Times dictate new sales approaches

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The recent announcements by Bass Pro Shops and MarineMax, or news that 37 dealers are raising the “Boaters Edge” flag, are sure signs that some dealers are embracing the old maxim -- “you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results” -- and all dealers need to be thinking about it.

Specifically, for example, last week retail giants Bass Pro Shops and MarineMax announced they were teaming up to present the “Great American Boat Sale” (on now thru June 15.) It’s true these two go head-to-head in some areas, but upon careful reflection it appears they found they actually compliment each other in far more ways than they compete, according to Glenn Sandridge, MarineMax V.P. of Marketing. So, right now, there are Trackers at MarineMax and Sea Rays at Bass Pro Shops. Who would have predicted it? But it makes real sense because it can enable each to accomplish more together than they could separately.

That’s also the thinking behind the new “Boaters Edge” program, albeit this concept is a longer term marketing coalition. In this one, 37 independent dealers in 15 states have united for marketing purposes to become “Boater’s Edge” dealers (www.boatersedge.com). Reportedly 2 years in development, the “Boaters Edge” branding is actually under the auspices of the Boat Dealers’ Alliance in Chapin, SC.

President of the Boater’s Edge group is Mike Hebert, Texas Marine. He said such benefits as priority service, bow-to-stern extended service contracts, certified pre-owned extended warranty, competitive retail financing and learn how-to-boat educational seminars are some of the plans included in the Boater’s Edge program. The “Boaters Edge” dealers represent about 70 brands and, coincidentally, all the dealerships are also Marine Industry Certified.

Both these cases give us cause to stop and focus on the fact that, in these difficult times, new alliances and coalitions aimed at increasing sales can and should be explored. Initially, nothing should be ruled out -- all things should be considered possible, witness the MarineMax - Bass Pro joint effort. Moreover, such opportunities may not always be with just other dealer(s). A cooperative marketing strategy or special event could be with virtually any other business that can also attain more by teaming up than could be achieved individually. Now is the time to be open to new marketing and promotional partners.

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