Loyalty or profits: what’s more important?


Dealership profitability or customer loyalty: which is more important? Also, major changes announced by states surrounding Lake Michigan are an example of the double-edged sword that invasive species can be to fisheries.

First, the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo 2016, slated for Dec. 5-8 in Orlando, keeps adding on-point sessions for marine dealers such as: “Which Comes First: Loyalty or Profits?” Well, when it concerns the service and parts departments in any dealership, the task is to balance the formula for success by managing both profitability and loyalty.

Consultant Valerie Ziebron is set to share insights into just how dealers can consistently raise CSI and their bottom line. Clue: It’s all about understanding how to go about balancing these two performance metrics. And, speaking of performance, consultant/trainer Ed Alosi is also scheduled to present a session on “Forecasting Net Profit” for a dealership’s service department.

Alosi claims it’s not just another job dealers must do, particularly if creating greater net profit is the goal. This session will lead attendees to greater service net profits by starting with forecasting and going all the way through growing profitability.

This year’s MDCE boasts a total of 20 education-packed track sessions; a variety of new subjects and speakers; 11 major expert-led workshops; a record 100-plus manufacturer and supplier exhibits; and attendance topping 1,000 dealers and industry leaders.

It is the largest annual conference specifically for marine dealers and I urge every dealer to attend. Advance registration has already set a new record and complete details can be found at www.mraa.com. The MDCE is produced by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating Industry magazine.

No fish tale

In a first, the four states and a tribal organization surrounding Lake Michigan announced they will cut back on key fish-stocking programs as a direct result of invasive species in the Great Lakes. Specifically, stocking of chinook (king salmon) will be reduced 27 percent in 2017 and lake trout will be reduced by 12 percent.

A chinook is a large savory silver cash attraction for sport fishermen that also prize them for their aggressive behavior on the hook. This fish native to the North Pacific Ocean was actually planted into Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in 1967 to control an invasive species, the alewife, a nuisance fish from the Atlantic Ocean that had entered the Great Lakes and led to massive alewife deaths that littered beaches in the summer. So the invading alewife provided the needed food source for salmon and lake trout, these predators controlled the invasive alewife population and an excellent sport fishery was created. It was a win-win.

But, that said, invasive species can be a double-edged sword. In this case, other invaders into the Great Lakes are the reason the cutback in stocking was announced. The states have determined the stocking reductions are needed because of a decline in the fish that salmon and trout eat, such as the alewife as well as rainbow smelt. The major slump in this food source is the direct result of another invasive species: the quagga and zebra mussels.

Basically, these prolific mussel invaders, originally native to the lakes of southern Russia, are filtering machines. They entered the Great Lakes in the ballast water of ocean-going ships. Each mussel can filter 1 liter of water per day and take out the algae and plankton that is the food the smaller fish need.

According to the announcement, further cuts are planned in 2018. The states involved are: Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and a tribal organization called the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority. While it’s hard at this point to quantify the impact such a reduction will have on sport fishermen and the businesses that serve them, it seems certain to be an immediate and, possibly, a long-term concern.


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