We caught up with Thibaut de Montvalon, Director of Excess Catamarans, at the International Multihull Show in La Grande Motte to ask him about the philosophy behind this fast-growing catamaran brand. If you want to know what makes Excess tick, read on!
They are not only innovating in their boat design but also in after-sales, customer relationships and their dealer network.
K: “Hi Thibaut, great to see you again. Can us through some of the latest news from Excess Catamarans?”
TdM: “Great to see you as well. Excess has come a long way since we launched our first models in 2019. We have now sold close to 400 boats, of which we have delivered a bit less than half. Our mission, our ambition, is to try and make all of these owners Excess ambassadors.”
K: “Can you tell us more about the philosophy behind this? The Excess Tribe, for example?”
TdM: “We consider our network of customers, of dealers, of the press as the Excess Tribe. We want our clients, our customers to share their experiences as being part of the Tribe.”
TdM: “So what does that mean exactly? Well, to help us clarify, we have mapped all of the points of contact that the client has with the brand, starting from the first email, the social media they see, coming to a boat show, doing a sea trial, visiting a distributor, signing the contract and so on. we have mapped all of the paths from taking delivery of the boat through the life of the boat: the Excess Customer Journey.”
“We are focusing and putting a lot of effort into making this Excess Customer Journey a special one.”
K: “OK, sounds well geared towards people. Can you give me some examples?”
TdM: “Sure. For example, some very important ambassadors that we need are the dealers. So we have started launching some initiatives, like skiing mixed with work as well, of course. We want to develop our relationship with them, become friends with them, go sailing with them and so on, to bring together and create this sense of a Tribe, all being part of the same team.”
“Our business model at Excess is to distribute boats through our dealers, and I have the firm belief that we need to reach our clients and make them feel part of that one same Tribe: a key objective and path to success is to make our dealers the best brand ambassadors of Excess Catamarans.”
K: “Are you also developing contacts directly with your customers?”
TdM: “Yes, for sure, that is so important for us. We need to delight our customers. We have a few hundred customers and this is another big area of focus. We organised for the first time on the second weekend of March an open factory tour. We opened the shipyard on the weekend, on Saturday, only for Excess customers or people in the process of ordering boats. “
“So we enjoyed some food, a few drinks, a visit on our boats, and the chance to meet the people who are building the catamarans with a factory tour. This is something that we will do every year, and it will be one of those moments where the Tribe comes together, timed to be one month ahead of La Grande Motte boat show. All the clients and prospects we invited had a great time and said it was a very good event, so it is something that we will continue.”
“We are also putting a strong emphasis on the delivery of the boats. Excess Catamarans are sold through our network of distributors. So the dealer handles the boat through to the customer, but we are making a strong effort to have a presence at the time of delivery.”
K: “How Does the Great Delivery Experience Work?”
TdM: “We want to excel in this area. It means being there, having lunch, meeting the customers when they have delivery of the boat, or simply writing a thank you letter or sending a gift to the customer. This might seem obvious to you that any brand should be doing this, but in the boating world, not all brands do. Their philosophy is to hand everything over to the dealer after manufacture. What we are trying to do at Excess with our dealers is to work together to make the customer experience a better one.”
“Focusing on the delivery, the day the boat is being handed over to the client so that they have a special experience. We have set a template of what an Excess delivery should look like and the standard of an Excess delivery: a strong effort to focus on this important moment.”
K: “Are there any other ways that you are meeting and getting to know your customers?”
TdM: “We are going to launch the Excess Campus in October. We have to finalise the date and location, but most likely it will be in the South of France in October. “
“We want to invite Excess customers and owners to come to a two-and-a-half day seminar. We will cover how to manoeuvre a catamaran in a marina, we’ll work with people who specialise in weather forecasting, how to plan for your trip, looking at the weather charts, and so on.”
“I won’t tell you everything as this might inspire some of our fellow boat builders ;). How to maintain your boat, your rigging, how to fine-tune and set your sails. We’ll have our electronic partners there explaining how to use the radar, and how to get the best use of all of the electronics that you have in the boat.”
K: “Safety training will play a part in that I guess? Just fishing for more info!”
TdM: “We’ll have several suppliers and contractors there, we’ll even have a doctor specialised in how to react to emergency medical situations on the boat.”
“We are going to work with SNSM (la Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer), the French Lifeboats Association to understand how best to launch a life-raft, how, where and when you set off a flare and so on. “
“We’ll also be doing Excess owners’ Rendezvous. We had one, actually, just before Covid or the second year of Covid in the Balearics. In 2021, I think, we had four boats. This is something we’ll be doing on an annual basis. We’ll have several Excess Owner’s Rendezvous in different parts of Europe and the US, and hopefully soon in French Polynesia with David Allouch (Sail Tahiti).”
K: “How about the Excess Lab? I have been hearing a lot about this forum”
TdM: “I’ll give you an update on the Excess Lab, as this is a fantastic platform to exchange ideas. We are close to 400 customers who use the Excess Lab to give feedback on how they use the boat, to ask questions and interact with Hervé Piveteau”.
“Sometimes, some of the owners believe that the Excess Lab is a hotline to ask Hervé to modify every single boat that we have sold, which is not the case ;). It’s great because we see all of our owners and clients interact a lot.”
“We have had 37 contributions over one year, suggesting topics of what they want us to talk about. We have written 25 articles on different topics. We have 403 members in the Lab and about 8,600 visitors throughout the year.”
K: “Can you talk us through some of the feedback you have had through the Lab?”
TdM: “One topic that we are working on at the moment, one that is close to many people’s hearts, is the boat office, i.e. working from your Excess. We have recently published two interviews of people who have been working from their boat, either running their company or doing their job from their boats.”
“We have also been talking a lot about the experience we had with the Excess 15 and the development of the electric engines.”
“We spoke in depth about the Excess 14 and the asymmetric hulls and all the improvements we did in terms of naval architecture. Without revealing any secrets, we are using the Lab extensively to get inspiration for the next Excess we are working on.”
K: “Interesting, can you give us any more details on the new Excess? Any scoops?”
“I can’t share any information at this stage, but rest assured that there’s some exciting stuff going on!”
“Overall, with the Excess Lab, the idea is to continue to increase the number of interactions we have with our customers to make the Excess customer journey a special one.”
K: “Is there anyone that we have missed that is also in the Excess Tribe?”
TdM: “The press is an important channel for us as well, talking with our customers of today and our customers of tomorrow. We feel we want to do more with you guys from the press. We still have a lot of work to do, we are only three and a half years old. we feel we should be sailing more with you.”
“One thing that is making a difference at Excess because of the promise we have of sailing, or the fun of sailing our catamarans- it’s the same sensation sailing our boats as you have when sailing a cruising monohull”.
“Most of the boats we have sold, we have sold these boats because the clients try the boats.”
“I can pitch the sailing, the fun of sailing an Excess to you for hours, we can show you the colours, we can talk about naval architecture and so on, but we will not be as convincing as you sailing the boat with us.”
“You have to experience the boats more and this is something that we want to push.”
K: “That’s great Thibaut, thanks for taking the time to share that with us.“
All in all, some very interesting feedback from Thibaut and the whole Excess team on where they are heading.
They are developing a real customer-centric strategy which is great to see, and are building strong channels of communication (such as the Excess Lab) and a desire to get out there, meet and build relationships with their customers, their dealers and the press.
I get the feeling that they are “walking the talk” on this, putting it all into action. This feedback loop is only going to help them perfect their designs over the long term and build customer loyalty.