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Planning for the recovery

I recently read an article by Emily Maltby in the Wall Street Journal, and it hasn’t stopped resonating with me, yet. Usually when something sticks with me like that I know it’s worth sharing.Maltby raised the idea that small businesses could be caught off guard by the recovery? My mind ran to dealers I regularly speak with and I realized this shoe could fit!

 There’s no doubt the vast majority of dealers have been, and still are, so focused on managing to survive that they haven’t even begun to seriously plan for the coming recovery. In reality, the boating industry has been hunkering down for more than three years now. And it’s taken all we can muster to develop and re-develop plans to keep the doors open and employees paid.

 But Maltry is right in looking ahead and admonishing small businesses to get ready by taking time to research, study and draft a recovery plan now. When the recovery gets underway — and there are some signs now – dealers who have already asked and answered the right questions will quickly out-distance their competitors.

 Call it what you will – crafting a new business model or writing a ramped up plan for re-growth and profit. It should answer questions as diverse as: what current income streams will be expanded and new ones developed; what product lines will be continued and/or eliminated (or sought after); what level of risk vs. possible reward now makes sense, given the hard lessons of this recession?

 How about: which employees will be called back, at what benchmarks, to fulfill the new plan; what’s the plan for short and long-term debt reduction; what terms and agreements from major suppliers are not just acceptable but best for the dealership, and who’s offering them; if demand for a major product increases 20 percent, 30 percent or more, how would the dealership handle it; have selling skills gotten rusty; and the list goes on. Truth is, every aspect of the dealership going forward should be examined and defined in the recovery plan.

Finally, the credit crunch remains a daunting hurdle for the retail boat business and rapid changes aren’t on the horizon, yet. In fact, according to the October Federal Reserve’s Senior Loan Office Survey, 16 percent of banks actually tightened lending standards in the past three months, and a big “zero” have reportedly eased them! It’s important, then, that any recovery planning takes into account such a problem but not succumb to it.

The state of the credit market, good or bad, only means each dealer should include such a variable in the recovery plan . . . but craft a realistic plan regardless.

Comments

5 comments on “Planning for the recovery

  1. George

    I think this guy likes to hear himself. Norm, you’re one of the reasons I quit going to MRAA meetings as you know everything. How much money of yours do you have invested in retailing??

  2. Dave

    I agree with George You read all these articles and wonder, Norm said it in his comments about the banks not freeing up credit the economy is not going to bounce back untill the banks start lending to the every day Joe [and quit giving the money that could be helping some one to the upper brass] because they are the one that make this economy strong.
    With thirty seven years invested in the Marine business and seen about every thing I think I am qualfied to make this statment!

  3. Comrade Karl

    When you are in the fight of & for your life, using all your resources to tread water in this fast moving current, I don’t think you start planning about when this flood is over where you will plant trees to hold back the next flood.
    How can you plan when you have no idea what the business landscape will be & it will be different much different. With even more new government rules, With Cap & Tax on the horizion, less disposable income for the masses, more EPA restriction to humans doing anything to or on mommy earth & her waters, E15, etc..
    You can’t plan in the middle of a storm! That is when you have to be acting. Poor planning prior to this storm has exsaserbated all of this.

    We need to get out there and man the pumps to stop this government gone haywire….

  4. JACK DOLAN

    HI NORM, I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY SOME OF THE GUYS ARE GETTING “TESTY”. I NO LONGER HAVE A LOT OF MONEY IN THE BUSINESS, BUT I HAD 54 YEARS INVESTED WHEN I SOLD OUT. IN THE SIXTIES THINGS WERE GETTING PRETTY TOUGH, I ASKED MY FATHER; IS THIS WHAT THE DEPRESSION WAS LIKE? HE LOOKED ME IN THE EYE AND ASKED “DID YOUR FAMILY ALL EAT TODAY? DO YOUR KIDS HAVE WARM CLOIHING TO WEAR”? IF THE ANSWER IS YES, GET OUT ON THAT SALES FLOOR AND SELL SOMETHING. WE ALL KNOW NOTHING HAPPENS TIL SOMEBODY SELLS SOMETHING.ITS IMPORTANT TO FOCUS, HAVE FAITH, PLAN, AND ABOVE ALL SELL SOMETHING. KEEP THE MESSAGE COMING. JACK DOLAN

  5. Jim

    Wow Norm, three negatives. I, for one, agree with what you have written completely. The dealer who hasn’t planned and re-evaluated is kidding himself. Things are already picking up and it is extremely important to be prepared for what appears to be coming. Better inventory control and keeping up with trade values will be even more important than it has always been; but having a positive attitude toward our industry will be equally as important.
    This is my fourth time through a down economy and probably the worst. Nonetheless, the economy and our industry have always recovered. Some will make it, some will not, but those that are prepared will surely succeed.

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