Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Would you loan money to you?

My letter to Santa last week raised some interesting issues. But, as usual, the real intriguing ideas came from the comments by readers. That’s exactly what this blog is for.

Santa: It’s game on this year!

Dear Santa: Last year, I sent you my Christmas wish list. But, with all do respect, sir — you really failed to deliver the goodies! Well, tis another season to be positive, so here’s the list and we’re counting on you to come thru this year:

Don’t forget to promote sales tax deduction!

The current issue of SmartMoney magazine includes an article offering tax planning tips to readers. Under the heading “Stimulus Savings,” the author wrote: “the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program may be over but consumers can still get a break on new vehicles.” That’s true advice . . . but only half a loaf.

Recession can change boat shows’ focus

I know it’s the season to be jolly! Yes, we have some great Christmas and New Year’s holidays just ahead. But for some reason, I don’t have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. No, instead, I’m getting pictures of boat shows stirring around!

Planning for the recovery

I recently read an article by Emily Maltby in the Wall Street Journal, and it hasn’t stopped resonating with me, yet. Usually when something sticks with me like that I know it’s worth sharing.

December: It’s not a “dead” month for dealers

I’ve always liked observing what top dealers do to . . . well, be top dealers. The most common denominator: they never stop going after business, even in a supposed dead month like December! Cases in point from last weekend come from three of the industry’s top 100 dealers: Lakeside Marine, Galati Yacht Sales and South […]

Don’t be fooled: The E15 fight ain’t over!

Creators of music like the Meow Mix jingle and the Barney theme song have filed a Freedom of Information Act request to determine if their songs were used during interrogations at Guantanamo. The way I see it, given the choice between hearing the Barney theme and waterboarding, the terrorists would pick the latter every time!

Increasing attendance at winter boat shows

There isn’t a boat show manager alive who isn’t searching for ways to increase attendance at this winter’s critical round of shows. Enter Phil Dyskow, president of Yamaha’s marine group, who may have laid out a good roadmap worth studying.

New EPA rules can benefit marinas and boating

It’s not too often we can be thankful at Thanksgiving for some new federal agency rules. But, the Environmental protection Agency has just issued a final rule aimed at reducing water pollution from construction sites. And, while I suspect the agency officials were not thinking about benefits for marinas and boating when they promulgated these rules, […]

It’s simple: Fewer boat shows means more return

A dealer once said to me: “The only bad boat show is the one I’m not in.” Of course, that was back in the late ’80s, as I recall — a time when virtually every boat show produced big attendance and lots of sales. Oh, how things have changed.

The missing piece to recovery is credit

Have you noticed . . . the economy is looking better? Positive economic reports are coming out faster these days. That’s encouraging. After all, we know the boating industry will not lead out of this recession but growth in other sectors will signal what is ahead for us.

NMMA, MRAA join with auto dealers in pushing SBA loans

Yogi Berra once said: “It ain’t over till it’s over!” If he was saying that today, he might be referring to the SBA’s 7(a) dealer floorplan program (DFP). Yes, it’s been a bust to date, but it ain’t over . . . at least not to groups like the auto dealers (NADA), RV dealers (RVDA), […]

E-mail remains a cheap tool for marketing

Looking at today’s promotional landscape — magazine ads, billboards, newspapers and so on — e-mail continues to stand out as a cost-effective way for dealers to reach customers and prospects. But it must be used correctly.

Where do the company dollars go?

Employees know what the company normally charges customers. For example, in the service department the street labor rate is often posted, in accordance with local ordinances. Employees also know what’s being charged for parts, shop materials, environmental fees and the like. And they certainly know that their pay is only a fraction of all that.

Feds to anglers: Kiss off!

I try not to get political with Dealer Outlook, but this Administration is starting to scare me. It appears the only speed they know is breakneck … no facts, just speed.

We’re in the rejuvenation business

I’ve about had it with this freaking economy! I’m sure you feel the same. I read everything in sight, searching for positive trends. I watch those financial TV shows looking for good news. And while I am hearing more positive than negative reports these days, it’s obvious the boat business didn’t, yet, get Fed Chief […]

Fighting the impulse to lower prices

We know boat sales are being made at the fall shows. That’s the good news! But, they’re driven by lowering our prices and killing our margins. Hey, these days dropping price is more prevalent than President Obama on TV. That’s not good news (lowering prices, I mean!)

Dealers should not ignore H1N1 problems

I don’t pay proper attention to medical warnings. I should be more tuned in – we should all be. But this H1N1 (Swine Flu) thing has now grabbed my attention and I think it needs yours, too. That’s because 26 states are currently reporting widespread influenza activity.

Could the ‘herd mentality’ work for us today?

Ever heard of a Neuroeconomist? Not me, either. Not, that is, until I read a recent article by Maggie Fox, Reuters’ health and science editor. I found what she learned fascinating and informative, and it led me to think there’s some knowledge there that marine dealers can use right now.

Trend at shows continues to look better

I believe in trends. They usually predict what’s ahead. That’s why we’re all watching the fall boat shows so closely. The results are now in from four early shows on the Great Lakes and East Coast, and they’ve produced an interesting trend.

RFA keeps up fight for fishing issues

Kudos to the Recreational Fishing Alliance for voicing dismay over the latest appointments to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, calling the process used to select appointees a clear violation of the spirit and intent of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

How to avoid sales at the boat show

So, you say, you don’t really have any expectation that you’ll sell boats at your upcoming in-water show. Believe that and you can make it your reality. But it will take some effort to avoid making sales. So, here are some sales avoidance techniques you can use:

How will the industry redefine itself?

Looking back, it was one year ago that our sense of financial security was shocked in the same way September 2001 shook our confidence in our national security. In September 2008 we were already experiencing a housing meltdown and a less-than-robust economy when . . . zap! The free fall of ’08 hit. Lehman Brothers […]

Dealers and Twitter

To “tweet” or not to “tweet”? — That is the question. A year or so ago, most of us didn’t even know Twitter existed much less if it might be a business tool. Today, the picture is better albeit still cloudy.

Discover Boating videos top 100,000 views

We’re pushing a year since the industry’s national ad campaign for Discover Boating had to be beached because of the state of industry sales. Hope was to have it return this past June along with an anticipated turnaround in the economy. Neither happened, of course.

Taking a guitar lesson

I took up guitar playing as an undergrad at Indiana University. As I recall, someone told me that if I strummed the guitar and brought along a six-pack of Bud, coeds would fall at my feet! Unfortunately, the latter didn’t happen, although they did down all my beer!

PETA wants to fund a bridge

Just when we think there isn’t much to laugh at in the news these days, we can always count on the wing nuts at PETA for a gut-buster. PETA — that’s the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as opposed to People Eating Tasty Animals — has offered to pop for $15 million to […]

Do our customers trust us?

Have you noticed that customers and prospects seem more difficult to deal with these days? It seems they want to challenge our sales presentations at every turn. They act tough, adverse and suspicious. Why, you’d think they don’t trust us. Fact is, they probably don’t!

The good, bad and ugly of the SBA floorplan program

NOTE: This is Part I of a two-part look at the SBA loan program. Exuberance echoed throughout the marine industry when the Small Business Administration announced it would begin using TARP funds to guarantee dealer floorplan loans under its 7(a) program. It was an overdue action, to be sure.

This is not your father’s old drive-in movie

Think Tom Cruise, screaming jets, FighterTown USA and “I feel the need for speed!” It’s the movie “Top Gun,” right? Now, imagine you’re watching the movie under the stars, in the middle of a lake from your anchored boat. You’re at the “boat-in” movie.

Size matters! But it’s not necessarily good

I often sit back and reflect on why our industry is in such an economic mess and, even more, how we’re going to recover from it. I recently read “What McDonald’s Can Teach Us About Recovery,” by Mats Lederhausen. It’s posted on and it offers some applicable and thought-provoking insight for us as boat […]

Blogging: It ain’t what it used to be

This blogging thing has come a long way, baby! As I reflect back, it doesn’t seem like we’ve been doing it for this long, but Dealer Outlook is now entering its third year at Trade Only Today. Who knew there would be so much content that could be posted?

Stop the biggest moneymaker since the income tax!

Our current focus is on President Obama’s push for health care reform and the tax increases small business owners and others will likely be paying for it. Unfortunately, our attention is also conveniently being drawn away from another tax increase that could be the largest since the income tax.

Boaters’ videos are reassuring to all of us

In the midst of the recession, it’s easy to think boating will never be a vibrant business again. Well, I’ve got some reassuring news. It’s “show & tell” time. I want to show you why we’re assured of a return to prosperity in our industry.

Boat shows still a must for dealers

A quick survey of major fall in-water boat shows indicates deposits for exhibit space are running behind last year’s pace. No surprise there, given the state of business and concerns for cash flow. But with the first of the major fall shows (Michigan City, Ind.) now just six weeks away, it’s time to revisit the importance […]

MRAA’s Alert highlights use of Webinars

Yesterday’s MRAA Dealer Alert to all members, especially all Genmar dealers, announced a Webinar slated for Wednesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. EDT being presented by Bellavia Gentile & Associates, the law firm representing dealers in the Genmar bankruptcy case. I urge all Genmar dealers to view it. For specific directions on how to do that, […]