The pandemic has delivered an unexpected influx of new boating families to our ranks, a trend showing no signs of slowing. With production facilities running at full steam and builders facing bottlenecks in the supply chain, the industry is doing all it can to keep up with demand.
However, to paraphrase a well-worn expression — those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Statistics show that we’ll see more than 40 percent of new boaters drop out of the lifestyle within the first 5 years of ownership.
It’s a major industry concern: an increased focus is needed to keep them anticipating their next boat. After all, for every dealer is far cheaper to sell an existing customer than find a replacement.
So, what do these new boaters — and boaters in general — most want to know these days? Some good answers come from a BoatUS survey that revealed the top 10 most-watched videos in their collection for 2020.
1. How To Trim Your Boat (using outboard engine)
2. How To Fix Spider Cracks, Hairline Cracks, and Crazing in Boat Gelcoat (on any surface)
3. How To Repair Boat Gelcoat (dings, scratches and gauges on flat surfaces)
4. How To Dock a Boat In 4 Simple Steps (sterndrive or outboard power boats)
5. Boat Anchoring Made Simple (power-driven vessels)
6. How to Get A Boat On Plane Using Engine Trim (using outboard engine or trim tabs)
9. Beaching Your Boat So You Can Leave Again (outboard power vessels)
Seven out of the 10 videos deal with successfully operating the boat, with #2 and #3 pointing to perhaps some bumper boating; #10 is a head-scratcher! But the vast majority lead to an obvious lesson — today’s dealer must have a policy of personnel taking whatever time is necessary for thorough hands-on teaching with each customer.
It’s not rocket science to do everything possible to make sure each customer gets the enjoyable boating experience we promise, he or she needs to know how to comfortably operate the boat.
Remember, in every one of our ads and sales pitches we promise our boats will deliver a great on-water experience and we need to do whatever it takes to make that a reality.
Swipe Fees Rising
Another concern for dealers is the expected increase in credit card swipe fees this spring.
Next month, your banker may call with news that Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. are raising the swipe fees for at least some types of credit-card purchases, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Better known as interchange fees in industry parlance, the system has long been a serious bone of contention for retailers and card companies. The fees, unilaterally set by the card networks, have always been grossly higher than the known true cost of handling any interchange. Dealers, marina operators and others in our industry pay them to the card-issuing banks, of course. But the overall fees aren’t necessarily uniform and have never reflected the true low cost of the interchange.
Moreover, consumers are increasing their use of credit cards, now boasting rewards incentives as banks fiercely compete for users. The end game is simple — more revenue for banks by squeezing it out of retailers.