Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Will 2011 be the year you use coupons?

This has been a very good year for consumers who like bargains. While lower income people may need low prices, it’s middle and upper income shoppers who love bargains! In these latter cases, they’ve had a great time using one of the most time-tested promotional tools known to retailing – coupons.

It’s time to push back using lawsuits

The move by NMMA to team up with others (the Engine Products Group coalition) in filing a lawsuit in federal court challenging EPA’s recent approval of E15 is as great as Howard Beale’s (Network) exclamation: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

PART II – Mandatory life jacket wear becoming more of an issue

As anticipated, the National Recreational Boating Safety Coalition met yesterday and Army Corp of Engineers spokesperson Lynda Nutt presented results from their three-year, on-going test program regarding mandatory life jacket wearing. Moreover, she indicated the Corps is so pleased with their success that expansion for 2011 is a done deal.

PART I – Mandatory life jacket wear becoming more of an issue

Tomorrow (Dec. 15) could be an interesting day if the subject of mandatory life jacket wear on pleasure boats is on your mind. That’s because a meeting of the National Recreational Boating Safety Coalition is slated to feature a report from the Army Corps of Engineers on its mandatory life jacket program. Never heard of […]

“Austerity fatigue” and other good signs!

Tis the season to be jolly . . . and it’s got me looking only for encouraging news. That’s the way I intend to celebrate the end of this current decade which, let’s face it, has genuinely sucked! It began with the spectacular failure of the dot-coms, witnessed the horrors of Sept. 11, and wraps […]

Funding for boats seen inching up

If funding for boat loans is inching up, it’s good evidence that the “bottom” is clearly behind us. Such is a conclusion from the encouraging news out of the National Marine Bankers Association last week.

Senate fails to dump new 1099 filing requirement

Get ready to handle a lot more paperwork for the IRS. Because the Senate couldn’t pass simple legislation this week that would repeal an onerous reporting measure set to sock small businesses, marine dealers can expect to file dozens, if not hundreds, more 1099s beginning in January, 2012.

A lesson from the wizardry of Harry Potter

When I read about something succeeding beyond expectation, I always want to know why. So, when the Orlando Sentinel recently reported Universal Orlando posted its best quarterly results in the resort’s 20 year history with revenue up 62 percent and profits more than double, it got my attention. After all, most amusement parks have been working […]

It’s time for some Santa selling

Seems to me the Christmas decorations have come out earlier than ever this year, weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday. No complaints, though. After all, this has been a tough year — sales slow, unemployment high, credit still tight and the rancor in Washington never ends.

Small businesses get some relief from health care law

Is it possible that policy is already being influenced by the large group (33) of small business owners who will take seats in Congress next January? After all, they are the largest and most outspoken contingent of small business persons ever elected in a midterm. In contrast, two years ago only 11 small business owners […]

NMTC hears report from RBFF

“I want to see over 60 million Americans fishing,” Frank Peterson, president of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, told the National Marine Trades Council’s annual meeting in Orlando this week. The NMTC consists of executives from the major marine trade associations around the country and was meeting in conjunction with the MRAA’s Marine Dealer […]

Election over: What’s next for our industry?

The outcome of Tuesday’s midterms signals some big changes ahead. Or does it?  Well, if I tell you, I’d have to kill you (which means I don’t know!) However, if nothing else, the fear that both Congress and the President could continue to roll on, oblivious to the sentiment of the electorate, has been pointedly […]

Do used boats fit in new-boat shows?

The 51st annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show opens today, and while the industry’s last major in-water show of the fall circuit doesn’t come until early December in St. Petersburg, Fla., the show created by the late Kaye Pearson in Lauderdale is the best of the best.

Product endorsers: You don’t need a big name

We all know endorsements from big names can boost product sales. Athletes like LaBron James (except in Cleveland), movie stars like Sally Field or retired coaches like Jimmy Johnson all get mega-bucks to hit the TV screen and urge us to buy.

A great dealership is a reflection of its leader’s attitude

It’s been about 10 years since I first read Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great.” Back then, Business Week called it “a book that seems built to last.” It is. So, when I recently saw it in my bookcase, I pulled it down and re-read it. If you missed this book, it’s still a great read […]

What’s more attractive today: Innovation or price?

There’s a debate these days over whether innovation or price is the driver of sales. In the past, innovation has been hailed as the way businesses beat their competition and stayed on top. In the boat business, we touted innovations like new hull designs, advanced power plants, electronic breakthroughs and more. But has this great […]

What’s selling all about?

“Nothing happens until someone sells something.” I think every class or sales training meeting I ever attended seemed to kick off with that statement! It may be a time-worn axiom, but it’s still true.

Coast Guard PSA goes over the top!

From the outset, let me be clear: I am a strong supporter of the Coast Guard and its accomplishments for boating safety on our waterways. I believe most of us in the boating industry feel that way. So, I’m sure what you’re about to see will disappoint you, as it has me, if not make […]

Would a VAT be good or bad?

In Tuesday’s Dealer Outlook, I speculated that President Obama’s debt and deficit commission is likely to recommend the imposition of a value-added tax — also called a goods and services tax (GST) — as a solution to the nation’s debt and deficit crisis.

To VAT or not to VAT?

All the news about passage of the small business lending bill or the ongoing debate over the Bush tax cuts is blurring the real elephant in the debt and deficit deliberation: President Obama’s deficit reduction commission.

Will the decision on E15 come down to votes in Iowa?

I’ll go out on a limb here. As we get close to an expected decision by U.S. EPA this month to approve or deny increasing the ethanol content in gas from E10 (10 percent) to E15 (15 percent), we may witness common sense and safety concerns disregarded in the name of getting votes in states […]

Discover Boating Dock is big success at Tampa Show

There I was . . . walking the docks of the in-water portion of the Tampa Boat Show with thunder rumbling and rain coming down. Amazingly, I wasn’t alone. There were plenty of others doing the same thing and I thought to myself: “These Florida boaters are nut-jobs, just like me!”

EPA looms big and troublesome for boating and fishing

While President Obama proposes billions more dollars to “boost small business,” including some provisions that ostensibly might also help our boating industry, his administration at EPA is poised to issue troublesome edicts affecting all boating and fishing interests on two fronts.

Latitude will be needed for marine industry’s oil spill claims

To date, it’s really unknown whether marine businesses will be fairly and fully compensated for lost income resulting from BP’s well from hell. While final claim criteria isn’t expected for several weeks, comments already made that “proximity” to the spill may be a prime factor in assessing damage raises immediate concerns about fair treatment.

Taking prospects for a ride!

A prime result of exhibiting in this fall’s boat shows will be the follow-up demos. But how salesmen approach each demo should be viewed as much more than just another part of the sales process.

A small gesture can get a big return

Ever wonder why at some restaurants you get a piece of candy with your check? It’s a fact that restaurant servers who leave a piece of candy with the check will get a bigger tip than those who don’t. Moreover, according to studies reported in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, if two pieces of […]

Dealers aren’t buying boat show space!

The industry’s fall boat show circuit will officially kick off this week when the 31st Michigan City In-Water Boat Show opens on Thursday near Chicago. After that, major fall shows will take place in locations like Detroit, Cedar Point, Newport, Norwalk, Atlantic City, Annapolis, Ft. Lauderdale, to name just a few.

NMMA’s oil spill survey highlights importance of MTAs

I had planned to write about another subject today . . . that was, until I read yesterday’s TradeOnlyToday and the report on NMMA’s survey of the fallout from BP’s oil spill. I was genuinely taken aback by some readers voicing negative comments about NMMA’s action. That bothered me all day, so I gotta blog […]

Give the prospect a little extra, even if he never buys!

The “baker’s dozen” – buy 12, get a 13th free. The bakery nearest my home sells donuts and bagels that way. I like it. It keeps me, and lots of others, coming back. It’s certainly good marketing in today’s tough business climate because it gives that something extra that makes customers or prospects feel valued.

Can we over-pursue customer satisfaction?

Is it possible to ask our customers if they’re satisfied . . . and then put them on the defensive for their opinions? Absolutely, and it’s not good contends Sean Silverthorne in his post: “Stop Badgering Me with Customer Satisfaction” for Harvard Business on bnet.

“Trust but verify!” – Horatio Caine on TV’s CSI Miami

Over the weekend, business columnist Abel Harding authored a great post on the Florida Times-Union’s website at It resonated with me because all our dealerships are small businesses and, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, that makes us 15 times more likely to be defrauded by employees than non-employees.

Part 2: The well from hell is changing our lives

It’s easy to empathize with those fellow dealers and boaters who are seeing their lives totally disrupted by BP’s well from hell. There are serious allegations that regulations and requirements were ignored and short cuts taken on the Deepwater Horizon rig that’s created the worst environmental disaster in history. If true, our rage would be […]

Part 1 of 2: The well from hell is changing our lives

Forgive me for getting personal. Yesterday, my wife (Kay) and I headed our Pursuit out about 40 miles into the Gulf of Mexico from St. Petersburg. As yet untouched by the oil, the Gulf waters and sky were that spectacular clear blue, one of the powerful reasons we live in Florida. What’s more, we were […]