Over the years I have found myself in the position of confidant, priest, or confessional to many yacht brokers who lament that they are having such problems in getting listings.

And, it seems that they are usually focused on the “other” guys. You know them. Those brokers or brokerage houses that seem to get all of the good listings while they get the scraps. But rarely are they looking inward to reflect on why they are not getting the listings.

There’s always somebody better. I don’t care what industry you are in or what product you are selling; there is always somebody better at it. And if you happen to be the best, guess what, there’s a new competitor around the corner plotting to take you down.

As soon as you are resting on your laurels, thinking that your coffers are filled with happy clients who will continue to buy and sell boats through you, you just lost them to Broker B who, because he is hungry, and has the time and the wallet to go after your clients, swoops them away.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that they really aren’t your clients. Okay, so they bought or sold their boat through you and the transaction was seamless; everyone walked away happy including you who just pocketed a nice commission. But now all bets are off. It’s been two years since you sold the SS Gefilte fish and Murray has all but forgotten your name because you didn’t stay in touch. Sound familiar?

A very prominent employing broker once told me how angry he was when he found out that his friend, neighbor and former client listed his boat with someone else. And when he asked him why, the guy said, “I didn’t know you were still in the business."

Many brokers fail to understand the premise that it is less expensive to keep a customer than it is to cultivate a new one. So they tend to put less stock into following through on a lead until it dies or following up and staying in touch with a client that may buy or sell again. Every expense you have as a broker contributes to the acquisition cost of a lead. From marketing and advertising, to listing your boats online, to even the gas you put in your tank to go meet with a potential client can be associated with acquisition cost. So unless you have deep pockets and are in this business for fun, work each lead until they are ready to take out a restraining order.

So how do you ensure you stay in front of all your current, future and past clients?

By using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. A CRM may be the single most effective tool you can use to ensure you retain your clients. Think of it as a dashboard that reminds you of specific touch points such as boat show invites, past searches on specific boats or even anniversaries and birthdays.

A CRM has the ability to associate leads and contacts with several defined categories so when you have a new listing you do not have to search the recesses of your brain trying to remember who was looking for a 36 picnic boat. It will tell you, providing you keep up with entries, when was the last time you spoke with your lead, what you spoke about, and what boats you discussed or showed him. A good CRM also has the ability to send emails (Blasts) in masse or will mail merge your database with Microsoft Word. And most CRMs have ability to export, so if you use Constant Contact or another service to send monthly newsletters you can break them down into categories vice send one useless generalized newsletter. Are you still sending power boat listings to your sailboat buyers?

Here’s the point: by staying in front of your leads and contacts on a regular basis, the likelihood that they will go to another broker is reduced. Professionals state that you need to stay in front of your client base at least eight times per year to ensure they remember you. So take this opportunity to start increasing your listings and sales by incorporating a CRM into your business. If you take it seriously and use it properly, I promise that you will see a huge increase in your business by the end of the first year.