MarineMax – Clearwater, Fla.
Galati Yacht Sales – Anna Maria, Fla.
Prince William Marina – Woodbridge, Va.
Legendary Marine – Destin, Fla.
Gordy’s Lakefront Marine – Lake Geneva, Wis.
The Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame recognizes dealers who have won the coveted Dealer of the Year award twice. These companies support the Top 100 program through their continued excellence and growth. In this annual feature, we cover a specific topic and highlight best practices from each of the Hall of Fame dealers.
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It’s no exaggeration to say that the current workforce crisis may be the biggest challenge facing the boating industry.
Earlier this year, Boating Industry’s workforce crisis report shared key data and challenges regarding employee recruitment and retention.
Our April cover story examined creative solutions that companies and associations are taking across the country to tackle the issue.
Affordability, expanding to new markets and access issues are all important, but if there aren’t enough top-notch people to sell boats and service boats and engines, none of the rest will matter.
This year, we’re asking our Top 100 Hall of Fame dealers to share tips and experiences for managing and retaining quality employees.
Offer engaging environment
Prince William Marina has always placed a strong emphasis on retaining its employees, says Owner Carlton Phillips.
“It’s easier to keep a good employee than to find one to hire. For us, throughout the years, employee retention has not been just about fun outings and bonuses, but also providing a good work environment, communicating with the employees, appreciating and recognizing their accomplishments at work and away from work during the year.”
Phillips suggests spending time acknowledging and speaking with employees whenever the opportunity arises, even if just for a few minutes, because doing so will pay dividends by fostering employee confidence and retention.
Probably the most important retention practices are listening, being approachable and thanking people for a job well done, adds Mary Strauss, director of marketing, Galati Yacht Sales.
“While the majority of our executive team is comprised of family members, anyone who has a good idea and can make a business case for it will be heard,” she says. “This creates a team environment and is reflected in the tenure of our employees. Many Team Galati members have been with the company more than 20 years.”
When team members feel like they are part of the family, they are less likely to leave, says Scott Cunningham, Sr., executive vice president of retail operations, Legendary Marine/OneWater Marine Holdings.
“We have intentionally created and fostered a fun, challenging, and dynamic work environment,” Cunningham says. We focus on communication, and transparency, and work to involve team members from across the organization in all of the events that we host, whether it’s our monthly fishing seminars, Ladies at the Helm workshops, or VIP excursions, raft-ups, and retail events.”
Gordy’s Marine places an equal level of importance on employee satisfaction, says Owner Steele Whowell. “We believe that if our team is extremely satisfied and truly enjoys working on the Gordy’s team, then that will translate to them executing an exceptional level of service to our customers.”
Creating high levels of employee satisfaction starts with the company’s culture, Whowell adds.
“Over many years we have worked hard to create a culture that is built on a hard work ethic, integrity, teamwork, and having a positive attitude,” he says. “We highly encourage our team to have fun. After all, we are in the business of delivering fun and memorable experiences.”
A marine dealership can only be successful if each player on the team plays their position at a high level, Whowell adds. When people feel part of something larger then themselves and clearly know their role in the overall success of the team, they feel a sense of pride.
Provide pay, bring benefits
Prince William Marina provides employee health care, life insurance, a 401K plan with match, accrued leave and uniforms, says Phillips.
“We believe our employees also enjoy fun benefits we provide throughout the year, which include birthday recognition, an end of summer day at the local theme park, all staff lunches and a Honey Baked ham at Thanksgiving,” he says. “Our end of year brings an all-staff Christmas party for employees and their families at a local hotel with all expenses paid, end of year bonuses and Christmas gifts for the kids.”
Strauss says Galati Yacht Sales uses a full-service human resources provider which gives provides significant buying power in offering a range of plans to employees — everything from basic medical plans to high-deductible, health savings accounts, and a 401k with company match.
Whowell says Gordy’s Marine extends team member discounts for pro shop, marina, bar and restaurant purchases. This helps team members enjoy the lake life experience they deliver to customers.
“One of our core values has always been, and will continue to be, operating as an ‘employee-first’ organization,” says Cunningham. “We believe that if we treat our team members right, then they will treat our customers right, and as a result, profit will follow.”