2017 Best in Class: Most Innovative

Most Innovative

Futrell Marine
Nashville, Ark.

Futrell Marine has a storied history filled with innovative approaches to business improvement.

The dealership was founded in 1948 by Dan Futrell, who began selling Mercury outboard motors from a small store on Main Street in Nashville, Ark.

Dan was a huge boat racing proponent in the 1950s and passed his love of boating down to his son, Woody, who assumed the role of managing partner in 1964, quickly becoming one of the industry’s most well-known and respected businessmen.

Today, Futrell Marine is captained by Woody’s son-in-law, Rick Kesterson, who joined the company in 1993.

“The Futrell experience begins with a salesperson ready and willing to drive to the customers’ home to show the product,” Kesterson says.

Once a prospect is converted to a customer, they are considered part of the dealership family and the Futrell experience begins.

“We work relentlessly to find the perfect boat for our customers,” Kesterson adds. “We spend as much time as needed in getting the customer comfortable. We pride ourselves on being service-first. We spread the boating lifestyle through a full event calendar, including surf training, dock parties and customer appreciation events.”

Kesterson has been innovative and aggressive in corporate expansion, leading Futrell’s drive to extend its facility footprint to Hot Springs and Heber Springs, Ark.

The Hot Springs store was further renovated in the pre-season of 2016. The store, already at a high standard of appearance and utility, received approximately $20,000 in renovations.

Futrell minimized costs by leveraging existing service and sales staff talents in assisting in the necessary engineering and labor. The focus of the renovations were the remodeling of sales staging, offices and pro shop. The renovations provided the necessary lift to propel Hot Springs’ 89 percent increase in sales gross profit in 2016.

However, due to space limitations, the Hot Springs location’s ability to grow service had been capped, and the location was physically unable to acquire additional technicians.

In September 2016, Futrell Marine reshaped the future of its Hot Springs service and sales by purchasing 23 acres just five miles from the Hot Springs location and less than a mile away from water access.

Once complete, 95 percent of the Hot Springs service operation will relocate to the new facility. The facility will store up to 150 units within covered storage and over 100 units in open storage.

“We have high return on investment expectations,” Kesterson says. We firmly believe that removing the cap on our ability to service Hot Springs’ exceptionally robust demand, service will see double-digit revenue growth for years to come.”

Online marketing and social media innovations were additional accomplishments initiated in the past year by Futrell Marine.

Late in 2016, the dealership re-launched its YouTube channel, as a tool for educating and assisting customers in the decision-making process.

During each video, the salesperson conducts a boat walk around, identifying key selling points.

Futrell takes its CRM usage seriously. All sales staff are expected to log all walk-in, internet and phone traffic. Follow-up dates are expected to be kept fresh, along with the details on all correspondence. Sales managers monitor sales staff usage.

“CRM management keeps leads from falling between the cracks, while providing sales staff with a highly effective organizational tool,” Kesterson says. “Futrell Marine moved to ThreeClix due to its intuitive online dashboard and general ease of usage for both sales staff and managers. We firmly believe it was one of many contributors in the 48.8 percent increase in sales revenues in 2016.”

Kesterson’s prescription for innovation put the weekly sales report on steroids. A dashboard was added for quick executive level review.

“The 2015 report was approximately 50 pages in length,” Kesterson says. “The 2016 improved report is approximately 90 pages with no fat. “

As managers became accustomed to the information provided in the report and in their ability to leverage the data as a management tool, team members requested an additional level of detail and further analytical breakouts.

“The sales report has become an indispensable tool in providing management timely and relevant sales metrics to effectively manage the sales process,” Kesterson adds. “There is no doubt that it was a contributing factor in our $1.02 million increase in sales department profit.”


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