It’s prime selling season, I don’t have time.

It’s winterization season, I don’t have time.

It’s boat show season, I don’t have time.

Over and over, it’s the busyness of the boat business that keeps owners, GMs and salespeople from doing those most important of tasks that are not urgent. Maybe you’ve seen this time management quadrants of important and urgent?

Hey, I know in your business it’s really easy to spend a whole day on those items that are urgent.

A load of boats arrive on the truck.

A client walks into the showroom.

A delivery must happen by Friday afternoon to get your client on the water as promised.

But those urgent items aren’t always important.

It could be an email that pops into your inbox. Getting lost in the internet black hole. Being pulled in to solve a problem that your employee should be able to solve on their own (or would solve on their own if you weren’t available).

Revisit the quadrants above and evaluate how much you get done in the highest value quadrant “Not Urgent but Important.” Then, discover the 11 ways to save time in your boat business:

  1. Make tomorrow’s To-Do List Today before leaving – I know in our business, plans are always interrupted and changing but having your day planned in advance will allow you to get started immediately. Plus, you can get right back at it if interrupted.
  2. Use a year long calendar (for advanced planning) – Not only should you plan your day in advance, but you should also plan your year. Put important strategic items on your calendar far in advance. The boat show, monthly newsletter, promotions, planning days. By blocking this time out in advance means you’ll more likely get them completed on time.
  3. Shut Your Door, Turn off the phone and internet for 2 hours a day – This may seem like a pipe dream. But, just try it. Unless you are the only one in your business, this one change will make a dramatic difference in your business. Turn off your cell phone, let calls go to voicemail and shut off your email and the internet. This time to think, plan and work on important items will be the most profitable two hours of each day. When you get really good at this, try to add one full day a month (even in the busy season).
  4. Delegate – This is a big one. If someone else in the company can do the job close to as good as you, let them. As the owner, your time should be the most valuable in the company, therefore, you should be doing the highest value work. Thinking, planning, marketing and building time saving and consistent systems. You should not be washing boats, cleaning toilets or running errands.
  5. Use the ‘One Touch Rule’ – Paperwork can stack up on us in this business. Use the “touch it once” principle. If you are going to do paperwork, be sure to get it 100 percent complete in a single touch. That may mean closing your door and putting the phone on do-not-disturb but you will be amazed at how much time this will save you. If that’s impossible because of errors in paperwork prior to it hitting your desk (did someone say salespeople’s paperwork?) then develop a process or system to address this problem.
  6. Just say ‘No’ – Often times, our time gets sucked up by “Time Vampires” as my mentor Dan Kennedy calls them. Saying “no” to requests, social visits from staff or tasks others should be doing (see delegate) can save you tremendous amounts of time each week. Don’t be afraid to say “no” and soon you will realize how much of your time was being wasted by others.
  7. Use templates – Having a set template versus starting from scratch each time can save you hours a week. Email templates for those repetitive emails. Templates for creating ads, templates for your employee meetings, templates for all the documents that are repetitive.
  8. Systematize – Similar to templates, using systems and processes can be a huge time saver for you and your entire team. Implementing systems, checklists and automated programs will make your entire boat business run smoother.
  9. Ask this question all day long… “Is this the most productive use of my time right now?” – This single question can help keep you on track each day. How often do you leave work only to think, “I didn’t get anything done today.” It’s really easy to get caught up doing urgent but not important tasks all day. So, if you find yourself getting off track, just ask “Is this the most productive thing I can be doing right now” – if the answer is NO, get back to your daily list and figure out what is the most important.
  10. Schedule more appointments – Clients love to just pop-in whenever they like with no warning. But did you know that you can train you clients to schedule more appointments with you when it’s more convenient for you and your staff? Now, it does take some training and a system but here’s the concept. Building a strong relationship with clients and having a strong sales and marketing system in place will position you and your dealership as the expert that clients want to work with. Once that positioning is established, prospects and clients are much easier and more fun to work with. One advantage is they will be more accommodating to what’s ‘normal and customary’ in your business. Normal and customary being, whatever makes the most sense for you, such as scheduling appointments & doing deliveries during the weekdays.
  11. Hire right and train your staff – Often I hear it’s hard to find good quality people in this business, which can be true. (If you need to hire someone, check out this site first The other issue is a training issue. Because we get so busy being busy in this business, sometimes proper training just doesn’t happen. Take 1/2 hour each week to get your whole team together. Talk about what’s coming up in the week, what’s been going well and what needs to be improved. By having everyone in the same room once a week, it allows everyone to be on the same page & help coach each other building a strong effective team.

Get to work now on this time saving stuff and you’ll be amazed how much more time you have and how much more fun your boat business becomes.

Matt Sellhorst is the Author of the book; Marine Marketing Strategies and Head Profits Coach at Boat Dealer Profits. Sellhorst was also the winner of the MDCE Best Ideas Contest, Boating Industry’s Movers and Shakers Bold Moves award, a top producing boat salesman, speaker, and presenter at the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo. He now helps dealers, brokers and manufactures sell more boats with proven sales and marketing systems.

To receive a free copy of the only business building and marketing book for the marine industries, Marine Marketing Strategies, visit to receive instant access (and your special bonus training). More info at