I don’t know why I watched the final Oprah Winfrey Show yesterday afternoon. I must admit I’d probably seen less than a half dozen shows by this remarkable talk show icon over the last 25 years. But I am glad I was tuned in to this one.
There were no guests. No balloon drops. No flashing lights . . . just Oprah standing on stage alone, earnestly sharing her gratitude with a small live audience and countless more out in TV land. She described her conviction that her shows were always designed to bring out the positives in human experiences — that everyone should find what ignites their passion and pursue it. She took no credit for her talent or astounding success. Rather, in an obvious heartfelt way, she gave all credit to her viewers . . . her “customers” if you will.
It was at that moment my mind related what she was saying to our boating industry. Given the pressures of running a dealership these days, it’s easy to lose focus on what we really do in this industry. But everyday we go to work in our dealerships we, too, are impacting the human experience in a positive way. It makes no difference whether we’re talking about management, the sales team, the mechanics or the boat cleaners. Truth is every job in the dealership is there to do one thing – impact the experience of the customer.
And what a variety of experiences our boats offer. We provide escape machines to get a suntan, wet a line, hoist a sail, go fast or slow, turn left or right, ride skis or a tube, head over the horizon or just rock at the dock. And passion – well, the families whose experiences we enhance share a love and a passion for being on the water. Perhaps, to keep our focus, we need to, from time to time, remember this classic story:
Mr. Mole meets the good-natured Water Rat who invites him for a ride in his boat. They shove off into the river and Mole says:
“Do you know, I’ve never been in a boat before in my life?”
“What?” cried Rat, open mouthed: “Never been in a – you never – well I – what have you been doing then?”
“Is it so nice as all that? asked Mole as he leaned back in his seat in the stern and felt the boat sway lightly under him.
“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said Rat solemnly as he leaned forward for his stroke with the oars. “Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS.
“Simply messing,” Rat went on dreamily, “messing about in boats – or with boats. In or out of ‘em, it doesn’t matter Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not,” Rat summarized.
Thanks, Rat, for reminding us why we do what we do in this industry.
(From: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame)