Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Being bullish about the economic future

As we’ve moved into April, the traditional start of our top retail quarter, dealership teams should be pumped by the economic indicators that continue to move in our direction, especially news that Fannie Mae just announced a healthy profit.

Send emails that get read

There must be several hundred emails in my inbox right now that I haven’t had time to read. Although I think I’ll get to them sometime soon, it probably won’t happen. They’ll just get older until I “clean house” one day without ever reading any of them.

E15 appeal to Supreme Court shouldn’t be necessary

It was a very different world when the idea of turning food into fuel might have seemed sensible. Truth is, it never made sense, except to those who hoodwinked Congress into passing a Renewable Fuel Standard that would pay off big for ethanol producers. Without question, that whole concept has clearly outlived its usefulness.

March Madness spills over into politics

For those who think Madness only comes in March (hope your NCAA bracket picks are holding up), I have sad news. Madness crops up any time. However, March seems to lead the pack and I’m not talking basketball. Just for some laughs today, check out a couple of random examples:

Publicity is always worth pursuing

Maybe I’m living in the past. I was, many years ago, a PR man in the Johnson Division of OMC (RIP). I remember writing news releases about everything from outboards to the Air-Buoy. (Anyone remember that product? It was neat, but it didn’t sell.)

It’s time to raise prices

Raising prices is always tricky. We want fair prices for our products and services, but we don’t want to lose customers as a result. It makes for worrisome decisions for all dealers. So when and how do we do it?

Educational opportunities set to expand

The United States Power Squadrons has taught more than 4 million boaters during the last 99 years, but that number is expected to rapidly increase when a new, soon-to-be-announced program begins this spring. Moreover, the value of the Power Squadrons to marine dealers will become more evident, too.

Congressional Boating Caucus: How important is it?

The announcement by the National Marine Manufacturers Association that Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., will join Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., as co-chairs of the Congressional Boating Caucus was welcomed news. It’s timely, then, to look at what the caucus means to all of us in the […]

What’s holding our buyers back?

As already reported, the Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail was another success and the Detroit Boat Show that runs until this Sunday racked up a very big first weekend.

Events are a great way to know your customers

A recent email from MarineMax reminded me that the time is now for dealers to plan customer events during the upcoming boating season. In this case, MarineMax was promoting a trip for its trailer-boating customers to Mount Dora in Florida and an antique boat show. MarineMax puts a lot of stake in its customer events […]

Detroit and Miami are barometer shows

Key boat shows at opposite ends of the country — one up north in the Great Lakes’ second biggest market of Detroit, and two monsters in Miami that cover everything the industry has to offer — will open doors today and Saturday and give us a pretty clear indication of just what to expect for […]

When it isn’t fun anymore: a lesson from ABBA

“It’s sure not fun anymore.” Sadly, I’ve often heard that during this recession, from dealers to salespeople to association directors. All agree they once were having fun. But, the length and depth of this downturn seems to have pounded the fun out of them.

NMMA moves forward as EPA gets a smackdown

In what should have been the ruling in the lawsuit against E15 mandates, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has finally called out the Environmental Protection Agency for using “an unreasonable exercise of agency discretion.”

RBFF: The ‘quiet’ promoters of boating and fishing

It’s called the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s not surprising. If you have, but you’re really not sure what it does, no surprise there either. That’s because this organization “quietly” goes about its work, calling little attention to itself while doggedly pursuing a goal of bringing more people […]

Marine financing poised for 2013 gains

In case you missed it, there’s good news from the National Marine Bankers Association. It recently reported increased loan activity for 2012 through the third quarter, with 92 percent of those reporting expecting the final quarter will prove the same or better than a year ago.

Don’t be misled by New York show results

If you see the attendance numbers (down 19 percent) at the New York Boat Show last weekend as a bad indicator of the industry’s show season ahead, you’re missing the real picture. Facts support our expectation that the shows will see improved results in 2013.

Recognize your employees during the holidays

Tis’ the time of year when we like to recognize employees with Christmas parties, bonuses and/or gifts. But according to author Cindy Ventrice in her book, “Make Their Day! Employee Recognition that Works” (Amazon), it really doesn’t work. The problem is this: Christmas gifts and bonuses are considered by most employees as some “entitlement” rather […]

A blurry vision and other random thoughts

This is a great time of year. It’s a point when the boating business typically slows down enough to allow time to reflect on thoughts and ideas that, while not earth-shaking, might be helpful going forward. Here are three purely random things worth thinking about:

Lower taxes, more income for all (Part 2)

While the Boating Associations of Ohio spars with the Ohio Department of Taxation over the latter’s decision to renege on a decade-old deal with Ohio’s dealers concerning the application of “use tax” (see Tuesday’s Dealer Outlook for details), two Florida associations took on the issue of “sales and use tax” and hit a home run […]

Lower taxes, more income for all (Part 1)

A recent report that the Ohio Department of Taxation is going back on a deal it made with the marine industry immediately grabbed my attention, because I was the one who agreed to the deal a decade ago. This new dilemma, compared with a similar, though not identical, situation in Florida, gives us a great […]

The EPA’s nonsensical solutions on ethanol

“It is absolutely absurd,” NMMA legislative director Jim Currie told the National Marine Trades Council when describing EPA’s recent approval of a model E15 “Misfueling Mitigation Plan” developed by the so-called Renewable Fuels Association.

Thankful for a new entitlement program?

What a round of meetings last week in the White House about solving the looming “fiscal cliff.” Union leaders came there Tuesday. CEOs from big corporations were invited in on Wednesday (no small businessmen invited). Why, I’ll bet there was even a delegation from Hollywood packed in there one day.

Discover Boating’s success earns increased support

There’s good news these days from the industry’s Discover Boating national campaign. A report on this year’s results will be discussed this weekend in Orlando at the annual meeting of the National Marine Trades Council. Then, attendees at the 2012 Marine Dealer Conference and Expo that opens Monday will get a first look at the […]

Videos can help customers promote your product

I suspect that there isn’t a dealer alive who doesn’t take pleasure in any opportunity to talk about their company and its products. It can have a positive influence on a listener’s perception of the firm. But, as good as that is, it pales in comparison to a customer sharing his or her experience with […]

Snail mail is still a great selling tool

The U.S. Postal Service has been losing about $42 million per day ($11.6 billion this year). It recently defaulted on a $5.5 billion payment for retiree health benefits. In spite of a penny increase in postage this year, it will still lose big bucks next year.

Empowered employees can make things right

“We feel you had to wait too long for your lunches, so they will be free,” our waitress, Maggie, told us as she refilled our beverages and cleared plates. “Wow, that’s a surprise,” my friend Chuck said to her.

Election will have long-term consequences

I caught the debate Monday night between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. For me, it was sort of a yawner. That is, until the President blurted out “it will not happen,” referring to the coming automatic cuts known as sequestration.

Hands-on training can be a winner for dealers

Is an educated boater more confident at the helm? Is he or she more likely to use the boat more often and go farther? Are they more prone to stay in boating and even buy up? Are there many current boaters that would respond to more education and training if available?

Is it time for a customer checkup in your dealership?

We’re not getting any complaints so we must be doing things right … right? Not so fast, according to Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas, co-authors of “Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others.” Sobel is recognized as a leading authority on the strategies and skills needed to earn customer loyalty.

Two events that boost the bottom line

From all accounts, last week’s International BoatBuilders Exhibition and Conference produced another strong showing as one of the industry’s two biggest educational events. Next up from Nov. 11-14 is the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla.

It’s not too early to think about Christmas

I couldn’t believe it. I was rounding the aisle in a Target store when there it was: a whole section of Christmas decorations. It made me stop and ask myself: what month is this? It’s only October and I haven’t even taken my grandsons trick-or-treating yet (and help them eat all be best candy they […]