There are numerous philosophies available to tell you how to manage your inventory. But where the prop hits the water, you need results, not theories.
The marine industry’s problems with managing inventory have never been more evident than they are today. And the prevailing philosophies and theories that we, as an industry, have subscribed to for decades have proven to not hold water.
Today, there’s great talk of what the future of the marine industry may look like. We’ve found ourselves in the midst of such a horrible inventory glut that leaders in many camps believe that our distribution systems will need to be entirely overhauled. While their opinions may be relevant, we know that at the very least, we as an industry need to manage our current systems better.
It’s rare to encounter a dealer out there who hasn’t found themselves in an uncomfortable, if not altogether threatening inventory situation. Even if that’s not you, available credit and the climbing floor-plan rates don’t discriminate. They’ve affected everyone.
For you, as a dealer, your opportunities may never have been more clear. It’s obvious that what we’re doing now isn’t working, and we need to develop a new approach. As one dealer told us so succinctly, “This is the same game, but the rules have changed. Dealers who refuse to change with it may not survive.”
Today, it’s time to take control of the future of your business. Inventory will take you down if you don’t manage it properly, and the good news is, there is a definite method to its madness. There’s a little-known, yearlong process by which you could and should manage your inventory. And had you been strictly following this process for the past few years, you would find yourself in a much better place.
The bits and pieces of this inventory puzzle are no secret, especially to those savvy dealers who have performed well with their inventory management. What we believe to be little-known, however, are the combined efforts of the plan. These efforts represent a compilation of the best-of-the-best steps that the industry’s leading dealers, the Top 100 Dealers, use to find success.
The interesting thing to note here is that, for the most part, even with these elite dealers, only a handful of the components are used by any one of them. One dealer, for example, may focus on two or three pieces of this program. Another may use four or five. But rarely did we see a dealer using more than five of these steps. That suggests to us that the marine industry has a long way to go in managing its inventory.
While we have merely itemized the steps in the list to follow, you can view the list and a detailed description of the steps within each step in our recently created e-white paper titled “How to Effectively Manage Your Inventory,” published in partnership with Manheim Boat Auctions. This white paper, which contains 14 expert-authored articles and a number of inventory-related best practices, is available for download by visiting www.boatingindustry.com and selecting the E-White Papers link on the left-hand nav bar.
So without further adieu, here is an overview of the list, which was gleaned from more than 1,000 Top 100 Dealer applications. And remember, in any dealer’s inventory management program, there is room for more than merely these 16 items. And there are certainly some unique initiatives out there that can add to your inventory success. Whatever elements you choose, we have seen that the more of these 16 steps that you can include in your arsenal, the better you will perform.
1. Do your research.
2. Set inventory goals.
3. Forecast for success.
4. Set sales goals.
5. Use a proven inventory tracking system.
6. Monitor in real time.
7. Walk your lot daily.
8. Hold sales meetings.
9. Hold manager meetings.
10. Manage your leads.
11. Compare results to past performance.
12. Start promotions earlier.
13. Incentivize your team to move
14. Be creative with packaging sales deals.
15. Rotate inventory.
16. Adjust as necessary.