Small dealer, big idea

If you’re a boat dealer and you’ve managed to survive this downturn, now is the time to consider what you must do to thrive.

By Peter Granata, president, Granata Design and the Marine Design Resource Alliance — If you’re a boat dealer and you’ve managed to survive this downturn, now is the time to consider what you must do to thrive. One question you will have to ask yourself is, “Do I, and will I, have the right product at the right price?”

Answer this with the understanding that when the values of a people are shaken as hard as they have been over the course of this recession, the ideas of how they spend their time and money will change. In order to answer the question, you must analyze your product line offerings.

First, do you have the right mix of boats for a changing and future market? Do the boats you have on your floor right now reflect and respond as to how they will enjoy boating in your area in the future? Will your sales be dominated by fishermen? What kind? Maybe your market will begin to cruise more, or maybe the changing demographic will involve themselves more with water sports.

Second, are your boats priced competitively with other dealers’ product offerings in the area? Is your product priced in line with what your awakening market will bear?

Third, and lastly, whether you are satisfied or not with your current product offering, you have to determine how these boats will need to change and stay relevant in the future because the future will define how successful you will become. Do you think the manufacturer is accurately planning for your boats to advance along with the aspirations of the new consumer?

In many cases, the boat manufacturer will listen intently to the requests of their largest (sales) dealer. Too often, they ignore the opportunities available to them in a market that has a greater potential than the one represented by their “largest” dealer. Is that you? Are you one of a group of smaller dealers that could provide real growth to a manufacturer? If you are, then consider banding.

As a small volume dealer unable to capitalize on the volume purchase discounts some manufacturers provide to their largest customers, this may be the time for you to band together with one, two or three other dealers of like mind and circumstance. Create your own buying group to capitalize on those discounts and gain an influential voice in the product’s future. The benefits outlined by banding together a small group of selling dealers can be endless, and you don’t all have to be in the same area.

Now is the time to take an aggressive measure to not only to make a smart business move coming out of this recession, but also insure the future of what you have worked so hard to protect over these last months and years.

Move forward. Surprise the future. Band together.

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