The Metrix System

During a down cycle in the marine industry, there are still pockets of opportunity for growth — or, at least, that’s the philosophy behind MarineMetrix, the market analysis tools developed by Washington-based consultant John Hughes.
“You can’t look at the market like it’s peanut butter spread over the whole country,” Hughes says. “For example, the ski boat market is down 10 percent, but most of that is on the West Coast. The rest of the market is fairly flat.”

Here’s how MarineMetrix works: Hughes takes the readily available boat registration data from two sources, Info-Link and Statistical Surveys, analyzes it and then provides it to clients in a form he feels is far more useful to them. (He also noted that he could take data from any other source, as well.) He slices the data in a number of ways, but the core of his product is a scalable map showing what Hughes calls a “Missed Opportunity Analysis.”

This map provides a county-by-county breakdown of how a client is doing across the United States in comparison to its competitors, shading counties where a company is doing well in one color and gradually changing to another color as missed opportunities increase. By targeting areas where they are missing the most opportunities, Hughes believes clients can pinpoint places they can be doing better business.

Hughes developed this map, and the rest of his MarineMetrix program, as a way to take advantage of marine industry data he didn’t feel was being fully utilized.

“The boating industry has phenomenal data available, but most companies don’t have the analytical horsepower to be able to use it,” Hughes notes. So far, he says, 18 boat brands have started using MarineMetrix.

One of those is MasterCraft Boat Co., which has been making use of MarineMetrix for three years. Parker Stair, MasterCraft’s Director of Sales, says the company has been using Info-Link’s data for a long time, but Hughes makes the numbers more accessible.

“His products help visualize where there is an opportunity to do better,” Stair says.
Scott Crutchfield, senior vice president at MasterCraft, agrees and says MarineMetrix does the work that used to be a time-consuming process for regional managers, who were using push pins on a map rather than computers.

“John has the freedom and the ability to spend the time doing the analysis,” Crutchfield explains, “so reps can stay busy working with dealers.”

Defining territory
The MarineMetrix analysis works by first defining territories where clients should reasonably be doing business and then determining a reasonable target market share — somewhere in the top third of dealers in their market — for them to aim at. These recommendations are based on both registrations of the client brand’s boats and those of its competitors. From there, Hughes calculates missed opportunities based how closely sales align with the target market share.
In addition to missed opportunities, MarineMetrix maps also show the locations of competitors, which Crutchfield said was helpful when they discovered a dealer in Los Angeles was losing business to a competitor 50 miles away.

“The dealer thought customers would make the drive, but we could see that they weren’t,” he says. “The map showed that. In L.A., it takes two-and-a-half hours to make a drive like that.”
In that case, MasterCraft was able to use the MarineMetrix map to help explain the situation to its dealer, who was worried his territory would be cut in half if another MasterCraft dealership opened in the area. In the end, MasterCraft ended up with another location, which Crutchfield and Stair said helped the company without hurting the original dealer.

Hughes says MarineMetrix can be helpful in working with dealers in another way — by giving manufacturers and dealers a better idea of how much inventory to stock. Again using boat registration data, it predicts the number of boats, of varying types, that will be sold during a given quarter.

“It provides dealers an incentive to stock boats to serve the local marketplace,” Hughes says.
In addition, Hughes provides a chart with every update, available quarterly, which shows a client’s growth vs. the growth of the marketplace, so they see whether MarineMetrix has improved their bottom line.

In 2004, Hughes combined his love of boating with his analytical skills when he began working with his first marine client — and MarineMetrix was born. Not long after, he made a cold call to Stair to pitch his new product, telling him he had a way of taking the data Info-Link provides and showing it in a new way. That call intrigued Stair enough to give MarineMetrix a try.

Today MasterCraft is still using
the product.

“It’s hard to win if you don’t know what the score is,” says Crutchfield. “MarineMetrix gives you a target.”

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