MercuryCare: Changing the Way People Own Boats -- Limited availability from dealers meeting the industry's toughest performance criteria

Fond du Lac, Wisc. -- In one of the most sweeping and comprehensive service programs to ever hit the marine industry, Mercury has announced the formation of MercuryCare. With a customized package of service, maintenance, boat upkeep, and extended product protection, MercuryCare is designed to provide boat owners with an all-encompassing range of services intended to deliver trouble free operation, protection and peace-of-mind boat ownership. Additionally, MercuryCare will allow boat owners to "fix" their operating costs by establishing a one-time maintenance and protection plan designed to address most aspects of their specific boat operation needs.

In addition to enhancing boat ownership, MercuryCare will change the way authorized dealers deliver service after the sale, based on the most detailed and customer-focused performance criteria in the industry, and modeled after the comprehensive standards applied by major automotive service programs.

Custom Maintenance

MercuryCare Custom Maintenance is offered as a pre-paid, transferable and portable plan for all factory specified engine and drive maintenance, boat upkeep, on-water vessel assistance and basic boater use and operating instruction. Coverage will be offered from one to five years. The program will eventually allow boaters to choose from a range of dealer-provided custom services including storage and livery; boat washing; fueling; stocking of food, beverages, and bait; boat detailing and bottom painting, as examples. MercuryCare offers comprehensive custom services that reinforce the buying decision, provide for a "hassle-free" operating environment and enhance boat resale value.

Mercury Product Protection

The number one factory-backed extended product protection program in the marine industry, Mercury Product Protection provides post-warranty coverage for Mercury engines and drives, available in packages from two to four years.

Pre-Owned Certification

In order to compete in and enhance the growing used boat market, MercuryCare will offer a Certified Pre-Owned Power program. Participating MercuryCare dealers will administer a 101 point check and inspection of used Mercury power, bringing it up to "like new" factory standards, then offered for resale with a one year limited factory warranty from Mercury.

Test marketed in early 1998 in Phoenix, MercuryCare proved a successful tool to sell boats. A pilot program will launch in Michigan in time for the spring selling season, with MercuryCare scheduled to roll out nationally in the year 2000.

MercuryCare will only be available through authorized dealers that can meet a stringent set of qualifying and performance criteria. Participating dealers must maintain a higher than normal Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) and meet annual improvement goals. Dealers are required to enter the program with a Mercury Q-Care Level 3 service standard and then deliver against the newly established MercuryCare Performance Standards, as well as complete specific Mercury University MercuryCare training and TCM course work. In addition, they must commit to minimum Mercury Precision Parts inventories and exclusive use of those parts in authorized work.

Other criteria for participating dealers include use of Mercury's MercNet and MIDAS for Windows computer software, specific service facility requirements and signage, and sales and financial performance targets.

The need for a program like MercuryCare has never been clearer. Research shows that over one-third of previous and existing boaters rated marine service as poor or fair. Poor service and other "hassles" associated with the sport was the second most frequently given reasons for people departing boating. Moreover, 50 percent of boaters perform their own maintenance, citing poor value, long waiting periods, and poorly performed services as the reasons.

Not surprisingly, a high percentage of current and former boaters identified improved service and "hassle alleviation" as key to continued participation.

The research also shows that boaters are willing to change boat and engine brands and dealers to achieve those results. Further, consumers have recognized the costs associated with boating and are looking for the best experience for their hard-earned money and time. Boaters are now comparing dealer service against their automotive experience and look at pricing as secondary to enhanced, value-added service.

To assist dealers and boaters alike, MercuryCare will be supported through an extensive marketing program designed to build traffic through, and trust in, authorized MercuryCare dealers. Elements of the program include local print and broadcast advertising, point-of-purchase materials, facilities design and layout and signage.

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