Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Boat shows remain critical in a soft market

Last Tuesday (Feb. 19) I reported on dealers saying some manufacturer boat show support programs had been reduced. I also commented that I believe boat shows remain critical to our overall marketing efforts and this is the time (a soft market) for manufacturers to continue, even increase, their show support for their dealers.

While the majority who wrote comments to that blog generally agreed, some voiced conviction that boat shows are no longer productive or important.

“Boat shows are dying a slow, torturous death,” commented Mike.

Well, I’d like to add a couple of more thoughts about all this.

First, I’m delighted by all points of view – they keep this blog worthwhile. Perhaps shows are no longer important to some, albeit I suspect they’re in a very small minority. But the report that was added to that blog by Captain Glen D at Route 113 Boat Sales in Ocean City, Md.,  says a lot about the continued importance of shows and does a nice job of illustrating the positive impact of manufacturer support. If you missed that blog please go back and review it in its entirety. Essentially, Captain Glen’s comment shares in detail how he, Russ Bennett of Triumph and a Garmin electronics promotion, combined, lit up the scoreboard for 14 contracts, 3 over last year!

Concurent with that blog were reports coming from the just-concluded Miami Boat Show, saying sales were slow.  One observer, for example, commented that sales activity appeared “anemic” and lower than last year. I have no doubt that was probably true for some. My experience has been that there are always winners and some losers at every boat show whether in a good or bad economy.

But anemia isn’t my view of choice.

I prefer to focus on success and there was certainly that, too, at Miami.

Again, please go back to last Tuesday’s Dealer Outlook and check out what Pete Peterson, World Cat VP, reported: “World Cat had a fantastic Miami Show, with the best year ever in retail units. The quality buyers are out there,” he affirmed.

“There are people buying boats,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA President (NMMA produces the Miami Show.) “While sales were actually down last year by 9 percent in dollars and 15 percent in units, there are still companies and dealers that saw significant gains in sales. There are sales to be made for companies that have innovative product and a dealer base that’s aggressive,” he predicted.



One comment on “Boat shows remain critical in a soft market

  1. JR

    I have worked shows in the Northeast and also for the Miami show and I can say there is no shortage of buyers looking to purchase boats at shows. We have been up or flat in all shows but 1, that I have been involved with, and that show was down only 5% from the year before. Do we have to work harder to make a deal,? Yes! Do we have to be up to date on our product and our competition, ? Yes ! Do are we been consultive salespersons? You better be. When things are great, you can staff you shows with service personnal, customers helping out, etc vs having seasoned salespersons. Even the seasoned sales person needs some constructive critique in a “tough” market to be successful. I recently read an article in a local paper here in Florida where a real estate person said his sales were up 26% over last year. He attributed it to working hard for every deal. This is Florida market, which is suppose to be the 2nd worst in the nation. Mindset has alot to do with it.

    I want to add a personal story. I bought a house in Florida over 1 year ago, just as the market was turning. I went through 4 real estate agents and ended up buying a house without one. The first 3 would show me 10 houses and then tell me I wasn’t serious about buying a house, because I didn’t like anything I was shown. 2 of those agents are out of the business today. The 4th one, was a seasoned agent and showed me the house I bought. She showed me a number of houses and then in the middle of my search went on vacation and flipped me to another agent in the office. Before she left I made an offer on the house I eventually bought, based on where I thought the market was going. The seller was making a $137,000 profit before commissions and such. The realestate agent told me my offer was crazy and was guess what, it was rejected without even a counter offer 24 hours later. The seller only 3 months earlier was offered about 40K more then I was offering, but the deal feel through and he felt he could get his asking price. When the my real estate went on vacation, I chose to stay on my own. 60+ days later I made the same offer again, on the same house. I explained I was aware of the profit the seller was making and this was my final and firm offer. He countered 5k higher then my offer and I took the deal. The office in which that seasoned agent worked is now closed up and she is looking for a job. I say all this to say, we must work harder to make deals, sales persons who came in to this industry as order takers, need to be trained or they move on. Seasoned sales persons need to take a good hard look at their approach, as it is a new day. Here is my latest comment on included in all my emails: “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”  Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)


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