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Boatbuilders won’t cooperate with dealer-cost website

Brunswick Boat Group and Seminole Marine Group are among the manufacturers that have said they will not work with a new website that is expected to provide consumers with dealer cost information.

The site - www.seedealercost.com or www.paydealercost.com - said it is similar to sites in the automotive market in that it is not a selling site. It provides information, including features (standards, options), specifications and pricing.

The pricing included in the site is both MSRP and invoice, according to a release from the company. In addition to product and pricing information, site users will have access to articles, a dealer search, a quote request (from participating manufacturers and their dealers) and used-boat values.

The site is expected to launch later this week, a spokesman recently told Soundings Trade Only.

"Brunswick has been approached by [Pay Dealer Cost] and has decided not to participate in or provide information to PDC at this time. We will be monitoring the development of PDC and will actively seek input from our dealers to determine what role, if any, we should play going forward," Brunswick Boat Goup president Andrew Graves said in a letter to dealers.

"We want to make you aware of this website so you can prepare for the possibility of consumers referring to dealer invoice pricing listed on this site," he added. "It is unclear what assumptions consumers will make about the information. Because this is a new point of research for consumers, now may be a good time to discuss with your sales team the response you provide when this issue is raised by a consumer."

In a letter to its dealers, Seminole Marine Group, which makes Sailfish and SouthWind boats, expressed concerns about the site.

"A new website, called paydealercost or seedealercost, which is directed at giving the boating consumer dealer cost information, is scheduled to launch in the upcoming weeks. Seminole Marine Group/Sailfish and SouthWind Boats has taken a direct stand against providing any dealer cost information for this website," company officials said in a letter.

"We will in no way participate in any effort to provide pricing and we ask that our dealer network do the same," they said, adding that they have approached the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Show Management and other boat show organizers, asking them not to allow the website to exhibit at shows.

See Dealer Cost has not booked space in any NMMA show, the association said.

"Given what we know about the site, if it is successful it's likely there would need to be a shift in how manufacturers work with their dealers on pricing models," the NMMA told Soundings Trade Only. "If the website is not providing accurate information, that could be problematic. However, what is good for the consumer is good for the industry in the long run. Only time will tell."

Dealers and others in the industry have decried the proposed site, saying it will hurt their businesses.

The Marine Retailers Association of America previously sent an alert to its members about the site, saying it was a "potentially onerous situation to your business as a marine retailer." It identified the site's founders as two former marine executives - Jack Malone of Mercury and Yamaha and Dave Taylor of U.S. Marine.

Soundings Trade Only received more than 40 comments from industry personnel about the site. Most of them opposed its launch.

"I cannot imagine one manufacturer, or one dealer, in this industry supporting the 'seedealercost.com' effort. There is absolutely no upside to this for anyone trying to make a living building or selling boats. After several years of gut-wrenching downsizing, layoffs and financial losses, our industry is far too fragile to fend off an assault like this," dealer Larry Russo Sr. wrote on Trade Only Today.

"Neither of these 'former marine executives' have ever had to make a living selling boats at retail," he added. "They have no clue as to what it takes to manage a business. They are launching this business to make a profit. Their profit will come at our expense. All we need to do to overcome this matter is conduct 'business as usual.' Ignore their attempts to gather sensitive, confidential data. Without information, their business will never get off the ground."

— Beth Rosenberg

b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

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