Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

For many TV fishing shows, it’s the last cast!

The recent announcement by ESPN that it will dump nearly all its outdoor shows by the end of the year can only be called disappointing news for boating. While this includes both hunting and fishing shows, it’s the latter that have been the weekend morning staple for both freshwater and saltwater anglers.

Marine dealer exemption could be on the table today

The Conference Committee dealing with the financial reform bill will reportedly begin taking up various provisions and changes to the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) as you read this blog today (June 22). Our quest to get marine dealers excluded will be on the table.

Luxury buyers coming back; small business confidence up

High-end retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus have reported stronger sales. Cadillac and SRX crossover SUV sales tripled this spring over last. The confidence of small businessmen showed a healthy increase in May, and the retail sale of new boats is on the edge of positive territory.

Never make claims that can’t be backed up

Once upon a time, one could “stretch” a claim in an ad or a sales presentation and it would likely go unchallenged. But that was before the Internet opened the door to fact checking by any one, on virtually any thing, at any time.

Urgent action needed by all by tomorrow!

As reported previously in Soundings Trade Only and here in Dealer Outlook, our industry representatives in Washington, D.C. have been working to get boat dealers exempted from the burdensome and unnecessary oversight of a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection being created by the financial reform bill that has now passed both the House and Senate.

Reality check: Lighter tow vehicles now closer than ever

We haven’t heard much lately about Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. But, the Obama administration has quietly pushed the required average of 35.5 mpg up four years from 2020 to 2016. That’s a 34 percent increase over today’s average of 26.4 mpg and it must be accomplished in 40 percent less time.

It’s time to ‘Discover Boating’ again

“Discover Boating” was our industry’s first-ever national campaign to promote the boating lifestyle and increase participation. On Oct. 1, 2008, as we sank into this deep recession, DB’s annual budget was reduced by about 85 percent to $1 million as boat builders wanted to redirect the funds to help dealers move inventories in the field.

In pursuit of advantageous state legislation

If there’s anything we don’t do enough through our state marine trade associations, it’s pursuing favorable legislation. Sure we have a good track record of defending our interests against harmful bills. But that frequently causes us to forget we can and should be active in asking our lawmakers to initiate legislation that makes things better [...]

Will manufacturer showrooms become a ‘new normal’?

First it was Maritimo. That was followed by Regal. Then came J&D Acquisitions (Irwin Jacobs) with Carver and Marquis. They’re the most recent major brands to announce new “factory showrooms.” In fact, Regal just completed a gala grand opening in Orlando, Fla., reportedly with more than 500 in attendance.

Women are changing the boat sales landscape

As far back as I can remember, we’ve always acknowledged women could play a make-it-or-break-it role in closing any boat sale. Our reference, of course, was to the boat’s design, comforts, safety features, amenities and the way we treated them during the sales process.

Top 10 signs you can steal a competitor’s customers

Sadly, we’re still a no-growth industry this year. It means any increase a dealer hopes to capture this spring can only come from increasing market share by stealing customers from competitors. So, target competitors that exhibit these signs they’re failing to serve their customers (and, while you’re at it, make sure you’re not a possible [...]

Is the glass now better than half full?

Like you, I’m always looking for signs that the recovery is really happening, that it’s not fizzling out, and we can anticipate improving boat sales. That’s why this week’s Commerce Department report on consumer spending has me seeing the glass better than half full, and it merits comment.

Turmoil for banks won’t help ease credit crisis

The financial services industry is between the proverbial rocks these days. Chastised by Washington politicians and considered untrustworthy by most outside the Beltway, the banks are getting hammered these days. But they also have a talent for setting themselves up as targets.

Dealer Web sites are more important than ever

We’re living in the digital age. As such, online search engines, like Google or Yahoo, have virtually buried the traditional sources, like yellow pages, when it comes to attracting new customers. More and more people now let their eyes “do the walking” on a computer screen.

Boating safety could get boost from Predators

“The Guardian.” It was a 2006 hit movie about a high school swim champion who enters the Coast Guard’s “A” School, and highlighted the great job the Coast Guard does. Fittingly, now it’s also the name being given to a prototype maritime version of the Predator unmanned drone.

A lesson from Walmart and the blueberry affair

Walmart had a special going on fresh blueberries — just $2.50 a pint. So, Frank Mauer headed for his nearby Port Richey (Fla.) Supercenter. But, when he got there all the blueberries were gone. So, Mauer figured he’d just get the blueberries another time and asked for a rain check. That’s when things went south!

The complexity of ocean management

In last Thursday’s blog, I began examining the new Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force created by the White House and charged with developing a new national policy that “ensures protection, maintenance, and restoration of oceans, our coasts and the Great Lakes.”

Credit unions vs. banks: Another David & Goliath challenge?

For some time we’ve believed our nation’s credit unions could be an untapped source of funds for small businesses like boat dealerships. Apparently they do, too. Although it hasn’t made headlines, credit unions are currently conducting a campaign to lift a cap that restricts their ability to lend to small businesses.

Will consumers be big spenders again?

Bookstores are loaded with titles these days declaring the country and economy will never be the same. This great recession has changed us forever, authors proclaim — our “new normal” will be as frugal shoppers and savers.

Where did all the boat show leads go?

We’ve had enough reports from our January boat shows to know they’ve been better than expected. Great news! Even better, reports from virtually all shows indicate a definite improvement in prospect quality over last year when show visitors wouldn’t even talk to us!

Can customer rewards programs work for dealers?

I don’t know which came first — airline mileage programs or the bank vanity cards. But, there’s little doubt a vast array of businesses, large and small, have followed with their own kind of loyalty programs. That’s because they work!

Good news from the Buckeye State!

I’m always looking for encouraging news to include in this blog. Like you, I’m fed up with pessimistic reporting these days! But, I admit as I boarded a flight to Cleveland last week, I wasn’t expecting to find much good news.

Ideas often come when you’re not looking for them

Took my grandsons to H & R Trains in Pinellas Park, Fla. last weekend. It’s a store filled with Lionel and other brands. There were demo trains running, whistles tooting, train videos playing with lots of sound. The whole store had an excitement to it from the moment we walked in.

Saving marinas, boat yards and access must be pushed

Where have all the marinas gone? It’s a question we don’t want to be asking in the future. But we just may be if we don’t get to work on an issue that’s critical to our industry’s long term future. It’s saving the rapidly disappearing “working waterfronts” in America.