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Slow Down and Create Customers for Life

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Wednesday, July 15, 2020

In any summer selling season, you feel rushed.


There are leads to nurture, customer questions to answer, trade-ins to evaluate, and deals to finalize. There are boats to prep, parts to order, deliveries to make, and customer-mandated deadlines to launch boats. You don’t even know how it will all get done.


Leads accumulate, showroom traffic grows, and your sales team tries to hand the baton to service to take care of your customers. You feel the tug of competing priorities: Taking care of your boat buyers vs. moving on to selling the next boat. Meanwhile, boaters everywhere are hitting the water, service requests are piling up, parts and accessory orders are on the rise, and staff frantically tries to meet every demand. How do you keep up?


The pressure of a summer selling season at a boat dealership resembles a juggling act amidst a frantic race to the end, as priorities shift between sales momentum, service efficiency, customer demands and inventory management, not to even mention staff workloads, overtime, summer vacations and the need for more help.


And that’s just a normal year. In 2020, all of this has certainly been magnified by an overwhelming number of leads, record sales, factory shutdowns, depleted inventory, work-from-home mandates, appointment-only boat sales, social distancing requirements and more. You focus on keeping one ball in the air, another ball drops. Running a boat dealership demands a balance that is tricky to navigate.


I have two words for you: Slow down.


It may seem contrary to how we’ve needed to react to this crisis, but there’s great value in simply slowing down and refocusing your attention on what matters most.


At this moment, it’s the customer experience that matters most. With such an incredible influx of new boat buyers, it’s our job to help ensure their ownership experience keeps them in their boat and encourages them to upgrade that boat in the weeks, months and years ahead.


How important is it? Well, if you put any value on customer service, you’ll see that as boat sales have risen dramatically, customer satisfaction scores have been heading the opposite direction — a decline driven mostly by a lack of follow-up by the dealer or its sales person. And that shortcoming is a result of not slowing down and taking care of the customer.


It’s time to slow down and refocus our attention on those customers. Offering them just a little bit more effort on their experience and satisfaction can pay big dividends on your business. And there’s never been a better time than now to try it, when inventory levels are low and you won’t be able to spend as much time on sales.


Here are a few quick ideas on what you could to enhance the customer experience:

  1. Share unique insights that you have about the boat or the brand that they’ve purchased or are considering.
  2. Connect them with other boaters or an owners club from your dealership or the brand they purchased.
  3. Make sure you use your customer relationship management tool and the FORMAT process that Sam Dantzler teaches in MRAA’s online courses, to help you personalize their experience.
  4. Follow-up with boat buyers and ask how they are enjoying their boat, or check in with them after a service appointment. The simple gesture can make a huge difference.
  5. Send customers ideas on how they might be able to get more enjoyment out of their boating experience through a new part or accessory, the reassurance of a maintenance package, or a new waterway to explore.
  6. Schedule a reminder to text the customer or schedule the text to send automatically, to stay in touch and provide another reminder that you’re available to them.
  7. One of the most valuable touch points you could offer is a thank you note. Stand out from the crowd with a hand-written, sincere thank you for their business. I promise you this will have an impact.


There are plenty of options for you to explore with this. The important thing is you take care of the customer. The key to taking care of the customer the best way possible is to slow down and give them the attention they deserve.


This will give you and your team the opportunity to take a breath and provide significant value to the ownership experience. And it just may create a customer for life. Give yourself and your team permission to slow it down and focus on what matters most: The customer.

Tags:  customer experience  follow-up 

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