Everyone wants more members, right? Members are the guaranteed income stream. Members offer generally low stress work that usually ends with a happy customer. What’s not to like about members? Here are some proven strategies to get more towing members.
Never fight the same battle twice: Whether it was a MARB or a contested general assistance call over the radio, if you got the job, you should never, ever let that guy leave without a membership. For whatever reason, this sailor has chosen you for this job. It doesn’t really even matter why. Maybe you got there first, or your radio sounded better, or your price was cheaper, or you’re the only one around – who cares. What matters is that for duration of this tow or service call, you’re on his team, and something you did got you a spot on his team. So you won this small battle to earn a few bucks today. Why would you want to risk loosing that battle next week or next year? You have to sell this guy a membership at all costs.
Make it easy for the customer to join at time of service: If you are towing a non-member, you should already have his boat info, contact info and a credit card number (you got all that before you started towing, right?) – everything you need to complete a membership form. During the tow, take a few minutes and fill out a membership application for this guy. When the job is complete, explain your program and offer the completed application to him, and say “For only x bucks per year, all your future tows will be free! Just sign here.”
Sometimes you gotta give a little: Sometimes a guy just needs a little push; an incentive. These people are waiting for a signal from their decision center to get from “I’ll think about it” to “Alright”. If you don’t want to discount the membership, then offer to take $20 off the tow bill. Or, offer to add 2 free months to the new membership. Don’t start with this up front, but use it to close the deal when the guy balks.
Launch ramps are better than boat shows: You spend hundreds of dollars to rent a boat show booth, then you sit on your tush for hours eating hot dogs and stuffing bags with brochures. You can tie up at the launch ramp, bring a bag lunch and hand out brochures for much less than a boat show booth. At a busy launch ramp, you’re bound to find some non-member who needs a jump start. Offer to give him one for free if he joins right now. One thing is for sure, everyone launching a boat is pre-qualified as an active boater.
Learn to fish: I hate to fish. Sometimes I think fishermen aren’t casting with a full box of tackle. But fishermen make up a big portion of our customers, so when I say learn to fish, I mean learn at least enough to carry on a meaningful conversation with a fisherman. Any fisherman worth his Penn International 80VSWs wants to know two things: where are the fish biting, and what are they taking for bait. If you can’t talk about that, or at the very least show some enthusiasm for the subject, you send the message that you are not interested in their reason to own a boat in the first place. You don’t want your brand name associated with the words “not interested” do you?
There are non-members out there, and as the economy softens, you must commit to turning every one you service into a member.