A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Have something to say? Drop us a note

To keep an open dialogue between Soundings Trade Only and our readers, this week we added a comments section to the bottom of our e-newsletter stories.

This addition to our site coincided with an announcement by GE’s Commercial Distribution Finance business that it was increasing rates. In making the announcement, it said the changes are necessary to provide the “level of service and liquidity the industry requires.”

GE is the major player in floorplan financing for marine, with some estimating it has 75 to 80 percent of the business.

Our second GE story, an analysis of the rates, received 14 comments. All were well thought out, intelligent and provided insight into the affect the rate hike will have on dealers. We hope more of you will continue to let us know what you think.

We won’t publish comments deemed profane or obscene, personal attacks, those promoting specific products, or those including links to unrelated topics or materials.

In other words, use your best judgment.

Please keep the comments coming. We’d like to hear what you think about GE’s rate hikes, attendance at recent boat shows, or any of the topics we write about on Trade Only Today.

We want to hear from you.

— Beth Rosenberg
Associate Editor


14 comments on “Have something to say? Drop us a note

  1. don

    i am sure that there are many dealers out there that would love to give comments…tell their war stories and their desperation but..are in a situation that prevents them from doing that… especialy with a floor plan company or a manufacturer.. who can they talk to…vent with…find a way out/through this ? your publication is the source to go to for the industry…but it is it seems manufacturer biased…and the main dealer stories are ..well ..covered in the trenches. if annonimity were provided you would hear an uproar. this industry is for and all about the manufactures whims and best interests.. and the floor planners are their partner in crime… when a dealer says NO to more boats because of enough inventory… the manufactures just walks down the street to some one that says yes…and the floorplan to take the order… the old dealer is stuck with boats…as the floor plan company or manufacturer does not require the new dealer to take them… now you have as much as twice the inventory that a market can handle for that product. the old dealer will go broke due to curtailments and inability to compete …the new dealer will lose the line and probably go broke as he is having to sell against the other dealer with no profit for either… right now there are well over 1,000 boats that have been re-posessed by floorpanners… what do they do ? send them to auctions … put them on consignment…distress sale them… and the dominos fall… why did they and the manufactures not arrange/set up a way to ship them to europe and out of the us market ??? so while you’re association with your major advitisers are a concern… show more for the dealers that …make them and you possible . if you care to know how i really feel …just ask :) btw this is my 40th yr in the marine biz so i am not a babe in the woods or a boat that is sunk….yet

  2. Carlm

    In ways I agree with Don.
    The stories you don’t cover or tell- speaks volumes as to who you serve.
    Though if he waits a bit longer we all will find out which manufacturers will open up to produce 2010 models & spending advertising dollars. Look at the calander folks, it’s almost April & we all know from history that builders start imprinting next model years in May. I have to believe the number of builders reopening after this protracted Christmas shut down will be much smaller than anyone believes. Most direct sales people & Reps have been cut loose & moved on to other industries or other ventures.
    Don as far as shipping the distressed product to Europe, we live in a worldmarket & they already packed that market like this one.

  3. Harold Hillcher

    Ladies & Gentlemen:
    Today I am nominally still in this industry. It was in the late 70’s I recognized that my business was working primarily for the benifit of the banks, manufacturers, and insurance company. and not for me or my family. I changed that by eliminating everything that failed to return proper profit margins. The boat manufacturers were the first to go. When I stopped buying outboards, I reluctantly had to shut down my service center because the manufacturers would no longer sell me parts. All except Chrysler. This thrust my company into the boat supply business and trailer service only. Gee, I didn.t miss the headache of selling boats at all or paying floor plan dollars or insurance on inventories that produced the smallest margins. I actually became one of the largest canoe dealers in Florida as a result. The only thing you have to do is give up the longing to be part of “Team Evinrude” or “Team Mercury” etc. Get smart. If you want to stay in the boat business and maintain a service department, start to handle only second hand rigs and consignment stuff. Parts and accessories will always bring higher profit margins than complete rigs or replacemnt power plants. Consignment rigs have no floor plan cost. Buy used rigs in the off season at low prices and sell them in the season for decent profit margins. When we sold a canoe we always made 30 to 40% gross profit on the boat and we always doubled or trippled our money on teh accessories. How you ask? We only bought canoes, paddles, carriers, life vests etc. from vendors who were eager to sell to us in quantity and at their very lowest price. I mean the same pricing they were giving K-Mart. Best of all we had no floor plan!

  4. Island Boy

    As one whose comments have been blocked and or removed, I question your commitment to free speech. To open up stories for comments, also means allowing free speech. I totally understand not allowing bad language and agree, however I have been blocked because of not being “politically correct”, what the H?

    It would be refreshing to see open dialog in these forums. So many are afraid to really say what is on their mind out of fear. I would hope that Soundings would show industry/reader loyalty not advertiser loyalty when it comes to forums and blogs.

  5. Willem Runge

    I refer to your article Yanmar Stern-Drive by Rich Armstrong.

    Please note the new Yanmar sterndrive ZT350 is not manufacterd by Yanmar but by Selva Outboards Italy.

    Trade only is the best marine pleasure crasft magazine today in the USA

    Kind Regards

  6. boatman11

    You are right Willem…….That is if you are a marine manufacturer or marina development company that advertises in Trade Only. Then you can rest assured you will get puff piece after puff piece written about you and your company. Only when their hand is forced and they have no other choice will they print a negative piece on an a company that advertises in their magazine. To be fair, ALL of these industry magazines have turned into PR portals for those who advertise in them . Over the past five years this magazine, as well as many others have propped up and elevated many of the businesses and individuals who have been most responsible for damaging this industry. All you have to do in today’s world is hire a good PR firm, and you will see their carefully crafted “spin” about you in Industry publication after Industry publication. No questions of substance asked. The days of real journalism that was in the public’s best interest are long gone.

    Stay tuned for some of these UAE companies turning their sights on the USA marine industry now……

  7. don

    right on carlm, islandboy and boatman11 .. seems that many of the favorite “sons’ of the boating publications… both manufacturers and dealers…are conspicuously absent these days… maybe… just maybe…. there are other voices and opinions and reality based commentary that should have been and now… must be heard. GE and Textron have over a thousand boats…that will double very soon…several manufacturers are not able to “repurchase” their closed dealer inventory… and will themselves be closed… and to “trade only today” if you are serious about dealer feed back why not put a “box” on your home page asking for it ? you are bound to get a reality check. and for your writers… instead of just going to the same ole sources for comments and words of umm wisdom that we have had to hear for years…try people other than … irwin…dusty…phil…larry…moe and curly joe ! i know i know…it takes some “investigation” and some “discretion” what a concept for a “truth/reality” based information source…. this industry is NOT in pollyana land… good people and families are being destroyed and devasted every day… by policies that are draconian and self serving to the “evil empires” that have emerged and until now…flourished… its time…past time… to change the “partnership” to one of more equality…understanding and the injection of moral obligations…

  8. Candi Thayer

    A Paradigm Shift in Retail Sales
    With economic conditions becoming more challenging by the minute, new aggressive business models and operational methodology need to emerge to create lifelines for independent dealerships in retail sales. Retailers have pressures from manufacturer’s to take minimum increments of inventory in order to maintain exclusivity while experiencing a huge decline in demand for their products during this economic downturn. Financial institutions have placed constraints on their lending dollars and repayment policies which are virtually strangling some businesses and greatly weakening others. These constraints are proving to be most difficult even for the most profitable dealership at this time. It certainly was something no one could anticipate, not even those with a “perfect working relationship” with their financial institutions. Retail markets are feeling both an internal and external strangulation and their wounds are deepening.
    Compounding the problem are daily media blasts of negativity which has driven fear of spending into our nation’s consumers. Supply has become plentiful while demand has plummeted. Retailers are reacting by way of panic. They are making deep concessions and price cuts creating a temporary bandage. This type of merchandise movement only exacerbates the problem for long term. A Paradigm Shift or new way of thinking must occur! Panic and “dumping of products” is a” lose-lose” situation that will cause years of recovery and destruction to the independent retailer. Independent dealerships must change their mindsets and become “proactive not reactive” to current market conditions. Instead of working independently of each other they need to form an industry alliance and ban together to assist each other to move current product. Forward thinking must become the new standard practice of operation.
    One solution would be to utilize an Inventory Sharing/Trading Model. Inventory Sharing and Trading allows dealers and manufacturers to buy and sell product from each other “brand-specific” arenas. It becomes a “virtual showroom” of sorts allowing for selling and buying product on demand without the constraints of traditional methods. Greater control over inventory and increased size of sales target groups will allow dealers greater flexibility in real time. It frees the flow of supply and demand without further financial constraints. And, it presents a “win- win” situation for all parties involved in the process. The customer gets the product they want, the selling dealer move’s product from his inventory, the buying dealer doesn’t lose a sale and the manufacturer will receive new orders to replenish the sold inventory. All without “dumping product” and creating greater long term issues for retailers to be concerned about while traveling down the road to recovery.
    With the prospects of growth and profitability dwindling, it is imperative that retailers operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and become innovative in their practices. Forward, progressive thinking and the utilization of tools such as Inventory Sharing will create a Paradigm Shift in practice and operation which will help ensure success and survival of the Retail Industry.

  9. don

    cindy you are so right… and one place to start is with mraa with a dealer only site…or local/regional/state dealer associations… as for the manufacturers few want to do that on their sites…they want to ship more boats directly…the regional managers for the most part have no incentive to …. also localy there could be an “open lot” for used boats… and shared on the association web site… commissions split…but a boat sold and a customer in the water. strategic alliances are at this point common sense…and even to the point of buying groups… for trailers….acc…services…and yes (gasp) negotiating space costs at boat shows !

  10. arch

    CANDI, all of that sounds great, really. You should work for the MRAA or NMMA. But is it realistic? People want to touch and feel what they are buying. This virtual suggestion is non-sense. The consumer isn’t there yet and won’t be anytime soon. We aren’t talking about books or food, we are talking about boats.

    DUMPING inventory is done out of necessity. Your ideas, realistic or not, cannot be implemented overnight and don’t address the supply/demand problem. Dealers have inventory they have to liquidate. Even if we had an alliance in place and virtual showrooms, there are only X amount of buyers and X amount of boats (already out there on the dealer lots.). If we had this in place before, then we could reduced the damage, but your ideas don’t fix the problem dealers face today.

    The press is RIGHT when they report negativity. It’s a bad market out there right now, and our gov’t is putting us deeper in the hole. There are MAJOR problems and the kicker is, it might get worse before it gets better. Anybody complaining about the press has not faced reality yet.

    Your ideas are grandiose and I know you mean well. But those ideas have been out forever, and many are currently being used by mega-dealers like Marine Max and Bass Pro, but to think the whole industry would use it is far-fetched. IF you think about it, why would any of the mega-dealers sign on to it? They don’t need it. So if all the smaller and medium sized dealers signed on, they would lose even more market share to the mega-dealers that stock boats for immediate delivery.
    Sorry, just not buying it. Way too idealistic and far-fetched for me.

  11. Candi Thayer

    Thank you for the response to my post on proposed ideas to help dealers move their product in a down economy. Open dialogue amongst dealers is more important than ever and I do appreciate your viewpoints. But, before I respond further about this type of supplemental practice I would love to hear how your dealership handles the following situation. A customer comes to your showroom and finds the boat they want but you don’t have it with the right engine, equipment or color? What do you do? Do you call your manufacturer representative to see if they can locate one? Do you call other dealers? Do you take the customers number and tell them you will call them back? Do you order them a boat? How long do any of those processes or practices take? And, what is the usual result?

  12. Catherine Hughes

    How about some coverage of 2 key political issues which every marine business in America faces? How about talking about “Cap and Trade”, essentially a fuel user tax, which could destroy the marine industry? I get so tired of reading about “how to be a green marina” when there aren’t going to be any marinas when the government is finished with us all. And “Card Check” which could force unionization on every small business in America. I wrote this editor and the editor of another marine trade publication and never received any response from either. Wake up guys and cover the issues that really matter not a bunch of sugar coated stories about how great the economy is getting. Thanks.

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