Your Input is Needed

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Dealers around the country are finding their customers increasingly subjected to efforts to restrict waterway access and, therefore, the enjoyment of recreation on the water. That makes input into a water management survey by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators very important. And dealer input is needed — today!

The urgency is because the survey closes tomorrow night, July 31. After that, a steering committee will begin revising a “Guide For Multiple Use Waterway Management” (third edition). It will be utilized by related agencies to initiate rules and designate uses. Put another way, as NASBLA states:

“This project is designed to provide current direction for effective waterway management, including policy development and communication for public understanding, acceptance and compliance.”

NASBLA was awarded a non-profit grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, for which the boating industry is lobbying Congress for renewal. The fund is administered by the Coast Guard, and the objective of the NASBLA panel is to develop management processes on shared recreational waters.

But there’s a potential problem. While NASBLA asserts that the steering committee guiding the project includes “representatives from a wide range of user groups and management agencies,” the 22-member panel lacks some necessary balance. For example, there’s a distinct absence of representation from the recreational boating industry, among other interests.

The panel is composed of representatives from NASBLA (five members), Passenger Vessel Association (three), American Canoe Association (two), Waterways Association of Pittsburgh (two), Coast Guard (two), American Waterways Operators, Chicago Harbor Safety Committee, Florida Fish & Wildlife, River Management Society, States Organization for Boating Access, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, States Organization for Boating Access, and one public member (a retired boating law administrator).

The survey comprises just 10 questions and should take just a few minutes to complete. To give your input, access the survey here.

Customer Experience Declining

The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas released the latest report on the Customer Satisfaction Indices on sales delivery and service, and the picture isn’t good.

According to MRAA partner Customer Service Intelligence, which charts customer satisfaction indices on sales delivery and service for up to 50 dealers, CSI scores for this group have declined by more than 6 percentage points since April. In the first month of the quarter, those dealers scored a 96.65 CSI score for sales delivery. However, in the second month it dropped to 94.39, and in June it hit a low of 90.45.

The industry’s excellent sales to date have been exciting. But attending to the increased business has apparently taken away the time to maintain good customer relationships, something every dealer may need sooner than later if the resurging Covid-19 continues. Here are some basic tips to help get CSI going up again.

Make it personal again It was personal when you were selling the boat, so the experience should continue to be personal. For all your recent customers, take the time to show them how much you appreciate their support. You could do this by writing them a handwritten thank-you note or calling to ask how they’re doing. Ask if there’s anything you can do to make their boating experience more enjoyable. Such an effort will cement a relationship and could be reciprocated when they tell others how you go above and beyond in making them feel like VIPs.

Use email to stay connected Take time to periodically touch base with an email, but make it interesting. For example, include news about an interesting new product. But what will really make it work is to include a call to action. Like getting a special discounted item if they the dealership.

Mail a note with a coupon Coupons are great for attracting new customers, but they can also drive loyalty among your existing clients. It amazing how we’ve become accustomed to responding to coupon deals, especially if they’re on new accessories. Again, a coupon is a good call to action.

Host a special event Inviting customers to a special event or class, such as a fishing clinic or a women’s boating class, can bring in customers (and their friends and prospects). Remember, any time you can gain face-to-face time allows you to cement a relationship.

Use your phone – for pictures Pictures and videos are tops in digital marketing, and your phone is all you need. Send occasional pictures or short videos (one or two minutes) showing something interesting happening at the dealership — something new that just arrived, a behind-the-scenes look at an activity, a boating or fishing tip, or you sitting on a boat simply saying hello.

Bottom line Customer loyalty and retention is critical. If we go into a long recession, as many experts are predicting because of the pandemic, loyal customers could keep your dealership profitable. Most of all, make certain your entire team is aware that customer loyalty is a daily goal in every dealership operation. Good CSI is not just a buzzword — it’s serious business.

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