Colorado Boat Center: Powering through

By Adam Quandt

The statement powering through would be an understatement for Johnstown, Colorado’s Colorado Boat Center and its perseverance through both good and bad.

Located about 40 miles north of Denver, the Colorado dealership is laid out over three acres, with two buildings totaling 16,000 square feet of space. Construction of the dealership’s main, 14,000-square-foot building was completed in May 2017 and was the company’s largest capital expenditure in its 30-year history.

“With a small footprint of a lot, we’ve had to make major changes to our processes over the past two years to ensure that our lot operates safely and efficiently,” general manager Eric Smith said. “Our goal with the build was to build a facility that would allow us to work cohesively and efficiently.”

Two years after the building was completed, Smith said that, despite some growing pains — mostly due to the lack of available land surrounding the current lot — he can confidently say that the business certainly has achieved its goal and is looking toward the future.

“One thing we are currently looking into is obtaining another 10 to 15 acres, so that we can expand the business to offer a new storage solution,” Smith said.

Aside from space constrictions, another challenge faced Smith and the Colorado Boat Center crew in 2018; building and maintaining a strong team.

“Within our service department between June and November, we lost our entire staff of technicians,” Smith said. “What this did was force us to rethink how and who we wanted to be working within our service department.”

Although various reasons — retirement, OEM recruitment, etc. — led to the losses, Smith used the misfortune to completely redesign the dealership’s vision for its service department and team.

“While at the time we may not have seen it for the positives that it would give us in building a new team, this would finally allow us to rebuild the department with a blank slate,” Smith explained. “I’ve always believed that we needed to hire based on personality and from there we could train the person to the job.”

After the usual tactics to find new staff proved unsuccessful, Smith took to a new style of recruiting by networking with manufacturers and brand representatives to find recommendations.

Upon completing a list of qualified applicants, the dealership arranged travel and lodging for the potential recruits to come work with the dealership for a one-week trial period.

“This allowed us to see their work habits and to determine if they would also fit within our organization culturally,” Smith said.

The result was three new hires and a fourth from a military veteran hiring source.

“We’ve re-staffed and retrained the entire service department,” Smith said. “Efficiency and productivity has improved, but most importantly is that we’ve seen an overall improvement on attitudes and moral throughout the entire dealership.”

With both new team members and seasoned, Colorado Boat Center continuously puts an emphasis on training to build the perfect team.

“Colorado Boat Center takes every measure possible to train employees on site, send them to schools, training seminars, webinars and various other activities that will expand their professional development,” Smith said. “It is important to train the employees about the products, but it is equally important to train them in customer service, customer relations and time management.”

With that, the dealership works to craft varied training opportunities specific to each department, from sales the service and everything in between.

“Accolades, awards and certifications are great ways to measure a dealership’s worth, value and success,” Smith said. “But to Colorado Boat Center, the real value is in our people, the relationships and memories we’ve cultivated over our years in business.”

All of Colorado Boat Center’s efforts to push through difficult times to find success, led to an average technician efficiency of 103.9 as a percentage of hours worked, as well as an 8.2% increase of total revenue in 2018 over the dealership’s 2017 numbers.

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