At the Helm: Dealer Intelligence

As our industry looks to return to growth, there seems to be one main question on the minds of everyone throughout the industry: What’s left of the dealer universe?

Ever since the downturn began, there has been chatter about dealer attrition. The reasons for their demise are many, including the lack of funding, the lack of customers, the lack of sound business practices, and the lack of additional profit centers when sales turned south. Estimates suggest that anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of the dealer body has vanished, and now the supplier community is left trying to figure out how they can fill holes in their territories.

On an annual basis, the Boating Industry Dealer Directory helps suppliers find those answers. This year, however, is different. This year, the digital database behind what is physically printed over the following pages is much larger and much more detailed than what you see here. The listings here are but a small reflection of the overall living, breathing database of the remaining living, breathing dealer body … and the respective boat and engine lines that they carry.

In the past, we’ve put together our best effort at defining the marine dealer landscape with this annual issue. This year, we compiled every single list of dealers we could find, then we purchased a number of other lists and merged them all together for a total list of more than 12,000 individual businesses. After some serious de-duping, we then attempted to contact every single dealership on the remaining list through e-mail, fax, phone and Web site research. To be included in our database, dealers needed to respond to one of our multi-channel requests for information (mail, e-mail, fax and phone) — without the response, how could we know if they were still in business?

What has resulted from this effort is the most comprehensive database of marine dealers ever created, at a time when, let’s face it, it is needed the most. In fact, we view it as moving from merely physical data on marine dealer locations to actual intelligence regarding the marine dealer body in the United States. We can slice it and dice it by boat type, boat brand, engine type and engine brand, in addition to breaking it down by city, state and zip. The options and competitive analyses are endless.

You want to know options for dealers in Gulf Shores, Ala.? You can find that here. You want to know which brands are carried in which cities in the state of Michigan? We can tell you that, too. If you want to capitalize on the fact that more than 25 percent of the dealers in this directory are looking to take on a new boat line (true statement about this list), access to this list is what you need.

For the dealers, we’re planning to continue to do what we always do — send customers your way. Soon you’ll see a searchable dealer database — not only by city and state but also by boat and engine brand — coming to our consumer boating Web sites. After all, it’s one thing for us, and the industry, to know who remains, but it’s far more important for the consumer to know … and to find you.

For more information on this comprehensive database, contact Tammy Galvin at 763-383-4411 or email:

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