Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Without repeal, expect a “HIT” from health care bill

The health care bill (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was basically crafted behind White House closed doors. Then, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed it with her now famous statement that, “it’s good and we need to pass it so we can find out what’s in it!”  On the Senate side, Harry Reid proclaimed [...]

Does ADA affect boat dealerships?

The other day I watched a guy pull into a handicapped-only parking space, but he had no handicapped sticker hanging on his mirror. Since he didn’t look like he could beat the hell out of me, I asked: “Do you realize that’s a handicapped only space you’re in?” He just dropped the F-bomb and continued [...]

Gotta chuckle at Senate’s shift on ethanol

I’ve always admired NMMA president Thom Dammrich who, long ago, was among the first to call the production of ethanol nothing but a “great scam!” So, he’s likely grinning, as I am, at the vote last week in the U.S. Senate on an amendment that indicates a majority (73-27) of its members have had an [...]

The importance of fishing to our industry (Part 2)

The fact that fishing is critical to the future success of our industry is well-documented by studies like those from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. As I pointed out here on Tuesday, RBFF’s latest study revealed a whopping 8.4 million anglers do not currently own a boat, but say they’re considering buying one. That’s [...]

The importance of fishing to our industry (Part 1)

Regular readers know I love to fish – freshwater or saltwater, count me in. Accordingly, issues that negatively impact angler access get personal. Moreover, as an industry member, I readily see the extraordinary economic importance of fishing to the majority of marine dealers – reason enough to call attention to angling issues.

Senate balks at delaying swipe fee reforms

Good news for retailers seems too infrequent these days, so here’s some: Yesterday, the Senate torpedoed an attempt to delay the debit card swipe fee reforms (see Dealer Outlook, Jan. 20, 2011 and April 26, 2011) mandated by last year’s Dodd-Frank financial reform act.

Social marketing picking up speed in small businesses

The use of social media for marketing is apparently picking up speed with small businesses across the county, according to a study just released by Pitney Bowes. In fact, the April research shows that social media, at least by some measures, is beginning to rival even e-mail.

The jury’s still out; and other notable items

Gulf of Mexico: It’s time to check the health of the gulf from the Florida Keys to the Texas coast. Growing concern over reports of sick red snapper and other fish being caught in the wake of last year’s BP oil spill has pushed federal officials to fund an ambitious survey of the entire gulf [...]

Oprah reminds us of what we do everyday

I don’t know why I watched the final Oprah Winfrey Show yesterday afternoon. I must admit I’d probably seen less than a half dozen shows by this remarkable talk show icon over the last 25 years. But I am glad I was tuned in to this one.

E-mail newsletters still powerful tool

Good marketing plans are relying more and more on the effective use of information technology, ranging in scope from a good company website to taking advantage of social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. But, despite all the current hype for the “hot” social media outlets, the email newsletter remains the most effective way [...]

Time is now to push favorable legislation

Mention increasing state revenues and keeping people working and you’ll find instant friends in your state legislature these days. The time for local and state marine trade associations to push for positive state legislation couldn’t be better.

Ethanol: Here to stay in one form or another

While our customers nationwide face potential engine problems from corn-based ethanol at level E-10, never mind the anticipated E-15, the debates, lawsuits and arguments roll on. Surprisingly, the latest comes from Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who have discovered that the $6 billion federal subsidy to the ethanol industry isn’t such a [...]

Windmills threaten access and enjoyment of waterways

“Motor vessel Special Kay, this is the Coast Guard,” said the voice over my radio. “Be advised you are entering a ‘no-nav’ restricted zone and you are ordered to alter course immediately. You must navigate around the 25-square-mile turbine farm ahead of you. You cannot enter it, fish there or even pass through it!”

Who’s winning the swipe fees war?

Call it the mother of all fee battles – the ongoing clash between retailers and bankers over how much it should cost a retailer to swipe a customer’s debit card (swipe fees). The war should have ended last Friday with a retail victory, but it didn’t.

How will new “clean boating” regs impact our businesses?

We successfully lobbied Congress in 2008 for the Clean Boating Act. It was an important victory for pleasure boating. Indeed, had it not passed, our customers would have been required to obtain an EPA permit to discharge virtually anything – for example, boat soap running off a washed deck.

BP oil spill: noteworthy information and a court decision

Tomorrow’s anniversary of the BP oil spill should spark recognition that the nightmare from the worst environmental calamity in our nation’s history is far from over. We can’t ignore the damage rained down on the environment in general, fellow boat dealers and marina operators in particular, and the million of families living along the Gulf [...]

Can boating help postpone the aging process?

We assume the aging process lasts longer nowadays because we’re generally living longer. Not true. Yes, the aging process still happens, but once it starts it lasts about the same length of time as it always has. Surprised? Me, too.

Testimonials can add power to a dealer’s website

A viable website is very important to any dealership in this digital age. Online search engines have long surpassed offline tools like the yellow pages when it comes to attracting new customers. Moreover, Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines have a wealth of free tools to help small businesses rank higher in the search [...]

MRAA says big bucks at stake for boating and fishing

With the expected budget battles just ahead, Larry Innis, MRAA’s lobbyist in Washington, predicts: “This re-authorization will be the most difficult one in memory!” His reference: the upcoming reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Fund in which hundreds of millions of boating and fishing dollars will be at stake.

Important webinar set for dealers/marina operators

Over the next five years, at least 30 state regulatory agencies will review and renew their marine general NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Permits. Mandated by the Clean Water Act, these permits regulate, for example, discharges of copper bottom paint and bottom cleaning methods used by marinas.

Mismanagement of fisheries needs to be stopped

We went fishing in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday, hoping to bring home a few snapper dinners. We dropped anchor about 16 miles offshore and we found lots of action. But it wasn’t the snapper that were biting. It was gag grouper attacking our baits. Hard hitting and always an exciting fish to catch, gag [...]

There’s inspiration in that foot-long sandwich

The report this week that Subway tops McDonald’s in the restaurant unit race may seem surprising. Actually, Subway passed McDonald’s in number of stores six years ago and still holds onto that position. The score: Subway 34,239 vs. McDonald’s 32,737. But, just for the record, McDonald’s hauled in $24 billion last year compared to Subway’s [...]

Ending the Asian Carp invasion: Eat ’em!

The ravenous Bighead Asian Carp is looking for a way to get into the Great Lakes via the Chicago Area Waterway System and it’s no laughing matter. In fact, as reported in TradeOnlyToday, it’s serious enough that there’s now a bill in Congress to, possibly, eliminate the expected devastation to native fisheries the Carp would [...]

E-mail still preferred for contacting customers

Social media — like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs – are all the talk these days, and rightly so. But, if that’s led you to conclude that e-mail is yesterday’s news and no longer worth the time to use in your marketing plan, better think again.

Appealing to minorities is key to boating growth

I attended a meeting last week in which several participants shared ideas about growing boating. Among them: more promotion of the family benefits; aim harder at Gen X and Gen Y; get kids involved at an early age; sell the boating lifestyle, among others – all good ideas, to be sure. But one was missing: [...]

A new magazine that every dealer should get

Miami Beach becomes the epicenter of industry sales activity starting today, with the opening of the Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail, as well as the Yacht & Brokerage Show that stretches a mile along Collins Avenue. The big Detroit Boat Show also runs through this Sunday in the Motor City.

Genuine budget cutting could boost boat sales

Actually locking up some of the big spending cuts being bantered about in Washington this week could go a long way to increasing consumer confidence and, therefore, their spending. That would be good for us. But, oh, the hurdles to get there!

Riding into February on a wave of good news

As February begins, we’re coming off a month dominated by good news. In January, the Consumer Confidence Index was up . . . new home sales were up . . . the Dow Jones was up . . . and sales at our boat shows were up. In fact, the final three months of 2010 [...]

Concern about gas prices appears to be back

I spent three great days last week visiting the Cleveland show. Each day I talked with dozens of fellow boaters from organizations I was active in for many years – groups like, Lake County Yacht Club, U.S. Power Squadrons, Lake Erie Safe Boating Council, Greater Cleveland Boating Association, Sea Grant and more.

Relationships with local banks must be dealer priority

As President Obama shares with us the State of the Union tonight, there will be no surprise when he says creating jobs is numero uno! What we’re not likely to hear, however, is that until there is an end to the unprecedented drop in credit lines and loans to small businesses like ours, he can [...]

Card swipe charges could see major cuts

It’s hasn’t received much publicity to date, but the high swipe fees being charged retailers for swiping customers’ debit cards may be headed for a major slashing. In fact, the Federal Reserve in December proposed big cuts, up to 90 percent!

Influence of boat shows cannot be denied

It’s boat show season! If you’re not in your local boat show, you’re not in the right place at the right time! That’s the overriding conclusion I draw from the first-of-its-kind “2010 Boat Show Purchase Influence Report” by Foresight Research, a Michigan firm that pioneered the measurement of ROI from marketing communications for the automotive [...]