At Marine Connection, the calendar year 2007 became a year of fine-tuning the business and working off of the company’s to-do list. Every facet of the business was examined from a profitability standpoint to justify its validity in the current market.
From that analysis, a core group of operations and products were identified as profitable in today’s market and have become the center of the company’s focus. For example, the company found that used boats and exports were growing and became an area of concentration, whereas some boat types were found to be marginal and were scaled back.
“When times are good an profits plentiful, it is easy to grow a little fat around the middle,” says owner Mark Lasilla. “We have just been working to get back to lean, mean, fighting trim.”
The West Palm Beach, Fla.-based dealership used the slower year to create additional business for itself, launching two extremely successful programs based on the strengths it had identified.
First, the company established a solid export presence in Canada. The dealer used a targeted marketing and sales program specific to the Canadian market, offering both consumers and dealers clean, used boats. Owners made several trips to various areas of Canada to gain a better understanding of the market’s needs and then created alliances with dealers so to become a resource as opposed to “interlopers from the south.”
The second program the company created was simply called Cash4Boats.com. Through this new site Marine Connection filled specific boat needs throughout Canada, the northern and central U.S. markets, and overseas. Another targeted marketing program sought to obtain clean used boats — not currently on the market — by simply approaching every current boat owner of a specific category through the mail, asking for the opportunity to purchase their boat.
Finally, the company was also able to check off a number of projects that had been relegated to a holding pattern on the to-do list.
“We continually evaluate new products and services to offer our customers,” Lasilla explains, “but each change is being scrutinized to a very high level and addressed at a very conservative pace.”