Boating Industry

February 2014

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MARKET FOCUS SECTION { SERVICE } Seattle Boat Company is about to embark on a major redevelopment at its Bellevue, Wash., facility that will include a new SkyLaunch dry dock, showroom and service center. Efficient by design Think strategically for an organized, efficient and profitable service department BY TOM KAISER S ervice departments are their own beasts and, by nature, hard to corral. Compared with the cleanliness and order of other components of a marine dealership, the service operation is often messy, loud, chaotic, cramped for space and staffed by skilled technicians who know a lot more about the finer points of internal combustion than they do about org charts or customer service. Making sense of this mysterious part 40 | Boating Industry | February 2014 P40x44-BI14FEB-MFService-dv.indd 40 of the dealership may be the biggest challenge to improving most marine dealerships, but the dividends of efficiency and organization are worth the effort. Loyal customers, happy technicians, better reviews, improved profit margins and less stress for managers are all within your reach. Before diving in to the process, recognize that all dealerships have their own challenges, be it storage space, layout, personality types or dealership culture. What works remarkably well at one location might incite a revolt at another. With that disclaimer aside, don't be afraid of change. Using the Top 100 applications as a guide, we tapped two very different dealerships that are both doing things right — one big city, one small town — for their advice on righting your own service ship. We also spoke with industry trainer Valerie Ziebron of Yamaha Marine University for her take on making changes that result in profitability and happiness, wherever your department is currently at. FOGARTY'S LAKE FLOWER MARINA On the shores of Lake Flower in Saranac Lake, N.Y., 15 minutes west of Lake Placid, Fogarty's Lake Flower Marina stands out as a small-town dealership on the rise. Its service department has four full-time employees, exceptional efficiency numbers and an older facility that presents challenges and opportunities in equal measure. Fogarty's is located on Lake Flower along one of the main thoroughfares bisecting the town. The showroom is on one side of the street, while the service, storage and gelcoat repair facilities are in separate building across the road. In its 12-year existence, owner Terence Fogarty has made piecemeal improvements to improve his dealership, make the shop a better place to work and also improve the appearance of the business in this small vacation community. The physical improvements have been significant, but Fogarty is proudest of the service policies and organization that transformed the money-losing operation into a revenue producer at his store, along with making it a better place to work. "It's a forward-thinking service department compared to a lot of ones out there," he said. "We model it after automotive and I think that we are, in the marine industry, quite a bit behind where automotive is at from a service systems standpoint." The beginning of the transformation came from a Correct Craft College course that told attendees to "Create exceptional 1/8/14 12:59 PM

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