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Like it or not, we must be politically engaged!

I read and consider every comment readers make to this blog. Iím grateful for your involvement. And, when readers disagree with me and offer a different point of view, Iím all for it because it makes this blog more valuable.Sometimes, however, the comments clearly indicate that I either didnít communicate a subject well or wasnít convincing. Specifically, I refer to recent comments that this blog is political. Some examples:

ďMost of Normís blogs are political,Ē wrote Steve S. ďLast I checked, a dealerís bottom line has very little to do with politics,Ē he added. Or, Tired politics commented: ďThis boat dealer blog has turned into a constant rant for regarding the wasted ABCDEFG boat organizations/associations. Boat dealers should be focused on retailing & servicing boats, not politics.”

I absolutely agree . . . boat dealers should be focused on retailing†and servicing boats. That is job one! Iíve never intended to indicate otherwise. Moreover, Steve S and Tired Politics are right in saying I deal with political subjects. I do when itís important and can impact dealers. But when Steve S says ďa dealerís bottom line has very little to do with politics,Ē I must say: wrong — it has everything to do with politics!

If there was ever a time when dealers could ignore political concerns itís in the past. Today, public policies on the federal, state and local levels impact a dealerís bottom line as never before. Issues raging from paying increased taxes to paying for expensive environmental requirements to paying for mandated employee benefits to witnessing governmental directives negatively impacting customers to . . .† well, you get the idea. Like it or not, political considerations are now in virtually everything we do!

Itís also a fact that no dealer can, by himself, go to Washington or even his state capitol and get lawmakers to pass favorable legislation or kill an unfavorable bill. No dealer, by himself, stands a chance of seriously influencing policies and rules promulgated by the endless list of regulatory agencies effecting boating. Success in these arenas only becomes possible when the boating industry comes together in action.

Sadly, thereís also a frequent assumption that our national associations like the NMMA or MRAA, or our state marine trades associations, will ďjust handle these matters.Ē Itís true both national associations have veteran lobbyists doing a first-rate job in Washington, and most state associations do exceptionally well advocating in their respective state capitols. But, none can get the job done alone. It takes membership participation. Even supporting a PAC, while very important, is not enough. There must be active member involvement.

Dealers must be engaged in the formation of public policy. Itís simply good business. All employees should be so encouraged, too. Political action does not diminish the selling and service priority. Anyone who canít make time for both could be helped by some time-management coaching.

When an issue requiring ďgrass rootsĒ (thatís dealers, employees and, yes, sometimes even customers) influence is at stake, we must be willing to become engaged. Public policies can make or break us. Thatís why, when necessary, I use this blog to inform dealers of important political issues we should act on.

Comments

14 comments on “Like it or not, we must be politically engaged!

  1. Kyle

    Norm I couldn’t agree with you more, it will take everyone to help in the recovery and continued success of boating in general! There are a lot of jobs at stake in the whole industry, not to mention the end user , the consumer, who by the way will need to get educated by the likes of the dealer concerning laws that could and will affect their usage for years to come!

    Keep up the education and the good work in helping everyone promote the boating industry!

  2. Komrade Karl

    As one who has been chastized here for not being enough pistons & customer PMA.
    I know I don’t have to say that “I agree” but I’m saying it as a matter of record that I agree.

    The above mentioned national rganizations serve the largest of the industry because the largest pay not only dues money but have people in their organizations that are in constant contact with all aspects of these organizations furthering there agenda’s & desires.
    You just can’t sit in your office unengaged & expect that you will get equal representation- in these organizations, or your local, state or federal governance oversights. The government has impact on your business period. you must be ingaged, vigulant & aware. from parking lot water runnoff to mandated heathcare, to dealer certification criteria, etc. these oversights effect your business.
    Thanks for addressing this Norm

  3. dave

    great blog,

    As far as I can see, Norm is about the only guy pointing us all (dealers, manufacturers, customers, national orgs, pacs, etc) all heading in the same direction, and for the common good – boating.

    Too many times we may fail to see the big picture and it is good to see all the pieces explained,

    Keep up the good work, Norm

  4. Chris

    Alot of guys dont like to play the political game and they dont think they have to unless something happens that affects their bottom line. They think the political game is dirty.

    I tell them all, you’re either playing the game on the field or youre sitting on the sidelines and have zero say!

  5. steve s

    Norm, I clearly understood all your articles but you don’t have a clear undestanding of my point based on a few sentences from brief comments. I was engaged in Marine Business Politics years ago and finally realized that the wasted political time was better served on inproving the services to my loyal customers. I have a dealer friend, who’s now selling cars, that was focused on all the trade organizations, being a board menmber, etc. Meanwhile his dealership services were average after the 08 crash he filed chapter 11. As in every other succesfull retail industry, the appointed trade associations handle political matters while the dealers focus on sales and service. However, due to constant CRONY APPOINTMENTS, this industry has always had weak representaion in DC and we’ll continue to get weak results as long as this continues.

  6. capt charlie

    Norm your comments show you have no clue what truely makes a dealer $$$$. You say ďpolitical action by employees doesnít diminish sales and service activity.Ē EVERY great boat salesman or mechanic I’ve ever known, has NO interest in marine politics, period. The ones that do are always below average producers.

  7. Ed Lofgren

    Yes! Norm, like it, enjoy it, OR NOT, we, as dealers, are indeed politically involved. I have observed in over fifty years in this business, that our finest hours as an Industry seem to emerge over involvement in the political process. I would cite the Luxury Tax “war”, the fight in our behalf led by NMMA and MRAA, as such an hour. AND, almost EVERYBODY, dealers and manufacturers alike , had some real skin this fight and needed to be involved, HAD to be involved. More recently, the efforts by NMMA & MRAA to find avenues for dealers to pursue for financing needs. Today, the issues seem many and varied, but vigilance and involvement are called for and needed, on ALL our parts. We are, as you say, truly involved !!!
    We have specific avenues we can access; no one has to feel alone in these endeavors. Dealers have a ready and willing legislative and regulatory rep. in larry Innis of MRAA (LarryInnis@aol.com). And, as many of us as possible should make the effort to get to the Industry’s annual meeting on political process – the American Boating Congress, sponsored by NMMA (May 5 & 6 in Washington D.C.). Google ‘American Boating Congress’.
    Best, Ed Lofgren, Chair, MRAA

  8. JOHN ENNIS

    POLITICS,DIRECTLY AFFECTS EVERYONE AND EVERY BUSINESS. DEALERS UPON RISING IN THE MORNING NEED TO INFORM THEMSELVES ABOUT THE LATEST CHANGES IN NATIONAL BUSINESS POLICIES AND lOCAL AND REGIONAL TAX PROPOSALS ADVOCATED BY POLITICANS LOOKING TO SHORE UP THEIR RED INK BUDGETS. THEN DISEMINATE THE INFORMATION TO THE SALES STAFF WHO CAN USE IT..IN SOME CASES TO TELL PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMERS WHY IT MAY BE CHEAPER TO BUY TODAY THEN WAIT FOR TOMORROW AND UPON SEEING ADVERSE REACTION TO THE LATEST PROPOSALS GIVE THEM A SHEET CONTAINING THE NAMES,ADDRESSES,TELEPHONE NUMBERS AND E- MAIL ADRESSES OF ALL THE POLITICAL TYPES INVOLVED.THE MORE PEOPLE DEALERS ENLIST, THE BIGGER THE CLOUT OF THE INDUSTRY..REMEMBER, IN NUMBERS THERE IS STRENGTH . DOING IT ALONE IS THE SAME AS A FLEA ASKING AN ELEPHANT IF IT HURTS WHEN IT BITES HIM ON THE ASS.

  9. Chris

    How much time does it take for your secretary to copy and paste a letter that is already produced by a trade group and mail it/fax it? How much effort is it to donate $50 or $100 to a PAC fund? And at the worst, spend 1 day in your state capitol meeting with your reps?

    Is all that taking away from your business where your sales and service that much??

  10. dave boso

    Well we all have just been put on the Obama hit list” you don’t go buy a boat if you can’t pay your mortage” that puts all dealers and builders in the same “boat” wilh Las Vegas. The Mayor of Vegas said Mr. President you are not welcome here.. well as far as I ‘m concerned .. Mr. President your not welcome as President of My United States…/….

  11. Tired Politics

    Norm, your comments show that you’ve never run the day to day operations of a dealership. When will the rest of you wake up and realize that Washington DC COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE MARINE INDUSTRY. It’s always been that way and always will be. This was once again validated by Obama’s recent slam on boat buying! All effort spent lobbying DC is a complete waste of time. Do yourselves a favor and focus ALL your time improving your sales and service departments.

  12. steve s

    I think the news today regarding Obama’s opinion of the Boat business makes my point! Washington Liberals and Conservatives never have had any regard for this industry and never will. The boat/yacht biz has as much importance to them as the adult entertainment industry. The sooner you all realize that, the better off we’ll all be in this business.

  13. Chris

    The world doesnt live and die in DC. Your state capitol has more influence on your business than you think. In our state alone, we have had 4 pro marine legislative pieces pass and defeated every negative baoting piece in teh last 10 years.

    Again, is 1 day of the year, copy and paste a letter and send a few bucks to a PAC really hurting your business???

    And we did have 2 good victories in Washington lately. We defeated the bilge water permit and got the workmens comp fixed.

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