Customers are less educated today than they have ever been in the age of the internet, because the coronavirus has upset business operations as usual.
Business owners that haven’t made the effort to update the clients on how they are operating are losing business, according to opening day keynote speaker Jay Baer, who has founded five, multi-million-dollar companies, and whose consulting firm, Convince & Convert, is used by major entities including Adidas, Caterpillar, and The United Nations.
“Customers do not know the story anymore,” said Baer during Tuesday’s opening day keynote speech at Virtual Dealer Week, the annual training and education event organized by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. “You actually see this in the data. From February to March, there was an 88 percent increase in questions asked on websites. That’s not questions asked on Google; that’s questions asked on your website and my website and the MRAA’s and RBFF’s website. Why? Nobody knows nothin’ about nothin’.”
Seventy percent of customers say online ratings and reviews are more important than ever to them.
“Of course they are,” said Baer. “Nobody knows nothin’ about nothin’. After all we’ve been through, you’re going to read a review about licorice before you spend money on it, much less a boat.”
That means every single business has to function like a startup — as if the company had literally just opened its doors, said Baer.
“You’ve got to rewire the customer understanding now,” said Baer. “I will guarantee you, partially from the uncertainty gap and partially from new boat owners, you’ve got customers saying things like ‘I’m not sure,’ ‘I don’t know,’ and, “What about…?’ Those are clarity warnings. That means the information you’re providing is not comprehensive or clear enough. That’s a signal you need to close down that uncertainty gap.”
Baer suggested companies post “Ultimate FAQs” on their websites.
“Nothing is too basic or obvious today,” added Baer. “And it’s not enough to just have answers on your website. If somebody’s going to buy a boat, it’s not just a purchase, especially for a first-time buyer. It’s a lifestyle change.”
That means frequently-asked questions need to be portable, printable, savable and sharable, said Baer.
“If I owned a boat dealership, I would … post 17 reasons why you should not buy a boat, and address head-on the reasons people say you shouldn’t buy a boat,” said Baer. “Customers are already doing Google searches on those things anyway — you may as well address it for them.”
Dealer Week drew an all-time record number of attendees — more than 1,030 dealers registered as of 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, according to Mike Davin, brand manager for Dealer Week organizers, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. Including exhibitor staff, the number was around 1,500, he posted in the comments during the seven-hour event.
“Thank you to everyone who has played a role in helping make Dealer Week 2020 a success,” wrote Davin. “In an otherwise crazy year, we are thrilled to share this incredible content with more dealers than ever before!”’
Eight dealerships were recognized for being “Great Dealerships to Work For” during the event at MRAA’s annual conference and expo, with Breath’s Boats & Motors in Bay St. Louis, Miss., taking the top spot.
Breath’s was unable to create a video like the other dealerships because it was hit hard by Hurricane Zeta, according to the MRAA.
No. 2 and 3 were earned by Desmasdon’s Boatworks in Ontario, Canada, and All Season Marine Works (multiple locations) in Connecticut, respectively.
Ranking 4 through 8 were Off Shore Marine in Branchville, N.J.; Buckeye Sports Center in Peninsula, Ohio; Regal & Nautique of Orlando, Orlando, Fla.; Lodder’s Marine in Fairfield, Ohio; and Union Marine, headquartered in Seattle, Wash.
“Becoming a great dealership to work for is not an easy feat, especially in a year like 2020, when dealership employees were asked to work longer and harder than ever to keep up with the increased demand the marine industry faced,” said MRAA brand manager Liz Keener in a statement. “These dealerships invest in the satisfaction of their employees, and they take pride in fostering an environment that their employees love to work in each and every day.”
Read more about Dealer Week in this week’s Trade Only Today and in the February issue of Soundings Trade Only.