Telling your story

Liz WalzA few months ago, I contributed to an article Boating Industry magazine published on competitive advantage. The core message of the article is that dealers need to be constantly reassessing their competitive advantages, especially in this economy when the marketplace is changing so fast. Then, they need to go out and tell that story to their employees, their business partners, their customers and the boating community at large.

Today, I stumbled on an excellent example of how one dealership is telling that story. Below is an article Prince William Marina published on its Web site under the headline, “Spend a Few Minutes on This List.” The article targets prospective boat buyers, asking them to consider a long list of factors before they decide what dealer they’ll buy their boat from and what boat brand they’ll choose. As you read this, ask yourself what questions you’d want prospective boat buyers to ask themselves before making a purchase. While this list is long, there are a lot of potential topics it doesn’t touch on, such as dealership hours, employee longevity, financing options and customer events.

Before you spend thousands of dollars on a boat, spend a few minutes on this list. Because the large number of boat manufacturers and dealers at boat shows can be confusing and all the boats start to look the same, we’ve prepared a checklist to help you make an intelligent decision.

Is there an authorized servicing dealer for your boat in every major market place worldwide?

Is the dealer located on or near the water for test rides and service?

Does the dealer have a trade-up policy?

Does the boat you are considering have a good resale value based on trade-in history?

Does the dealer offer a seasonal service program?

Have you visited the dealer’s sales, rigging and service facility and have you checked out his financial stability and reputation for customer service?

Did you know that the average Sea Ray dealership has been in business for 15 years?

Is the dealer’s sole interest in the sale and service of your boat?

Should anything go wrong, do the dealer and the manufacturer have enough financial strength for you to recover?

Did you know that Sea Ray has many dealerships that are larger (and more financially sound) than many boat companies?

Did you know that of the 20 or so marine engine producers in the world, Sea Ray’s brands are responsible for over 90% of the sales?

How long has the boat manufacturer you are considering been in business?

What is the financial strength of the manufacturer and the parent company that owns them?

Does the manufacturer water test their boats, and are all their plants (if they have more than one) on the water?

Does the boat manufacturer have a plant tour program and a full customer service staff?

When it’s trade-up time, does the manufacturer offer nearly 60 models to choose from in case your needs change?

Has the boat manufacturer won any national or international acclaim or awards?

Did you know that Sea Ray has the highest number of repeat customers with most people buying several Sea Ray Boats?

Did you know that Sea Ray invests millions of dollars every year in research and development of new products and quality innovations?

Did you know that the Sea Ray parent company, Brunswick, is the 7th oldest company in America, and has been the world leader in recreational products since 1845?

We invite you to tell us how your business is telling the story of its competitive advantages by commenting below.


  1. Liz-I have known the principals at Prince William for many years and have the highest regard for the way they operate their dealership. With that said I would be hesitant to bring up some of those questions they have noted with my customers or prospects if I were still a marine dealer. We have to be careful to not “PUT DOWN” our competition as this does not reflect well on our image with the consumer.
    The “Competitive Advantage” issue has never been more important than it is right now. The important item to remember here is that your strong Competitive Advantages that you have today may not last forever. The “Culture” of your dealership must address the importance of continuing to develop Competitive Advantages every day. All of your employee’s need to understand the importance of this issue and the dealership principals must make this crystal clear to everyone on the staff.
    As Jack Welsh of General Electric fame once said ” If you don’t have a Competitive Advantage, don’t try to compete”. I might add that price is not usually a Competitive Advantage. There can only be one WalMart in town.

  2. During boat shows this year we designed and printed a 4 page brochure to expand our boat show displays. On the bottom of each page we have a features and benefits and shop and compare grid that each customer can take to each dealerships’ display and compare each boat they are interested in purchasing. Once we have met and discussed the customer’s choice, we encourage them to shop the boat show and compare different brands and models with this brochure. We give them a Legendary Marine pen and the 4 page listing sheet in hopes they will come back and follow through with the purchase of their choice after they have found that our values are unsurpassed. Some of the “Feature and Benefits” and “Shop and Compare” items are….Award Winning Customer Service? Mobile Service? Storage? Cruise Club? Multiple Locations for Sales and Service? Open 7 Days a Week? Restaurant? Club House? Really home in on what sets us apart from any other dealership and or marina.

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