Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

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.

Never forget the BP oil spill

Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the explosion aboard the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The passage of time might be fading the memory, but it shouldn’t be forgotten.

Trade groups should encourage legislative caucuses

Taking a page from the National Marine Manufacturers Association playbook, state and local marine trade associations should be active in encouraging the formation of caucuses in state legislatures that are sensitive to pro-boating policies.

RBFF begins to tap into growing Hispanic market

In what is the most intense campaign to date to attract more diversity into the ranks of the nation’s boaters and anglers, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation recently unveiled the Spanish language Internet portal “Vamos a Pescar” that targets the growing Latino market.

Boat buyers warned about picking dealer

“If you’re torn between two or three models from different brands, the quality of the dealership and its staff may well sway your decision,” Jim Hendricks advised readers in the February issue of Boating magazine.

Just like the cruise lines, we want new faces

I was fishing in lower Tampa Bay during the weekend when Carnival’s “Paradise” and Royal Caribbean’s “Brilliance of the Seas” passed by, heading out on their weekly cruises to Mexico. It reminded me there are some interesting parallels between their kind of cruising and ours.

Will demand follow recent economic indicators?

As we enter our best selling months, good news comes our way. Consumers are more optimistic; home equity loans indicate people are feeling wealthier; and there are expectations that pent-up demand alone could gives boat sales a good spring.

High-octane fight against Renewable Fuel Standard

Kudos to the National Marine Manufacturers Association and BoatUS as they fight fire with fire by supporting the American Petroleum Institute’s launch of ads urging Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard and its disastrous ethanol mandate.

Have you smooched your customer lately?

No, I don’t mean literally. But three experiences in the last few days have made me, as a customer, 1) feel good, 2) feel recognized and 3) makes me want to be a customer in the future. Here they are.

Have retailers lost the ‘swipe fee’ war?

In a blow to the nation’s retailers that have fought (and won) for nearly four years to limit bank “swipe fees,” a U.S. appeals court recently reversed a lower court’s decision that sided with retailers and ordered the Federal Reserve to rewrite its rules governing allowable fees that banks can charge each time a customer’s […]

Successfully selling the high-priced boat

Many knowledgeable people in our industry say we need to build less expensive boats, especially if we hope to attract the Gen Xers and the Millennials. Friends I talk to in dealerships echo a similar theme: “These days, every deal always comes down to price.” 

Escapism sells

Turn on the evening news these days and it’s mostly negative. Doom-and-gloom reports of slow growth. A missing airliner. Fear of terrorist attacks. A Cold War-type crisis. Climate change. Rising interest rates.  An exhausting winter that never ends.

Algae blooms threaten boating’s future: Part 2

The Environmental Protection Agency says that summer algae blooms are one of the nation’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems. Summer algae blooms (which derive from excess phosphorus) are currently polluting the nation’s lakes and bays from the Chesapeake to the Pacific Northwest. And it’s game on in what’s going to be a battle […]

Algae blooms threaten boating’s future: Part 1

Not since the 1960s has pollution of our waterways made such headlines. From Chesapeake Bay to the Pacific Northwest, from Canada’s Lake Winnipeg to the Gulf of Mexico, summer toxic blue-green algae blooms have been shutting down recreation areas and constitute another barrier to new boaters joining our ranks.

The millions that boost boating and fishing

Most dealers have heard of it, but can’t define it. Most manufacturers don’t know the details, either. Still, it’s a whopping $600 million program using public funds to annually boost boating and fishing and it’s up for reauthorization.

How to get customers like me to pay more

I recently received an email survey from the Loggerhead Club & Marina in St. Petersburg, Fla. My Pursuit has been in the Hi & Dry there for several years, so it’s not the first time Loggerhead has sent me a survey.

Should we support a gas tax hike or oppose it?

We are an industry sensitive to price increases at the gas pump. The higher the price, the more negative the pressure on our ability to attract prospective boaters. So when a significant hike in the federal gas tax is being pushed, it grabs our attention.

Are we overlooking African-Americans?

There is so much being written and said about diversity, particularly getting our boating lifestyle message out to the growing Hispanic market. But when we talk about diversity these days, are we looking past the African-American market?

BRP’s Spark lights up the Affordability Pavilion

Most show managers will admit that when exhibit space is selling out, allocating good floor space to non-revenue-producing educational displays isn’t easy. NMMA vice president Cathy Rick-Joule knows that feeling. Still, she insists on earmarked high-traffic space for an “Affordability Pavilion” that she believes sends a necessary message to potential new boaters.

Miami shows exemplify boating’s attraction

Starting today, Miami is the center of the world’s boating universe. The Progressive Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail covers three locations and the in-water Yacht & Brokerage Show runs alongside Collins Avenue for more than a mile.

The importance of grassroots advocacy

Kudos to the National Marine Manufacturers Association for the creation of Boating United, a new grassroots advocacy platform that has real potential for increasing the influence of recreational boating in Washington.

Common sense doesn’t reside in Washington

It’s good news that the marine industry recently generated a whopping 1,600-plus comments in just two weeks supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to stop any increase in the quantity of ethanol required to be blended in gasoline for 2014.

Online customer surveys are good for business

Every time I take one of our vehicles in for service at Crown Automotive Group, I receive a customer survey in my email about 48 hours later. I used to just delete those emails, but now I usually complete them, especially if I’m offered a discount coupon for my next service as a thanks for […]

Digital marketing is your next frontier to conquer

This simply can’t be ignored. A whopping 80 percent of today’s shoppers are researching their major purchases online. The question is: Does your website bring them into your store? If the answer is “no” or “not enough,” here’s some real help.

Cleveland and Detroit shows are good indicators

Arguably, the markets hit most severely by the economic collapse of 2008 could be found in the Rust Belt capitols of Cleveland and Detroit. So when we can see clear signs those markets are recovering, it sends good vibes everywhere as we move into the heart of our winter boat show season.

Do apologies really work?

“There’s an interest charge on my credit card statement that I don’t believe should be there,” I told the Bank of America customer service rep after going through phone hell to reach a live person. After looking at my account, she gave me an explanation that didn’t make much sense. So I walked her through […]

When I’m wrong, I’m wrong

I’ll admit that I’ve had serious doubts that the Recreational Boating Leadership Council would deliver much to the industry’s future growth. And I haven’t been the only one thinking that way. But I’ve got to admit I’ve been wrong.

Action needed now to fight proposed fishing rule

You might never fish in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, but if you’re a dealer selling fishing boats anywhere, or you just love to fish, it’s important you stand with fishermen everywhere when they’re fighting back proposals that will hurt recreational angling.

Top 10 ideas to improve your boat show exhibit

From New York to Los Angeles, Seattle to Miami, the all-important winter season is expected to see more than 1.5 million people come through the gates of major boat shows. After all, shows are the only venues that let buyers both climb aboard and compare their boat options — from price to brand to model […]

A New Year’s resolution we should all make

The announcement yesterday by the National Marine Manufacturers Association that 2013 has seen the industry continue its post-recession climb with an estimated 5 percent increase in new powerboat retail sales is good news. Or is it? As I see it, this shouldn’t make any of us happy, particularly if we compare it to the much […]

It’s simple: They do what you can’t

After heading a marine trade association for 34 years, I could describe the value of membership to any dealer who’d ask. But actions speak much louder than words and there is no better example of the value of membership in a state or local trade group than to look at the Marine Trades Association of […]

Another key demographic could help grow boating

As an industry, we’re putting serious emphasis on attracting the growing Hispanic market and we definitely need to be there. But the results of a recent Nielsen survey make a compelling case to also go after Asian-Americans as customers.

Growth Summit meets today in Chicago

Anticipation is running high for today’s meeting of the Recreational Boating Leadership Council in Chicago. The council is an important element in the broader unified movement to grow boating in America. 

Brick-and-mortar stores win with court decision

Cyber Monday was a day IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark says was the biggest e-commerce day in history. Ironically, it was also a day on which proponents for congressional passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 might have gotten a boost from the U.S. Supreme Court, which announced its refusal to take up a challenge […]

Failing at good customer service

We talk a lot these days about good customer service. After all, improving it is a key component in our Grow Boating initiative. But thinking our customer service is good doesn’t make it so.

Great expectations for winter boat shows

With the industry’s final fall in-water boat show, the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show, set to open next week, attention is already sharply focused on the winter show circuit that will kick off in January, and the expectations are justifiably high.

Orlando is the site for major meetings

Retailers, marine trade association executives, lobbyists and others will all converge on the Florida’s “fantasyland” — Orlando — starting this weekend for a series of annual industry meetings.

Your decisions can shape the future

Give us your opinion: There’s general agreement in our industry that boating education for our customers is good for them and, therefore, good for our business. Education breeds confidence and confident skippers use their boats more and are more committed to the sport for the long haul. Your opinion today will help. Here’s the background: