Tag Archives: social media

Can YouTube really increase sales?

I have a confession to make. I’ve been resisting the YouTube revolution. I know it’s hard to believe as some people think of me as the Social Media Guy. My son loves doing searches on YouTube for Pokemon episodes, and my wife searches for new recipes and cooking ideas on YouTube all the time. Maybe I am a Neanderthal in that when I search Google, I typically shy away from clicking on videos.

What I learned from YouTube expert Julie Perry of BLASTMedia, is that I am definitely missing the boat. Julie was a contributing author of Success Secrets of the Social Media Marketing Superstars. I recently attended a presentation she gave at the Marine Marketers of America meeting at the Miami Boat Show. Google paid $1.65B for YouTube for good reason. They’ve turned the most popular video sharing site into the second most popular search engine on the Internet behind their own flagship site. That’s larger than Yahoo!, Bing, AOL, and many others. Continue reading Can YouTube really increase sales?

This could happen to you (if you are lucky)

If your products and services are perfect, and every customer of yours is completely satisfied, then stop reading this now. For the rest of us, we need to be embrace the fact that consumers have never before had more power. Social media and online communities are something that we as marketers should view as an unprecedented opportunity rather than another channel to contend with.

In their book Groundswell, authors Charlene Li and John Bernoff explain it this way:

“Right now, your customers are writing about your products on blogs and re-cutting your commercials on YouTube. They’re defining you on Wikipedia and ganging up on you in social networking sites like Facebook. These are all elements of a social phenomenon — the groundswell — that has created a permanent, long-lasting shift in the way the world works. Most companies see it as a threat. You can see it as an opportunity.”

Our DockMaster business had a “close call” with this type of negative customer sentiment. Over the past five years we’ve been upgrading our 250 clients, some of them with 10 or more physical locations from a legacy “text-based” version of DockMaster to our Windows platform. I am happy to say that we have completed this task and I want to thank our customers for sticking with us through the transition. It was difficult for both them and us. Some of our customers had been using our text-based system for over 10-years. It is very difficult to transition from one way of doing things (keyboard entry) to another (mouse-driven navigation).

One of our customers was struggling with not only a DockMaster change, but also a change to their network infrastructure. The transition was painful for this customer and in the midst of the transition, the owner e-mailed me an image one of his employees created that mocked the DockMaster logo.

What struck me was the fact that someone took the time to create this image and pass it around their company as a show of their frustration. I envisioned it hanging on a wall with a bunch of darts stuck in it. This image was a painful, but insightful wake up call for me at two levels:

1. It gave me some insight into how difficult a system transition can be and our team needed to be more sensitive of this.

2. I thought to myself what if this gets out on the internet? How would this tarnish our brand?

The owner did me a great service by sending it to me. Back in 2007 when I received this feedback, I would never have imagined that I would be publishing this story. After all, I am the CEO of the company that makes DockMaster. Shouldn’t we always try to paint a rosy picture for the world to read or spin a story to our advantage? To all the other company managers reading this post: you can’t do that anymore. The world doesn’t want “rosy” or “spin”. They want the truth. This includes open, honest, engaging “conversations” with customers, suppliers and the public at large.

How small changes can add up

After speaking to several dealers in recent weeks, I have come to the conclusion that if your service department is not profitable, then you are doing something wrong.

Little changes in the way you schedule your service work or how you have your shop organized can save you hundreds a week and thousands a month.  How much are you paying for your credit card machine?  Now is a better time than ever to negotiate your swipe and keyed rates.

Every technician should be having a shop efficiency rate of 70+% for billable hours.  If they do not, then you need to look at what they are working on.  Do they need training to better understand today’s motors?  Are they spending too much time waiting for product to be brought to them or spending too much time in the yard trying to find it and gaining access to it?  If you know a technician is going to be on the docks, have a yard guy uncover the boat and get it ready for the technician to work on.

Out of date parts inventory is not doing you any good sitting on the shelves and tying up possible investment funds. Let it go and create revenue.  Even at a loss it is better than costing you money each month while it sits on the shelves.  Ebay can be your best friend when it comes to eliminating parts room clutter. The revenue made from selling your non-current inventory can then be re-directed into training your technicians or service personnel.

Schedule training with your engine suppliers and other vendors.  If you do not have enough personnel at your facility, coordinate with another marina and hold the training at a neutral site.  Now is the time to utilize their time and yours.

Take your training schedule to a new level by holding training seminars for your customers.  This is another great way to sell products, get customers in your facility during the off season and stay in front of them and communicate with them on a regular basis.

How are you marketing and advertising your service department?  Social media allows you to do this in an effective and relatively cheap manner.  I am sure that your dealership has a Facebook and Twitter account, but do you have separate accounts for your parts and service departments?  If the answer is “no”, then you are missing out on opportunities to effectively communicate with your customers and increase your revenue.

Tell your customers about overstocked items, a new product that came in or service specials that you are having.  Furthermore, control your weekly work flow.  If you see that you may not have enough billable hours for the following week, communicate with your customers and tell them that there is immediate availability for service.

Finally, make sure you are able to measure everything you do.  You want to establish a bench mark and regularly check against it.  If you can not track it, then you need to think twice before you implement it.

[Photo goes here]
Captain Christopher Kourtakis