Five years ago, the idea of a Top 100 Dealers Program was perfectly suited for the times. We, like many throughout the marine industry, recognized that while there were a number of strong boat and engine dealers in the market, the majority of the dealer population lacked professionalism and the knowledge of how to be truly successful in the business.
Today, many of those weaker, unprofessional dealers have closed their doors. Economic conditions have taken their toll, and the marine industry is experiencing a Darwinian purging like never before. And it’s no secret: There will be more attrition.
The culmination of plummeting consumer confidence, the credit crunch and enduring economic instability has wreaked havoc like no recession before. Not even The Great Depression had such a profound effect on the marine industry.
All of this pretty much makes my introductory comment a half-truth. In reality — right here, right now, in the midst of these incredibly difficult times — the Top 100 Dealers Program has become even more critical to the success of today’s dealer body.
I want to be clear about something: I’m not a boastful person, and this is not an attempt to tell you how great we think we are. This is my personal effort to urge you to take advantage of the Top 100 to improve your business. Take the time to sit down and fill out this year’s application and find the benefits that hundreds of other dealers have already found.
You know by now, of course, that the Top 100 Program is far more than a one-night celebration and a one-issue ranking of dealers. This program has spawned the improvement of today’s dealer body like no effort prior. It has taken insight from the best-of-the-best dealers, and through their willingness to work with us, has shed light on the secrets of success throughout the industry, through such mediums as our e-white papers, the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo and recent issues of the magazine: like the “Ideas Issue” (November), the “Survival Guide” (February) and the one you have in your hands.
Further, dealers of all shapes and sizes, from every corner of the industry, have testified to the power of the program. Galati Yacht Sales, for instance, told a room full of Top 100 Dealers that they are the No. 1 plagiarizer of others’ best practices. They’re also the top-ranked dealer in the nation two years running. Dealers who haven’t made the list have testified to the value of this self examination and have improved to the point of making the list in following years. Still others have told us that the program itself, and more specifically applying for the program, adds more value to their business than their local association or other industry programs.
This small time investment will define where your strengths lie and where you must improve. Dealers of all sizes have sworn to us the power of just answering the questions honestly. And once you’ve submitted the application — no matter if you make the list or not — we will reinvest in you by providing you with a report on how the best dealers perform in every category of their business.
Five years ago, it would have been nice to have access to such information. Today, it’s critical to your survival.