Online presence: How do boat dealers compare?

Fill in the blanks to this statement: “The boating industry lags behind the _______ industry by ___ months/years.”

We’ve all heard people talk about how far behind our industry is compared to others when it comes to sales this or manufacturing that: You can pretty much fill in the blank there too. So, as I was looking through a list of powersports dealers yesterday that one of our sister magazine’s had compiled for a directory it is putting together, I was interested to see how favorably the boating industry compares when it comes to dealership websites.

The Excel file contained a column for website addresses, and It was readily apparent that many of the powersports dealers (businesses that sell motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, personal watercraft, etc.) didn’t have one. So I sorted the listings by website, did the math, and found that of the more than 4,000 dealers in the file, nearly 45 percent had no website.

Now compare that to the list Boating Industry has for its dealers – compiled for us by the same company using the same process as the powersports list. Only 16 percent of the dealers on our directory list do not have a website.

That’s a pretty solid number, although it still leaves several hundred dealerships with no website – which is hard comprehend in this day and age for any business that hopes to survive and make all the money it possibly can while doing so.

What has been your experience as you interact with other companies, or spend time looking around at your competitors in the industry? Do most now have an online presence, or do you still often run across marine businesses that have no website? And, if your experience is the latter, in talking to the people at those companies, what are the reasons they give for still not being online?


  1. The industry may be a little behind relevant to some other industries; however, the most important consideration is that boaters, buyers, and consumers that purchase from the industry are not behind the times and are online. Though the network we have found that boaters are comfortable online, spend a lot of time on websites, and do research their marine investments. It is important for all of the marine industry to be online, advertise online, and interact with existing and potential new customers.

  2. Take a moment to review this video about the Social Media Revolution. It really something that no business can ignore.

  3. We have been in the marine industry for over 45 years in Florida. About a few years ago, we’ve decided to create an internet based business, where we will provide online exposure, internet marketing and web design services, EXCLUSIVELY for the marine industry. It is amazing what happened next…
    Marine companies and fellow marine industry professionals responded with great enthusiasm, because they all know that in order to be successful, they must have a strong web-presence. Because we are “family”, each and every client felt more comfortable working with us, allowing us to provide them with the exposure they deserve.
    There are thousands of internet marketing “magicians”, calling businesses daily about SEO, Pay Per Click advertising…etc, most without any knowledge, relying ONLY on their automated programs to provide you with nothing more but trouble. was created BY marine professionals FOR marine professionals. Our expert technicians, programmers, graphic designers, social networking marketers and public relation individuals are standing by daily to serve our fellow marine individuals with enthusiasm and understanding.
    Today, thanks to the overwhelming support, is the prime and trusted choice for our industry. Besides website design and development, we offer a complete internet marketing package to each client with individual attention to their needs.
    Let’s ALL work together!

  4. A website taken at face value for a dealership means absolutely nothing. It’s the same if someone built a dealership. Building the physical dealership is just the begining. That physical location means nothing. What dealers need to understand is that they need to treat their website as another location. You could have the best looking website, be listed on all the portal sites, pay a company to drive traffic to your site, and all that means nothing. It’s not about “the people”, it’s about the system. Without having a great system in place, you will fail. “Yeah, we have a website, but now how do we make it work for us?” I educate dealers on a proven system that I created working for a very large RV dealership where we produced $11 million in one year internet sales. I then took the same system to a startup boat dealership, and I sold almost $700k worth of inventory the first three months of the selling season. All the sales where from the internet. It’s all about the system. Marinewebclub says, “Let’s ALL work together”. I agree, they are focused on the dealer website, and getting traffic to the sites. I’m focused on how you convert that to revenue.

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