Part Two: Gaining buyers in this industry. [edited]

In the past year or two, there have been so many articles about who we should—as an industry
—be reaching out to as far as target buyers go. We’ve been targeting my group, the Millennials,
as if we are going to be a huge buyer in the next couple of years. Let’s face reality—we’re not
going to be.

Unfortunately—due to the excessive debts from college, other life happenstances such as
lower/same wages vs. rising cost of living, healthcare, and such—99% of Millennials don’t and
won’t have the extra income to spend on very much, let alone a boat.

So, who do we target?

Right now, the Baby Boomers are the ones buying because they have the extra funds and the
time to go boating to enjoy their investment. Generation X is right next to them, and I believe
they should be the target over Millennials for the next few years. Generation X, as a whole, is
probably the last generation that’ll be able to splurge on large recreational purchases for a
while, considering most of them should already have set up a plan for their future—through their
work or other means—that will allow them to spend, live comfortably, and save.

So, what happens next?

If we want to talk about Millennials, they are familiar with and use Uber & Lyft (taxi alternative),
AirBnB (hotel alternative), and other companies that offer a particular service for less. As a
Millennial, I believe [my] generation relies on the renter’s market. We are renting houses or
apartments, vehicles and other objects a lot more than we are buying. While attending boat
shows, I have seen more and more boat renting companies or clubs popping up, and I’ve
overheard some say that they’d rather rent a boat for the day instead of purchasing one due to
the expense of upkeep.

If you don’t want to rent, don’t just sell the boat—sell the entire experience.

If consumers really want a boat, they will find a way to be able to afford it. But, it’s not entirely up
to them… It’s up to businesses in this industry to help, especially when they don’t even know
where to start. A good example of this would be if a customer walks in with an idea of what they
are looking for, talk to several companies about financing options and what they will get with the
boat, then find out that they can’t purchase what they originally wanted. If they’re disappointed,
they’re indirectly looking for the seller to console them and turn their situation around.

I believe that the key to succeeding in the future will be to study the past and see what worked
well. To me, face to face time, conversation, building a relationship—those are the keys to
winning customers and friends for life. Let them come to trust you, your employees, and your
company.

Give the buyer an experience of a lifetime. Spend time with them. Take your future customers
out on the water for a sea-trial, find out something about them and connect. People yearn to
have stories to share, and boating is exactly for that. It is an experience that only a small portion
get to have. The buyer needs a reason to become a buyer.

If they truly can’t afford to purchase a boat, set up some sort of program with a boating club or
rental company so both of you could gain a customer. Not only does it help your company, but it
helps the rental company or club thrive as well. Sometimes an experience is worth a whole lot
more than owning something. Plus, you can always introduce them to be, live and support the
lifestyle by hiring them to work it.

Part One: The state of the Marine Industry work force. [edited]

There’s a huge thought that’s been on my mind the last few months, and after visiting IBEX, I
feel as if I need to address it. Should our main focus really be on millennials for the workforce in
our industry? I am a millennial (30 years old) and I believe we are targeting the wrong group to
fulfill our employment gap.

The millennials age group is 20-36. Most of the older millennials already have college under
their belt, a career and a family. If the younger millennials are in college for a specific career,
would it be reasonable for them to switch their major and school at that point, especially if they
are going into major debt to gain that degree?

That’s why I believe that we need to focus on Generation Z, the ones who are currently
attending Pre-K through High School (with the focus on high schoolers, obviously). All marine
companies need to get in touch with high schools and find a way to target those teens all the
way up to career and graduation day. I have read articles on industry websites where some
companies are already taking the initiative to do this very thing.

Dealerships who sell to families with kids and teens need to find some way to get them more
involved in boating (activities throughout the year), so there’s a possible interest of those
wanting to be in the industry. Not only that, but when the money is earned to make a big
purchase, they will want to spend it with you. I realize this is easier said than done, because it’s
already becoming really hard to get anyone to look away from their electronics these days, let
alone enjoy a day without it.

That’s why I feel that we need to go back to the basics of this industry—it’s all about the
experience. If provided an experience of a lifetime—with or without technology—there’s a sure
bet they’ll be hooked, and for life. Teach them to be the lifestyle.

So what about the millennials? They’ll be used for their current skills—filling roles as
administrative, general employees, marketing, sales or higher up management. However, noting
that it should never be discouraged if they wanted to become skilled technicians or something
where they would need certificates and technical training.

As an industry, we really need to reach out to the Baby Boomers and Generation X before they
retire. They are the ones who hold the most skills and knowledge. We need a program that
allows them to earn money (or some other deal) in exchange for teaching and mentoring the
new employees. For example, we could send a few master skilled techs to cover several areas
of a state to hold one-on-one private sessions, a class or a week’s long program for all younger
techs at the service departments in their assigned area. If the business has been around for
many years—there is a secret—and the key to our future lies in the wisdom of the past.

In addition, our industry would benefit greatly from those who are interested in environmental
and marine studies that keeps the water clean, the ocean animals safe, and to help the world
become more environmental friendly. It should be encouraged to partner up with students or
teachers in these roles to spread the education of fuel issues, safe fishing/boating and anything
marine related that gets looked at by the legislation.

Last but not least, I truly believe that our industry’s employment gap will be bridged if we start
getting attention from the youngest generation right from the start. Once we do that, everything
else will follow.