The recent news that a website providing consumers with dealer invoice pricing on new boats, powersports products and RVs will soon launch, drew a swift response from the Marine Retailers Association of America. MRAA President Phil Keeter said the site has the potential to hurt dealers’ profit margins just as the industry is once again finding its footing in the wake of the recession.
A spokesman for the site, which was founded by former marine executives Jack Malone of Mercury and Dave Taylor of U.S. Marine, told Boating Industry last week that the site was expected to go live in about five days. As this is written, it does not appear to have yet done so.
According to a press release, the site is intended to “provide a clearinghouse of information for consumers researching a purchase.” Leads generated by the site will reportedly be offered to manufacturers and dealers, and the site will sell advertising space to manufacturers, dealers and other companies.
The industry’s reaction to the news has been largely negative. Keeter said he has heard from 25 boat builders opposed to the site, and many dealers have already voiced their opposition as well.
A quick tour through the boating blogosphere shows that consumer reaction has been mixed. Predictably, some boaters said they would like to have the information and would find it useful during the negotiating process. Others recognized the impact it could have on dealerships.
And one man, who said he had owned a boat dealership for 20 years, had this to say: “I think when the consumer finds out how much most boat dealers are NOT MAKING they'll actually understand/appreciate the dealer's business model better. When the consumer is presented with the numbers and they see that there simply isn't a lot of movement available when the gross profit margin is 20% on most boats and there is no service follow up revenue stream and very little in the way of body work and accident repair which is where most auto dealers make money they will hopefully understand that it is the boat sale itself that the dealer depends on to keep the doors open and pay a salesman. Add on the high overhead marina areas face for real estate and the flooring costs and unsophisticated invoicing system the marine industry uses, it will be clear to anyone with any business sense that there is little or no money in the business of selling boats.”
We would like to hear your thoughts on this new site. Please leave a comment below.