Editor’s Choice 2017: Clemons Boats

Clemons Boats
Sandusky, OH

Luckily for many Top 100 dealers, 2016 marked a year of growth. But few saw the revenue increase that Clemons Boats experienced. The one-location Sandusky, Ohio, dealership grew revenue by nearly 70 percent with no increase in staff, but simply a continued focus on improved business.

While Clemons Boats didn’t boast of any flashy improvements or acquisitions, the dealership made enough changes to notch huge impact to the bottom line.

Though not visible to customers, the biggest change Clemons made was switching its DMS to a new system. Among other benefits, the new DMS allowed the dealership to move accounting for its rental business into its new rental building. Though the dealership can’t prove exact correlation, with rentals moved away from the high-traffic showroom, rentals grew 40 percent year-over-year.

Clemons Boats made an extra effort to improve its customer events for 2016.

In F&I, Clemons switched its service provider, allowing the dealership to focus more on financing and ancillary products, growing F&I sales 50 percent.

In addition, Clemons added a new fiberglass outboard brand to its showroom with NauticStar. The brand moved well in 2016, aiding in the sales increase and adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to the dealership’s bottom line.

With new customers coming through the door, Clemons Boats made an extra effort to improve its customer events for 2016. At the dealership’s open house party, about half a dozen boats were sold, and the dealership raised money for charity. The event included an open bar, food and entertainment.

The dealership also hosted a customer appreciation party in 2016, with 200 people treated to an all-day event with an open bar, entertainment and a fish dinner cooked by general manager and owner Jason Clemons. The party also served as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, and $4,000 was donated following the event.

On top of those, Clemons Boats also hosted an Easter egg hunt for about 100 kids, a demo days event, and a weekly boat night with free rides at Quaker Steak & Lube. With this focus on bringing customers back in after the sale, the dealership reports that 66 percent of its 2016 sales came from repeat buyers.

The 50-year-old company also made changes to its employee training. Though Cardone University materials had been used in the past, an even larger emphasis was put on completing the training in 2016. Salespeople are now required to complete four segments of Cardone University before 9 a.m. each day. If the training isn’t complete, that salesperson doesn’t get any leads that day. Service and parts advisors and management are also required to participate in the Cardone training.

To encourage growth from within, Clemons Boats added an apprentice technician to its staff in 2016. The goal is to grow technicians within the dealership, rather than finding those who have already been trained elsewhere.

“It has been a major blessing to our organization and he is making leaps and bounds with us,” says Clemons. The apprentice will be certified by two brands in 2018, and he plans to earn his master certification in the future.

To further improve its staffing, Clemons Boats promoted a salesperson to a lead salesperson. This freed up the general manager to work on more goals for the store overall, including the future vision, mission and culture of the company.

In an effort to motivate employees in all departments, Clemons Boats added a new Christmas bonus program in 2016. The dealership develops goals for the company overall and for each position, and if those goals are hit, employees are given a bonus. In 2016, Clemons awarded an extra 2 percent retirement fund contribution and an extra $1 for each hour worked for each of its employees. Working toward the same goal created a better team atmosphere and helped with moral, Jason Clemons reports.

“I would say what sets us apart is truly giving more to our employees and customers than we expect to get back in return,” Clemons says. “This actually ensures we then get more than we asked for!”


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