It has been such a delight to hear from every dealer who I’ve spoken with over the last couple of months tell me about their record pace for sales and service, in addition, to the amount of new business coming from new boaters. New blood is what this industry has needed and talked about for years. It’s our opportunity to grow in unit sales and not just dollars.
Now that this silver lining has appeared from the dark clouds, we need to shift gears and manage the capacity needed to keep these new boaters in the lifestyle.
What are your customers hearing from your staff? Are they needing to apologize for crazy long wait times? I can hear it now, “sorry” it took so long, or “sorry” we couldn’t help you; we’ve been bombarded with customers buying and wanting their boats serviced. I see the cog in the wheel having the ability to service the boats before and after the sale. There aren’t any quick remedies coming that will produce experienced technicians. All the answers for more techs are to grow your own. So, is your dealership operating as it did prior to this burst of business?
In addition to being a lifelong boater, I’m also an avid cyclist. Boat dealers aren’t the only dealers realizing this surge of business. Bike shops are dealing with an overwhelming demand for sales and service. This may sound like a good problem to have, but is it? What if this is the first-time folks are coming to your business wanting to purchase or get service and you can’t deliver?
My bike is closing in on a year old and it is time for a tune up, so I stopped into two bike shops over the weekend. Here’s a quick review of the two experiences:
Bike shop 1: Three technicians, still operating the way they did prior to the pandemic, except for the crowd-management, theater-style ropes they installed outside for people who enjoy 90 degrees and 90% humidity. They’re operating the same way they always operated… A customer walks in to pick up his bike, one tech stops working on a bike, goes to the counter, greets the customer, gets the bike, works the POS to retrieve the bill, and takes payment. Meanwhile, customers with broken bikes are being told from a distance, "we are slammed and backed up three weeks."
Bike Shop 2: Four techs working in two workstations. The team member who is normally at the drink bar is at the register taking money and returning bikes while all the techs keep turning wrenches!
It’s a much different feel in Shop 2, especially when I asked a customer how long it took to repair his bike, “Three days!” I’m certain that the desire for bikes will not maintain this level, but Bike Shop 2 will be taking advantage of this surge long after the need is over.
Are boat dealers looking for ways to keep their techs focused on getting their jobs completed? Take a minute and run a quick check in your mind. Are your techs doing anything that doesn’t require their skill and expertise, such as:
- Looking for and moving boats to and from their workspace;
- Looking up and running for parts;
- Looking for keys;
- Interpreting poor write-ups;
- Completing paperwork;
- Reassembling boats after the mechanical repair is complete;
- Having to move boats out of their workspace due to no customer authorization;
- Working ridiculously long hours that leads to burn out;
- Cleaning their workspace.
Boat dealers live this seasonal work style every year and plan for it, but this year, they might need to start thinking of additional ways to adjust their processes to reduce wasted time, improve efficiency, and figure out how to do it while injecting some fun. In addition to the fun, everyone at the dealership should be getting rewarded with praise and bigger paychecks.
MRAA recently hosted industry expert Valerie Ziebron for insights into this topic and more in an Ask The Expert Webinar titled “How to Make the Best of the Mad Rush in Service.” Did you miss it? No problem, watch or listen anytime at MRAA.com/MRAAwebinars.