Q&A: Budgeting for growth

Boating Industry editors spoke to Travis and Cathy Hayes, co-owners of Hayes Marine in Appling, Ga., about their perspective on the year ahead.

Boating Industry: How do you expect the boating industry to perform in 2011?

We are staffing and budgeting for a 15- to 20-percent increase in overall revenue, including new and used boat sales and service. Three weeks into January, the phone is ringing. The shop has plenty of work. We have sold or have deals pending on every used boat on the lot. And we are even quoting some new 2011 boats. These are great signs for us! We have started a pontoon rental business, and we have even taken reservations for spring break and the 4th of July. I am keeping a close eye on expenses (they are creeping up a bit), but margins are improving 1- to 1.5-percent faster than expenses. In short, we are looking for a good year!

Boating Industry: What is the mindset of today’s consumer, and how should the boating industry respond to that mindset to find success in today’s economy?

The consumer is looking for the best value for their money. We are seeing more folks wanting to get into boating, or trade into a new or different types of boats. But they are shopping hard and finding the right type of boat at their price (or budget). We are seeing the customer hold firm to their budget. The business should be honest with the customer, get them in the right boat. If the customer’s price is $25K, don’t sell them a boat that is too small, and underpowered. Do the right thing: get them into that used boat, help them have a good experience and keep them in boating for life.

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