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Apr 12, 2016

‘Master Dealer’ Certification Focuses On Customer Service

Sponsored Content provided by Thom Cross - General Manager, MarineMax Wrightsville Beach

When I’m asked why a boat-buyer should do business with MarineMax instead of one of the many other area boat dealers, my answer includes the excellent brands we carry and our outstanding customer service. But as much as I like talking about our comparative advantage, it’s nice to have a third party confirm those points, too.
 
A recent example of this is MarineMax’s designation as a “Master Dealer” under the Brunswick Boat Group’s Certified Dealership Program. This recognition, which we received in late March 2016, is based on a rigorous checklist of standards that this manufacturer sets for its nationwide network of dealers. Brunswick’s brands include many industry leaders, such as Sea Ray, Boston Whaler and Bayliner boats and Mercury engines.
 
Much of the certification process, of course, has to do with very specific aspects of handling our inventory of Brunswick’s boats and parts, and how we market their product lines. But the majority of the items on the certification checklist have to do with how we interact with our customers. That’s what I’d like to talk about today.
 
High up on the certification form is the fact that we prominently display the “Marine Industry Consumer Commitment” in our showroom and that we review the “Marine Bill of Rights” with all our customers. Those documents are our promise that our sales people are knowledgeable and ethical and will answer all our customers’ questions respectfully and accurately; that our products will be delivered when promised and will be inspected, tested and ready for use; that we will thoroughly explain all of the product’s maintenance requirements; and that we guarantee prompt and reliable service on everything we sell.
 
One very important way we live up to that standard – and that is noted on Brunswick’s checklist – is that we work hard to treat every customer, and prospective customer, as an individual. Item 5.5 on that list notes that we have demonstrated how we monitor our staff’s interaction with all our potential customers. That ensures that they have a quality experience, and that all their questions are answered.
 
Have you ever made an inquiry about a product or service, and never gotten an answer from the business? Or gotten a sales pitch that didn’t address your question? Have you ever walked into a business and been ignored by the staff? We ensure that this doesn’t happen when a person contacts MarineMax. The Certified Dealership checklist includes several questions that address our responsiveness to our customers. Key to how we were able to give “best practices” answers to those questions is making sure that specific members of our team are responsible for following up on customer inquiries, and ensuring that everybody who steps onto our sales floor gets immediate, courteous and helpful attention.
 
I wish every business that I patronize was required, as we are, to answer this question: “Explain how you ensure customers are treated in an honest, professional and non-manipulative manner.”
 
When it comes to service on boats or motors, our certification means we meet a long list of standards for not just how well our technicians do their work, but how well they communicate with our customers. A few of the tools we use to meet those goals are a courtesy inspection sheet and a quality-assurance form that every service customer gets and signs; a “route sheet” that shows the boat is ready when it was promised; and a process to supply updates on the progress of repairs, explaining them – and all charges – to the customer. If a repair should turn up something unexpected, we ensure that the customer is notified of any additional costs 100 percent of the time. That’s item 7.3 on the Brunswick checklist.
 
Item 7.14 is our explanation of how we ensure “every boat brought in for service must be returned to the customer in as clean, if not cleaner, condition as when it was dropped off.”
 
One other vital aspect of our customer-service philosophy is how we follow up with every customer, not just after a sale, but after any service work is done. Customers should never be allowed to fall into a crack or to feel that they’re being taken for granted. That’s why we’ve been recognized for our system by which we make follow-up calls to everybody, and ask for feedback about the customers’ experience.
 
Those feedback reports aren’t just put in a file. They become part of a tracking process by which we evaluate trends in customer satisfaction, and use what we learn for ongoing training of our entire sales and service staffs.
 
All this, and much more, goes into guaranteeing that our customers have the best possible experience every time they interact with us. And it’s not just us saying so. That why we are so pleased that one of the leading players in our industry has taken the time and trouble to certify, through a very detailed, step-by-step process, that our customers do indeed come first.
 
Thom Cross is the general manager of MarineMaxWrightsville Beach. Headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, MarineMax is the nation’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer. Focused on premium brands, MarineMax sells new and used recreational boats and related marine products and services as well as provides yacht brokerage and charter services. For more information, visit www.marinemax.com, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarineMaxWrightsvilleBeach or call (910) 256-8100.

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