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We’re in the rejuvenation business

I’ve about had it with this freaking economy! I’m sure you feel the same. I read everything in sight, searching for positive trends. I watch those financial TV shows looking for good news. And while I am hearing more positive than negative reports these days, it’s obvious the boat business didn’t, yet, get Fed Chief Ben Bernanke’s memo declaring “the recession ended.”  So when I want to get away from it all, I do what millions of others do to escape: I head for the boat! I point my Pursuit Offshore out on the Gulf of Mexico, leave the papers and TV behind, and I refresh. And that reminds me of a every important truth … that if you’re a boat dealer you are not in the boat business — you’re in the rejuvenation business! Boats are a place of renewal and replenishment.

In that light, it’s not a stretch to conclude that we may be placing too much emphasis on the “hardware” and too little on the “experience.”  For example, we get hung up on the importance of model years, new colors or features and such. Or we often emphasize to a prospect that “we have a reduced price on a new, non-current in stock,” instead of recognizing that, regardless of the model year, the boat we’re showing the prospect is the ticket to rejuvenation, and that’s really what we want the prospect to see. In fact, that’s also what the prospect really wants to see.

If the deal doesn’t close, the problem is likely not the boat. Simply put, if the boat doesn’t represent something in the buyer’s mind, we lose. In selling these days, we must establish the “experience” that buying the “hardware” will bring. The use of words like revitalize, renewal, invigorate and restore can all create the desired meaning.

Auto advertising is a good example. We don’t see TV ads depicting 10 Chevy models. We see ads featuring one model that concentrates on the driving experience it brings. They are carefully designed to stimulate the prospect’s imagination.

If we want prospects to act on what they’re imagining, we must make it easy. In general, as consumers we are not into “difficult” any more. Just look at today’s supermarkets, where a variety of prepared foods from salads to entrees are going out the door in record numbers. Or those personal shopper businesses — they’re growing, too, because they make it easy!

There’s no time like the present to review the entire sales process in your dealership. Look for anything that might present a hassle for the buyer. Change it, eliminate it, or actually do it for the buyer. The goal is to make it “easy” for the prospect to have his rejuvenation machine.


7 comments on “We’re in the rejuvenation business

  1. Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

    Norm: It ain’t just the boat business. TV hunting and fishing shows extoll the latest in gear but avoid the really unique nature of the activities… Oh, they run an episode or two about helping a disabled vet or a youth go fishing/hunting/whatever but you can bet an infomercial will follow… Everyone involved with the outdoors sports must put more emphasis on the enjoyment of the activity and not on the baubles and bangles…

  2. Mark Mowl

    Jimmy Buffett always says he is selling a temporary escape from real life. Its a concept our industry should embrace. When was the last time you heard of someone having a bad day on the water?

  3. Bob NorVelle

    Norm, you nailed this one for sure. Most people don’t buy a boat just for the pleasure of owning a boat, they buy it to enjoy the pleasure of boating! Unfortunately many folks lack sufficient imagination to mentally transport themselves onto the water to begin enjoying the pleasures of boating in general and a particular boat (the one they are looking at) specifically. This is where we need to sharpen our skills— we need to help the customer anticipate the enjoyment this boat will bring him, so that he will make the correct decision to buy it for his own well being.

    Done right and honestly (don’t sell him the wrong boat or too much boat,) everybody wins!

  4. Jim

    Right Norm; I fished all day today and had a great time. Can’t wait to tell each customer I speak with tomorrow about it. And that is indeed what sells our product best.

  5. steve s

    Great post Norm. However, I disagree that the auto industry is a good example. Like you said, their commercials do advertise the experience but the reality at the dealerships is completely different. The majority of auto sales scenarios are all about features, price, models years, pressure, manipulation and nothing about the “experience.” On the sales side, we need to be nothing like that and focus on the “rejuvenation business.” On the service side, we’d be better served to adopt more of the professional practices of the auto industry.

  6. Captain Andrew


    FANTASTIC POST! Boating is about the experience not about the latest and greatest. Sure it is important to make sales bases on the latest and greatest. However, boating is the tool to rejuvenate not the tool to keep up with the Jones’s.

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