Portland, OR, Aug. 08, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Boating Industry Top 100 Dealer Chatlee Boat & Marine has a lot to celebrate as it lives up to its nickname, “the South’s premier boat dealer.” That starts with the dealership’s celebration of its 50th anniversary this year.

The Sanford, North Carolina-based dealership, originally named Chatlee Sporting Goods, started in 1967 under the ownership of Robert Yow. In the beginning, the dealership carried mainly motorcycles, with only a few boats in stock. As the store grew, the number of marine units began to increase as well.

In the mid-1980s, Yow’s two sons Jeff and Robbie began to take over the business. With recreational, man-made Jordan Lake opening only a few miles away from the dealership, Harris Lake also near, and the Atlantic coast only a few hours away; a marine dealership just made sense. It was a smart move, and the Yow brothers created a strong business model to match. The brothers rebranded the dealership as Chatlee Boat & Marine. They moved quickly to replace each boat that was sold with a new one, and worked hard to build up equity over the years. The Yow brothers both still work at the dealership every day.  

“It’s absolutely still a family-run business,” says marketing manager Scott Knuth. “The cool thing about this dealership is that people don’t just come and go – we have guys who’ve worked here for thirty or forty years.” Chatlee Boat & Marine currently employs about thirty people full-time year-round, increasing to fifty or so with the part-time employees who join the team during the busy summer months.

In addition to family-centered values, Chatlee Boat & Marine’s company culture is centered on the golden rule – “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” This dealership is not the type to pressure customers into buying or rush them through the process. The Chatlee team is very transparent with customers. “There are no offices or closed doors here,” says General Manager Chris Martin. “The owners are very accessible, just like the rest of the team. We try to make everything right.”

Both Knuth and Martin feel that longevity and a dedication to customer service have allowed Chatlee Boat & Marine to remain a powerful force in the marine industry for fifty years. The dealership’s partnership with Suzuki Marine, established in 2005, also helped accelerate the business.

“When we took Suzuki on, they weren’t very well-known for marine. We helped push their brand to the point that they have now signed on with other dealers and grown themselves,” Martin explains. “That goes for all of our manufacturers – we’ve developed personal relationships that are mutually beneficial.”  

Things were clearly going well for Chatlee Boat & Marine, but about one year prior to the September 2016 launch with Dealer Spike, the team was facing a lot of issues with their web provider.

“We had very limited ability to change things on the site – pictures, information on the homepage, and all that. We started looking at other sites to see what was attention-grabbing and interactive, and Dealer Spike really stood out to us,” Martin says.

The team is very pleased with the new website. In addition to better design and user interface, they can advertise sales specials and boat shows on the homepage and easily add quick updates. This has transformed the site into a tool for sales. “We’ve definitely seen the leads pick up,” says Martin.

Martin and Knuth knew that websites were important before partnering with Dealer Spike, but they had no idea how large of an impact the improved site would have on leads for their dealership. “Our website is vital,” Martin says. “Especially now with people having smartphones and iPads…you’ve got to have a good website to grab the customer. If you don’t, they’ll just pass you right over.” The team has seen a 211% average monthly increase in leads since September.  

“We are lucky to be able to say that some of the largest and most successful dealerships trust us for digital marketing strategy, and Chatlee Boat & Marine is no exception,” says Jay Mason, CEO of Dealer Spike. “These guys have their finger on the pulse of what’s trending in the marine industry, and they’re one of the best. We are glad to be able to help them maintain that status.”  

Although the Chatlee team does not currently utilize additional digital tools like search engine optimization and marketing (SEO and SEM), Martin says they are considering some add-ons as the busy summer months slow down. “We know online marketing isn’t going anywhere,” he says.

With their next boat show coming up August 18-20th in Raleigh, North Carolina, Chatlee Boat & Marine can easily promote the upcoming event on their website and allow prospects to check out inventory online beforehand. Having a well-managed and up-to-date website means that this premier boat dealership misses no opportunities for sales.

About Chatlee Boat & Marine

Chatlee Boat & Marine offers the newest models in a wide variety of top-in-class brands. Family owned and operated in Sanford, North Carolina, the dealership has six indoor showrooms totaling over 71,000 square feet – one of the largest inventories in the Southeast. Chatlee Boat & Marine has over 250 boats in stock at any time, with a boat for every budget.



About Dealer Spike Marine

Dealer Spike is a world-wide digital advertising company focused on helping dealers increase sales and service profitability through online digital advertising and training. We provide innovative, powerful, distinctive web solutions and tools to thousands of dealers worldwide. Our expertise comes from real-world dealership experience and a passion for listening and responding to our dealers' needs in the marketplace.


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