Mechling sells his proximity to water with an aggressive, even daring, marketing approach: “Two hours to the water.” He promises customers that in two hours from the time they buy their boat, he’ll have them in the water, hustling around Lake Keowee or Lake Hartwell. He promotes that idea on radio and TV and in print, in email blasts, web ads, offsite displays and demo days, and it works. He even has families show up in their swimming gear ready to buy a couple of PWCs and head for the water. “We keep trailers already set up,” he says, “and two factory-trained PWC techs on duty; we’re ready to go when a buyer shows up.”
Mechling even purchased a Jeep Wrangler so that he could provide “Service at your Dock,” a prepaid maintenance plan for “housecall-type” service that resonates well with first-time buyers wrestling with some anxiety.
As the economy begins to crawl back, Mechling is looking forward to a profitable year. “We think we’ll have a record season,” he says. “The luxury segment is coming back, and we’re off to a pace of record sales in PWC,” he told Dealernews in April. A record could mean more than 150 new units plus trade-ins, and close to $2 million in revenue from units, accessories and prepaid maintenance.
It wasn’t always that way. Mechling took a big gulp when he jumped into PWC sales in 2009. At that time, the dealership, he says, was coming off of a bad year caused by the recession and drought conditions that dropped local lake levels. It was also reeling from poor store management (from an unfocused GM, Mechling says); high area unemployment; and lots of old inventory from, in part, Honda pushing its 2007 carryover with big incentives.
“Our PWC sales had really dried up,” he recalls, “but our factory rep told us they were expecting a better year and that fewer dealers were stocking a good selection of PWCs. So, we decided to go deep.” Yamaha was offering free flooring with an order of 100 watercraft, so Mechling plunged ahead. He and his team went to the February Boat Show in Greenville and sold 18 of the 21 units showcased. Two water demo days helped the dealership sell out of the 100 units by early July, so he picked up another 30 and sold them, too, eventually grabbing Yamaha’s top sales award, the White Diamond.