Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

We need the horsepower of the RV industry

I turned on the TV in Chicago last night and what did I see? It was a well-done Go RVing commercial. Here I am, I thought, in the nation’s second-largest market and I see the RV industry appropriately hitting it with a slick message. And I’m immediately ticked.

Tampa show continues on a roll

After an amazing breakthrough show last year with a 44 percent attendance increase, the Tampa Boat Show continued to set a good pace, albeit with an attendance increase last weekend that’s back down to more earthly growth.

When is it time to dump a customer?

We’ve always heard that “the customer is always right.” Why, if I look back at old blogs, I undoubtedly wrote those words, too. But when I did, I was wrong. The customer isn’t always right — or good for business.

Weather or not?

Answering the growing calls for more boater education, the United States Power Squadrons and BoatUS Foundation Wednesday released their newest online educational offering called “Weather for Boaters.”

Can attending IBEX help marine dealers?

If you’re like me, you’ve assumed that IBEX, the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibit & Conference, is just for boatbuilders. Maybe that’s been the case in the past. But another serious look at this year’s IBEX is in order because dealers can benefit from the many changes slated for the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 event being held in […]

Is it time to use a “sue and settle” strategy?

Wisconsin warned boaters and swimmers that there’s blue-green algae in their lakes. Toledo, Ohio’s recent “don’t-drink-the-water” was a national disgrace. People who touch or ingest water containing it (microcystin toxin) can become sick. Certainly not a climate in which we can grow boating. Is it time, then, for the marine industry to take a page […]

Fishing boat dealers should be seeing red

Some say it’s just about red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. But the truth is it goes much deeper and will set a dangerous precedent for all saltwater anglers and the dealers who sell them their boats.  

Does the Internet waste work time?

Arguably, the Internet decreased face-to-face communications and caused serious changes in the way we socialize with friends and family. We don’t call; we text or email or post on Facebook. But if we assume the hours spent on the Internet are at the expense of friends and family, it appears we could be wrong.

Successful boat shows have a ‘new’ formula

With the industry’s long list of fall boat shows opening Thursday at the Progressive Michigan City In-Water Boat Show near Chicago, organizers are making changes that will cause thousands of visitors to pass through their gates around the country.

Women should be a target market

When it comes to selling boats to women, we’re not getting it done. At least that’s one conclusion I got from the excellent feature entitled “Band of Sisters” in the July issue of Soundings Trade Only by associate editor Reagan Haynes.

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.