Suzuki’s new emphasis on its marine business is a response to assertions from consumers and dealers that their needs were not being met, vice president of operations Mark Eastman says.
One of the company’s strategies to meet these needs is a new parts and accessories line that includes multiple-item kits for each engine family. The kits contain about 15 items and are specific to each family. Right now, there are 12 of them.
Some of the things included in the kits are anodes, impellers, propellers, spark plugs, fuel filters and oil filters. The cost of the kits, which will be available in the fall, is 5 to 10 percent less than the items would cost if they were purchased separately. “Dealers told us it was hard for them to keep every item on the Suzuki parts list in stock all the time,” Eastman says. “This new kit meets that need.”
Eastman says the kits and other new parts and accessories are part of a bigger picture — Suzuki’s new emphasis on the marine market. “The engines are the key to Suzuki’s success, but all the other pieces go along with it,” Eastman says.
The company is creating a stronger presence in dealerships with floor space, standalone Suzuki boards and slat wall displays. The fact that dealers are willing to commit that space to Suzuki creates consumer confidence in the brand, Eastman says. “The feedback from the dealers is positive,” he says. “They’re ready. One of our dealers wanted 600 kits today.”
The company also has added new training seminars. Its Atlanta service-training center has reopened for the first time in four years. The company also has added online courses and drafted new product manuals, says Robert Bucklin, field service manager.
The Atlanta service-training center will offer a couple of two-day courses and one weeklong systems diagnostic course. The two-day courses cover troubleshooting techniques for technicians and dealers. One addresses the computerized Suzuki Diagnostic System, and the second deals with Suzuki Modular Instrument System gauges.
The five-day systems diagnostic course covers troubleshooting for all Suzuki engines, from 40 to 300 hp. “We look at problems with compression and ignition and troubleshoot things,” Bucklin says.
The course also re-emphasizes the basics, he says. “These guys have been doing this for so long, they forget the basics. This takes them back to good basics: spark, compression, fuel.”
Bucklin says the five-day course was the most popular in the past. The cost is $150 for that course and $100 for the two-day sessions. Classes start in mid-November. Suzuki also has drafted new product manuals and designed new online training courses. Those will be available this fall.
The training center in Atlanta had been dormant since the recession, Bucklin says. Suzuki’s new emphasis on the marine division, its goal of capturing 10 percent of the marine engine market and the energy behind the company’s 50th anniversary year were factors in the decision to reopen the center.
— Theresa Nicholson
This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue.