Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Robert Walker, owner of Walker Marine, located in Blenheim, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is Walker Marine. We sell new pontoons, sports boats, and cabin cruisers. The brands we sell are Prestige, Jeanneau, Godfrey, and Hurricane. We are a family-owned business that strives for great customer service and selling quality products.
Tell us about yourself
I fell in love with boating when I bought my first boat in 2008. I found that spending time on the water and in the sun with friends is hard to beat. I started repairing, buying, and selling used boats from there. After shopping around and purchasing several new boats myself, I quickly realized how much the area was lacking for local places to buy a quality new boat and receive good follow-up service after the purchase. Eventually, I was lucky enough to meet the President of the well-known Rinker brand in 2016, where he gave me a shot selling new boats. The company slowly grew from there, and as we developed, our ability to sell other brands came with that. Unfortunately, the Rinker brand is no longer, but from our reputation with them, we were able to pick up other premium brands.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishments are happy customers. We pride ourselves on becoming the highest-rated marine dealer in our area and having the best customer satisfaction rate to go along with the new boat purchases. Our competitors focus on the volume, whereas we focus on quality. That lets us provide a much better follow-up service for the boats we do sell. Keeping the business at a reasonable size is important; customer service really lacks if you get too big.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Time management. Trying to find the right balance between work and time off is hard. Often we are either moving boats after hours, doing paperwork, replying to sales inquiries, or working on social media posts. Hiring good help has made this a lot easier, but it took time to find the right people. Finding dedicated, hard-working employees that have the same passion for the industry you do is not easy. We are incredibly thankful for the ones we have now and hope to add a couple more as we slowly grow.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Stay dedicated, work hard, and don't let others get you down. It is not easy starting a business from scratch. There will be lots of problems you have to find solutions for to keep going. For us, it was coming up with the funds to get started, getting set up with brands to sell products, dealing with competitors trying to make things difficult, and learning how to run a business of this type. Don't give up!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am thankful for the opportunity to discuss our story with you. We appreciate all our contacts who helped us get started. It is always nice to meet new people as you never know how those connections could help you later on. Taking the time to chat with people or do interviews like this are important.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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