Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Do we need a boating Bill of Rights?

The time has come for the marine industry as a whole to adopt a consumer’s Bill of Rights. So said the BoatU.S. “Consumer Protection Bureau” in a recent article in the BoatU.S. Magazine distributed to its 600,000 members.

Genmar reorganization a wake up call

Genmar’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection has shocked most of our industry. It shouldn’t have. Sure, most of us would probably have listed Genmar very low on our list of most-likely to go bankrupt. But, the shock comes more from its dramatization of how vulnerable our industry is, rather than over Genmar’s actual proceedings.

Bring back the publicity stunt

I don’t know a dealer who hasn’t had to slash his ad budget these days. But that doesn’t necessarily mean disappearing from sight. For a small, sometimes zero investment, dealers can bring back a classic way of grabbing people’s attention – the good old publicity stunt!

Can events boost traffic and sales?

Impulse shopping (shopping for fun) at the mall appears to have headed south as consumers become stand-offish in the current recession. But, shopping center operators around the country aren’t taking it lightly. They’re aggressively trying to bring it back with concepts we can adapt from these big guys for our dealerships.

Are credit unions still a money source?

I was surprised when it was reported that credit unions we’re being found to have “strayed” into some of those hyper-risk ventures that have already taken down a bunch of banks, with more likely to crash and burn before it’s all over.

Marine bankers unveil three-part campaign

No doubt about it . . . these days, bankers are as popular as jock itch! But, before you put all bankers in that same group you should know that at least one set of bankers has been diligently working to develop a program aimed at stimulating new sources of lending for boating.

Lessons from Lazydays

These days, if you want to find someone who is likely worse off than you are, make friends with an RV dealer. The industry that we once looked on with envy as flying high with its “Go RVing” campaign, and after which we patterned much of our industry’s national “Discover Boating” campaign, is taking its [...]

A simple note is good marketing

I went out to pick the morning paper out of the bushes (why is it no delivery person can ever fling it from their moving vehicle and hit the driveway?) There at my front door was a small cinnamon Teddy Bear refrigerator magnet with a note attached.

A template for boatbuilders

I’ve always been amazed at how often nothing short of a crisis is needed to produce changes that logically should have happened outside the context of desperate times. Case in point: Brunswick’s announcement last week that it will move the intro date for 2010 models to September (the industry standard at one time).

Time to push back, hard!

Ethanol manufacturers (54 of them) have formed a lobbying organization called Growth Energy that has filed a petition with EPA to permit an increase in the ethanol content of gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent (E10 to E15). It’s now time for the marine industry and all boat owners to push EPA to deny Growth Energy’s [...]

“Never waste a good crisis!”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it: “Never waste a good crisis.” If you know anything about Netanyahu, a decorated soldier in the Israeli Army, you would likely assume he was referring to some incident in Israel. He was not.

Who’s online?

“It’s a man’s world” . . . or so the saying goes. Maybe it was, but it’s doesn’t seem so anymore. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s estimated that men will soon be in the minority. Specifically, between 2008 and 2013, males will account for just 49 percent of the nation’s population!

New free tools are must for every dealer

Those of you who regularly read this blog know of my disappointment that the “Discover Boating” national ad campaign was dry docked this winter, a victim of the current economy. I believe in that program and look for it to come back ASAP!

As predicted, ethanol rears its ugly head again

How things can change! Less than a year ago, gasoline prices were soaring and so were the fortunes of the corn-based ethanol producers. In addition, the Bush administration had just mandated a steady increase in the annual production of ethanol to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. If you were a corn farmer or [...]

Lessons in shooting yourself in the foot

Oh, oh! Seems there’s been a slight miscalculation on the financial sector bailout plan. Go figure! According to the March report from the Congressional Budget Office, we taxpayers will have to cough up about $167 billion more than originally announced.

Time to be legislatively aggressive

Boat sales may not, yet, be rockin’ in the Wolverine State, but the Michigan Boating Industry Association is steppin’ out when it comes to the pursuit of favorable legislation for its members.

Positive signs offer encouragement

Things are still ugly out there, of course. But, when we look for some positive news these days, seems we can find some. And, I think we’re finding it more often now, and that encourages me.

Marketing is still possible in tough times

There are no dealers who have escaped the turmoil of the current economic downturn. As a result, it’s pretty safe to assume most dealers have made substantial, if not total, cuts in their marketing budgets. It seems there must be some law that says when cash flow is tight, budgets for marketing are the first [...]

Pressing for a share of help

The marine industry is putting on a full-court-press to get assistance from Washington that will unlock floorplan and consumer credit, even while President Obama announced yesterday the freeing up of billions for small business.

Good time for morale boosters

Feel like you’re up to your butt in alligators? As the owner or manager of a dealership or marina in this economic climate, the old gag — “It’s lonely at the top, but you eat better” – may apply to you (and I can’t be sure about the “eat better” part these days!).

Time to get ‘mad as hell’

Having trouble keeping track of the trillions supposedly flowing from Washington to “help” us? Me, too. Why there’s TARP I and TARP II, the huge Stimulus package, the giant Budget, the grand Porkulus appropriation bill and who knows what else. And, now, along comes TALF! (I think I hear Abba singing “Feel the beat of [...]

‘Simplifier’ paradigm favors utility and affordability

Almost overnight, people stopped spending the way we’d come to know. For the past 30 years, as the U.S. economy was generally growing, so did our appetite for buying everything in sight! But late last summer there was an abrupt reversal. Since then, even the “wealthy” have cut back on their buying.

Energy back in the limelight

In his address to Congress Tuesday evening, President Obama pushed the subject of energy independence back into the spotlight.. So, you can bet that lots of federal dollars are about to be handed out to all sorts of energy-related projects and pilot programs.

P2P lending is growing rapidly

When there’s a void, someone is likely to fill it, right? Sir Richard Branson is a case in point. The mastermind of Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Records and just about everything else Virgin is also a leader in a relatively new, fast-growing online business called peer-to-peer lending. You guessed it — Virginmoney.com

The dream will not die!

Right now, we Americans may be hunkered down and feeling uncertain about the near future, but we’re still Americans. We haven’t lost, even for a moment, our clear vision of the good life – translation: the American dream.

Is the Miami show game-on-the-line for some?

It’s likely to be fourth down and goal to go from inside the 10 yard line for some manufacturers and dealers when the Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail open today. For those in that unfortunate position, a lack of scoring with significant orders from this show may be handing them a loss in [...]

Dealers: Get in the boat!

I just spoke with a good friend and colleague, Dave Geoffroy, Executive Director of the Southern California Marine Association. I wanted to know how the opening weekend of his Los Angeles Boat Show had gone.

The game is still customer retention

Something curious is happening at our boat shows. Dealers are reporting two unexpected results in addition to better than anticipated attendance. They are: (1) small boats are drawing more interest and selling better than large boats, and (2) it appears dealers are talking to more new people than old prospects and customers.

Follow up: key to show success

I know what you’re thinking – not the old “follow up” pitch again! But, with our major winter boat shows well underway and, happily, doing much better than expected, a study of trade shows by the Center for Exhibition Research (CER) should give us some heartburn.

The wolf at the door!

And Little Red Riding Hood said: “What big eyes you have, Grandma.” The wolf, pretending to be granny, answered: “All the better to see you with!”

On renaming fish ‘sea kittens’

When the Cleveland Boat Show (which I managed for many years) opens tomorrow, Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel will take off behind her radio-controlled ski boat to the applause of hundreds and the delight of local TV news crews. It happens every year, because Twiggy has been an ever-popular attraction in Cleveland since 1986.