Fishing & Boating News

Dealership Certification Helps Boost Customer Satisfaction

Marine Industry Certified dealerships earned higher CSI ratings in 2006 than non-certified dealerships

by: Lindsey Savin Johnson,

(Jan. 05, 2007 - Chicago, IL) Using data collected from both the Grow Boating Initiative's Marine Industry Dealership Certification program and the National Marine Manufacturers Association's (NMMA) Marine Industry Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) program, it was recently confirmed Marine Industry Certified dealerships achieved significantly higher CSI scores in 2006 than those attained by non-certified dealerships. Additionally, Marine Industry Certified dealerships were also found to have improved their CSI ratings at a faster pace than their non-certified counterparts. "These results are consistent with the positive experiences that certified dealerships historically reported in the automotive industry," says Bob Williams, president of Five Star Solutions LLC, which conducts the dealership workshops and on-site visitations that are part of the Marine Industry Dealership Certification program. According to 2006 industry data, "Overall Satisfaction with Dealer" ratings from consumers who purchased new boats from a Marine Industry Certified dealership averaged 93.7 percent, versus a rating of 86.6 percent from consumers who purchased new boats from non-certified dealerships carrying manufacturer brands that measure CSI. Additionally, when comparing CSI scores from 2006 with the previous year, it was revealed dealerships earning Marine Industry Certified status improved their "Overall Satisfaction" ratings by more than double—an average of 1.2 points for certified dealerships compared to just a 0.5 point improvement among non-certified dealerships.  These figures are based on dealership CSI scores recorded among nearly 100 boat brands participating in the NMMA CSI program. The gap between CSI scores and CSI improvement is likely much larger among non-certified dealerships without access to CSI measurements. Access to CSI measurement is one of the requirements of Marine Industry Dealership Certification. "It is gratifying to confirm the Marine Industry Dealership Certification process provides practical tools that help dealers to truly enhance a consumer's boating experience," says Thom Dammrich, president of both Grow Boating Inc. and NMMA. "The Dealership Certification program is clearly showing measurable, positive results for participants that will lead to increased sales and profitability for Marine Industry Certified dealers." "Improving the boat buying experience is a critical component of the industry's Grow Boating efforts," echoes Phil Keeter, Grow Boating Inc. vice president and president of the Marine Retailers Association of America (MRAA). "Validating the positive impact Dealership Certification has on improving customer satisfaction should help motivate dealerships not currently enrolled in the program to take their first steps toward becoming Marine Industry Certified." The new Marine Industry Dealership Certification program was developed by dealers, for dealers and focuses on the areas that affect consumer satisfaction and dealership excellence—operations, facilities, professional sales/service processes, customer satisfaction and employee training/satisfaction. Dealership certification program provides both consumer and dealer benefits fundamental to the industry's Grow Boating Initiative.  To date, a total of 426 dealerships have enrolled in the Marine Industry Dealership Certification program, 161 of which have completed the process and earned the official "Marine Industry Certified" designation. Launch Workshop locations and dates for the spring 2007 sessions are now posted on the DealerCertification website. Marine Industry Dealership Certification is part of the industry's Grow Boating Initiative, an integrated effort among organizations with an interest in the recreational marine industry to promote the boating lifestyle and improve the boating experience.  A strategic set of programs focusing on all areas of boating including water access, dealer and product certification, marketing, and research is designed to increase participation in boating and improve sales of marine products and services.  Any group of marine dealers interested in booking a launch meeting for their area should contact Dealer Certification program manager Elizabeth McAllister at (312) 946-6500; For more information about the NMMA CSI program, contact program director Terry Leitz at (312) 946-6212;