By Mike Davin, online editor, Boating Industry magazine — We highlighted an interesting article from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in our e-newsletter the other day. The article reported on the difficult decision facing Florida's Manatee Technical Institute, which is weighing whether to cut its boat-building curriculum.
I thought it was interesting because of the dilemma it presented: There are no jobs for the boat-building graduates the school wants to see employed, which is why it is considering canceling the program. But if the class is canceled and stops producing skilled workers, employers will have less reason to locate in the area, further depressing the local job market and potentially hurting the future of boat-building in the area. So, do you train students for jobs that don't exist, or stop training students and risk eliminating the jobs permanently?
Today's economy has led to all sorts of tough decisions with seemingly no good alternatives. Decreased revenue and consumer bases mean marine dealers need to cut back on expenses; but cut too deep and you might just trim the things that made you successful in the first place: great service, strong marketing, convenient hours, knowledgeable staff, etc.
After cutting the fat, the choice sometimes still seems to be between maintaining spending at unsustainable levels or slicing into some of the core values of the business. Fun decision.
Good businesses are able to find a balance between the two extremes, and on this blog, we've made some pitches for what we think is important for a successful transition, including retaining the right people, getting creative with your marketing, and setting a tone for customer service, among other things.
You've heard from us, but much of what we’ve learned about success in the marine industry has come from you, our readers. So, if you have a chance to comment, we'd love to hear what you think is important to remember when trying to find the right balance for a business in a tough economy. What is essential to hold onto as your business cuts back? Is there some topic you’d like to see us explore further on this blog?