Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

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:

Red alert on red snapper management

For those of us in boating and fishing, New Orleans is a center of activity this week. As you read this, both the Sport Fishing & Boating Partnership Council and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council are holding separate multiday meetings in the Big Easy.

A strike against voice mail from hell

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts Charters and pens an enjoyable monthly customer newsletter called “View From The Marina.” This month, in her often humorous style, she hits a subject that genuinely touches us all these days and, thus, merits some serious consideration. Here’s her view of the oft-dreaded automated voice phone systems:

Here comes Santa Claus, Part 3

In this final blog encouraging you to develop a strategic Christmas sales plan, it all comes down to communication with your customers. That assumes, of course, you’ve fine-tuned your timing, deals and delivery.

Here comes Santa Claus, Part 2

As I indicated in this blog last Thursday, if you’re expecting to capture some consumer Christmas spending, now is the time to craft your strategic Christmas sales plan. And, as promised, here are some ideas that could help you arrive at a plan that will work in your dealership.

Here comes Santa Claus, Part 1

I entered Lowe’s Wednesday to pick up a few items and right in my face were rows of lighted Christmas trees, inflatable Santas, big candy canes, piles of green wreaths — you name it.

Lawsuits fly over swipe fees and surcharges

Are retailers that accept debit cards being charged unreasonable swipe fees? Should the firms handling these “interchange” fees (the amount banks charge retailers) be required to refund money to retailers? In the case of a customers using a credit card, is it illegal for retailers to add a processing fee to the credit card charge? […]

We need regulatory reform, Part 1

Reagan Haynes’ report in Trade Only Today on Sept. 25 on the threatened lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency by the Sierra Club and California Communities Against Toxics is a stark reminder that we badly need regulatory reform.

Feel-good news that should boost our spirits

In case you haven’t been following it, thus far every fall show has seen an increase in attendance and better sales reports, clear indication consumers are coming back to what remains the industry’s single most effective medium for putting products in front of thousands of prospects.

California boaters win — and so should customers

Kudos to California boaters on winning a major victory to keep the funds in the Harbor and Watercraft Revolving Fund from being pirated away for non-boating uses. The win reminds dealers of the importance of membership in both your local marine trade association and in the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and to be […]

Video marketing is easier than you think

At the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference this week, the Marine Marketers of America presented their Exhibitor Video Awards for the year’s best product and company videos. And while those videos are truly professional-grade, video use is not just for the big guys. Budget-conscious dealers can easily make videos a part of their content marketing […]

Industry eyes Washington on fishing and taxes

The House Natural Resources Committee held an oversight hearing Wednesday on the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, which is up for reauthorization this year. It’s a law that has caused angst among saltwater anglers and boaters nationwide.

New boaters turn out at Tampa Show

If the Tampa Boat Show was struggling after the 2008 financial collapse, you’d never know it after last weekend’s robust show. Show manager Larry Berryman has succeeded in rebuilding the event into the market’s top show and the public responded accordingly.

Obamacare will impact small dealers

Provisions and rules under Obamacare that could impact marine dealers and employees continue to be uncovered. For example, we know dealers with less than 50 employees are not required to offer health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Make your boat show exhibit fun

Last week I reported on the success of the industry’s first major fall in-water show at Michigan City, Ind., and, in particular, the sales increase reported by B&E Marine’s Rod Bensz. Here’s some more on how Bensz generated excitement in his exhibit that paid off in sales.

From good news to absurd views

There’s good news for boating in that more than 45,000 lapsed boaters in 19 states returned to boating and reregistered their boats in 2013, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

Prepare to get your share at the fall shows

As the Michigan City (Ind.) In-Water Boat Show near Chicago opens today — the first of the major fall in-water shows — the economic news is generally favorable, exhibitors have increased participation, and the expectation is that fall shows will show sales are running high.

Flawed credit reports hurt sales

A friend once shared that he went to buy a refrigerator during a “0 percent for 15 months” promotion and got turned down. It seems that a credit bureau had mixed someone else’s bad information in with his. It took more than five months to get it cleared up — and that was fast and […]

Coast Guard sued over wind farm off Nantucket

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound has filed a federal lawsuit against the Coast Guard, the latest in a series of suits against federal officials and agencies by groups opposing the planned Cape Wind offshore wind farm at Horseshoe Shoal that will include 130 windmills within sight of the shore.