Dealer Outlook

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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.

While there’s been some discussion about changing cities for IBEX, the success of the event in Louisville, Ky., supports the decision to definitely bring it back there in 2013. However, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of another site or even some rotating schedule being considered for 2014 and beyond.

The heart of IBEX is that it’s the premiere industry event for the latest in boatbuilding and marine service technologies. It also features more than 80 technical clinics, business management seminars and product workshops, including an educational track for dealers. IBEX is produced by Professional BoatBuilder magazine and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

In contrast, the heart of the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo is dealer education and it is the largest annual gathering of retailers from across the country in the marine industry. It focuses on three learning tracks: sales and marketing; powering profits and service; and marina management. Each track boasts six unique sessions. For example, sessions in the sales and marketing track range from “Generating a Return on Your Facebook Investment” to “Waking up Your Showroom’s Potential,” among others.

The powering profits track features sessions like “Techniques for Boosting Your Repeat Business,” or “The Best Ideas of 2012,” plus four more. And, the six sessions in the service and marina track include: “Fill Your Marina’s Slip Vacancies,” “Taking Your Service Department to the Next Level,” “Sell More Service,” and three others. Overall, this year’s lineup looks to be the strongest it’s ever been.

The point is that the dealer conference is packed with educational opportunities — specifically for industry retailers. The event has steadily grown in recent years, both in the size of the event’s accompanying exhibits (over 100) and the attendance (nearly 1,000) by dealers.

Kevin Dick from Captains Cove Marine, Cincinnati, might have summed up the value of the dealer conference best when he said: “There is so much industry information between networking, seminars and meetings with vendors (exhibitors). You come away with a real grasp of the current marketplace.”

For years I have urged dealers to get to the dealer conference and this year is no exception. As dealers, we need all the input, up-to-date ideas and potential new income opportunities we can find these days. The conference is the most valuable meeting of its kind for dealers and marina operators in the industry today. It is produced by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating Industry magazine. There is still time to register for the event at: www.mraa.com.

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