Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame:
Galati Yacht Sales – Anna Maria, Fla.
Gordy’s Lakefront Marine – Lake Geneva, Wis.
Legendary Marine – Destin, Fla.
MarineMax – Clearwater, Fla.
OneWater Marine Holdings – Buford, Ga.
Prince William Marine – Woodbridge, Va.
The Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame recognizes dealers who have won the coveted Dealer of the Year award twice. These companies support the Top 100 program through their continued excellence and growth. In this annual feature, we highlight best practices from each of the Hall of Fame dealers.
Successfully managing inventory has always been a challenging task, and even more so when considering the potential of a possible future down market.
This year, we’re asking our Top 100 Hall of Fame dealers to address two forward-looking questions. The first query deals with inventory management issues.
Boating Industry also turned to its go-to group of experts for future insight on dealing with a downturn or recessionary cycle.
Strike an orderly balance
“These two questions are interesting together, because what seems to be an inventory management issue these past few years is really something a bit different,” says Gordy’s Lakefront Marine Owner Steele Whowell.
Manufacturers have stepped up production and dealers are ordering heavy, but what happens when the economy turns again?
Whowell suggests ordering enough inventory to support a growth strategy, but at the same time, not putting the dealership at risk. “One thing we try to remember are the lessons learned from the recession in 2008,” Whowell says. “To get through that downturn, we had to look very hard at every area of the business and run very lean and efficient. It’s easy to lose your discipline and let things go. We believe it is critical to not forget the lessons learned and have a disciplined approach to running your business in good times and bad.”
Monitor all buying trends
The industry continues to evolve as its recovers from the economic changes from the last several years, says Prince William Marine Sales Owner Carlton Phillips.
“In regards to inventory management, we feel a big issue is keeping up with buying trends in specific markets and knowing what works in your area,” he says.
Quarterly reviews of inventory and customer interest also helps Prince William Marine Sales stay on top of current trends.
“Taking inventory from a manufacturer on product that is not good for your area will hurt everyone as it ages; you have to stock what works in your area not what they want you to stock,” he adds. “You have to monitor the weather, social trends and economic indicators when managing your inventory.”
Phillips predicts another downturn; for dealers, he advises keeping a sharp eye on the lending industry, the RV industry, the car industry, and the housing industry for changes.
Search for a stocking strategy
The yacht segment is in a different position today when compared with the last downturn, says Galati Yacht Sales Vice President Darren Plymale.
“Our new vessel inventory is less than half today than at the peak prior to the financial crisis, partly by design and partly because of our builders’ capacity to deliver inventory to the field,” Plymale says.
Many safeguards are in place to ensure today’s dealers do not endure another industry crisis; however, Plymale says dealing with another catastrophic economic event would be extremely challenging for the industry as whole.
Right boat, right time philosophy
“Inventory is the life blood of the operation,” says MarineMax Chief Revenue Officer Chuck Cashman.
Cashman says inventory management at MarineMax starts with a “right boat, at the right place, at the right time” philosophy and builds from there.
MarineMax is fortunate to have a large enough geographical footprint that the company usually has a group of stores “in season” which allows it to smooth out manufactures’ production, Cashman explains. “We have seen through several downturns that people’s passion for boating doesn’t go away, and they still boat. Expense control is absolutely essential in a downturn.”
Review key indicator trajectories
In a deal combining two of the leading boat dealers in North America, Singleton Marine Group and Legendary Marine joined forces to create OneWater Marine Holdings.
Now, almost five years later, OneWater has joined Legendary Marine in the Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame.
COO Anthony Aisquith says OneWater reviews a number of items on a monthly basis. “We review our recent sales trajectory by make and model, and our 60-day projected sales by make and model, as well as our on-hand inventory by make and model,” he says. This enables OneWater to react to economic conditions sooner rather than later.