Dealer Outlook

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Recent issues rally Florida marine industry

The Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association will hold a “Marina Operators Roundtable” on May 7 in Fort Myers. It’s being billed as a special opportunity for marinas, boat dealers and related service companies to network, identify and explore a variety of common interest issues facing the industry on Florida’s west coast.

Among the topics scheduled is electric shock issues; marina security and a rash of current break-ins; the Clean Marina program; WiFi installations and service to customers, among others. The trade group will also host a cocktail hour open to all members. Contact laura@swfmia.com or (954) 570-7785

Sure to be discussed is the defeat last week of an amendment to a Fish and Wildlife bill in the Florida House of Representatives and Senate that could have thrown out statewide efforts to develop consistent and rational anchoring options for cruising boaters along Florida’s coasts.

Keep it personal

The fact that beginning Wednesday Amazon will have to charge Florida sales tax because it opened a distribution center near Tampa causes me to reflect on the price disadvantage brick-and-mortar retailers have with Internet sellers. But the advantage might not be as great as thought.

That was the pulse at the recent convention of the National Retail Federation in New York. In essence, bigger isn’t always better.  It’s the personal touch that small retailers have that negates the Internet sellers’ edge. And while we don’t sell boats online, there’s a good lesson for marine dealers when it comes to the personal touch.

According to research reported by eMarketer, a survey of U.S. consumers by AYTM Market Research asked participants to indicate why, when choosing where to take their business, they opt for the little guy. Intimate and highly personalized service — not found at big-box stores or online — was high on consumers’ lists.

Specifically, 52.7 percent of respondents cited personal service as their main reason for choosing small local businesses. Answers like higher-quality goods and/or lower prices also made the list, but these factors weren’t nearly as important to shoppers as high-quality service.

Speaking at the retailers convention, shopping center developer Rick Caruso urged retailers to do what cavemen were doing at the beginning of time: Inviting people to their cave to sit by the fire. “When you create a compelling retail experience,” Caruso said, “not only does your market share grow, but more importantly your heart share grows – and that is known as customer loyalty.”

Life-jacket alert

If you sell Revere lifejacket models 198RT and 160RT, make a point to check your stock as a safety alert was issued Monday by the Coast Guard.

Specifically, the problem is the spring-loaded tab in the snap-hook located on the waist belt. It affects some (not all) 198 RT and 160RT Revere models. The tab has been found to be too long for both the thick or thin design. When the D-ring of the main waist belt is “hooked,” the tab length prevents it from snapping closed. With the hook remaining open, the D-ring is not fully secured. The spring-loaded tab may also lose its resiliency, says the Coast Guard.

Dealers finding problem snap-hooks should either email jacksonville.sales@survitecgroup.com or call 904-562-5900 for information about obtaining replacement snap-hooks.

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