Proud of premium brand selections and superior customer service
~ By Emily Innes
Pride Marine Group was named after Dave and Carol Pride, the original owners of Pride of Muskoka Marine, a small gas dock on the shores of Lake Muskoka that opened in 1986. However, when Paul and Karen Nickel, the daughter of Dave and Carol, took over the growing family business in 1996, the name was still a perfect fit. It reflects the pride the management, sales, and service team exude about their selection of luxury brand boats and their superior customer service.
Since their humble beginnings over 25 years ago, Pride Marine Group has grown to service 11 locations across Ontario. They are now operating in Muskoka, Lake of Bays, Georgian Bay, Bridge Port, Bay Port, Keswick, Orillia, Lagoon City, Rosseau, Muskoka West, and Balsam Lake.
“We have a large footprint and can service boaters all across Ontario,” said Tom Bailey, the marketing manager of Pride Marine Group. “But, further to that, we carry only premium brands. We market and pride ourselves on being a premium marina. We strive to do everything at the highest level possible and do whatever we can to provide the best service to our customers.”
At their multiple locations, Pride Marine Group offers a variety of services including selling new boats, used boats, and brokerage sales. They carry nine different specialty brands: Sea Ray, Meridian, Hatteras, Chaparral, Robalo, EdgeWater, Nautique, Chris Craft, and Crest Pontoons. They also provide storage for customers during the winter months, at which time they also do all the winterization. Pride has a number of Cabana Boardshops that cater to boaters’ needs such as selling clothing, wakeboards, tubes, ice cream, and more.
“Not only do we have the largest footprint in Ontario, which sets us apart from competitors in of itself (there is nowhere else in Ontario that can service the entire province), but we also create a destination for boaters to come to,” noted Bailey. “We are not just a place to buy a boat or service your boat — it is a good place to stop when you are on the water to do some shopping, have an ice cream, browse some boats, and grab a wakeboard to get out on the water. We definitely cover a lot of aspects in that regards.”
Bailey said there are “a million things” that he believes sets Pride Marine Group apart from other boating shops, but one of the top reasons is strong customer service. During the summer season, Pride Marine Group has a customer care centre available and onsite from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to take care of any boating needs. “There is always someone available to take a phone call about anything to do with boating — service, storage, sales, events, you name it. Every time someone will pick up the phone,” said Bailey.
Pride Marine Group also runs and participates in numerous events, especially during the summer. They are involved in over 25 events throughout the summer months, including sponsoring wakeboarding competitions, hosting barbecues and sales events, participating in boat shows, and partaking in local community events like AquaPalooza—promoted as “The World’s Largest Boat Party”.
These events — on top of showing their appreciation to their existing customers and assisting with customer retention — represent a large part of Pride’s marketing strategy, said Bailey.
“Every January we do the Toronto International Boat Show. This is our biggest event of the year, as it accounts for anywhere from 25 to 35 per cent of our business annually,” said Bailey. “It is a busy time for us and it acts as a really good indicator for the marketplace and what to expect for the upcoming season. We have the largest display at the boat show in Toronto every year.”
Bailey noted that keeping customers engaged in their business is important. Depending on the buyer, some people get a new boat every few years to change the colour, the options, or the technology, but there are other customers who wait 10 to 15 years before making a new purchase.
David Bartlett, Pride Marine Group sales specialist at the Orillia location, said the technology has really been evolving and that can appeal to customers looking for a new boat sooner, though he noted that a lot of the technology can also be added to older boats.
“There are all kinds of upgrades now that you can get technology wise, from your Garmins, to your Raymarines, to your different plotters and your different radar systems,” said Bartlett. “The technology really has gone forward, all the way to USB on boats and plug-ins and Bluetooth.”
An important Pride selling feature for PMG, Bartlett said, is that they provide a Delivery Captain upon delivery. “When you purchase a new boat or a used boat out of our inventory, we actually send the boat to the area they want to go to,” said Bartlett. “We deliver the boat to them with a captain who goes over the whole boat and spends time on the water with the customer to ensure they completely understand the boat and how to operate it.”
“This gives (the customer) that experience so they are well-trained before they actually go out on the boat. The delivery captain spends the time to make sure that they are comfortable and content with their purchase.”
Another benefit of purchasing from Pride Marine Group is the fact that their boats also come with a complete mooring and safety package, which includes bumpers, ropes, life jackets, flares, and other necessities.
“When we actually sell a boat, they do not need to buy that extra stuff later. We make sure it is on every boat when they pick it up as well as a full tank of gas!” said Bartlett.
Customers desire the premium boat brands, noted Bartlett, because they have longevity and strong resale value. Pride Marine Group sales specialists help with boat selection, based on a question-and-answer period with the customer. They determine the required size, where they will be boating, where they will be mooring, and the types of activities they will be doing with the boat such as wakeboarding or waterskiing. Since each location carries their own specialty brands, all locations communicate with each other to find the best option for their clients, Bartlett said.
“We all work together as a team. If I do not know much about a certain boat, I would send it to the (representative) that sells that particular boat brand and he would look after the customer because he knows that product better.”
“That is what we try to get across to the customer — we will look after you wherever you’re located and provide you with the best product specialist we can to deal with your particular boating interests,” he added.
Teamwork is in fact one of Pride’s four company values. Teamwork to Pride Marine Group means “building productive, fulfilling, and cohesive relationships with our customers, crewmembers, suppliers, owners, and communities”. The other values that they operate by are integrity, earning the trust and loyalty of customers, crewmembers, suppliers, owners and communities; financial health, by contributing significantly to the economic success of customers, crewmembers, suppliers, owners and communities; and excellence, meeting or exceeding the expectations of customers, crewmembers, suppliers, owners, and communities.
Pride Marine Group can be found online at www.pridemarinegroup.com.