A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Biggest Industry Challenge for 2007

The biggest challenge for the upcoming year and years to come centers around growing boating and the lifestyle.  I think as an industry we need to allocate as much time and as many resources in keeping the boaters we do have versus focusing too heavily on bringing new individuals into boating.  A wise man once told me, “We must first, treat each and every customer and employee like a gold nugget and that thinking will transition over to how we treat our prospects.  Give a customer good service, provide a positive experience, and they will tell a friend.  Give them bad service or put a bad taste in their mouth, they will undoubtedly tell ten friends.”  Retention is one of the keys to growth.  I think we have an excellent start with the “Grow Boating Campaign”, and dealer certification.  I have worked with the automobile, RV, and motorcycle industries in the past on similar issues and witnessed the changes myself.  I have never worked in an industry that is so closed-minded or opposed to change.  No one can argue these other industries are providing the model and the road map that we are following. Our emphasis should be on making our existing customers happy instead of having to focus solely on getting new people into boating – which is ultimately only replacing the customers that are irritated and have left boating completely.
In the last few years, many things have begun to be addressed by an increased number of manufacturers, such as: the stem-to-stern warranty issue, uniform dealer agreements, industry certifications, product improvements, improved dealer relations and warranty compensation. These issues are all near and dear to my heart, and I believe they represent some of the core challenges that more of us need to work toward to grow boating and keep our current clientele. Unfortunately, a handful will not cut it. As more builders strive towards NMMA and ABYC standards, product quality increases. With improved warranty practices and dealer relations comes a drastic increase in CSI.  I think more manufacturers and dealers are spending time and resources to better educate themselves on the systems and controls that are available to them which will increase efficiency, professionalism, and customer retention.  Once we all make the sound and conscious decision to change and work to keep our current clients and customers happy, the results will shift into the growth of this industry.

DealersCircle, Inc.
Jamie Gaskins – President


3 comments on “Biggest Industry Challenge for 2007

  1. Patrick Turner

    Please refer to resent Letter to Editor:

    Go After Entrepreneaurs:

    Just read Wanda Kenton Smith’s article in Soundings Trade Only (Let’s Target lapsed boaters as ads bring in new ones,” August) and there is one more thing that NMMA/Grow Boating & Sail America are missing: “Getting Entrepreneurs into the business.”

    I have been in the boat business for over 20 years and I’m now starting my own boat manufacturing business. The only help I have fro the above firms is certification. Genmar and Brunwick won’t even return my call. GE needs a long history. If I was wealthy, I’m in the game. If not, forget it.

    I’ve spoken to other manufactures and they say I’m “nuts” to get into “the marine business.” What???

    Grow boating is after the consumer, not the person that will create the product.

    I even sent a message to Blackwell [Carl] and Dammich [Thom] and both won’t listen.

    NMMA and Sail America need to offer special financing, an avenue to get support, etc., for new projects.

    The present boat dealers are selling their businesses to retire. There won’t be a place to buy in the future.

    This is what has been overlooked.

    Just my Thoughts

    Patrick A. Turner
    President & CEO
    Nantucket Yachts
    Rehoboth, MA

  2. David Black 111

    We are all nuts for being in the boat business but if we didn’t love our jobs so much we wouldn’t still be around! Dealers often get stuck between the customer (who they work for) and their manufacturers (which they are representives of) when it comes to filing a warranty claim. Boating can not be grown unless there is something in it for the dealerships that represent their manufacturers. We can not grow a lifestyle without taking care of the people that already live that lifestyle. If the consumer (dealer and retail customer) are not happy with the product it leads to an “unhealthy” boating lifestyle which other potential customers may hear or read about which can cancel out some of the grow boating initiatives. The retail consumer holds all the cards in this “game”!

  3. peter siskind

    It is significantly cheaper to KEEP an existing customer than get a new one. They are also more likely to buy again from you.

    That being said, I’m not sure if the industry should try to affect people into boating.

    People have always been into boating; and always will. The market isn’t shrinking.
    There may be more competition for their dollar, but the industry will always be there.

    It has, and always will be, up to innovative manufacturers and well compensated dealers.
    Dealers get creative enough if they feel the support from the manufacturer.

    Manufacturers need to come up with new things that consumers want.
    (There was a wise salesman who admitted his success was because “he sold what they wanted to buy”)

    Boat manufacturers must constantly innovate. Don’t think outside the box; that assumes their is a box. Be creative. It is much more fun. And consumers appreciate it too.

    Dealers need to see that the “aftermarket” is sometimes more lucrative than the single boat sale. Once you have the boat sold, think of it as a beginning; not an end.

    The only challenge in any business environment or industry is to stay ahead of the curve.

    Peter Siskind
    SeaVision Technologies

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