Collaboration: The better option

Tough times have a way of either pulling people and companies together or splitting them apart. While both can be beneficial when they occur for the right reasons, collaboration has the potential to deliver much more dramatic results.

liz3As you may have guessed, trade magazines like ours are adjusting to the downturn right along with the industries we serve. As our company has tightened its belt, the Boating Industry staff has been asked to work much more closely with Affinity Group's sibling publications. In fact, I just returned from a trip to Pittsburgh last night, where I was interviewing a Honda motorcycle, ATV and PWC dealer for Powersports Business magazine.

Tough times have a way of either pulling people and companies together or splitting them apart. While both can be beneficial when they occur for the right reasons, collaboration has the potential to deliver much more dramatic results. When you bring together previously separate entities, each with their own unique capabilities and resources, the outcome tends to be much greater than their sum.

That has certainly been the case for Boating Industry. In writing for a different magazine, I've had a chance to learn about topics, such as the Red Flags Rule, that I wouldn't have encountered at Boating Industry, but which apply to marine businesses nonetheless. And I've had a chance to get to know innovative businesses like West Hill Honda that are adopting strategies boat dealers can learn from.

The industry has some great examples of collaboration, too. Take the "Global Marine Alliance" created by Delta "T" Systems, Sea-Fire Marine and Marine Exhaust Systems. Through this collaboration, the three companies are joining forces for boat and trade shows, marketing, sales, warehousing, distribution and technical support. Not only are they saving a ton of money while maintaining a much bigger presence than they could afford on their own, they're sharing knowledge, strategies and customers that have strengthened all of them.

Similarly, Composites One, Magnum Venus Plastech, RTM North and FormaShape have created what they call the "Closed Mold Alliance," aimed at converting manufacturers to closed mold manufacturing. Together, they offer manufacturers closed mold education and consultation, customized tooling education and production, materials and equipment, as well as in-house start-up assistance and training.

Collaboration isn't just for manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, however. It's for all sectors. Over the past year, we've heard stories of dealers exchanging inventory online, sharing salespeople during boat shows, conducting joint marketing campaigns and creating new events together. In addition, dealers are joining up with companies and organizations from other industries to target prospects with similar demographic profiles, from car dealerships and jewelry stores to restaurants and event promoters.

Yet another example comes from the businesses all along the supply chain that are working more closely with their customers than ever before. Manufacturers are adjusting their ordering practices to help their suppliers survive the downturn. And boat builders are opening their minds and their wallets to embrace innovative retail marketing programs.

Could your company benefit from collaboration? There's no doubt in my mind. It starts by opening your mind. Ask yourself with which companies and organizations in your community or sector of the industry you have needs, costs or customers in common. Then, evaluate each to determine whether you both could benefit from sharing expenses, resources or information. Finally, it's time to take the first step and ask for a meeting. In today's economy, there are few groups that can afford not to explore such opportunities.

Has your company explored opportunities for collaboration inside or outside the industry? We invite you to share your story by commenting on this blog.

One comment

  1. I have learned the tremendous benefits of networking and collaberation in solving problems and learning better ways to do things. I am committed to this industry and my website marineindustry.org is my attempt at a marine industry united.

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