Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Midwest groups team up to space out shows

The three largest in-water boating expositions held annually on the Great Lakes have worked together to set dates that avoid conflicts and make it more convenient for exhibitors that traditionally display in each event.

Can we reach millennials?

In the current issue of Soundings Trade Only, editor-in-chief Bill Sisson is spot-on when he cites things such as lack of time, student loans, less income and troubles finding good-paying jobs as major hurdles for millennials who we want to be buying our boats.

Dealer Outlook marks seven years

It was back in the summer of 2007. The phone rang and a lady on the other end said: “Now that you’ve retired from the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, we think you’re just the guy to start a blog for marine dealers.”

The health of boating? Never been better

With years of declining sales finally behind us and our recovery from the Great Recession, while disappointingly slow, well under way, you’ve gotta like the solid evidence that our future is good as shown in the Coast Guard’s latest National Recreational Boating Survey.

An argument for stricter cost control

Cost control is something we often consider in the context of budget cuts. But as a priority part of our business plan? Perhaps not. Still, if it can prove a successful strategy for an airline, it could be useful in a boat dealership.

Two recent boat shows prove momentum is building

A lot of spring rain isn’t necessarily welcomed in all parts of the country, but for dealers in the Houston area, rain could be making a big difference. At least that’s the feeling around the Boating Trades Association of Metropolitan Houston as organizers just wrapped up the 27th annual edition of the Houston Summer Boat […]

Dealers need to stay vigilant in this economy

There’s no denying we continue to see modest improvement in boat sales as the economy delivers slow growth. But as dealers approach a new model year, attend dealer meetings and project orders, there are some clouds on the horizon that could upset any sustained growth and dealers should remain particularly alert to current issues and […]

In Florida, advocacy is making boating better

There might be no other state where boating groups are more engaged in efforts to secure the marine industry’s future than in Florida, proving once again that our industry’s marine trades associations do what individual dealers couldn’t accomplish by themselves.

Swipe fees battle is still not over

When Yogi Berra uttered his famous “You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you,” he could have been talking about the nation’s retailers and their courtroom loss in their quest for lower debit card swipe fees. Now the case could end up in the Supreme Court.

Discover Boating on the wild side

“Up to my ass in alligators” is a popular metaphor we all know isn’t taken literally. Unless, that is, you’re Joe Lewis, chairman of the industry’s Grow Boating board, and Carl Blackwell, helmsman of our Discover Boating national campaign. They have reason to see it from a different perspective.

Asian carp by any other name are still a threat

I must be traveling through another dimension. I’ve been beamed into a war zone where the Great Lakes are being threatened by approaching armies of Asian carp and there’s no agreement on how — or even if — the battle to prevent an ecosystem defeat.

Good emails can still work

With all the talk about using social media in business today, one might assume that the good old email that started it all is now passé. That’s not necessarily so. Social media has its strengths. But email marketing is alive and well.

Dealers weigh in on boater education survey

The results are in from the recent survey conducted by the education task force of the Recreational Boating Leadership Council and there’s nearly unanimous belief among the 166 respondents that boater education and training are important to boat buyers (97 percent said yes, 3 percent no).

Is ‘no time’ our biggest hurdle?

I asked my son, a Gen Xer, why he doesn’t have a boat. He certainly knows boats — he grew up in a boating family. It’s not a question of money — he can afford one. He likes boating — whenever he visits he wants to go fishing on my boat. So why?

Recent issues rally Florida marine industry

The Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association will hold a “Marina Operators Roundtable” on May 7 in Fort Myers. It’s being billed as a special opportunity for marinas, boat dealers and related service companies to network, identify and explore a variety of common interest issues facing the industry on Florida’s west coast.

Never forget the BP oil spill

Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the explosion aboard the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The passage of time might be fading the memory, but it shouldn’t be forgotten.

Trade groups should encourage legislative caucuses

Taking a page from the National Marine Manufacturers Association playbook, state and local marine trade associations should be active in encouraging the formation of caucuses in state legislatures that are sensitive to pro-boating policies.

RBFF begins to tap into growing Hispanic market

In what is the most intense campaign to date to attract more diversity into the ranks of the nation’s boaters and anglers, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation recently unveiled the Spanish language Internet portal “Vamos a Pescar” that targets the growing Latino market.

Boat buyers warned about picking dealer

“If you’re torn between two or three models from different brands, the quality of the dealership and its staff may well sway your decision,” Jim Hendricks advised readers in the February issue of Boating magazine.

Just like the cruise lines, we want new faces

I was fishing in lower Tampa Bay during the weekend when Carnival’s “Paradise” and Royal Caribbean’s “Brilliance of the Seas” passed by, heading out on their weekly cruises to Mexico. It reminded me there are some interesting parallels between their kind of cruising and ours.

Will demand follow recent economic indicators?

As we enter our best selling months, good news comes our way. Consumers are more optimistic; home equity loans indicate people are feeling wealthier; and there are expectations that pent-up demand alone could gives boat sales a good spring.

High-octane fight against Renewable Fuel Standard

Kudos to the National Marine Manufacturers Association and BoatUS as they fight fire with fire by supporting the American Petroleum Institute’s launch of ads urging Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard and its disastrous ethanol mandate.

Have you smooched your customer lately?

No, I don’t mean literally. But three experiences in the last few days have made me, as a customer, 1) feel good, 2) feel recognized and 3) makes me want to be a customer in the future. Here they are.

Have retailers lost the ‘swipe fee’ war?

In a blow to the nation’s retailers that have fought (and won) for nearly four years to limit bank “swipe fees,” a U.S. appeals court recently reversed a lower court’s decision that sided with retailers and ordered the Federal Reserve to rewrite its rules governing allowable fees that banks can charge each time a customer’s […]

Successfully selling the high-priced boat

Many knowledgeable people in our industry say we need to build less expensive boats, especially if we hope to attract the Gen Xers and the Millennials. Friends I talk to in dealerships echo a similar theme: “These days, every deal always comes down to price.” 

Escapism sells

Turn on the evening news these days and it’s mostly negative. Doom-and-gloom reports of slow growth. A missing airliner. Fear of terrorist attacks. A Cold War-type crisis. Climate change. Rising interest rates.  An exhausting winter that never ends.

Algae blooms threaten boating’s future: Part 2

The Environmental Protection Agency says that summer algae blooms are one of the nation’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems. Summer algae blooms (which derive from excess phosphorus) are currently polluting the nation’s lakes and bays from the Chesapeake to the Pacific Northwest. And it’s game on in what’s going to be a battle […]

Algae blooms threaten boating’s future: Part 1

Not since the 1960s has pollution of our waterways made such headlines. From Chesapeake Bay to the Pacific Northwest, from Canada’s Lake Winnipeg to the Gulf of Mexico, summer toxic blue-green algae blooms have been shutting down recreation areas and constitute another barrier to new boaters joining our ranks.

The millions that boost boating and fishing

Most dealers have heard of it, but can’t define it. Most manufacturers don’t know the details, either. Still, it’s a whopping $600 million program using public funds to annually boost boating and fishing and it’s up for reauthorization.

How to get customers like me to pay more

I recently received an email survey from the Loggerhead Club & Marina in St. Petersburg, Fla. My Pursuit has been in the Hi & Dry there for several years, so it’s not the first time Loggerhead has sent me a survey.

Should we support a gas tax hike or oppose it?

We are an industry sensitive to price increases at the gas pump. The higher the price, the more negative the pressure on our ability to attract prospective boaters. So when a significant hike in the federal gas tax is being pushed, it grabs our attention.

Are we overlooking African-Americans?

There is so much being written and said about diversity, particularly getting our boating lifestyle message out to the growing Hispanic market. But when we talk about diversity these days, are we looking past the African-American market?

BRP’s Spark lights up the Affordability Pavilion

Most show managers will admit that when exhibit space is selling out, allocating good floor space to non-revenue-producing educational displays isn’t easy. NMMA vice president Cathy Rick-Joule knows that feeling. Still, she insists on earmarked high-traffic space for an “Affordability Pavilion” that she believes sends a necessary message to potential new boaters.

Miami shows exemplify boating’s attraction

Starting today, Miami is the center of the world’s boating universe. The Progressive Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail covers three locations and the in-water Yacht & Brokerage Show runs alongside Collins Avenue for more than a mile.

The importance of grassroots advocacy

Kudos to the National Marine Manufacturers Association for the creation of Boating United, a new grassroots advocacy platform that has real potential for increasing the influence of recreational boating in Washington.

Common sense doesn’t reside in Washington

It’s good news that the marine industry recently generated a whopping 1,600-plus comments in just two weeks supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to stop any increase in the quantity of ethanol required to be blended in gasoline for 2014.

Online customer surveys are good for business

Every time I take one of our vehicles in for service at Crown Automotive Group, I receive a customer survey in my email about 48 hours later. I used to just delete those emails, but now I usually complete them, especially if I’m offered a discount coupon for my next service as a thanks for […]

Digital marketing is your next frontier to conquer

This simply can’t be ignored. A whopping 80 percent of today’s shoppers are researching their major purchases online. The question is: Does your website bring them into your store? If the answer is “no” or “not enough,” here’s some real help.