Resolve to make 2015 the best year yet

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It’s not too late to make a New Year’s resolution or two. In fact, early February is a great time to pause and take stock.

Resolution No. 1: Admittedly, most dealers are focused on their hectic winter boat show schedule. So it’s an easy guess that most haven’t yet set aside time to clean up very important things such as their website.

Nothing makes a dealership look more out-of-touch than to see old references. Make sure all dated 2014 material is eliminated. Remove holiday promotions or any old promotions for that matter. Replace them with more timely information and, hopefully, add new promotion(s).

While you’re at it, don’t overlook reviewing any personnel names and profiles that might have changed since your last update. And while the goal is to make everything current, in writing new website copy, try to add personality to it instead of dry “business-speak.”

Surprise and delight your website visitors however you can. For example, don’t just tell them your dealership is best; show them by relating stories of how you’ve helped customers realize their boating dream or how the service department solved a customer’s problems so the family could be back on the water fast. It’s a fact that stories always “sell” more than statements or claims.

And speaking of selling, there’s a real advantage in noting the boat shows still on your calendar this winter. Highlight what you’ll be featuring, especially any new models being shown for the first time as well as any special show deals that could resonate with customers.

Placing information about the upcoming show and your plans is essentially “pre-selling” your customers and prospects. Why? Surveys confirm show visitors cite seeing new products as the No. 1 reason they go to boat shows. Consequently, if you can offer discounted or even free show tickets picked up in advance in your showroom and have a pre-boat boat show exclusive preview of what’s new in your showroom, you have prospects and customers coming in your doors early.

Resolution No. 2: Resolve to have all dealership personnel master what Mount Dora Boating Center dealer Joe Lewis, chairman of the Grow Boating Initiative, so ably advocated in a recent report on the success of the industry’s Discover Boating campaign. Can’t say it better than this:

“The common thread throughout is not to convince people boating is inexpensive, but that it’s worth it — how boating delivers a value in family recreation. This does not lessen the importance for each of us to do our part to control the cost of participation and keep it as reasonable as we can. But, we cannot forget what boating delivers — freedom, fun, excitement and an opportunity to connect. Boating delivers memories that last a lifetime. And that’s not a cliché . . . it’s a fact.”

Frankly, I think it would be encouraging to give each staffer a copy of Lewis’ statement.


The impact of a burning river

When the Cuyahoga caught fire in 1969, it set off a chain of events that led to federal action for clean water. It was a huge win for the environment and those who use the water for recreation, but our work isn’t finished.