I was recently forwarded an e-mail discussion between two dealers, both of which said that the government’s Cash for Clunkers program was hurting their marine sales. One suggested marine manufacturers look into a similar program that would lure boaters into upgrading to newer models.
The marine industry has been working hard to take advantage of stimulus programs originally intended for the auto industry, from GE’s participation in TALF and many dealers’ attempts to secure floorplan financing through the new SBA program to dealers’ adoption of promotions similar to Hyundai Assurance. It remains to be seen, however, whether any of them will benefit our industry the way we’d like them to. Will investors buy up GE’s government backed securities? Will banks be convinced to take a risk on the SBA’s marine floorplan program? Will nervous consumers be sufficiently reassured by the marine dealer version of Assurance?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know we must keep working to find new ways to overcome today’s market conditions, whether we borrow ideas from other industries or come up with our own.
The marine industry has its fair share of clunkers too. And the industry’s most savvy dealers have been enticing boat owners to turn in their old boats and consider new ones for quite a while. But whether your dealership has been focused on the pre-owned boat market all along or is taking a serious look for the first time, this is one of the best opportunities to retain decent margins now and for the foreseeable future. That means it’s also a ripe opportunity for those manufacturers with a long-term outlook who are searching for innovative and effective ways to help their dealers and themselves.
What strategies have been successful for your business in overcoming today’s market conditions? Share your story by commenting below.