Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

A New Year’s Resolution I can keep

I suppose everyone begins the New Year by making a couple of resolutions. Doing it represents a fresh start in a new time. I’m all for that. But my track record, I admit, isn’t very good.

When customers are treated right, they stay

It was nearly unanimous . . . virtually all of the more than 1,200 people surveyed said a great experience makes them more likely to buy more of a product or repeat a service, according to a study recently released by Ft. Lauderdale-based Spherion Staffing Services.

Christmas should remind us of boating’s best

If nothing else, the Christmas season means trips to the mall and gifts galore. But the real gift of Christmas is the time spent with family and friends. Interestingly, when we speak of family and friends, it quickly reminds me of the true value we in the boating business provide to hundreds of thousands of [...]

Eight gifts during Hanukkah, please.

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also known as “Festival of Lights,” will begin tonight at sunset and be observed for eight days and nights. Specifically, the festival is marked by the lighting of the Menorah’s eight candles, one each night of the holiday progressing to eight on the final night. Many also observe this holiday [...]

Rude employees mean loss of business

It seems logical that every employee would purpose to show respect and courtesy to customers. For any business, lack of politeness can actually detract from the bottom line. Moreover, it’s not just about respect for the customers. Surprisingly, it also involves employees being rude to fellow employees.

What to do for employees at Christmas?

Ho, Ho, Ho – Tis a season of joy. But, it can also be a perplexing time for business owners and managers when faced with the question of what to give employees for the holidays? Likely, every boss wants to do something to recognize and reward employees who have been loyal and worked hard to [...]

Caught between a rock and who knows what!

Are you as confused as I am? I’m honestly not sure if I’m for or against the idea Congress is kicking around – the idea of continuing the temporary reduction in payroll taxes that expires at the end of the year.

Apple polishing: Good for business!

When it comes to retailing, no stores compare to the success of Apple’s stores. “No wonder – look at Apple’s great products,” you say? Certainly having the iPod, iPad and iPhone are an advantage. But there’s a lot more we can take away from Apple’s success.

A new solution to the E15 debacle?

Isobutonal . . . if you’re a scotch drinker you already love it. If you’re a marine engine builder you may come to love it! That’s because isobutonal is a flavor note in scotch and, even more important (unless you’re addicted to scotch, I suppose), it may well be an alternative to ethanol!

Winter shows just around the corner

My copy of the latest edition of Boat Show Exhibitor magazine arrived this week. It reminds me that the last in-water boat show of the fall season will drop anchor in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dec. 1-4. But, exactly one month later, the industry’s big winter indoor show circuit will kick-off in New York on Jan. [...]

Thoughts about two marine industry trade events

Is the coming Black Friday frenzy going too far? According to New York Times reporter Stephanie Clifford it just may be. This year, more big name retailers seem set to take on each other in a race to get into consumers’ wallets and credit cards first. They’re backing up their Black Friday openings into Thanksgiving [...]

Fast start for Matt Gruhn, MRAA’s new leader

It’s not unusual for there to be a lag in activity and direction when the leadership of a large association changes. But, if you’re thinking that’s likely to happen at the Marine Retailers Association of America, you can relax – just the opposite appears to be true.

NMTC members see brighter outlook for shows in 2012

The decline in both size and attendance of the industry’s boat shows appears to have ended in 2010 and showed signs of improvement in 2011. That was the conclusion at the  National Marine Trades Council’s annual meeting over the weekend in Orlando, Fla. prior to the Marine Retailers Association of America’s Marine Dealer Conference and Exhibition.

Boycotts and other fishing issues

You gotta like the Recreational Fishing Alliance – they have no fear and take no prisoners. Recently, RFA opted to take on the Waltons. No, not John boy . . . the other Waltons, as in Wal-Mart and the Walton Family Foundation.

Are cyber criminals stealing your money?

Small businesses, like boat dealerships, have become prime targets for cyber criminals that are now successfully ripping off commercial bank accounts to the tune of more than $1 billion a year. And, if you think your bank will cover any such losses, think again. Banks are under no obligation to reimburse commercial accounts raided by cyber crooks, [...]

Working waterfronts bill introduced again

Preserving access to the water continues to be a priority for the boating industry, which makes the introduction of the “Keep America’s Waterfront Working Act” of interest. Marinas, boat yards and boat dealers supported a similar effort a couple of years ago, according to Marine Retailers Association of America’s Washington lobbyist Larry Innis, albeit attempts [...]

Toxic algae, dead zones threaten Great Lakes

Lake Erie, declared “dead” in the 1960s and brought back to life in the ’70s, may now be on the critical list again. The worst toxic algae bloom in recorded history is plaguing Lake Erie. For weeks now, the current, smelly bloom has virtually covered the western basin of Erie and is moving eastward, where [...]

Locking up the Gulf oil spill billions

Last year’s BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the worst environmental disaster in American history. Before it’s all over, it’s expected to generate upwards of $21 billion in Clean Water Act fines, and the move is on to capture the money lest it disappear into some unrelated federal black hole!

Thanks for the entertainment PETA

Every now and then I have to pause and give thanks that our world includes wing nuts like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. After all, they bring such great humor to the breakfast table, never mind fodder for a blogger!

Should Coast Guard end push for mandatory life jacket wear? (Part 2)

The recent vote by the National Boating Safety Advisory Council to have the Coast Guard initiate a process leading to mandatory life jacket wear is a textbook case for: “Bring up the same thing over and over and you’ll eventually drive the answer you want!” (See last Tuesday’s Oct. 4 Dealer Outlook for background).

Should Coast Guard have scuttled life jacket rule?

In March, the Coast Guard published a rule that could improve the development of inflatable life jackets and lead to new international standards. Last week, the Coast Guard abruptly withdrew the rule because it got a letter one letter – opposing it.

‘Google it’ means more to Ohio dealer

With limited marketing dollars available, we want to know were putting them in the right places, says Jen Keefer, marketing coordinator for South Shore Marine in Huron, Ohio. The retail boating industry isnt really on top of data mining like, for example, the auto industry. But here at South Shore, were using it to better [...]

Good marketing should include events

The use of special boating events by dealers and/or local marine associations appears to be gaining more traction these days. Some events aim at the general boating public, similar to boat shows but not portrayed as such. Others are aimed squarely at existing customers. Either way, they can be strong components in a dealers marketing [...]

Is boating overlooking Generation X?

They encompass those born between 1965 and 1980, give or take a year or so, and theyre called Generation X or Gen-Xers for short. Theyre really not a small group although we may well have inadvertently failed to see them on our radar.

Loans, tax relief possible in wake of Hurricane Irene

Im from the government and Im here to help you, may actually be true for dealers, marina operators and marine manufacturers hit hard when Hurricane Irene ripped up the East Coast. Marine businesses are among those that are eligible for some tax relief from the IRS and low-interest loans from the Small Business Association.

Tampa show bucks the Bucs and wins

In spite of an NFL season home opener for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Boat Show chalked up a big win with increased attendance, more boats and successful special events.

Dont miss two money-saving offers

They are two of the boating industry’s biggest all-trade events — the International BoatBuilders Exhibition and Conference and the Marine Retailers Associaiton of Americas Marine Dealer Conference and Expo and both will end their generous early-bird discount registration programs next week.

Lets help Washington do the smart thing

Good grief! The Congressional summer recess ends tomorrow, and that means were all in danger again. President Obama will address Congress on Thursday with his latest plan to increase jobs and get the economy moving again. We dont know what hell propose this time. But, Im sure were all hopeful it will be an effective [...]

Is boating finally being pushed to the limit?

Boaters and anglers . . . theyre generally a lay-back group. Thats why they became our customers and got into boating in the first place we sell them their great escape! They usually arent extremists, either. They dont hyperventilate or cry-out the world is ending. More likely than not, boaters simply ask for no [...]

Federal gasoline tax will expire next month

It hasnt made the headlines, yet, probably because everyone in Washington (President Obama and all members of Congress) has left on vacation. So, we can expect the multibillion-dollar federal gas tax to be another battleground when they all return after Labor Day.

How to lose a prospect in seven easy moves

Can a salesperson lose a good prospect without saying a single negative word? Absolutely! So, here are seven ways you will likely see them head for the door every time, based on observations by business columnist Mike Michalowicz, author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.

What do you do for your best customers?

The Pareto principle also known as the 80-20 rule contends that 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. If you subscribe to the Italian economists observation, and most of the business world does, than todays application is simple: 80 percent of your profits come from 20 percent of [...]

Where do we stand on wind power?

Theyre often called unattractive, noisy and deadly for birds. Some have blades as long as a football field and there are predictions future blades could grow stout enough to put a 35-foot cruiser inside. The Department of Energy budgeted a record $79 million for them last year, and literally billions of private sector dollars are [...]

Reduce pressure to cut price with a good USP

Perhaps the greatest concern of dealers is how to price products and services. How many times have we heard this?: “Well Id buy it if it were in my price range.” The result is a lowered price to close the sale. But a unique selling proposition, or USP, among other things, could help the sales [...]

Boat Shows: Our ace in the hole this fall

Flat consumer spending . . . Congress whimps out . . . the stock market dips . . . weak manufacturing output . . . puny GDP growth . . . unchanging unemployment! Geez, it could make us in boating want to slit our wrists! Unless, that is, we see beyond those news bites.

Group wants to lock launch ramps in Minnesota

Minnesotas Department of Natural Resources is often cited as having the nations leading boating safety programs, so its not surprising that lawmakers there recently passed a bill to dramatically strengthen the DNRs ability to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in lakes. But as DNR focuses on statewide implementation of its new program, at [...]

Blogging: Let the fun continue!

Its an anniversary, my wife remarked. Oh, oh – what am I missing and is this trouble, immediately flashed into my head because I wasnt sure where this was going. But, as luck would have it, before I was forced to ask that loaded question that would reveal Id totally forgotten something important, she continued: [...]

LIFO could need to be rescued

In accounting lingo, its simply known as LIFO, meaning last-in, first-out. Its been in the tax code for many years but its days may now be numbered since it has surfaced during the ongoing budgetand deficit fiasco in Washington.

Surprise: A tax cut for you

How did this happen? A tax cut for virtually every business. Is it a Washington first, or did they just screw up and miss the opportunity to continue to squeeze money out of our small-business dealerships?

Is Texas dealer bill a harbinger of things to come?

The decision by Texas dealers to pursue legislation covering dealer/manufacturer agreements seems to have surprised many. It shouldnt have. The dealers actually made it known during both the 2010 and 2011 American Boating Congress in Washington that they believed such legislation was needed and planned to seek it this year.