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GE Capital invests in certified-dealer program

GE Capital's recently announced contribution to the Grow Boating effort will be dedicated to the Five Star Dealer Certification Program.

“We’ve invested a lot in that. We just believe in and do business with a lot of dealers who are in the process of becoming certified,” GE Capital marine group president Bruce Van Wagoner told Soundings Trade Only. “We felt it appropriate to show support through Grow Boating.”

With fewer dealers, reduced market share and roughly the same number of builders, Van Wagoner says the industry understands the value of the distribution network.

The program is seeing a rise in interest from dealers, an indicator that things are rebounding for marine businesses, program director Terry Leitz told Trade Only.

“We retained a good level of dealers through the recession and we’re starting to get some back,” Leitz said. “We’re starting to see more interest.”

Certified dealers make up only 11 or 12 percent of all dealers, but those dealers account for about 35 percent of marine sales, says Bob Williams, president and CEO of Five Star Solutions, the company that manages the program.

Williams unveiled some new features last week at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla. The “Best Practices” have been drilled down by department so dealers can more easily access the areas most applicable to them.

“It’s all broken up by area in there and it all came from other certified dealers,” Williams said at an awards luncheon Wednesday at the dealer conference.

The program also has reduced the process of certification by one third for those who become certified for the third year in a row, as well as for subsequent years.

Because websites are constantly changing, the website review process has been expanded, Williams said.

Click here for more about the dealer certification program.

— Reagan Haynes

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