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An open letter to outboard manufacturers

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It’s time for the outboard manufacturers to stop charging their dealers to sell their products. Times have changed, and with sales at a new industry low, my dealership, for one — I know I'm not alone — has had to adapt by cutting costs in every way possible.

It does not feel like a "partnership" situation to be charged a fee just to do business online. You are spending less on staff and penalizing the dealers to do so. We sell and service five brands of outboards. That’s somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 a year of “fees” that could go toward efforts to stay in business, perhaps stock your parts, send our techs to schools, buy the "special tools" that we are required to have collecting dust in our shops, or advertise your products.

We try to make your brands respected by properly representing them with quality service. There will be less and less outboard dealers to charge that average $60 or more monthly "fee" for the “privilege” of selling and servicing your products in the near future.

Seems to me that with the sales programs weighted toward big dealers, the seemingly accepted — and sometimes encouraged — sales of "backdoor" motors, which are killing our profits on legitimately purchased inventory, you might consider giving your dealers a break. Unless you don’t want to have small dealerships.

There will be no one there to replace many of your faltering dealers with for some time to come. Consumers tend to purchase what they can get serviced locally. Might be time to appreciate what you have and treat us as true business partners instead of profit centers.

Marc Grove
President, Wefing's Marine
Apalachicola, Fla.

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