Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Five years and it’s still fun

When I first started writing Dealer Outlook, I practically had to look up the meaning of “blog.” I recall that I told the Trade Only editors I’d give it a try for a couple of months to see how it worked out. That was five years ago this month.

Is the computer killing our customer relationships?

In our lifetime, there has been no technological advancement that’s made our business life more efficient than the computer. Our record-keeping is streamlined. Our access to knowledge is unparalleled. Our communication accelerated. Our responses to inquiries can be automated. We can even be “open” around the clock and don’t need an employee manning the counter […]

Transportation bill: winners and losers

The long-awaited transportation bill emerged from a House/Senate Conference Committee last Thursday. In order to get it passed and signed by President Obama by a Friday deadline, the House waived its three-day “reading requirement” and the 599-page bill, with whatever the conferees decided to put in it, became law.

Talking the right talk

I wasn’t really familiar with the term “psychographics,” until my daughter, Kristin DeGraff, a consumer insight analyst at Pepsi, told me it’s good information if I want to speak the right language to the right people. I also realized it might provide valuable insights for members on our dealership sales teams. So I looked into […]

The transportation bill: Will we get it?

The last time Congress passed a long-term transportation bill was in 2004. It expired in 2009 and, since then, Congress has kept programs going through a series of nine short-term extensions with the current three-month extension set to expire Saturday night.

Sales follow-up: Frustration on steroids?

Every sales training session I’ve ever attended has always ended by proclaiming the three most important aspects of selling are … follow-up, follow-up and follow-up. “Keep after them till they buy or die,” or something similar, is always emphasized. And who can argue that following up can be a key to success?

Celebrating 20 years and $200 million for boating

We often talk about the value of Congress reauthorizing the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. In fact, it’s up for reauthorization again. But we don’t always grasp what the fund does for boating. Here’s just one timely example:

Critical fishing bill up for vote now

The most comprehensive package of legislation that would impact fishing across America could be voted on today in the U.S. Senate. As marine dealers, we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines watching this one – your action is needed now.

Tap into the passion of teenage employees this summer

It wouldn’t surprise me if many who read this blog worked at a marina, boat club or dealership during summer vacation when you were in high school. I did, and so did my son and one of my daughters. Back in those days, there weren’t a lot of regulations written from the Fair Labor Standards […]

You’ve gotta try the new Discover Boating Movie Maker

When the Discover Boating campaign fist announced it would be adding a Movie Maker app by June, I admit I wasn’t that impressed. Then, last weekend, I got an email from Grow Boating board chairman Joe Lewis (Mount Dora Boating Center in Mount Dora, Fla.). Not only did he get my attention, but he turned […]

Criticizing employees the right way

Telling an employee their performance is less than acceptable might be the toughest thing a manager must do. It was always that way for me. I was never sure who was more nervous during a performance review — me or the employee.

Gasoline: How low can it go?

At the beginning of May, if I had blogged that gas prices (1) wouldn’t even hit last year’s high and (2) would be steadily dropping by Memorial Day, I’ll bet your comments would have suggested I’m smoking something. I had predicted they’d actually be going up.

Protecting the environment or making money?

If you want to make money, suing the federal government under the guise of air, water or species protection will likely bring in big bucks. That’s essentially what a General Accounting Office report indicates. Environmental groups have been bolstering their finances by collecting $44.4 million from taxpayers between 2001 and 2010.

Understanding “Welcome to the Water” (Part 2)

“Our end game is clear – drive traffic to retail outlets.” That purpose was solidly underscored by the NMMA’s Carl Blackwell (Grow Boating president) during Wednesday’s webinar highlighting the 2012 “Welcome to the Water” national campaign.

Is it time for more economic stimulus?

Should the evidence that our already-weak economic recovery is getting weaker, coupled with news from Europe that five countries have officially slipped back into recession, raise the specter of another stimulus package here?

Being disconnected – that’s what we’re selling!

Last weekend a new Yellowfin pulled into our marina. Shiny black hull 40-plus feet, four black Merc outboards, black T-top with matching black outriggers, and two satellite domes on the hardtop painted matching black, of course. “Oh, to have that boat,” I said to my wife, envy written all over my face. “It’s a beauty, […]

Will the new MRIP get it done?

I went fishing over the weekend in the Gulf of Mexico and caught some gag grouper and red snapper. But all were released because those fisheries are currently closed. It caused me to pause and think about the new Marine Recreational Fishing Program and what it may mean for saltwater fishing in the future.

Should dealers help customers with MMSI?

I went fishing offshore on a friend’s boat recently. While we scanned his marine radio for some fishing “chatter,” I asked him if he had gotten his MMSI? “What’s that?” he responded. So I asked him what happens if he pushes the red distress button on his radio? “That automatically sends out a Mayday call […]

Too many random boardings? Michigan may have an answer

Reports of overzealous boardings of boats, particularly by Coast Guard personnel in western Lake Erie, aren’t new. Indeed, over the years boaters and dealers alike have been critical of the Coast Guard randomly stopping boaters for time-consuming boardings that result in more animosity than boating safety.

Promoting fishing clubs in schools

It all started with a challenge . . . the principal of one high school challenging the principal of another to a fishing competition. No, not between themselves, but between their school fishing teams. High school fishing teams? Yes, and it’s a good model for boat dealers willing to invest a little time and  recognize […]

Be aware of spam laws in e-mail marketing

Spam – it’s not just something you can eat anymore. It’s also junk or unsolicited mass e-mail. Experts estimate spam constitutes more than 50 percent of the e-mail flying through cyberspace daily. I know I find myself spending time these days culling through e-mails to find the good from the spam.

Summit 2; Oceans Policy; The Boating Trust Fund

Summit follow-up: As you read this blog today, 40 representatives from broad segments of boating have gathered in Chicago for the first follow-up meeting to the Recreational Boating Stakeholders Growth Summit held last December (see Dealer Outlook).

Will new fuel standards mean bigger vehicles?

As an industry dependent on selling products that are towed behind cars, SUVs and light trucks, we’ve long been concerned about increasing CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards and the likely result that vehicles will be made lighter with reduced safe towing capacity.

Boaters starting to talk up gas prices again

It was to be expected. The prime boating season is upon us and boaters are talking about the cost of gasoline – if for no other reason than because high gas prices are reported in the nightly news. No surprise . . . that leaves the public very unhappy.

Who is that swearing? Oh, it’s our customer

Admittedly, most unhappy customers don’t resort to swearing. Still, 16 percent (mostly men) do admit using curse words when talking with someone about a product problem. And, since we’re rapidly approaching the prime boating season when, because so many things are happening all at once in our dealerships, customer complaints are usually at their highest, […]

“Keep Fishermen Fishing Rally” set for Washington

Thousands of salt water fishermen are expected to make some “noise” in Washington D.C. when they gather there for the second national fishermen’s rally on March 21. Speakers slated to address the anglers are Massachusetts’ Sens. John Kerry (D) and Scott Brown (R), as well as Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., among others.

Is it a good idea to blog?

Obviously, I think blogging is good. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing this one. And, I meet so many people from different segments of our industry who read Dealer Outlook. It’s what keeps me writing twice every week – and I thank you!

Detroit’s good news and comments on the bank lawsuit

Kudos to the Michigan Boating Industries Association on the good news about their successful Detroit Boat Show. I can’t help thinking: If there’s any place I want to see an encouraging sign coming from, it’s Detroit. After all, that area took an enormous hit when the Great Recession unfolded. To see the boat show there […]

Diversity confirmed at the Miami Show

Regular readers of this blog will recall I’ve previously written about the need for our industry to address diversity as an important pathway to future growth.  After  all, the U.S.  Census alone tells us that the population of Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian- Americans is growing rapidly in America.

Random notes of good news and ideas

- Had occasion to visit the Columbus (Ohio) Sports, Vacation & Boat Show over the weekend and saw clever signs strategically placed around Jim Reed’s Spend-A-Day Marina exhibit (Sea Ray, JC & Bennington). The bold yellow and black-lettered signs read: “CAUTION – LIFESTYLE MAY BECOME ADDICTIVE” adjacent to good boating action pictures. That’s the kind […]