new showroom in one of the area’s prime retail corridors — the dealership says it now expects its inboard sales to grow by 40 percent, for a total increase of more than $1 million.

In looking at its recent improvements, that actually seems reasonable. Not only did the company recently rework its boat show strategy, resulting in a 75-percent increase in show sales, and enhance its bonus and employee recognition program, it mapped out all its processes and procedures, which it compiled in a new operations manual. The impact of that mapping on its pre-owned boat sales alone was a 10-percent increase in margins last year, the company reported.

And, having opened a second store in February, Taylor’s Boats can now spread all of those improvements across another market. With the company’s focus on customer and associate satisfaction and its determination to constantly raise the bar, that bodes well for Utah boaters and the industry at large.

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