Boat Show Girl is making a comeback!! 

Aloha Everyone!

I’m back! I’m back! (Sort of – but mostly – I’m back!) 

Everything has changed since my last post. I am so pleased to say—after about 2 months from middle of April to the middle of June—I am back in the industry working with a different company. It’s a smaller company, I get to do a variety of things, and they love boat shows. So I’m ecstatic about that last part. I’m only part time there, which allows me to do a plethora of different things. I’m way less stressed and a lot more happy than I’ve been in a while.

I have also decided that it is going to be a permanent part of my BoatShowGirl schedule to take a break around April/May to July/August. There might be a few times where I’ll give updates, but that’s about it, especially since all the main shows are in the spring and fall.

The reason for my break is that the other half of my life belongs to my love of performing arts (writing, theatre, music, art) and I am heavily into theatre right now. We just finished our summer show that happens every year and it took 99% of my free time, but it’s the funnest and it’s my favorite. Plus, it’s the only show out of our full season of plays that I get to work with at least 40 different people.

There’s also a positive spin in all of this. I have a business partner from another job I’m doing, and he loves the water as well, so I sort of have a boat show partner (finally). I think it’s his plan to keep me walking the straight line where I can hit my true potential with this brand.

The guys at World of Boating really wants me to do something with a uniform, and I do plan on doing that…finally….this year.

I’ve been catching up with Trade Only Today and Boating Industry after taking this break, and wow, the news I have been reading!!!

Yamaha buys Bennett Marine

Volvo buys Seven Marine

Malibu buys Cobalt

I mean. I really don’t know what to say. In one point, it’s worrying me that these buys are happening, and in another it’s like are they in trouble and these companies with more money are rescuing them? Essentially, we just lost 3 individual companies in this industry because each one is merging with another.

How’s this going to effect the market now? How will the brand be able to continue being the brand? Will everything be restructured? Will these brands that’s being acquired just disappear?

There’s so many questions! What do you guys think about this news?

Reinventing your 2017 Marketing Plan

(First posted on MarineMarketingTools.com)

It’s almost the end of December, the holidays will be here and gone before we know it, and what we’ll be left with is a brand new year which means a brand new start. Out with the old, and in with the new.

A new president will be taking the helm in 2017—and, just like every election year—it brings an unsurety of how things are going to go overall in our country. The biggest question for the marine industry is what kind of an impact will President-elect Trump make both locally and globally?

It is now what you can consider the quiet time in our industry, and that’s when we should rethink our marketing strategies. Find out what worked, what didn’t, and really improve on that—keeping in mind the concerns addressed throughout the year. Throughout this year, BoatingIndustry.com and TradeOnlyToday.com had a lot of great articles of what we should be focusing on for the future of our industry.

Here are some ideas to help out with your 2017 marketing plan:

  • Take a look at Boating Industry’s Top 100 dealers. Study the top 10 companies and the best in class, see what they’re doing that makes them successful, and take notes.
  • Make sure your company has a mission statement–and revisit it every year. If you have one, are you doing everything that your mission statement says?
  • At boat shows: find a way to let your old and new customers have an experience. Don’t just sell to them. Find out their story of boating, become personable–then sell.
  • Salespeople: when you sell a boat, do not let that be the last time you talk to them. Contact them regularly to ask about how everything is going in their life, and then, find your way to asking if everything is okay with their new boat. If there are problems, find out immediately, and correct them.
  • During the year have a few events that would attract families, especially kids and teens because they are our future. Hook them from the beginning, so they’ll become interested in boating.
  • Reach out to boat rental companies and clubs to see if you can have an event together for marketing purposes, and introduce non-boaters/non-owners to this boating world.
  • Do a little research who your core customers are in your area and check out the demographics. Are your customers mostly baby boomers, gen Xers, or millennials? People who fish or just go out on the boat to have fun? That’ll help out a bit with making sure your dealership targets the right people. If you target to the wrong people, you will miss your mark.
  • Embrace new technology and ways of doing things.
  • And last, but not least, be innovative.

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.

The moment when Bass Pro Shops buys Cabela’s.

In the last week or two, it was released to the world that Bass Pro Shops is buying Cabela’s.

As soon as I heard this news I was like, “UH OH. This can’t be good.” Was I the only one that thought that way?

The second thing that popped in my mind was, “There goes someone’s mom&pop start up dream.” But then again, both of these stores are now corporate–once they become that–it’s a whole other game. You no longer are that one store in one location and it’s fair game from there on.

I’m reading around several articles that nothing will change–at least at the beginning and both stores will remain both stores–but we all know that once all of this kicks in there will be changes. There will always be changes at that point.

Should we, as an industry, start comparing the non-dealership retail stores to clothing retail stores? When you add the other places like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Field & Stream, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s — Could you see them fighting like JC Penny’s or Sears or even Macy’s? If you follow retail news, you saw what has happened so far and is currently happening with those shops right now. Majority of them are taking a huge hit and are closing. Their traditional methods of getting people in the door are too stale, and aren’t changing much, and when they do change, the people aren’t responsive. I already see that the future in the retail world is going to be in trouble as we already have so many different corporate stores that are exactly the same and there are so many within small distances of each other (grocery stores, drug stores, clothing stores). By looking around, each state has a certain number of sporting goods stores, including West Marine.

I really think it goes back to… the way a store targets their market to keep their customer’s attention, who the competition is, and how they are serving their customers differently than the other companies. When new–it is easy to get someone’s attention to try your product if there’s something in it for them. You can entice them to keep trying your brand. However, it’s extremely hard to get them to switch over to yours if they have had a trusted brand they’ve relied on for years.

know that the set up is differently for both Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s, but if you don’t know the shops individually, you would probably think both of the stores are the same anyway. So maybe this was eventually going to happen, especially if their target market is basically the same and their mission statements go hand in hand? I’ve read some people prefer Bass Pro over Cabela’s, so that’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future. With those customers and with the shop sales overall.