Top 100 Ideas: Revamping service
Atwood Lake Boats faced a challenge in 2011 after the showcase Atwood Lake Resort closed at the end of the 2010 season.
The resort had been part of the fabric of Atwood Lake tourism since it was built in 1965, showcasing the Atwood Lake area to hundreds of families and business conference attendees. But now it was scheduled for demolition in the summer of 2011.
“We had no idea how the closing would affect daily business on Atwood Lake: clothing, accessories, restaurant and boat rental,” said C. Brian Valot, president and general manager of the Mineral City, Ohio, dealership.
The company had to reinvent the business model to account for that loss of business. Atwood made several changes, including remodeling and adding services to turn its marinas, especially the Atwood Lake East Marina nearest the resort, into more of a “destination.”
Atwood also invested heavily in revamping its service department to drive more business.
A new scheduling system increased technician efficiency and gave techs an opportunity to be more directly involved in customer interaction. By encouraging technicians to call customers with assessments of their engines, boats, etc., the service department has been able to sell more services and increase customer satisfaction by eliminating further service issues once customers pick up their boats.
At the same time, new service packages made it easier for customers to sign up for a year of service and maintenance and increased revenue for Atwood. With the new packages, customers choose a yearly service package tailored to their needs. The Atwood service department contacts the customer for in-service and out-service dates, as well as issuing a guarantee date for boat delivery and removal.
The new packages were promoted through direct mail, on-hold messaging, flyers, and website advertising. With the highest level (the "Gold Package") customers pay for docking and all winter service in the fall prior to the season, therefore having no expense in the following spring. With the new proactive plans, Atwood was able to receive 3 percent of its total docking sales 90 days prior to the season, thus allowing for increased winter cash flow.
And the story of Atwood Lake Resort even has a happy ending: New owners purchased the resort in 2012 and have since reopened it.