Inside MarineMax, Part 4 — Building the Boating Lifestyle

Showing people how to have fun with their boats and fall in love with the boating lifestyle is MarineMax’s central tenet.


This article originally appeared on boats.com. Reprinted by permission.


How does a company like MarineMax engage customers for the long term? Our boats.com team stopped in at stores across the country to learn what taking the long view means in practice. In the final video of our series, we explore how the company addresses what is often the missing link for new boat owners—developing their engagement in and love for the boating lifestyle

“One of the things that Bill McGill, our CEO, has said forever is ‘Show them how to have fun,’” says Chuck Cashman, chief revenue officer.

That’s why every store runs a series of events called Getaways, which can last from an afternoon to a week or more of cruising. The Pompano store has an epic one called the Lobster Bash, on Bimini, Bahamas, which recently had 75 boats attend.

Cruising in company, customers enjoy fun, safe chances to go farther and learn along the way, not only from MarineMax staff. Captain Chris Finck, of Pompano, FL, says, “One of the nice things is watching how the customers who have a little more experience under their boat like to help the newer customers.

Anthony Armao, Pompano’s boating gear center manager, adds: “Getaways are great because you’re out on the water with people who are learning at the same time. And you’re also with people who are experienced so one boater might help someone else and vice versa.”

Getaways that bring boaters together from across different regions are MarineMax stores’ signature events.
Getaways that bring boaters together from across different regions are MarineMax stores’ signature events.

Getaways are not MarineMax’s only events. Stores also offers customers continuous training with regularly scheduled events such as Women on Water, navigation, and electronics classes.

Every staff member is aware that MarineMax surveys their customers to regularly measure satisfaction levels and is determined to provide service levels that will prompt customers to recommend MarineMax to their friends.

Mike Nolan, Clearwater service manager, says, “Our No. 1 priority is to keep the customers happy. That means we need to help them learn what they have as well as service their product so it will last for years to come.”

Jay Carroll, Pompano service manager says: “We have a good team. Sometimes we have to work until 10 o’clock at night or I have to send guys over to the Bahamas, but we all get it done and make sure the customer stays happy.”

Reflecting on the larger picture, Chuck Cashman, chief revenue officer, points out: “At MarineMax, you’re a buyer for just a second. Once you own that boat, you’re part of our family.”

How do you measure that? Maybe you just have to listen; here’s what a couple of examples sound like to us:

Diana De Carvalho, Getaways & events coordinator in Clearwater: “If you’re here after the second or third time we all know you by name, It’s just a very warm feeling when you walk through the door.

Darren Phillips, sales consultant in Pompano: “I take it as a partnership. I tell everybody I am here and I’ll walk beside you, in front of you, or behind you, but I’m always going to be there.

At boats.com, we knew boat sales and the chance to find a boat at MarineMax was something the company had under control. What we learned were the other key themes that the MarineMax team consider of the utmost importance, including keeping buying and ownership simple, making the experience all-inclusive, developing lasting personal relationships, and creating a lasting affection for the boating lifestyle.

Editor’s Note: This video is the concluding video in a series that began with It’s Not About Buying the Boatcontinued with Inside MarineMax, Part 2 – A Simpler Process is the Priority and then Inside MarineMax, Part 3 – An All-Inclusive ApproachPromotional consideration for this article was provided by MarineMax.

 

 

Inside MarineMax, Part 3 — An All-Inclusive Approach

The boats.com team toured a variety MarineMax stores to speak with staff members in sales, business, service, training, and marketing to learn how the company has become the largest boat dealership. In this video, we examine how the company works to provide a comprehensive set of services to every customer.

“Understanding what is important for customers is something that’s ingrained in you from the day you start at MarineMax,” says Paul Cummings, regional vice president.

We learned that for customers, that often means a red-carpet experience as they receive the boat of their dreams, but it doesn’t stop there as delivery captains provide new owners with instruction at whatever level is appropriate.

“It’s very exciting for the customer,” says Collin Heimensen, general manager in Clearwater, FL. “You’ve got this brand new boat and you get to learn how to use it and take it home.”

A personalized orientation is important, because the experience level of the new owner is one thing and the size of the boat is another. Larger boats involve more complex systems and storage that can take a while to learn. Handling a large boat may take some practice, too.

As Captain David Ludwig, of Cumming, GA, explains, “I’m like their security blanket in a way. They feel comfortable. They’re calm because there’s someone with skill and knowledge helping them along the way.”

MarineMax Getaways events are hosted by each store and offer opportunities not only for fun but also to learn more from staff and other owners along for the trip.
MarineMax Getaways events are hosted by each store and offer opportunities not only for fun but also to learn more from staff and other owners along for the trip.

MarineMax stores also host navigation classes and electronics courses, and have women-only courses to create learning opportunities that provide a boost in confidence as well as competence.

Sales consultants typically stay in touch with owners, serving as a resource for all boating questions. John Powell, of Cumming, GA, says he touches based with his clients occasionally “just to make sure that they’re not having any problems with their boat or perhaps to remind them about upcoming service.”

One impressive stat we heard was in Pompano, FL, from Kyle Roney, general manager: “In Pompano alone, we have 68 team members—45 of them in service and parts to take care of the customers after the sale. You look at the organization as a whole and it mirrors that.”

As Chuck Cashman, chief revenue officer, says, “Our sole existence is to make sure that their time on their boat with their family lives up to their expectations.”

At boats.com, we knew that potential boat owners had a good opportunity to find a boat at MarineMax , but we were intrigued to learn how much emphasis the company puts on giving customers access to education and service at the company aimed at enhancing their experience of their boats.

Editor’s Note: This video is the third in a four-part series that began with It’s Not About Buying the Boat and A Simpler Process is the Priority. Promotional consideration for this article was provided by MarineMax. This article originally appeared on boats.com. Reprinted by permission.

Inside MarineMax, Part 2 — A Simpler Process is the Priority

Due to its scale, MarineMax aims to create a one-stop shopping experience for customers.


This article originally appeared on boats.com. Reprinted by permission.


When the boats.com team visited several MarineMax stores recently, we noted several common denominators, one of which was to make the process of buying and owning a boat as simple as possible.

Collin Heimensen, the Clearwater store general manager, summed up the company’s approach this way: “We can handle everything from a sea trial to insurance, financing, and product expertise on the boat, including all the safety gear at delivery. We also have a captain’s orientation to make the whole process seamless for the customer.”

When an agreement is reached with a customer, the sales consultant will introduce him to the local store’s business manager, who has several tools at his disposal. “Instead of a customer having to do research on their own, close at a bank, then come in to close on the boat here, and then go to the DMV,” said Kyle Roney, general manager at MarineMax Pompano, “we handle all of that in house and make it as much of a one-stop shop as could be.”

But the effort goes beyond the business transaction. For example, the local service manager meets new customers early, too.

“My first touch point with new customers is when they come in for their demos with technical questions or to consider different options,” said Mike Nolan, service manager at MarineMax Clearwater. At that point, the customer knows he or she has an additional, knowledgeable resource available.

The MarineMax staff at Lakes of the Ozarks is one of several MarineMax teams focused on simplifying everything possible for customers.
The MarineMax staff at Lakes of the Ozarks is one of several MarineMax teams focused on simplifying everything possible for customers.

Speaking of knowledge, the dealership also provides a dedicated captain to orient customers to their new boats and provide whatever training will be useful. For example, as Captain David Ludwig of Buford, GA, told us, “When I teach boathandling skills, I show the customers how to go slow, and to shift in and out of gear to have enough speed for maneuverability but not a lot of momentum.”

Before our boats.com team took this tour of MarineMax stores, we were well aware that the opportunity to find a variety of boats at MarineMax was unusually good, but having made our visits, we were also impressed with the common goal that all staff expressed to us of making the process of buying and owning a boat as easy and as satisfying as possible.

Editor’s Note: This video is the second in series that began with Inside MarineMax, Part 1 – It’s Not About Buying the Boat. Promotional consideration for this article was provided by MarineMax.

 

 

Inside MarineMax, Part 1 — It’s Not About Buying the Boat

What does the sales approach look like that helped MarineMax become the biggest boat dealer in the U.S.?


This article originally appeared on boats.com. Reprinted by permission.


When the boats.com team visited six MarineMax stores recently, we interviewed a full range of staff members, and learned that the boat is commonly not the main focus. It’s vitally important, of course, but staff members are trained to take a longer view, developing and maintaining relationships to serve the company’s customers throughout their boating lives.

“We look to build long-term, lifetime relationships,” says Chuck Cashman, the company’s chief revenue officer. “We want the customer to feel like they’re treated very fairly and professionally, and when they walk out the door, we want them to feel like they’re part of our family.”

Questions about favorite models and family budgets take a back seat when sales consultants are working with customers. “I want to spend time getting to know them first,” says John Powell, sales consultant in Cumming, GA.

Customers will also typically meet not only the folks in the business office, but also the service managers, who may help with sea trials or in reviewing the finer points of the boat. As Dave Schultz, the Buford, GA, service manager says, “They get a chance to meet me in the service department, plus the parts manager, and get a comfortable feeling of who’s going to be taking care of their boat going forward.”

MarineMax stages Getaways events from every one of their stores, including trips to the Bahamas.
MarineMax stages Getaways events from every one of their stores, including trips to the Bahamas.

Customers will normally meet delivery/orientation captains and parts managers, as well, getting to know the people who can play key roles for them as instructors, guides, and all-around resources.

At boats.com, we knew that boat sales were big at MarineMax, but we found an underlying eco-system in which sales consultants and other team members not only look out for customers but also develop lasting personal relationships as part of an inter-connected boating community.

Editor’s Note: Next up in this four-part series is Inside MarineMax, Part 2 – A Simple Process is the Priority. Promotional consideration for this article was provided by MarineMax.

Aquila 44: Power Cat with All the Angles

All boat people are dreamers. One dream involves owning a platform big enough for family and friends to have a great time together, but also to have some privacy; a boat optimized for outdoor fun on the water, and for comfortable inside living; a boat that’s both stable and seakindly.

The Aquila 44 power cat is built of premium materials for longevity. Many of the design elements are both modernistic and practical.
The Aquila 44 power cat is built of premium materials for longevity. Many of the design elements are both modernistic and practical.

Charter companies have long known the secret here: Build big, roomy catamarans with well-designed living and play spaces. Until recent years, sailing rigs prevailed on these boats, but inevitably the builders started deleting the sails on some models, and beefing up the diesels for all-power chartering.

MarineMax, the mammoth American boat retailer, has gotten up to speed very quickly in the big power-cat world, using top design talent and premium building techniques to produce (as of this writing) three primary models, a 38, a 48, and the new 44-footer in the middle, all dual-purposed for both charter and private sale.

The master stateroom stretches across the full beam of the cat.
The master stateroom stretches across the full beam of the cat.

The 2014 Aquila 44 (known in the charter trade as the MarineMax 443) serves as a good example of a large-scale collaborative boatbuilding project. The Slovenian firm of J&J Design (for brothers Jernej and Japec Jakopin) drew up the plans; the boat is built in China by the Sino Eagle Group, and the sales, marketing, charter vacationing, and general clout is provided by MarineMax. All companies have wide experience in the global recreational marine industry.

The design maximizes hull volume and deck space for good living in the elements and belowdecks, but adds sharp, modernistic styling that serves both practical and aesthetic purposes – tinted, forward-slanting upper bridge windows; a pronounced overhang for shade over the tinted main deck windows; a hardtop well-integrated with the antenna arch; big hullside windows like speedy parallelograms, and a sheer that rises dramatically from transom to bows. Jernej and Japec know what they’re doing in terms of visuals. They make space and comfort look racy, even with the boat standing still.

But the boat doesn’t stand still. Powered by twin 225-hp Volvo-Penta diesels, the 44 has a top speed of 17 knots. At a leisurely cruising speed of about seven knots it gets very good fuel economy for a boat of its size — about 2.9 nautical mpg.

The layout is available in a three-cabin/three-head version, shown here, or with two cabins and two heads -- a geat situation for a liveaboard couple.
The layout is available in a three-cabin/three-head version, shown here, or with two cabins and two heads — a great situation for a liveaboard couple.

The hull is built with top-quality vinylester resin to prevent water intrusion, NPG gelcoat, and resin-infused fiberglass in the main hull and deck construction. These materials and methods will help insure longevity — very important in the physically tough charter trade, and for resale value among private owners and buyers. And it has a really impressive features list.

The 44 is available to private owners in a three-cabin/three-head version, or, for really ultimate elbow room, comfort, and utility space for liveaboards, a two-cabin/two-head version.

Boaters interested in a serious test-drive of the boat  (in a  nice location) will be able to take one on a charter through marinemaxvacations.com.

Here’s a look at Lenny Rudow’s video review of the Aquila 44.  Also read his full review on boats.com: Aquila 44: Power Catamaran or Trawler? Yes. For yet more information, visit MarineMax.