Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

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 […]

Customer rewards programs are serious business

Customer-loyalty schemes have probably been around forever. I grew up with the S&H Green Stamps program — remember that one? Participating retailers rewarded customers with stamps that we carefully pasted into booklets. When we got enough booklets filled, we traded them in at a redemption center for a variety of goodies.

Ohio boaters irate about boardings

The Great Lakes water levels might be dropping, but the level of resentment over increased random boardings of pleasure boats on Ohio’s waters has apparently hit a record high. The result is a call to the Ohio General Assembly for a change in the law.

What do I get for my dues?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? That assumes, in the first place, you are already a member of a national and/or state marine trade association.

Battle lines drawn in fight over fuel standards

Last Thursday, I urged getting behind a petition under consideration at the Environmental Protection Agency to reform the Renewable Fuels Standard. It prompted some great dialogue, as the subject of ethanol always does. And while there was some disagreement about any real environmental benefits from ethanol, there was full agreement that it can destroy hundreds […]

You can help reform the Renewable Fuel Standard

So we think we have problems with E10 and E15? How does E30 or E40 grab you? It’s certainly being kicked around at the Environmental Protection Agency, according to Marine Retailers Association of the Americas’ Washington-based lobbyist Larry Innis.

Some new taxes flying below the radar

If you tune into the Republican National Convention tonight, you’ll likely hear a call to reduce taxes — something we all might like to see happen. Will it? Perhaps. But there are potential tax increases that aren’t getting much attention.

A colossal court cop-out on ethanol case

NMMA president Thom Dammrich calls the court’s decision on the industry’s suit against the EPA’s E15 waivers “disappointing.” That’s because he’s too much of a gentlemen to call it what it really is — a freakin’ cop-out.

Cyber attacks double on small businesses

If you think that because you’re a small business, hackers won’t seek your data, consider this: a hacker can steal bank account and/or credit card information from your computer, package it with similar information from a hundred or more other small businesses and sell it on the black market for big bucks.

Top ideas to tick off customers

Would you like to lose some customers? Perhaps I can help. If you’d like to watch a customer’s face turn red and smoke come from his ears, here are three surefire suggestions that will likely have him heading out the door at warp speed to the dealer down the street:

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?