Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

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 […]

Boat shows are producing good returns

While attendance at major industry shows has been up and down depending on the city, it appears business from all the shows is much improved over last year. That’s good momentum leading up to five major-market events that will open this weekend or next week — namely, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, Los Angeles and Miami – […]

Claims of ‘no time to boat’ are doubtful

If we want to do it, we’ll make time for it . . . even at the expense of time needed to get things done we should get done! That’s what we could conclude from the 2010 American Time Use Survey, published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

We must introduce kids to boating

There’s no doubt our industry’s future growth will depend, in significant measure, on our appeal to kids. “Survey data tells us we must expose boating to kids,” Brunswick CEO Dusty McCoy told the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association in Cleveland recently.

Good sales techniques from some of the best!

There’s little doubt history is loaded with examples of sales people who can be labeled “great” at the game. And, we can learn from them because they personify selling techniques and styles that can be replicated to make one successful, even today.

Dusty McCoy calls for “Growth Summit” follow up

“Our industry isn’t going away, we’re going to make it stronger,” Dusty McCoy told more than 150 dealers, marina operators and others in Cleveland last week. The chairman and CEO of Brunswick was addressing the annual meeting of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association during the Cleveland Boat Show. Moreover, he called for quick follow […]

Don’t fling the fish, says PETA

Whenever I need a few laughs to brighten up a day when the fishing is slow and the sky is overcast, I just think about PETA. You remember them — the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — the group noted for wanting all fish to be renamed “sea kittens?”

Neither snow, nor rain, nor an Atlanta tsunami!

If it wasn’t so annoying, it would be funny. Football in Houston, snow in Chicago, bad roads (schools closed early) in Nashville, winter storm in Cleveland and a tsunami in Atlanta all disrupted many boat shows last week . . . but the shows still rolled on.

Should white boaters be replaced in our ads?

One of the major topics at last month’s first-ever boating summit in Chicago was the need to reach minorities with our boating lifestyle message as a path to growth. So, it might seem that all we need to do is replace some white people in our ads with minorities, right? Well, it’s a start but […]

Is face time still necessary for selling boats?

I must be old school. I still think talking with someone face-to-face is the best way to go. Obviously, I must not be one of today’s high tech-enabled people who can text and drive or Twitter everyone what I’m doing without ever seeing them face-to-face!

Boat shows – now more than ever!

Industry eyes will be focused on the “Big Apple” and Houston this week as the New York Boat Show opens tomorrow (Jan. 4) for five days and the Houston International Boat Show kicks off Friday (Jan. 6) for a 10-day run. Hopefully, both shows will be good early indicators of an uptick in sales expected from […]

A New Year’s Resolution I can keep

I suppose everyone begins the New Year by making a couple of resolutions. Doing it represents a fresh start in a new time. I’m all for that. But my track record, I admit, isn’t very good.

When customers are treated right, they stay

It was nearly unanimous . . . virtually all of the more than 1,200 people surveyed said a great experience makes them more likely to buy more of a product or repeat a service, according to a study recently released by Ft. Lauderdale-based Spherion Staffing Services.

Christmas should remind us of boating’s best

If nothing else, the Christmas season means trips to the mall and gifts galore. But the real gift of Christmas is the time spent with family and friends. Interestingly, when we speak of family and friends, it quickly reminds me of the true value we in the boating business provide to hundreds of thousands of […]

Eight gifts during Hanukkah, please.

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also known as “Festival of Lights,” will begin tonight at sunset and be observed for eight days and nights. Specifically, the festival is marked by the lighting of the Menorah’s eight candles, one each night of the holiday progressing to eight on the final night. Many also observe this holiday […]

Rude employees mean loss of business

It seems logical that every employee would purpose to show respect and courtesy to customers. For any business, lack of politeness can actually detract from the bottom line. Moreover, it’s not just about respect for the customers. Surprisingly, it also involves employees being rude to fellow employees.

What to do for employees at Christmas?

Ho, Ho, Ho – Tis a season of joy. But, it can also be a perplexing time for business owners and managers when faced with the question of what to give employees for the holidays? Likely, every boss wants to do something to recognize and reward employees who have been loyal and worked hard to […]

Caught between a rock and who knows what!

Are you as confused as I am? I’m honestly not sure if I’m for or against the idea Congress is kicking around – the idea of continuing the temporary reduction in payroll taxes that expires at the end of the year.

Apple polishing: Good for business!

When it comes to retailing, no stores compare to the success of Apple’s stores. “No wonder – look at Apple’s great products,” you say? Certainly having the iPod, iPad and iPhone are an advantage. But there’s a lot more we can take away from Apple’s success.

A new solution to the E15 debacle?

Isobutonal . . . if you’re a scotch drinker you already love it. If you’re a marine engine builder you may come to love it! That’s because isobutonal is a flavor note in scotch and, even more important (unless you’re addicted to scotch, I suppose), it may well be an alternative to ethanol!

Winter shows just around the corner

My copy of the latest edition of Boat Show Exhibitor magazine arrived this week. It reminds me that the last in-water boat show of the fall season will drop anchor in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dec. 1-4. But, exactly one month later, the industry’s big winter indoor show circuit will kick-off in New York on Jan. […]

Thoughts about two marine industry trade events

Is the coming Black Friday frenzy going too far? According to New York Times reporter Stephanie Clifford it just may be. This year, more big name retailers seem set to take on each other in a race to get into consumers’ wallets and credit cards first. They’re backing up their Black Friday openings into Thanksgiving […]

Fast start for Matt Gruhn, MRAA’s new leader

It’s not unusual for there to be a lag in activity and direction when the leadership of a large association changes. But, if you’re thinking that’s likely to happen at the Marine Retailers Association of America, you can relax – just the opposite appears to be true.

NMTC members see brighter outlook for shows in 2012

The decline in both size and attendance of the industry’s boat shows appears to have ended in 2010 and showed signs of improvement in 2011. That was the conclusion at the  National Marine Trades Council’s annual meeting over the weekend in Orlando, Fla. prior to the Marine Retailers Association of America’s Marine Dealer Conference and Exhibition.

Boycotts and other fishing issues

You gotta like the Recreational Fishing Alliance – they have no fear and take no prisoners. Recently, RFA opted to take on the Waltons. No, not John boy . . . the other Waltons, as in Wal-Mart and the Walton Family Foundation.