Dealership Tactics to Improve Close Ratios

Aimie, MRAA’s AI for Marine Industry Education reports that the common benchmark for close ratio in the retail industry is roughly 20-25%. That compares with a recent report from HubSpot regarding the average close rate of 20% across numerous industries.

Put simply, for 100 qualified leads or prospects your sales team would need to close a quarter of them. Of course, we all know that ideal closing ratios for dealerships vary as do the tactics and processes used. Boat types, market conditions, cash buyers and financing concerns also play a role. Ultimately, it’s about converting shoppers into buyers!

This blog shares actual real-world feedback from dealers who have implemented tactics to improve close ratios at their dealerships.

Guide offering tips for dealers, including best practices for improving sales close ratios

Do you know your sales numbers and where your individual team members currently sit?  Knowing your numbers is Strategy No. 2 in the MRAA’s Guide to Navigating 2024.

We understand it’s not always easy to get a handle on everyone and everything you do at your dealership, but it’s time to make every possible effort to do it and to track it.

11 Helpful Tactics
It’s one reason we ask dealers like you to share tips and best practices for success in improving closing ratios. Here are 11 tactics to explore to help your team and dealership improve.

  1. Manage Customer Expectations for Trade Values: The goal is to build trust with customers and to help them feel confident and comfortable with a purchasing decision. It’s vital to be upfront and honest about trade-in values.
  2. Reinforce Product Availability: Chances are you have good inventory levels of new and used vessels. It’s wise to take advantage of that and inform customers of their options.
  3. Value Proposition: You’re not just selling a boat but also your dealership and your team. Be sure to emphasize the long-term relationship and the quality of service customers will receive by working with your dealership.
  4. Educate and Slow Down the Sale: Take the time to educate the customer about why now is the best time to buy. Discuss dealer discounts, brand incentives and the benefits of the inventory you have on hand.
  5. Incentives and Promotions: Any available incentives, promotions, or rebates on new boats —boat show deals – can help entice customers to buy.
  6. Maintenance and Service: Certain dealers have encouraged regular maintenance and offered to schedule bigger jobs over the winter, which helped their customers spread out their spending. [Need a service process map?]
  7. Sales Basics: Returning to basic selling strategies and holding regular sales meetings to refresh your approach is an effective practice.
  8. Overcome Financing Objections: Address concerns about higher interest rates by explaining that they have returned to historical norms. Remind them that the value and enjoyment they will get from boating will outweigh these costs. Encourage them to buy now because it’s currently a buyer’s market, interest rates will likely drop and it’s feasible to refinance down the road. [Get more tips.]
  9. Lifestyle Selling: Boating had a spotlight on it during the pandemic as a sanctuary and safe escape from societal pressures. Emphasize to your customers both the lifestyle and aspirational aspects of boating persist and  the rewards of the enriching on-the-water experience.
  10. Quality of Life: People focus a lot on short-term needs, but with boating, it’s smart to sell on long-term quality of life-objectives. By taking this approach, you can shift the focus off price and redirect it to the overall value of boating experiences.
  11. Social Media and Online Presence: Use your social channels to connect and engage with potential customers to showcase the joys of boating and the value your dealership offers. Use these touchpoints to nurture relationships.

These suggested dealership tactics to improve close ratios might not reflect every perspective in the industry. However, they are a valuable starting point for improving your sales team’s closing ratios. Ongoing training and empowering your sales team with knowledge and tools can help them succeed in today’s market.

Get More Data & Market Insights: MRAA Pulse Reports

[AIMIE, MRAA’s AI for Marine Industry Education and content delivery system, was used as a resource in the production of this content. Learn more.]