Nestled off the I-95 corridor on picturesque Winnisquam Lake, the Winnisquam Marine Inc. is the largest Crownline dealer in New Hampshire. We recently caught up with dealership owner Julie Crawford to talk about why she and her family choose to carry Crownline, how boat owners can get more from their dealerships, and the hot trends they see in the industry.
CL: Tell us a little bit about Winnisquam Marine.
JC: Well, it’s a true family business—my dad started the marina almost 40 years ago. In the last few years we’ve expanded with a new showroom and a new marina across the way. We try to offer an experience that’s different from a typical marina, with upfront pricing, full-service repairs, valet and boat rentals, as well as stand-up paddleboards.
CL: How did you get into Crownline?
JC: We’ve had Crownline for the past five or six years. We were attracted to the brand because it was the best value for the price, with a wide range of sizes, features and amenities—from 18- feet right up to the cruisers.
CL: Tell us about your Crownline customers.
JC: Crownline buyers typically seek us out after seeing the boats on the water. They tend to be repeat, high-end buyers who know what they want. One customer who comes to mind has traded up every year since buying his first Crownline—from 21 feet, to 24 feet and now he’s into cruisers.
CL: What inspires brand loyalty to Crownline?
JC: It comes down to the amenities and features at the price. You’re getting a lot of boat for your dollar. Plus, they keep their models fresh. They’ve committed to updating three boats per year; nothing is out of date. It’s also the style. All Crownlines have a minimum of five styling lines, so they contour to the curve of the gelcoat, and gives it an extra pop – instead of one smooth line, they have several. No other brand does that.
CL: How do dealers maintain long-term relationships with customers?
JC: It comes down to servicing. We have 14 full-time technicians, which is more than anyone in the state. Once someone purchases a boat, it’s a big decision, and it’s really the service department that keeps them here. So all in all, it’s a balance of sales and service.
CL How can Crownline customers better leverage their dealers?
JC: We’re a one-stop shop that makes boating fun and easy. We’re not a high-pressure, and we work as a team. All of my salespeople are boaters themselves. Our first question is always, “How are you going to use your boat?” and we take it from there to fit them with the boat that makes sense for them.
CL: With so many options, how does a customer find the right boat for them?
JC: It’s really all about getting on the water. We have in-water demo days that offer customers a great way to demo all the boats and really feel the difference between sizes and amenities.
CL: Tell us more, overall, about your marina customers.
JC: We’re located right on the water— there are a lot of dealers that aren’t on the water. We have a lot of slips here in the marina, and lots of “weekend warrior” customers who come down the I-93 corridor from Massachusetts. They like the easy access to slips, our valet, and everything else we offer right here. About a third keep their boats on Lake Winnisquam, while the rest take them elsewhere in the Lakes Region like Lake Winnipesaukee, Newfound Lake and Squam Lake.
CL: What are your predictions for the future of boating? What’s on the horizon?
JC: Cruisers are coming back in a big way, which is exciting, because they allow you to essentially camp on the water. In general, people are starting to get back into the bigger boats. Accessories are also bigger than ever—boaters are building speakers, towers and more. And wake surfing is big, too. Beyond that, boaters in the 20-24 foot range love going to sandbars and setting up their speakers off the back of the boat. And tubing remains extremely popular.