Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Recognize your employees during the holidays

Tis’ the time of year when we like to recognize employees with Christmas parties, bonuses and/or gifts. But according to author Cindy Ventrice in her book, “Make Their Day! Employee Recognition that Works” (Amazon), it really doesn’t work. The problem is this: Christmas gifts and bonuses are considered by most employees as some “entitlement” rather [...]

A blurry vision and other random thoughts

This is a great time of year. It’s a point when the boating business typically slows down enough to allow time to reflect on thoughts and ideas that, while not earth-shaking, might be helpful going forward. Here are three purely random things worth thinking about:

Lower taxes, more income for all (Part 2)

While the Boating Associations of Ohio spars with the Ohio Department of Taxation over the latter’s decision to renege on a decade-old deal with Ohio’s dealers concerning the application of “use tax” (see Tuesday’s Dealer Outlook for details), two Florida associations took on the issue of “sales and use tax” and hit a home run [...]

Lower taxes, more income for all (Part 1)

A recent report that the Ohio Department of Taxation is going back on a deal it made with the marine industry immediately grabbed my attention, because I was the one who agreed to the deal a decade ago. This new dilemma, compared with a similar, though not identical, situation in Florida, gives us a great [...]

The EPA’s nonsensical solutions on ethanol

“It is absolutely absurd,” NMMA legislative director Jim Currie told the National Marine Trades Council when describing EPA’s recent approval of a model E15 “Misfueling Mitigation Plan” developed by the so-called Renewable Fuels Association.

Thankful for a new entitlement program?

What a round of meetings last week in the White House about solving the looming “fiscal cliff.” Union leaders came there Tuesday. CEOs from big corporations were invited in on Wednesday (no small businessmen invited). Why, I’ll bet there was even a delegation from Hollywood packed in there one day.

Discover Boating’s success earns increased support

There’s good news these days from the industry’s Discover Boating national campaign. A report on this year’s results will be discussed this weekend in Orlando at the annual meeting of the National Marine Trades Council. Then, attendees at the 2012 Marine Dealer Conference and Expo that opens Monday will get a first look at the [...]

Videos can help customers promote your product

I suspect that there isn’t a dealer alive who doesn’t take pleasure in any opportunity to talk about their company and its products. It can have a positive influence on a listener’s perception of the firm. But, as good as that is, it pales in comparison to a customer sharing his or her experience with [...]

Snail mail is still a great selling tool

The U.S. Postal Service has been losing about $42 million per day ($11.6 billion this year). It recently defaulted on a $5.5 billion payment for retiree health benefits. In spite of a penny increase in postage this year, it will still lose big bucks next year.

Empowered employees can make things right

“We feel you had to wait too long for your lunches, so they will be free,” our waitress, Maggie, told us as she refilled our beverages and cleared plates. “Wow, that’s a surprise,” my friend Chuck said to her.

Election will have long-term consequences

I caught the debate Monday night between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. For me, it was sort of a yawner. That is, until the President blurted out “it will not happen,” referring to the coming automatic cuts known as sequestration.

Hands-on training can be a winner for dealers

Is an educated boater more confident at the helm? Is he or she more likely to use the boat more often and go farther? Are they more prone to stay in boating and even buy up? Are there many current boaters that would respond to more education and training if available?

Is it time for a customer checkup in your dealership?

We’re not getting any complaints so we must be doing things right … right? Not so fast, according to Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas, co-authors of “Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others.” Sobel is recognized as a leading authority on the strategies and skills needed to earn customer loyalty.

Two events that boost the bottom line

From all accounts, last week’s International BoatBuilders Exhibition and Conference produced another strong showing as one of the industry’s two biggest educational events. Next up from Nov. 11-14 is the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla.

It’s not too early to think about Christmas

I couldn’t believe it. I was rounding the aisle in a Target store when there it was: a whole section of Christmas decorations. It made me stop and ask myself: what month is this? It’s only October and I haven’t even taken my grandsons trick-or-treating yet (and help them eat all be best candy they [...]

Customer rewards programs are serious business

Customer-loyalty schemes have probably been around forever. I grew up with the S&H Green Stamps program — remember that one? Participating retailers rewarded customers with stamps that we carefully pasted into booklets. When we got enough booklets filled, we traded them in at a redemption center for a variety of goodies.

Ohio boaters irate about boardings

The Great Lakes water levels might be dropping, but the level of resentment over increased random boardings of pleasure boats on Ohio’s waters has apparently hit a record high. The result is a call to the Ohio General Assembly for a change in the law.

What do I get for my dues?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? That assumes, in the first place, you are already a member of a national and/or state marine trade association.

Battle lines drawn in fight over fuel standards

Last Thursday, I urged getting behind a petition under consideration at the Environmental Protection Agency to reform the Renewable Fuels Standard. It prompted some great dialogue, as the subject of ethanol always does. And while there was some disagreement about any real environmental benefits from ethanol, there was full agreement that it can destroy hundreds [...]

You can help reform the Renewable Fuel Standard

So we think we have problems with E10 and E15? How does E30 or E40 grab you? It’s certainly being kicked around at the Environmental Protection Agency, according to Marine Retailers Association of the Americas’ Washington-based lobbyist Larry Innis.

Some new taxes flying below the radar

If you tune into the Republican National Convention tonight, you’ll likely hear a call to reduce taxes — something we all might like to see happen. Will it? Perhaps. But there are potential tax increases that aren’t getting much attention.

A colossal court cop-out on ethanol case

NMMA president Thom Dammrich calls the court’s decision on the industry’s suit against the EPA’s E15 waivers “disappointing.” That’s because he’s too much of a gentlemen to call it what it really is — a freakin’ cop-out.

Cyber attacks double on small businesses

If you think that because you’re a small business, hackers won’t seek your data, consider this: a hacker can steal bank account and/or credit card information from your computer, package it with similar information from a hundred or more other small businesses and sell it on the black market for big bucks.

Top ideas to tick off customers

Would you like to lose some customers? Perhaps I can help. If you’d like to watch a customer’s face turn red and smoke come from his ears, here are three surefire suggestions that will likely have him heading out the door at warp speed to the dealer down the street:

Five years and it’s still fun

When I first started writing Dealer Outlook, I practically had to look up the meaning of “blog.” I recall that I told the Trade Only editors I’d give it a try for a couple of months to see how it worked out. That was five years ago this month.

Is the computer killing our customer relationships?

In our lifetime, there has been no technological advancement that’s made our business life more efficient than the computer. Our record-keeping is streamlined. Our access to knowledge is unparalleled. Our communication accelerated. Our responses to inquiries can be automated. We can even be “open” around the clock and don’t need an employee manning the counter [...]

Transportation bill: winners and losers

The long-awaited transportation bill emerged from a House/Senate Conference Committee last Thursday. In order to get it passed and signed by President Obama by a Friday deadline, the House waived its three-day “reading requirement” and the 599-page bill, with whatever the conferees decided to put in it, became law.

Talking the right talk

I wasn’t really familiar with the term “psychographics,” until my daughter, Kristin DeGraff, a consumer insight analyst at Pepsi, told me it’s good information if I want to speak the right language to the right people. I also realized it might provide valuable insights for members on our dealership sales teams. So I looked into [...]

The transportation bill: Will we get it?

The last time Congress passed a long-term transportation bill was in 2004. It expired in 2009 and, since then, Congress has kept programs going through a series of nine short-term extensions with the current three-month extension set to expire Saturday night.