Co-Authored by Kirsten Schuchardt, Program Manager, Brunswick Dealer Advantage and Boater’s Choice Insurance
Today, API’s are a necessity of modern technology and the space seems to be ever-expanding in the marine world with dealerships, manufacturers and marinas. Hundreds of thousands of apps exist, and it grows by the day. This technology has firmly been entrenched in our day-to-day lives, personally and professionally, all accessible through the giants of industry like Google Play, Apple Store or Office 365.
API 101: What is an API?
Let’s start with the basics. The term API is an acronym, and it stands for Application Programming Interface. Think of an API like a menu in a restaurant. The menu provides a list of dishes you can order, along with a description of each dish. When you place an order, the restaurant’s kitchen does the work and provides you with food or drinks the waiter entered. You don’t know exactly how the restaurant prepares that food, and you don’t really need to. Relating this to a marine example; if the sales person at a boat dealership wants to add a new lead for a boat sale into their management system, the app(?) they use on their phone has a connection (API) to their marine management software, which has an API to their SalesForce software, and makes the lead entry and management simple, quick and easy.
API Integration to Connect to the Cloud
Most older legacy technologies were designed in the on-premise era, and struggle to support today’s modern API connectivity. The world of apps has exploded into the cloud, making it necessary for API integration to take place there as well. In other words, it no longer makes sense to host the platform that connects all these solutions behind your own firewall.
Think about the typical boat dealership, and consider all the tasks that fall on these internal teams. Everything from accounts payable, billing, taxes, insurance, service, sales, leads management and more are under one operational roof of requirements. While there are some tools out there that claim to do everything, the average dealership simply has more needs than any tool can deliver. Thus, we have entered an era where software solutions for the marine industry simply must have the API integration capabilities to connect to what is entering the market at a rapid pace. It’s become the way to bring together the best-in-class solutions the market wants, and needs.
Power of Partnerships
Cam Collins the President of DockMaster identified back in 2008, that customers wanted to support the growing and various web-based and mobile applications within DockMaster. At that time, he realized they couldn’t be “best-in-class” at everything, so he decided to partner with companies that offered solutions outside of their core dealer management system. Perhaps the birth of modern API integration partnerships in the marine space? We’ll fact check that for you!
It wasn’t too long after that, when we saw the explosion of apps and the need to integrate to so much in the business world. Two prominent partnerships that kicked off the API integrations at DockMaster were with teamMarine and SalesForce. When a new or modified contract or customer is added in SalesForce, an identical entry is made in DockMaster using the information from SalesForce. The roles can also be flipped; when a new entry is made in DockMaster, an identical entry is made in SalesForce. This connection allows the prospects and customer information to always be updated to the current state.
The value of partnering is growing, and empowerment through education and awareness helps. Organizations like the Brunswick Dealer Advantage program offer a broad range of dealer services designed to enhance the long-term profitability of Brunswick’s dealers. This partnership also focuses on supporting its membership with a multitude of business services that focus on areas like attracting more retail customers, enhancing operations and profitability. A key part of this process is their support around education of products, like API integration.
“Brunswick is always focused on innovation and integration capabilities across multiple platforms plays a crucial role,” said Kirsten Schuchardt, Program Manager for Brunswick Dealer Advantage and Boater’s Choice Insurance. “At Brunswick Dealer Advantage, we are always looking for providers who are integrated to other BDA providers and our dealers’ existing business tools. We know by doing this, we are bringing real value to our dealers while connecting them to services that make it easier to be more efficient, provide a better customer experience, and ultimately be more profitable.”
The Upside for You
Today, a boat dealer or manufacturer can use API’s to drive competitive advantage and differentiation in marketing and sales. Every time a user interacts with an API that is connected to a platform a boat manufacture or dealer uses, the API’s gather data. API’s have also reshaped the entire marine supply chain. With today’s modern APIs, it’s now possible for boat manufacturers to track incoming parts and outgoing final goods right down to the second. It enables boat dealers to operate their service business, sales and customer interaction more efficiently, better guarantee an accurate accounts receivable and accounts payable
Stepping outside the marine industry, a great example is Uber. Every time a customer books and takes a ride, Uber knows where its customer is located, before and after a ride. It also knows where they live, work and make social visits for a snack, drink or coffee.
With a modern API integration platform, today’s marine companies get the connectivity they need without much hassle or expensive development by supply partners. By choosing a platform that enables companies to extend their systems with API’s, a boat dealer or manufacturer can create new revenue opportunities, run a more efficient business and ultimately create a better customer experience, which in turn creates a happier, more loyal customer.
DockMaster Software is an industry leading management system for marinas, boatyards, and boat dealerships. DockMaster includes Unit Sales, Prospecting and F&I with fully integrated financial management and numerous integrations with CRM applications, dealer websites and text/messaging services. The Service module includes estimating, labor tracking, and complete parts management with ordering/receiving, subcontractor fulfillment and invoicing. DockMaster Mobile allows technicians to clock on/off jobs from any mobile device. Visual Marina™ management includes storage & billing, occupancy tracking, reservations and dry stack management, including integrations to leading consumer applications for boat rentals, online reservations, concierge/launch scheduling and our new Fuel Integration with FuelCloud. DockMaster also includes Point of Sale, Order Entry with eCommerce and a complete accounting system. Learn more at www.DockMaster.com and follow DockMaster on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org