By David Parker and Jennifer Chandler, Parker Business Planning — Last spring, during a round of 20 Group meetings, I heard many of the dealers complaining about business, the economy, interest rates, new curtailments, the media and on and on. Then, I asked the dealers to switch their train of thought to tell me what was good about the boat business. The following article was written based upon the feedback that the dealers gave.
One thing that was universal amongst all those that participated; the mood in the room went from down and negative to up and positive. There are a lot of reasons why we should still be excited about the boating industry. Some of those reasons follow.
To sell boats is to sell a lifestyle. Boating is more than just an enjoyable pastime or a fun way to spend a weekend. The boating lifestyle embodies the care-free approach to living that many strive to achieve and most fail to accomplish. On the water, boaters can find emotional stability and peaceful tranquility. On the water, boaters can be the masters of their own domain removed from the "real world." Every trip on the water is a new journey, and every boater is a captain searching for adventure. Simply put, boating provides a gateway to a better way of life.
The joys of boating do not stop at the individual, however. Boating also enhances and forges relationships. Whether it is a grandfather taking his grandson fishing for the first time, a couple enjoying a casual ride at sunset, or strangers tying up their boats at the local sandbar, boating has a unique way of bringing people together. Boaters feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves, that they are part of a community of likeminded, passionate individuals who are all seeking the emotional satisfaction that comes only from being on the water.
There is something very special about the way a simple boat-ride can allow a family to connect in ways that they otherwise may never have been able to. Boating is one of the few family activities that can actually involve the entire family. In fact, it is often said that "an investment in a boat is an investment in your family." Quality time spent between parents and their children is at a premium these days, and boating provides an opportunity for parents to make the most of that time. When children grow old and look back on their lives, they will not remember how much their parents worked or how much TV they watched, but they will remember the great times they had on the water with their parents. Boating doesn't just provide entertainment; it creates memories that last a lifetime.
There is no better pastime than boating, and there is no better time to enjoy the boating lifestyle than now. The value offered by boating has never been better. Enjoying an entire season of boating is cheaper than one week at Walt Disney World, and the boating season typically lasts a minimum of 6 months. The time and cost of boating when compared to most any other family vacation experience is incredibly low. As family budgets continue to tighten, boating "stay-cations" are becoming ideal vacation alternatives. Why spend the time and money to transport your family to some far away vacation hot spot, when the same or greater enjoyment can be had in your own backyard at a lower cost with half the hassle?
At the forefront of the boating industry are the boat dealers who cultivate and promote the boating lifestyle. A boat dealership is not your average run-of-the-mill retail establishment. While a trip to your local auto dealership often leaves you exhausted, confused and discontented, you can't help but be excited about boating when you step inside of a boat dealership. The atmosphere is casual, just like the boating lifestyle. Boat salesmen are rarely pushy and are typically straight-shooters. They are quality people who are relaxed and positive, and who genuinely share in the boating community's passion for all that is boating. Boat dealers know that not only is this an excellent time to enjoy the boating experience, but it is also an excellent time to be in the boat business. Boating has been around for thousands of years, and it is not going away any time soon.