Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

CRM Is Not Just for the Big Guys

Good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) in many dealerships is a desirable objective, but it’s often a hard reality. I find many dealers think CRM is something for big corporations that can spend big bucks on it. But good CRM is adaptable to small businesses willing to make the effort.

Getting Out of the Way Could Help You Succeed

When Christmas is upon us, can the winter boat shows be far behind? In just a couple of weeks the New York Boat Show will kick off the myriad of winter boat shows around the country that are still a mainstay of our industry’s annual retail sales efforts.

Blogging Along – and Lovin’ It

This is the season to be jolly, and I am! I have come to really enjoy doing this blog. But, the truth is it’s the information that comes from YOU that makes “Dealer Outlook” fun for me. In virtually every case, it’s your comments back that contribute the most knowledge and insight on any given […]

Congress Will Pass a Not-So-Favorable Energy Bill

Congress, more specifically the House of Representatives, will likely be voting on an Energy Bill today as you read this blog. Included in the bill will be new, higher CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirements. And, unfortunately, they’re not as favorable to trailer boating as we have tried to steer them.

How about eliminating the model year on boats?

Warning! If you’re one of the many dealers reportedly still concerned about the elimination of the model year by some outboards builders, do not read on – the following may keep you up nights. How about eliminating the model year for boats?  Now wait a minute — I’m not saying it’s about to happen but, […]

Women need boating education too

The current issue of Small Craft Advisory, a publication of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), raises an interesting issue concerning women and boating education. It suggests many women are not prepared to operate the boat without their spouse or partner, primarily because it’s customary that the male does the captaining.

Bring back the lowly postcard!

It’s more intrusive than an unexpected house guest and more irritating than a car alarm that won’t shut off! I’m talking about internet spam… you know, all those unwanted messages from someone in Nigeria, begging you for money or the myriad of offers guaranteeing to enlarge. . . well, you know!

Is there any loyalty left in the marine industry?

I recently read a story about a small company that produces about 1 million greeting cards annually, but of the 10,000 retailers worldwide selling their products, the majority are small independent businesses. The company is MikWright, Ltd., and the story appeared in the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) My Business magazine. “We feel a […]

Full court press for Recreational Boating Act

The clock is running down and it’s time for a full court press! We’re now under 9 months until every boater in America will be required to obtain a NPDES permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, only Congress, by passing legislation, can prevent this debacle.

Access battle fought in local trenches

Forget interest rates and gas prices. Access to waterways will be the make-or-break issue ahead of us. Moreover, in many locations the access battle is between the haves and have nots and it’s hand-to-hand combat in the trenches! A great case in point is in the Gulf Coast resort City of Orange Beach, Alabama. 

A house divided is wrong

What’s happening in Charleston, S.C., is wrong. It’s wrong for the local dealers. It’s wrong for the trade association. It’s wrong for the area boaters.

Source of dealer income is given away

I must admit I had my eyes opened by a comment from Gary Stephen to one of my recent blogs. He pointed out that, lately, engine and boat manufacturers have been giving away extended warranties in an effort to stimulate retail sales. It’s been both a failure and a success.

Service and value don’t mean anything

If we penned a list of the most meaningless claims we can make about our dealerships, I suggest good “service” and “value” should top the list. “Wait a minute,” you’re thinking, “aren’t those the very things we want to give our customers?”  Answer: Yes. Problem: Every dealer in your market area makes the same claims […]

Let me ask your questions

If you missed it, MRAA just named the manufacturers who have accepted the invitation to be on the “Industry Leaders Panel” at the upcoming MRAA National Convention. It is, without a doubt, the largest and most prestigious group of manufacturers ever assembled for a panel at this annual convention in Las Vegas.

It’s ‘Gs’ Gone Wild

You assume I mean Girls Gone Wild! Nope. The Gs I’m referencing don’t have to remove their tops to earn their “gone wild” title. They can just be themselves. They’re the “G”overnment bureaucrats in the Bureau of Reclamation. Yes, it’s Government Gone Wild!

A boost from an insurance product

We’re all familiar with selling the “I” in F & I which can be distinctly profitable. Indeed, in some clearance-selling (aka dumping) situations the profit in the F & I can actually be the largest share of any profit in the deal! Now there’s an added “I” that could bring some added profit.

Discover Boating lives up to its billing

I must admit I get fired up when I can report something in our industry is not only working, but exceeding expectations. It seems like we don’t get to say that about too much these days. But the latest update on our Discover Boating industry campaign is good news for now and makes it easy […]

E-commerce breeding intolerant customers

It seems like e-commerce just came into its own yesterday, but it’s already a decade old. That’s plenty of time for consumers to develop certain expectations regarding doing business online, and those attitudes can spill over to our encounters in showrooms and service departments, too.

Could objective advisors help dealers?

Big corporations have them. Most small businesses don’t. Since boat dealers are genuine small-business entrepreneurs, they’re usually so busy handling the daily challenges of keeping the doors open that they find it nearly impossible to devote serious time to examining a bigger picture and planning for the longer haul. That’s not good.

Another assault on fishing

You may sell fishing boats, you may not. But I’ll bet most of your customers do, at least, a little fishing. That’s what most industry surveys indicate — anywhere from 45 percent to over 70 percent of all boats are used for fishing, at least, some of the time. So it’s important to our industry-wide […]

Are we screwed up or what?

Has the current boat sales slump so diminished our expectations that we’re now manning our fall boat shows with a “why bother” attitude? The actual letter below should shake us all! It’s from Mr. Jon Eckel, age 50, a boat owner since he was 15 and Director of Public Service for the City of Perrysburg, […]

Senate bill on looming EPA debacle

Good news from Washington! A companion bill to HR 2550 has just been introduced in the U.S. Senate. It’s an important step in our struggle to end the looming debacle that, beginning next September, would force all our customers to acquire a federal water discharge permit from the EPA.

Boating and TV

Every time I see a TV show that includes positive scenes or references to people having fun in RV’s I grit my teeth! Why aren’t we seeing more references to boating on TV, I always vocally complain? Well, it appears it’s time for me to shut up — boating is hitting the tube is a […]

The dog ate my homework

Last Thursday my Blog may have seemed confusing. It certainly was to Anonymous Bob who commented with the question: “How does the title of your post relate to your actual post?” Well, Anonymous Bob, thanks for reading and you got me! The title didn’t relate to the post. I’d like to blame it all on […]

Outboard model year elimination still uncomfortable

I am writing this week from the second of two major in-water boat shows presented on the Great Lakes. The first was at Michigan City (near Chicago) and, now, this show at Cedar Point (between Cleveland & Detroit.)  Today was opening day and as I walked the docks and land spaces it occurred to me […]

Be certified or be gone?

It was announced last week that Sailfish Boats and Tracker Marine Group are the latest to join 23 other brands in providing financial assistance to their dealers completing the industry’s dealer certification program. (Go to for complete list of 25 brands.) Those of you who regularly read this Blog know I am a strong supporter […]

Will diesel power see growth?

I’ve been reading lately about the increasing speculation that high gasoline prices, coupled with a growing recognition that more ethanol production will breed other problems (see Dealer Outlook from August 23, 2007), will lead to a surge in diesel power in our nation.

Fixing retail prices – legally

The price we can sell our boats, motors and accessories in our dealerships may well become restricted because the U.S. Supreme Court is, again, shaking things up with its often unexpected decisions. This time, the Court has stuck down an antitrust rule that has stood for 96 years. The Court said it’s not automatically unlawful […]

The missing link in certification

I’ve always believed the Dealer Certification Program, which began less than two years ago, would become an important component in the industry’s overall Grow Boating initiative. But I’ll also admit I often struggled with answers when dealers would ask me about its real value to them when measured against its cost.

What’s your USP?

In the college business courses I took years ago they called it an “advertising slogan.”  Today it’s described, with a more academically-acceptable label, as a “USP.” Many businesses make great use of their USP – that’s their Unique Selling Proposition. A USP usually embodies a philosophy of the business and, once determined, is consistently used […]

Be a boating Activist!

For several years environmental activists have been pushing for higher CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards and the auto, boating, RV and allied industries have been successfully pushing back! CAFÉ standards were first enacted in 1975 and revised upward in small increments several times. Today, another major change is close and trailer boating stands to […]

The Corn Craze!

It’s “Ethanol Schizophrenia”. . . that’s what I call the current mad rush to corn-based fuel. The way politicians have wrapped their arms around it you’d think it was the one great solution to the nation’s energy problems. But logic says otherwise. 

Family sport? Think again

Boating – it’s a family sport, right?  We’ve been touting that for as long as I can remember. And while we’ve been on target with that claim in the past, here’s some new information that should start us thinking.

Boat show season just in time

I call it the fall boat show tour and it’s about to get started. It will begin on the Great Lakes at Michigan City in late August and wind up at Ft. Lauderdale in November. In between there are major “stops” in many places from Rhode Island to Seattle, Texas to Maryland.

Let’s Take Back Summer

I passed my local high school the other morning and at least 50 kids in football helmets and jerseys were out on the practice field. Now, I’m a high school football fan but when did football become a summer sport?

A Man of Influence

We all meet many people in the course of our business career. If we’re fortunate, there will be a few along the way that have a lasting impact on us, a real influence on our way of thinking and, yes, even contribute to whatever measure of success we might achieve. So, allow me to take […]


NMMA’s President Thom Dammrich said it best when he told a crowd at MAATS: “This is the most threatening issue to our industry since the luxury tax!” I agree. But, I’m concerned. Is anyone listening and, most important, is anyone moved to action?

Setting the CSI bar

Late last November, the NMMA recognized 56 boat and engine manufacturer members for their excellence in customer satisfaction (CSI). As you might expect, a group so large included many, if not most, of the major boat and engine lines in our industry.

The wrong label

Could a name we use to label someone actually reveal our attitude toward them? I think it can. Could it send, unintended, a negative message? Probably.

Boats or video games?

I was sitting in my dentist’s chair last Monday morning. I’m listening to the whine of his drill that reminds me of the sound of a Japanese motorcycle. He’s the kind of dentist that must think ‘if he keeps talking to me while he’s drilling, I won’t notice when he hits my tooth’s nerve’ as […]

Where are all the dealers?

I have always been puzzled when I’ve arrived in Las Vegas to attend the annual Marine Retailers Association of America (MRAA) Convention. It is, after all, one of the largest gatherings. So why, then, don’t more dealers attend?

Hello and welcome

Hello and Congratulations. . . By coming to this website I am declaring you a charter member of our all-new DEALER OUTLOOK blog and I’m delighted you’re here at our official Kickoff-Day Party! I’m also excited about being selected as the Moderator and I’m anxious to get this blog established, the first dedicated Dealer blog […]