Prior to becoming an Independent Dealer myself, I found the Marine Electronics Industry in SEQ full of smoke, mirrors and misinformation as i attempted to fault find various NMEA & transducer issues over the years. With a trade background in Diesel fitting, along with 25 years experience in the oil & gas industry, I knew the process of fault finding that worked for me way back before the WWW was available, I also had a rough idea what old school customer service should look like. With Dealers failing to meet my expectations as their customer by relying solely on the manufactures product brochures it was disappointing to say the least, I knew this was an industry i could make a difference to the end result & promptly set out to do so.
What I also found during my research was no real connection between the level of knowledge and service provided based solely on the size of the premises & staff levels, most of the Dealers stating we have 30 years of Industry Experience, to me, were running on the same customer service model they put into action back in 1995.
Treating customers with the same level of service you expect to be treated with isn’t that hard when you’re an Independent Dealer. You answer the call, do the quote, install the equipment meaning you know what is going on with every job. Having managed multiple staff in previous businesses has shown me more staff does not always equal better service – having the right staff is how you can maintain high standards of performance & workmanship.
When I kicked off QME 20 knots out of your Furuno 2 kw transducer tacked onto your big Plate Boat was a great outcome. The boys at Riptide and myself pushed the envelope with our first Keel-Mounted Transducer Fairing “cutting it off 8 times from memory” and is now in what I think its’ 4th variation. 44 knots is the speed registered by “Gordo – a Riptide owner Himself” who has taken machining of the billet-block housing the transducers to another platform again.
Chasing the knowledge needed to continue pushing the boundaries of Transducer Performance, I attended Airmar’s Accredited Installer Training at their Technical Support Company Gemeco based in South Carolina in Feb 2017. What an exciting opportunity I thought to myself; the guys making these transducers are going to teach me the finer arts of smoke and mirrors, I may even come home with my own wizard staff. What it did provide me with was the re-affirmation that QME was on the right track with our development of performance.
Arriving back in Australia we quickly secured our current premises based in Brendale and set out pushing that envelope on anything that floated. Off the back of our Plate Boat success, Glass Hulls were our next challenge. We set about making moulds and fairings ranging from full blown glassed in keel moulds to our current high speed collar; which has been sold across the Globe with great success. Just by fitting our collar, performance range has increased by up to 20 knots on some vessels.
As our Clientele base grew so did the need for brand expansion, we are now certified to sell and install BEP, Czone, Furuno, Fusion, Garmin, LoneStar Marine, Minn Kota, Ocean LED and Seastar Optimus just to name a few. The Accreditation’s and Certification’s QME now hold in Advanced NMEA and Airmar ACI Accreditation puts QME in the upper echelon for the Marine Electronics Service Industry in Queensland. Our Clientele now range from 7.5′ Tinnies to 75’ Luxury Yachts cruising the globe.
The same boat Dealers that have seen QME as a threat in the past. Are now using our Advanced Level of Knowledge and Understanding on Performance to enhance the experience of their own Clientele; from new fit ups to trouble shooting technical issues that we specialize in.
New Boat Fit Ups
Close to 50% of our Clientele would now be for New Boat fit-outs; being a fisherman myself along with using what we fit daily, gives us what I feel is, without a doubt, a competitive edge over our opposition. We don’t have last years MFD model in our boat and then proceed to tell you what the marketing team prints out. We use our own pictures of Fish, our actual screen shots and settings, right down to what bait we used on the day, we want to ensure that what we are selling you will work.
Time-poor Boat Owners needing to catch fish to justify next year’s Budget to The Minister for Finance are our base Clientele. Our standards of Waterproof Terminals, No Copper Wire and Switch Panels seem to be met with discontent from time to time, although mainly only from the person who fitted the sub-standard products we are replacing. I find that customers when given the choice to use quality components will pick them every time. Why well-established Dealers still use copper cable and cheap battery switches in $200k+ boats amazes me, they’re bad enough in a cheap run-about for the bay.
Wiring in new boats
Seriously, this needs to be regulated before someone is seriously hurt due to under-rated wiring on Installations. Rather than calculate the total load on the system to ensure sufficient system design requirements are met, years of bad practices are being passed down and used on Installations.
Now, I know you do not run a return line to the primary side of a fuel filter; same as you don’t connect Fish Finders and GPS units to overloaded fuse blocks already exceeding their maximum capacity; or place a GPS antenna in the path of a Radar beam but the amount of times we see this would surprise you. And, unfortunately all this done by Firms well established in the Industry and bragging about their years of service.
We provide a Personalized Service often beyond the reach of our larger competitors. Starting on a first name basis, the conversation with our customers’ begin with ‘What area do you Fish?’ ‘What depth are you fishing at?’, followed by ‘What is your target species?’ and a relationship is formed long before a deal is put to paper.
We now find ourselves providing Marine Electronic components to numerous local boat builders at the same price they can buy directly themselves. But with the added reassurance of having QME back them with any technical requirements, from internal settings to complete fit outs if they find themselves running behind schedule. Lets face it boat builders make money building boats, not pulling wires and spending hours reading manuals to work out network configuration and sea trials.
There are boat builders out there that will not sell you a boat unless they supply everything down to the spare fuses. Whilst others will provide the customer with the package they want.
Which one has the better business model? Only time will answer that one.
In my experience the latter builder has a happier customer and a better opportunity to resell another vessel in a few years’ time.
If you are unsure of what’s going on under your panel covers, or just don’t have a clue what a battery shunt looks like, don’t worry we can put your mind at rest. Drop in for a check over, Battery Test or even a software update to ensure your best chance of that next brag pic this season.