Dealer Outlook

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Dealers: Get in the boat!

I just spoke with a good friend and colleague, Dave Geoffroy, Executive Director of the Southern California Marine Association. I wanted to know how the opening weekend of his Los Angeles Boat Show had gone.

He had good news. The LA Show mirrored what’s been happening in many shows around the country. “We had a very good opening weekend,” he said, “and I’ve had several dealers come in and say the show has already topped their expectations. There is also a real enthusiasm on the show floor and I believe the momentum we now have will carry through next weekend,” he added. (The show runs Feb. 7-15.)

But as good as it was to hear the news about the LA Show, it was something else he said that really grabbed my attention. And, it merits sharing with all of you.

We were talking about dealer attitudes and the often-tough battle every one of us faces trying to remain upbeat and positive during times that want to knock us down.

Now, if you don’t know Dave, he ranks very high on a list of the most-optimistic people I know in this business. So, I finally asked him straight up: “What’s your secret to staying so fired up all the time?” I doubt I’ll ever forget his simple answer: “I go boating.”

There was a moment of silence. I was thinking: what did I expect him to say – he listens to Zig Ziglar tapes or practices some far eastern mind exercise? Finally, I said: “That’s it … you go boating?”  “You got it,” he confirmed.

He went on to explain that, on average, he hits the water on three out of every four weekends. “As far as I’m concerned,” he said, “the best way to stay excited about our industry and what we do is to get in the boat! It renews the great feeling of enjoyment that boating gives. I often ask myself, how does a salesman effectively convey to a prospect the excitement of boating if he’s not experiencing it. So, I’m always encouraging our SCMA dealers to take get out on the water — it’s a steroid for sales people,” he added.

Now, I’ve been in the marine industry for a long time. But I admit I never thought of encouraging all dealers to make it a point that they, and their sales team, go boating regularly when possible.

So, as soon as possible, borrow a page from the SCMA playbook As Dave puts it, first-person boating fun will definitely “pump you up!”?


7 comments on “Dealers: Get in the boat!

  1. Boatman11

    How come every time a read a news article or hear industry leaders speak about the attendance and sales for these Boat Shows of late everything seems so terrific. Then when I speak to the insiders who were actually there, you get a totally different story.
    I just finished reading a boating industry press article on the recent boat show held in Germany. The article states attendance was surprisingly good, and so were boat sales. Yet, I just spoke to a boat dealer from Turkey who was at that show. He told me that everyone was surprised and disappointed at how quiet the show was, and how the attendance was way down from last year. A little disconnect here?
    I also find it amusing that before the show is even closed down, you have the same industry press quoting “dealers” saying how great the show was, and how many boats they sold!
    Unless every dealer quoted got 100% cash deals for every boat they sold, how can they or anyone else possibly say how many boats were actually sold? I worked for a dealer who used to claim after almost every show that he had “sold” a couple of dozen boats. Four months down the line if he closed on three of them he would be lucky. This was when times were good!
    Pumping yourself up is fine, but be careful you don’t pump yourself out.

  2. Chris Lyons

    Dave is right on the money. The show, so far has been great. The people that I talk to at my booth are true buyers. I look at it this way, people shopping for a boat in this economy must have everything going for them financialy or they have been just let out of the loony farm. We are in California so we do have a few of those people. HA, HA. These buyers are ready to go. They have big downs or even paying cash. They understand that they need to have great CREDIT and proof of income. I did not have the ” do you have a no-money down program or I have a 630 credit score can I buy a boat” questions that I have been getting the last few years.

    Thanks for the tip about Dave. I was going to ask him what is on becuase I need a little of what he is taking. Looks like all I need to do is take the family over to Catalina for the a weekend after the show and then everyone can call me Mr. Sunshine.

    Thanks Dr. Dave. HAPPY SELLING !!!!!

  3. arch

    BOATMAN… true.
    I here the same non-sense all the time. Pretty much after every boat show.
    I think boating does help with attitude, especially for industry people. Getting out there does remind you what it’s all about.

  4. Captain Bob Armstrong

    Sometimes, the simplest answers are not at all simplistic. But think about it: though we all got into this business through different and varied routes, the basis of all of them was undoubtedly a love for boats and boating. And while anyone who has ever been involved in boat sales in any way knows very well that enthusisam and an obvious love of the sport are not enough in themselves to guarantee a sale, if you try to sell boats without them you are most certainly doomed. I think Norm and his friend Dave have hit on an important key. When business is not going well, it is way too easy to think, “I don’t have time to go boating; too much to do!” But back before I was in the business, I was still involoved with boats because I loved them. And I can’t begin to tell you how many times simply getting out on the water helpd to clear my head and allow me to see solutions to problems that had me totrally baffled as long as I stayed ashore and worriedf about them. I also have to think about how many boats I “sold” long before I ever got into the business, simply from people coming out with me and seeing how much fun we had and deciding they wanted one of their own. Going boating may not be the total answer to a down market, but it ‘s a pretty god one, nonetheless.

  5. Gordy McKelvey

    I think before the industry cheerleaders start breaking their arms slapping each other on the back for a great show season they should wait until the middle of March. In my neck of the woods the show turn out hasn’t been that good.

    I do agree with Dave 100%. It’s hard to sell a lifestyle if you don’t get on the water. I know for a fact that when your customers see you on the water it lends a lot more credibility to the sales pitch you threw at them in the store. As we say in Tennessee, I was out there “amongst them” all summer long and it made a huge difference in my repeat business and my service work. You go Dave!

  6. Chris

    I can understand your trepidation. If I can say something and have it backed up by several exhibitors, I say it. Yes, we always look on the postive side but I believe we also call it like I see it. The NY show was not good at all and the LI show was better than most expected. Some dealers had a very good show.

    Lets all go boating!

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