Shifting Tides: 8 Marine Industry Women Share Their Insights

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The representation of women in the Marine industry has increased significantly over the last decade on all fronts. There are more women today working in marine dealerships, more women involved in maritime trading and logistics associations, and more female customers as well. In fact, since the pandemic, women are driving the majority of the purchase decisions.

As the Marine industry grows, we wanted to emphasize the positive influence that women have had on this growth and highlight the vast opportunities that still lay ahead. We reached out to women in the Marine industry to learn about their experiences and share their insights. This is what they had to say.

Click to Jump Ahead:

Industry Changes and Trends

How to Provide Better Service at Your Dealership

Advice to Other Women in the Industry

Women in Marine infographic

In your experience in the Marine industry, have you noticed any changes or new trends?

Highlights

  • Increased demand for boats and an enhanced boating experience
  • The growing impact of technology on the industry
  • The importance of providing adequate training for boaters

There have been several significant changes and trends in the marine industry. Among these changes were increased demand for boats and an enhanced boating experience, the growing impact of technology, and the importance of providing suitable training for new boaters.

1. Increased demand for boats and an enhanced boating experience:

The demand for boats is the biggest since the recession and it’s very exciting!

Alyssa Freeman, Executive Director at Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County

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The fine finishing of many boats and growth of the big power center console sector are two main changes that I noted, pre-pandemic. As more boat brands have been created, and some acquired by other bigger brands, competition became fierce and all serious boat builders began improving the quality of their construction, including better finishing (such as inside of hatches), paints, moulds, and hardware. This benefitted the consumer as the competition improved the overall quality of boats.

Marilyn DeMartini, President at PR Power

2. The growing impact of technology on the industry:

The next generation of boating is here and it’s wonderfully diverse, with more people of color, women, and individuals at earlier stages of their lives than ever before. Technology and the marine community are two of the biggest enablers of these shifts. Technology has changed the boating experience and made it easier, more approachable. The marine community is why people are staying engaged. Both will lift commitment to boating as a lifestyle over time and continue to broaden our reach.

Lauren Beckstedt, CMO at Boat Group, Business Acceleration and Enterprise Marketing, Brunswick Corporation

The overwhelming increase of center consoles in the market and the increase in outboard engine power, thanks to improvements in technology, made more manufacturers turn to outboard engines which can be less expensive and easier to maintain than inboard power. Warranties were added, again benefitting the customer. Bigger boats required bigger power, so the industry created the demand, then fulfilled it. This also took center consoles from strictly a fishing vessel to a more family-friendly vessel with more seating, finer upholstery and entertainment features. Boating became performance-enhanced and more fun for groups of family and friend–as well as anglers.

Marilyn DeMartini, President at PR Power

3. The importance of providing adequate training for new boaters:

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“The Marine industry has had an exceptional two years, with significantly more new boaters joining our family. Over the last two years, we have seen that families have turned to boating to experience fun together. As new boaters continue to join our family, we as dealers must shift the way in which we provide training to these customers. Many are requesting on water orientations, even for smaller towable boats. Providing quality training to these new boaters is an integral part of our commitment to the Marine industry to ensure we have safe and knowledgeable boaters out on the water.”

Kim Wilkinson, General Manager at MarineMax Danvers

What should Marine dealers do to provide better service in the year ahead?

Highlights

  • Give your customers a hassle-free service experience
  • Hire the right people, train your employees, and maintain a positive work culture
  • Get to know your customers and communicate with them clearly

There is a lot that can be done in the year ahead and it begins with giving your customers an exceptional customer experience. It’s also important to hire the right people, give them the necessary training, and maintain a positive work culture. Knowing your customers’ needs, communicating with them clearly, and receiving their feedback will also allow you to tackle their concerns head-on, which will ultimately enhance the service they receive.

1. Give your customers a hassle-free service experience:

Women in marine quote

To provide better service in the year ahead, dealers must offer customers a seamless shopping and service experience whether it’s in the dealership, online or at the dock via mobile concierge services. My best advice for improving service in 2022 is to save your customers time and frustration by empowering them to shop and receive service in a hassle-free way that is convenient. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Provide concierge services for:
    1. Online service scheduling
    2. Mobile service for routine maintenance or warranty repairs done at their dock or in their driveway
    3. Door-to-door pick up and return for work that must be done in the service centre
  2. Customer service must be digitally driven and convenient. Utilize multiple digital channels such as live chat, email, text, and social media messaging.
  3. Maintain Service Technicians certifications with annual recurrent training.
  4. Maintain consistent communication with customers who have a boat in the shop or a boat on pre-order. Keep them engaged through the entire service or pre-order process until they take delivery.

Natalie Carrera, Director of Marketing and Global Communications at Indmar Marine Engines

2. Hire the right people, train your employees, and create a positive work culture:

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To provide the best level of service, businesses need to hire the best employees and create a talent pipeline to keep up with growing demand. Businesses should work closely with their trade associations and schools when trying to find and recruit the best talent. Once that is achieved, they need to retain those employees by creating a positive work culture. Great service starts with loyal, hardworking employees.

Alyssa Freeman, Executive Director at Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County

You have to be available after hours. Have healthy boundaries but be sure a company representative is always accessible.

Crystal Jacoby, Chief Operating Officer at The Composite Company, Compsys Inc. & Structural Composites

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As a dealer, it is important to ensure that our team members have the tools and resources to be able to provide the level of service our customers are demanding. Developing and training our team members, particularly around the supply and demand issues we have been faced with as an industry, is critical so that they can be successful and communicate accurate information and details to our customers. Providing exceptional customer service to our customers ultimately creates lifetime customers, this requires commitment from our team members to provide timely service and support with integrity.

Kim Wilkinson, General Manager at MarineMax Danvers

3. Get to know your customers and communicate with them clearly:

Reyes Quote

The secret to providing better service to your customers is to know your audience. Know who you are serving, what do they need, what are their struggles. How can you get to know your audience better? How can you engage with them? Get feedback and start a two-way conversation. Compile this data and use it to improve your current services or products or take it as an opportunity to create new products that will serve your customers better.

Johana Reyes, Director, Digital Strategy & Operations at Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)

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To provide better service all players in the marine industry need to communicate better with their customers, vendors and media. Speculation leads to rumors and dissatisfaction, so the best way to address ANY issue is to honestly communicate what can be done to make the consumer more informed, respected and hence satisfied. An example, being honest about “supply chain” delays and creating realistic expectations.”

Marilyn DeMartini, President at PR Power

What is one piece of advice you would like to give other women in the Marine industry?

Highlights

  • Find a mentor
  • Be curious
  • Speak up
  • Share your ideas
  • Trust yourself
  • Lean on others
  • Work hard

It’s encouraging to see what a tremendous force women have been in the Marine industry. But the work is not yet done. It’ll be essential to maintain that momentum for years to come to inspire the next generation of women in the industry. Here’s the invaluable advice they shared:

1. Find a mentor

Morgan B Quote

A piece of advice I would give to another woman in this industry would be to find a mentor. This will ultimately transform you throughout your career. Mentors help you grow personally and professionally in many ways. They help kickstart your professional career by providing you with the best advice you need to be a better you. They challenge you to go outside of your comfort zones to change who you are for the best. My mentor has helped me build my self-confidence, further develop my leadership skills, and has pushed me into unfamiliar territory which has led to who and where I am today. I advise you to lean on your mentor for even the smallest of things. This person should and will always have your best interest and will guide you to many opportunities throughout your professional career.”

Morgan Bailey, Director of Marketing at Forest River Marine

2. Be curious

women in marine quote

Stay curious and speak up. Marine is advancing so quickly and your perspective is unique. Make sure your voice is heard and that the industry knows your point of view: as a consumer, a boater, and someone who sees an angle that others do not.

Lauren Beckstedt, CMO at Boat Group, Business Acceleration and Enterprise Marketing, Brunswick Corporation

3. Speak up

Women in marine quote

Listen to your inner voice. Do not second-guess yourself. Share your ideas, prepare data to back them up and present them. Stand up for them when needed and do so in an elegant, politically correct manner. You will not win every battle you choose to take on, but some are worth the fight, choose wisely. Sustainable success will not come from fitting into a company mould or someone else’s mould

Natalie Carrera, Director of Marketing and Global Communications at Indmar Marine Engines

4. Share your ideas

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“You can do any job in the marine industry that you dream of doing and are willing to put the work in for. Don’t let anything hold you back, regardless of perceptions. There is room for all of us at the table. Don’t be afraid to lean on others for support to get where you want to go.”

Alyssa Freeman, Executive Director at Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County

5. Trust yourself

“Become a leader, be confident that what you are doing is making an impact in the industry. Trust yourself, do it with passion and motivation others to join you in your mission to create something better for your customers.”

Johana Reyes, Director, Digital Strategy & Operations at Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)

6. Lean on others

“The one piece of advice that I would like to give to other women in the Marine industry is to never give up. No dream is ever too big to accomplish, it takes commitment and perseverance along with good mentors and support. As our industry continues to grow and evolve there is an unprecedented opportunity for women to climb the ladder within the industry and for new women to join the industry. From service technicians to general managers and beyond, with focus and determination anything is possible – just never give up!”

Kim Wilkinson, General Manager at MarineMax Danvers

7. Work hard

“Women in the marine industry should feel privileged to work in a business that sells FUN! Do not feel intimidated, work hard and ask questions to learn all that you can from as many sources as possible. I have never felt that I was treated unfairly in the business because I proved myself every day. Men may expect more of you and may be surprised by your knowledge, but that is in any walk of life. Be confident and know your business!”

Marilyn DeMartini, President at PR Power

The tides, they are a-changing!

The tides definitely look like they are changing, but the changes are being embraced by the Marine industry and we are excited to see its progress. A huge thank you to all the women who shared their experiences and advice with us, we greatly appreciate it!

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