Anyone ready for boat season?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in boat shows, general boating industry, shop talk

Tis the boat season–IT HAS OFFICIALLY BEGAN–and we are all getting busier and busier. I am an assistant to the service department, and from here on out, about half of my responsibilities will be to answer the phone and take messages. Not that it hadn’t been before, it’s just that all four lines are now ringing a lot one right after another.

It’s hard to believe that at the end of next month (May) I will have been working at my dream company (Thunder) for a year. Last year, I was new to the crazy. But this year? I have a lot of things down and I can actually be helpful.. which makes me really happy.

I keep reading on about the economic turnout at shows and just in general to buy a boat. It’s good to see that beginning rush of people bringing their boat in for service, as well as going to the boat shows and seeing people work deals for the buying of new ones. It seems with the lower gas prices that’s just a good portion of people being happy to get out on the water again. I was never in the industry when the collapse happened, so I cannot compare there.

On another note, I also saw a few articles today on about sales and service in general and how to keep customers happy. That will be saved for the next entry which deserves its own post.

For anyone who works in the industry, I wish you the best and to hit those goals and collect the much-deserved bonuses you (might) earn. I hope this year is better than the last.

As for me, I will be around–working–and (hopefully) be at the next boat show in Sarasota (Suncoast).

– Karen Maeby

Customer service at boat shows.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in boat shows, shop talk

First of all, I need to say how much I love reading Today Jonathan Sweet, one of their writers/bloggers, came out with such a great article as a reminder for any readers in this industry.

An article from April 1965 stated what was wrong with the companies at a boat show which mostly talked about the disengagement of boat dealer employees to the buyers.

Reading that reminds me of a story.

My first show ever was the Miami International Show, right? I distinctly remember talking to this one company at their booth about some product and then [we] asked about a specific product that they carry. Their marketer was sitting at the booth and had absolutely no clue about that product.

With me having zero knowledge about what went on with boat shows at that time, I knew right then and there that someone like that should not be manning the booth (or at least alone). I walked away like, “Did that really just happen?” Then I texted my then boss and thanked him for giving me the knowledge that I did have, so that I wouldn’t end up in that situation.

Yes, everyone has to hire new employees as old ones move on, but to have basic knowledge of everything their company covers is very, very important. Say the top dogs who’ve been there for a while was busy with other customers, the new employees must engage and answer questions quickly enough to grab the customers attention before they give up and move to someone else. Think bait to fish, you need to tug on the line just a bit then reel it in after you’ve gained their full attention.

Back to the article by Boating Industry– two other blog entries written were about their individual reaction to going to a boat show. Some dealership employees were ignoring customers by constantly having their nose in their phones.

I personally haven’t experienced anything like that since Miami, but I know the more that I continue to go to the shows, the more I’ll see. To me, the bottom line is: that it is disappointing to see someone at the booth who has no clue about the company/industry/product. That’s bad business. It’s also bad business to not say a simple “hello” — at least you threw the line out there.

– Karen Maeby

General customer service in the boating industry.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in general boating industry, shop talk

A few entries back I stated “tis the season for boat season.” Yes, I believe it has finally hit this area at least. One of the things that I do is study the behavior of customers when things go right/wrong, not just at my location, but anywhere I go or what I may hear out in the world.

I have also read’s article about the behaviors of salespeople and what makes them not gain the sales.

In general, here are some key pointers I would like to stress for all departments.

– DO NOT rush the customer to get your sale. Listen, listen, listen for what they want.

– If you treat the customer with respect through the sale, then the service goes smoothly–they are yours for life. The last thing you want is trouble from the beginning because they will quickly regret their decision.

– Get to know your customer throughout this whole process. The more personal you get, the better off you will end up.

– If you have several departments, make sure the communication is A-A. The busier it gets, the crazier it will get– so everyone needs to be on the same page to seize any bad that might happen.

– Now is not the time to have any “trouble makers” on board. Now is not the time to hire new people who don’t have the knowledge to just jump right in and work.

– If the customer’s parts are on backorder or for whatever reason you don’t have them, call the customer and let them know. They will be more mad at you for not telling them than if you did call and tell them. At least at that point, it’s out of your hands.

– Keep the communication line open with your customer. If you do not call them back, they will keep calling and will not be happy about it. Always, always, always update them.

– If you make a promise, you deliver. You were the one that told them it was going to be there / done / what have you, now you must make that happen.

– Get all of your documents signed that you are supposed to. This covers the customer, as well as you.

I know that sometimes some of these things are nearly impossible or can get out of control when it’s busy, but it is always best to keep calm and keep pushing on. Just do the right thing and it should fall back in place once the stress is over.

– Karen Maeby

The boat show that began it all.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in boat shows, international boat shows

My first boat show was the Miami International Boat Show in 2013. There was something special about it–walking around for miles and miles seeing all kinds of products. I ended up bringing home several bags of boat literature. There was nothing like it.

Since I had never been to Miami, of course, I also brought my camera and got to catch more than just the boats and surrounding area.

While there, I had a feeling, some sort of an epiphany. I left Miami with this need to do anything and everything with boats. Forever–and ever–for the rest of my life.

From then on, I attended all of the smaller shows that I could, and even the Fort Lauderdale show later on. Looking back, it was kind of a mistake going to a big show first THEN the smaller shows. But, nevertheless, a show is a show and I still have the same happy feeling.

– Karen Maeby