To those of us who have been boating for decades, operation of a boat may come easy, and knowledge of boating etiquette and laws are common knowledge. But the same is not the case for the first-time boat buyers you’ve sold to this year.
In fact, boating can be downright scary and intimidating to the amateur or novice. There are a lot of complexities: how to trailer the boat, how to launch from a ramp, how to drive the boat, how to use all the features of the boat, how to navigate the waterways, how to pull into a dock. I could go on and on with a list of things that new buyers are scared of and need to be trained on.
Last week, we talked about the importance of the demo at delivery. But, we should also be arming our customers with additional resources and information.
The great thing is that many of these resources already exist. You just have to curate the ones that work for your area and your customers. Or, you can make a few of your own to really personalize the message.
Here are several places you can find resources to share with your first-time boat buyers:
Discover Boating: Discover Boating is a huge resource for boat shoppers, but did you know Discover Boating also has materials you can send your dealership’s new boat buyers to help them become more comfortable in their boating lifestyle? Under the Owning & Operating section of DiscoverBoating.com, you’ll find customer-facing information on insuring a boat, towing and trailering, storage, boat maintenance, safety, boat etiquette and more. There are also articles about fishing, information on recommended accessories, tips on wake surfing and more.
BoatUS: Drawing from the BoatUS Magazine, the BoatUS website has a slew of articles that could be helpful to your customers. The content includes information on: boats and tow vehicles, how to do it yourself, safety and prevention, technology, lifestyle and seamanship.
Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation: RBFF provides resources on where to fish and boat, how to obtain a fishing license, resources for young anglers and much, much more.
Sea Tow: While many of Sea Tow’s blogs focus on the organization and membership, there are also plenty that non-Sea Tow members may find useful, including those on safety, maintenance and other boating tips.
Water Sports Industry Association: If your customers will be participating in water sports aboard their boat, WSIA has resources you can share with them, including materials from the Wake Responsibly campaign.
U.S. Coast Guard: The Coast Guard offers recreational boaters a number of resources with a focus on safety.
Boating Magazines: Keep an eye out for helpful articles that your customers may appreciate. Or search a boating magazine’s website for any specific topic you’d like to touch on. Magazines, like Boating magazine and Salt Water Sportsman, for example, are constantly producing new content for consumers, much of which is informational. Rely on these resources to keep your customers in the know.
Local Resources: While much of what’s listed above pertains to a wide variety of boaters, a few local resources would also be helpful for your customers. Again, you should be able to seek out some resources that are already available. Check with your area marine trades association, Department of Natural Resources, lake associations, boat clubs, marinas and more for materials. You may want to provide your customers with information about fishing and boating regulations, maps of area waterways, details on area boat ramps and/or marinas and more.
Build Your Own Resources: Personalizing the resources will take time, but it will also position your dealership as an expert. As you have time, create videos, blogs, emails, social media posts, brochures, handouts, and/or letters to help your customers navigate their boating lifestyle. You can create general boating operation resources, information on common boating lifestyle themes, or be extra helpful by filling in the holes of the resources you don’t have. For example, if there isn’t a resource already available about the waterway you’re on, you can create that. Make the resources engaging, insightful and helpful. One of the best ways to do this, as taught by long-time MRAA subject matter expert Marcus Sheridan, is to log all the questions you get from customers and then create resources — he recommends videos and short articles — that answer those questions. This simple task will solidify your position as the expert. (He also has a book on the topic titled, “They Ask, You Answer,” and we highly recommend it.)
The key with all of these resources is to comb through them, find the ones that will most apply to your customers and share them.
Curate a package of information (physical or digital) that you give to all customers after their boat purchase, maybe even while they’re waiting for delivery. And follow up with all of your customers with some of these resources year-round. Sharing this information with your customers will make for happier, safer, more knowledgeable boaters. And it will position your dealership as an expert, an organization that cares enough to share non-sales information, creating loyalty and a level of trust for the next time they’re ready to buy a boat or refer a friend to boating.