Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Hello and welcome

Hello and Congratulations. . . By coming to this website I am declaring you a charter member of our all-new DEALER OUTLOOK blog and Iím delighted youíre here at our official Kickoff-Day Party!

Iím also excited about being selected as the Moderator and Iím anxious to get this blog established, the first dedicated Dealer blog in our industry. As I see it, this will be a dependable place where you will find issues of importance to the boating industry, in general, and effecting retail dealers, in particular. It will also be a place where we can explore new ideas, concepts and practices that could mean more success on the showroom floor where it really counts for dealers. In fact, if it impacts dealers, from success stories to controversial decisions, weíll see it as fair game for discussion here in DEALER OUTLOOK!

If youíre a regular blogger somewhere else on the web, you need no introduction to blogging. But if reading a blog, much less making a comment on one, is new to you, welcome to the club. Until now, I admit I havenít been much of a blogger, either. But Iím convinced, after reflecting on it for considerable time, that DEALER OUTLOOK† will serve a genuine purpose of helping dealers in good times and bad. So, my hatís in and I hope yours is, too.

In simplest terms, a blog is a website. You go to it to read information and opinions on a subject(s) that interests you. Then, if youíre motivated, you add your comments and views on the subject(s) for others to consider. Blogging began in earnest around 1999.

Today, blogs are seriously impacting everything from politics to daily news. Blogs have, in fact, opened the door for virtually anyone to add his or her voice to any subject and be ďheardĒ in that world or, for that matter, all around the world! A blog gives you a place to influence and even cause action. For example, journalism schools today cite blogs as the main influence in the CBS-TV Dan Rather (60 Minutes) scandal. Rather, youíll recall, presented documents that contended the accepted accounts of President Bush’s military service record were fake. But bloggers claimed the Rather documents were the forged ones and presented evidence to back it up. CBS ultimately admitted to ďimproper reportingĒ and Rather was history. Similarly recognizing the power of blogs, the 2004 National Conventions of both Republican and Democratic Parties credentialed bloggers just like reporters, and profusely used blogs as part of each partyís publicity programs. Yes, blogs have power.

Lest you subscribe to the popular image that blogs are mainly written by unhappy loners crouched over a keyboard somewhere in a damp basement, let me set the record straight Ė Iím not a loner and I donít even have a basement. Instead, I intend to tap into the vast knowledge of many leaders in our industry for ideas, opinions and suggestions. Frankly, I think there is nothing better than a good success story of one dealer that can be adapted by many others. I also think that industry issues, particularly ones that may be dubbed controversial, need to be openly discussed. Weíll do it without reservation.

So, I believe as you regularly join DEALER OUTLOOK, this new undertaking will win your approval and your faithful attendance as we attempt to bring you practical ideas and theoretical insight into matters of economic, cultural and operating importance.

Thatís the way I see it, how about you?

Comments

12 comments on “Hello and welcome

  1. Phil Keeter

    Norm

    Great idea(great explanation of blogging also–I know people who are confusing it with clogging). Maybe thru Dealer Outlook we can openly explore some of our industry’s ongoing and underlying problems and make change happen. More power to you for accepting the lead role and to Soundings for cearting the opportunity.

    Phil Keeter

  2. Todd Horman

    Welcome Norm, this will now be on my daily “to read” list. Glad to see you here and in the Spotlight. Can’t think of a better Person to carry our torch.

  3. John McDevitt

    I have spent over 25 years as a dealer in another industry. In the boating industry, I feel that the business relationships between the dealer and the manufacturer, the dealer and other dealers, and even the internal relationships (eg: sales and service) within dealer organizations leaves much to be desired and is by far the achillies heal of the boating industry.

  4. Kevin Kyle

    Congratulations, Norm! It’s amazing where you’ll turn up! I wish you the best in this endeavor – it should be a hoot.

    I too, look forward to hearing the issues on the minds of the dealers beyond our Lake Erie locale. I also look forward to having a place to voice my own thoughts as a supplier to the marine dealer.

    Best of luck and have some fun Norm.

  5. Ron Hendrickson

    We dealers need a stronger Dealer Agreement. Having to receive a “DEAR JOHN” letter because of
    another dealer ordering more units stop. In 45 years in the marine it has happened to me twice.
    Both because the other dealers gave the manufacturer larger orders.
    Any stories? Ideas?

  6. C. John Madison

    Congratulations, to you Norm! I will look forward to hearing from you and all our boating friends. I think this has been a pretty good year here in the Mid West and expect the fall boat shows will give all the dealers the sales they need. Good to see you Todd Horman. I’m having a awesome year with Genesis Trailers here in Holland Michigan.

  7. JR Goodman

    Its great to have this blog, it was well over due. I get the RV trade mags also and we need to take a look at what they have done for thier industry. including a blog, and carry it over to ours. Here in Miami, sales have been steady, not record breaking, but steady since the Miami show earlier in the year.

    Best
    JR Goodman
    25+ years in this industry

  8. Andy Stancil

    Norm,

    Boating can be used as a marketing tool. It helps me sell Real Estate properties in Western North Carolina, and when you teach someone how to ski, give them an opportunity to catch a fish, ride in a boat….you have started a friendship and that is what selling is all about.

    We had an opportunity to promote our local lake by “Take a kid fishing,” It went over extremely well and we have been asked to do it again. We need to be creative in developing new marketing skills and ideas.

  9. Ken Stead

    I now know why you asked me about blogging at NMTC. As a Trade Association Exec I’m looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the dealer mentality. I serve many masters – manufacturers, service, marinas, and dealers among others. Achieving a balance and the right mix of services to serve them is always a challenge. I hope to gain some insight from your blog that helps me better serve our dealer members.

    Congrats, Ken

  10. Charles

    Biggest Customer Service Blunders of All Time
    By Paul Levesque,
    Posted: 2006-11-15 13:36:21
    These five common mistakes trip up a lot of businesses. Our customer service expert offers his tips on correcting the problems.

    While howls of protest over poor customer service continue to be heard worldwide, there remain some businesses that manage to consistently deliver superior customer service year in and year out. These are the places where turbo-charged employees pursue customer delight with a passion, places that ignite a flashpoint of contagious enthusiasm in employees and customers alike. Foremost among the lessons to be learned from such flashpoint businesses are the blunders to avoid–those fatal mistakes that trip up just about everybody else.

    Blunder #1: Making customer service a training issue. Businesses of all kinds invest huge amounts of money in training programs that do not–and simply cannot–work. The function of such training is to identify the behaviors workers are supposed to engage in, and then coax, bully or legislate these behaviors into the workplace. At best, this is almost always a recipe for conduct that feels mechanized and insincere; at worst, it intensifies employee resentment and cynicism.

    Instead of dictating what your employees should be doing to delight customers, the better approach is to give your workers opportunities to brainstorm their own ideas for delivering delight. Your role then becomes to help employees implement these ideas and to allow workers to savor the motivational effect of the positive feedback that ensues from delighted customers. This level of employee ownership and involvement is a key cultural characteristic of virtually all flashpoint businesses.

    Blunder #2: Blaming poor service on employee “demotivation.” Businesses looking for ways to motivate their workers are almost always looking in the wrong places. Employee cynicism is the direct product of an organization’s visible preoccupation with self-interest above all else–a purely internal focus. The focus in flashpoint businesses is directed outward, toward the interests of customers and the community at large. This shift in cultural focus changes the way the business operates at all levels.

    The reality in most business settings is that employees are demotivated because they can’t deliver delight. The existing policies and procedures make it impossible. Instead of “fixing” their employees, flashpoint business set out to build a culture that unblocks them. Workers are encouraged to identify operational obstacles to customer delight, and participate in finding ways around them.

    Blunder #3: Using customer feedback to uncover what’s wrong. Businesses often use surveys and other feedback mechanisms to get to the root causes of customer problems and complaints. Employees come to dread these measurement and data-gathering efforts, since they so often lead to what feels like witch-hunts for employee scapegoats, formal exercises in finger pointing and the assigning of blame.

    Flashpoint businesses use customer feedback very differently. In these companies, the object is to uncover everything that’s going right. Managers are forever on the lookout for “hero stories”–examples of employees going the extra mile to deliver delight. Such feedback becomes the basis for ongoing recognition and celebration. Employees see themselves as winners on a winning team, because in their workplace, there’s always some new “win” being celebrated.

    Blunder #4: Reserving top recognition for splashy recoveries. It happens all the time: Something goes terribly wrong in a customer order or transaction, and a dedicated employee goes to tremendous lengths to make things right. The delighted customer brings this employee’s wonderful recovery to management’s attention, and the employee receives special recognition for his or her efforts. This is a blunder?

    It is when such recoveries are the primary–if not the only–catalysts for employee recognition. In such a culture, foul-ups become almost a good thing from the workers’ point of view. By creating opportunities for splashy recoveries, foul-ups represent the only chance employees have to feel appreciated on the job. Attempts to correct operational problems won’t win much support if employees see these problems as their only opportunity to shine.

    Flashpoint businesses celebrate splashy recoveries, of course–but they’re also careful to uncover and celebrate employee efforts to delight customers where no mistakes or problems were involved. This makes it easier to get workers participating in efforts to permanently eliminate the sources of problems at the systems level.

    Blunder #5: Competing on price. It’s one of the most common (and most costly) mistakes in business. Price becomes the deciding factor in purchasing decisions only when everything else is equal–and everything else is almost never equal. Businesses really compete on the perception of value, and this includes more than price. It’s shaped by the total customer experience–and aspects such as “helpfulness,” “friendliness” and “the personal touch” often give the competitive advantage to businesses that actually charge slightly more for their basic goods and services.

    Those businesses that deliver a superior total experience from the inside out (that is, as a product of a strongly customer-focused culture) are typically those that enjoy a long-term competitive advantage–along with virtual immunity from the kinds of headaches that plague everybody else.

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