MarineMax Relies on IDS to Support its Nationwide Business Operations

Compared to planes, trains and automobiles, boats may not be the fastest mode of transportation, but they certainly offer an unmatched level of luxury and enjoyment. Accordingly, boat owners appreciate a little extra care and attention-and no one knows this better than marine retailer MarineMax.

Over the years, the $606 million boat dealer has acquired many independent marine retailers from New Jersey to California to comprise its network of stores and service centers. With 66 retail stores in 15 states and 1,200 employees, Clearwater, Florida-based MarineMax has grown into one of the largest marine dealers in the U.S. It has reached this level of success by remembering that boat owners cover wide distances in their vessels, and require a consistently outstanding customer service experience wherever they pull into port.

To unify the disparate systems of the numerous dealerships it acquired, MarineMax realized it needed one computing system to support its overall business processes and geographical expansion. Not only was it necessary to provide all the stores with consistent accounting practices and sales tools for continued business growth, it was also essential for providing the superior customer service expected by an upscale clientele. For example, to service a yacht in Clearwater which had been purchased in New Jersey, the Clearwater dealer would need immediate access to that customer’s purchasing history, including details from color preferences to requirements for handicapped-equipped facilities.

At MarineMax, all of these capabilities became possible when the retailer discovered solutions developer and IBM Business Partner Integrated Dealer Systems, Inc. (IDS), the largest U.S. provider of business management solutions for boat and recreational vehicle dealers. MarineMax chose the Raleigh, North Carolina-based consultant to create a dealer management system based on IBM UniVerse, Version 10 as the data repository. As a result of its choice, the marine dealer has doubled its sales in five years, saved substantially on inventory and IT costs and performed above the industry average in retaining customers.

All the functions that a dealership needs are provided by the IDS marine dealer management system, including inventory management, parts management, sales force automation, financing and insurance processing, warranties and claims management, accounting, and payroll. But the most important feature, according to MarineMax CIO Brett McGill, is the customer relationship management (CRM) system. “CRM is essential for staying in touch with our 450,000 customers, helping them through the lengthy buying process and encouraging them to return and buy more boats, which they do on average every 1.9 years. The UniVerse database provided by the IDS system facilitates this kind of service by handling complex queries instantaneously, even with as much as 60 gigabytes of data and 575 concurrent users.”

Because MarineMax has been able to take advantage of its IDS solution and UniVerse database to respond to so many of its business needs, it has been able to focus on increasing sales and reducing costs. According to McGill, “Our growth from a $250 million company in 1998 to a $606 million company today is due in large part to our ability to leverage our IDS technology, which is based on IBM UniVerse. By working with IDS and IBM, we will be able to easily enhance our infrastructure and keep our business growing, while satisfying our customers.”

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