2017 Best in Class: Best Service Department

Best Service Department

Off Shore Marine
Branchville, N.J.

Each year Off Shore Marine adopts a service department theme word to address an area that’s problematic.

The goal is creating a new perspective when change is needed to solve a service department challenge.

“The last two years have shown tremendous growth in our business,” says Off Shore Marine President Louis Cecchini. “With this growth, we have seen our facility get overwhelmed. We came up with a simple plan based on the word, ‘flow.’ This system has prevented logjams, and increased cash flow.”

Off Shore reclassified job positions, policies and procedures a season ago. This season, an increase in service volume once again required re-evaluating the best use of staff, operating procedures and, most especially, facility limitations in order to maintain optimal technician efficiency.

“We developed the service director position, a managerial position held by a technician to help communication between the office and shop and scheduling,” Cecchini says. “We’ve created a streamlined workflow and turnout of repairs.”

The service director position also has eliminated the need for daily job status meetings.

Eliminating everyday meetings allows the technicians to head right into the shop and start producing billable hours, Cecchini says.

Off Shore also provides breakfast and lunch for employees who work on Saturdays, since an uninterrupted meal break is rare on these days.

Off Shore Marine has expanded its use of Trello, a free, web-based project management tool that is formatted like an electronic version of a whiteboard. Employees have downloaded the Trello app to their smartphones and can change a job’s status or view their assigned work before beginning the day.

“Our system directly reflects the whiteboard system that we have always used,” Cecchini says. “We have removed the original dry erase boards from the wall and replaced them with a 50-inch, flat-screen TV. We’re still hearing positive customer response from our scheduling and dispatch system.”

With a decrease in customer response to manufacturer CSI surveys last year, Off Shore created a new system to track and maintain responses.

The general manager emails the customer thanking them for their purchase, reminding them a manufacturer survey will follow shortly.

“With Internet options and sales at an all-time high, we must strive for exceptional service with our customers,” Cecchini says. “We operate by a philosophy that follows a 7-to-1 ratio. If you make seven customers extremely happy, they will tell one person about their experience, but, if you upset one customer, they will tell seven others about their bad experience.”

This season, Off Shore Marine has continued the practice of a courtesy telephone call or email to inform service customers when their boat has been picked up for dry dock or when it was delivered to their dock following service.

Communication continues through the delivery process. Engine failures and repairs are explained, often by technicians engine-side, so that the customer has a clear understanding of cause, option and prevention. This treatment fosters effective word of mouth, advertising, which has, by far, been the biggest contributor to the success Off Shore appreciates today. It also creates outstanding CSI responses.

Following customer pick-up of completed service work from Off Shore Marine, the service writer makes a courtesy telephone call one week after pick-up to confirm the customer’s needs and service requests were addressed to their expectations.

Off Shore Marine also recites the same closing farewell to each home-bound new sale or service customer.

“We believe that our customers know that statement is genuine,” Cecchini says. “We treat people with the respect that they deserve and to remember it is a privilege to serve them. The person dropping in for a $2 nut and bolt is treated in the same friendly manner as the buyer of a $100,000 boat.”

Exceptional customer service means being able to admit to the possibility a dealer may have done something wrong. When staff is treated with respect, they have no fear of reporting a delivery incident, a tear in a cover in the yard, or an item missed on a repair ticket.

“Integrity, respect and intention show in the manner in which we handle situations that have gone wrong — both among staff and patrons,” Cecchini says.


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