I’ve always liked observing what top dealers do to . . . well, be top dealers. The most common denominator: they never stop going after business, even in a supposed dead month like December! Cases in point from last weekend come from three of the industry’s top 100 dealers: Lakeside Marine, Galati Yacht Sales and South Shore Marine. Lakeside Marine (Lakeside, Ohio) held a “Holiday Boat Hop” on Sunday afternoon in its showroom. More than 170 customers and prospects registered in advance with more than 150 of them showing up. Some 45 more just registered at the door.

Besides “hopping” from boat to boat in a holiday-decorated showroom packed with Tiaras, Pursuits and Pathfinders, guests saw a special emphasis on electronics displays featuring Raymarine’s newest. It was manned by a sales team that provided demonstrations and wrote orders with customers to upgrade during the off-season to, for example, the latest wide screens.

“We made electronics a big part of the event,” noted Lakeside President Lowell Joy. “The newest products are really amazing and we’ve found that when we devote the time to seriously show and sell the idea of upgrading, it pays off.”

Similarly, Lakeside’s service department had a big role to play. In preparation for the “Boat Hop,” the service crew inspected customers’ boats in winter storage and made a list for each owner of recommended things to get done during the off-season. “Again, going after service work was a primary objective at the ‘Boat Hop’ and it resulted in a variety of work orders,” explained Joy.

What about “Boat Hop” sales? -- A new 25’ Pursuit Offshore, and pre-owned 43’ Tiara convertible and 24’ Denali Pursuit. “Never say never on a winter Sunday,” quipped Joy

For Galati Yacht Sales (St. Petersburg, Fla.) it was boat show time last weekend. To boost their customers’ visit to their exhibit at the St. Petersburg Power & Sail Show, Galati ran a slick multi-week e-mail campaign that, among other things, promoted what they were going to display and offered advance free tickets to the show.

Darren Plymale, general manager, reported 1,553 tickets were requested this year. While it’s probable less tickets were actually redeemed this year vs. last (1,264 tickets were redeemed in ‘08) unusually cold rain soaked the boat show on three of its four days.

“We’re obviously disappointed,” said Plymale, “only one good weather day out of four was totally unexpected. On the heals of the good shows we had at Tampa, Ft. Myers and Lauderdale, we had high expectations for St. Pete and we put together a great exhibit of new Vikings and Tiaras along with some choice used and bank-owned boats. Still, we’re not getting heartburn over it. You never succeed if you don’t prepare. We were prepared, just not for very bad weather! When the weather cleared on Sunday, we saw a good crowd. Serious prospects. We have some good sea trails scheduled this week, and we have leads to push us into the New Year."

It was like a New Year’s party at South Shore Marine (Huron, Ohio) last Saturday for the annual Holiday Open House. That included a bright red Contender-turned refreshment bar, catered food, live music, door prizes, and more.

“This has become a tradition for us,” says Tom Mack, president. “We basically clear out much of our showroom for the open house because people look forward to this and we’ll see upwards of 400 customers and prospects pack in during the day. Our business model calls for maintaining close relationships with our customers. Our Holiday Open House is one of the important ways we do that.

“This year, the event also gave people a chance to preview our newest line, Regal Boats, before we take them to the Cleveland Boat & Fishing Show in January. We’ve added Regal to our Contender, Scout, Carolina Classic and Rampage lines. No, I can say December is definitely not a dead month for us,” Mack emphasized.


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