Why is that important? Let Tim Thompson, a Power Pros technician and Mercury Master Certified Technician, explain why customer service is so important, even at the service level.
“Sometimes it helps to hear directly from the customer what the issues are, because we can be more upfront about what they might, or might not, need done to the boat.”
Thompson works at the Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Boating Center in Sevierville, Tenn., which is within view of the Great Smoky Mountains. An avid boater, he clearly loves his job—and not just working on boats.
How did you get into the trade?
I took an automotive class in high school and there was a work co-op option during my senior year. If you found a job in the trade, you could get credit and work in the afternoon. I got a job working at a local marine dealer.
And then what?
I went full time after graduation and spent the next 12 years there. I really enjoyed it. The dealership paid for my training. While in Atlanta for Mercury training, I found out about a job opening at Bass Pro Shops in Sevierville. I took it and have been here six years and counting.
What kind of training do you have?
First, I became a technician. You get that through Mercury University. It is a factory-conducted training program with online and classroom courses. Then, I passed a test to become a Certified Technician. To keep it, you must continue the product training by taking two additional courses in the following two years.
You have Master Certified status. What is that?
A Master Certified Technician is the highest qualification for a technician. It separates you from everyone else and recognizes the knowledge and experience you have acquired over the years.
How do you get it?
You have to be recommended by a regional sales manager. You must have four years of experience to be considered, and then take a 100-question, closed-book exam. It’s not easy but well worth it.
What does that allow you to do?
Everything. But it’s really about recognizing the experience that goes above and beyond the course training. Master Certified is a time-invested experience.
Why is it so important for you to meet the customer?
It is very important because you don’t lose details through a third party. Everyone up front does a great job of asking the right questions, but sometimes it helps to talk directly with the customer.
You do more than just work in the shop. What else do you do to solve issues?
Douglas Lake is not far from our store. Sometimes, I will take the customer and their boat to the lake, run the boat and learn more about what needs to be done. It might not be an engine or a boat problem. It might be about the operation of the boat or the new engine. Being with the customer like that gives them peace of mind and makes them feel more comfortable.
What makes this Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Boating Center a good place to do business?
Our customer service sets us apart from the rest. We are upfront with our customers. We have enough staff to take care of business during the busy season. We don’t have long wait times. We have a lot of talent in the shop. We are just able to take care of the customer better.
What’s it like working at the Sevierville store?
Our store is set up to handle more volume. Boating is popular in east Tennessee and there is the tourism in Sevierville, Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. We have a great management team in place, so we work together really well.
What do you most like about your job?
I like the satisfaction of being able to take care of the customer. I really like the guys that I work with in our shop. What matters most is I always look forward to coming to work every day.
Your dream boat is …
A TRACKER PRO TEAM 195 TX for an aluminum boat. For a fiberglass dream rig, it’s a NITRO Z20.