Think pre-owned

By Peggy Bodenreider, senior manager of marine sales, GE Money

The area that GE sees as a huge opportunity is driving consumers to dealership for their pre-owned purchases. The market is more than twice that of new boats, and as sales remain soft and dealers cautiously reduce their new inventory, pre-owned boat sales can boost revenue today and create future opportunities for more new boat sales. In order to ride out this down cycle, dealers need revenue today.

The benefits to the dealers are huge:

Reach 1st time buyers
Capture the customer early in their boating life cycle
Create trade-in opportunities for new product sales
Increase revenue in other areas (finance, warranty, service, storage, other)
Create customer loyalty by meeting broader market needs

As an industry we need to reach the consumers and make him aware of the benefits they could receive from buying pre-owned through the dealership:

Certified technicians to assure performance
Future service as needed – and priority service opportunity
Financing options
Extended warranty
Complete condition and service inspection by dealer prior to purchase
Boat history report
Slip/storage opportunity

We need Boating Industry (and its consumer publication affiliates) to feature articles on dealerships that have done an exceptional job at building their pre-owned market – and get these in front of both the trade (dealers sharing best practices and success stories) and consumers (highlighting value-adds that they can’t get buying from their neighbor). The dealers need a collective voice to the consumers that not only talks about new boat purchases, but those of quality pre-owned boats as well. I’m thinking many of those boaters don’t go to boat shows or sales events because they feel they are priced out of the market. We may find a whole new set of potential boat buyers out there that has been largely untapped.

I see it as a 2-pronged initiative:

1) Help dealers establish a pre-owned business within their dealership
2) Create interest at the consumer level to seek out dealers for their pre-owned purchases

Unfortunately the marine lending industry is seeing increased delinquency resulting in more repossessions. But this could be good for dealers, as much of the product goes to auction where they could purchase quality boats at low prices. A little TLC from their service department could create a very marketable boat that could bring considerable profit when factoring in all revenue opportunities noted above.

The opportunity is there – we in the marine industry need to find a way to drive the business through our doors.

This contribution is one in a series of solutions to the industry’s challenges as offered by female boating business professionals for the March 2008 issue of Boating Industry magazine. To view the article, Leading the way, including links to the entire list of solutions, click here.

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