IMBC 2013: Focus on turning optimism into action

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"If you're here at the International Marina & Boatyard Conference in 2013, you’ve got to be a little bit of an optimist," American Marina Institute president Jim Frye president said Thursday at the opening of the conference in Fort Lauderdale.

Business guru Jim Spence, author of “Awesomely Simple: Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas into Action,” delivered some of the tools for turning that optimism into action in the keynote address at the city’s convention center.

Spence said the formula for business success is talent plus company culture plus extreme customer focus times disciplined execution. Talent is people who have a good attitude, a high level of competence and an aptitude for the work. The company culture should nurture a work force that is engaged, enjoying its work, proactive, creative and committed.

“I want [people] with an ownership mentality,” he said.

Extreme customer focus means settling for nothing less than the highest-quality goods and services, and customer relationships.

Spence said it’s vital to listen to customers and deliver exactly what they want and expect in key areas — nothing less — so that word will get out: This is the marina where you want to keep your boat or the yard where you want it fixed.

Every business must have a vision and a strategy, but no matter how good those are they won’t produce results unless they are effectively communicated to your employees and executed in a disciplined and effective way, Spence said. He said that just 10 to 15 percent of companies effectively translate vision into action.

Steve Murdoch, a professor of sociology at Rice University, told attendees that every company’s vision should factor in demographics, which “is changing everything” in our society, including our business plans.

By 2050, a little more than 30 percent of Americans will be Hispanic, and for the first time non-Hispanic whites will be a minority of the population — about 47 percent.

“There will be more Hispanics in most age groups than non-Hispanic whites,” Murdoch said.

Today Hispanics are a quarter less likely than non-Hispanic whites to be anglers. That has to change for the marine industry to ride this demographic wave. Murdoch said marine companies — like those in most industries — have been slow to develop effective strategies to market products and services to Hispanics (something more than posting a sign saying, “Se habla espanol.”).

“The reality of it is, your future success is tied to the Hispanic population,” Murdoch said.

There will be another report from the IMBC in Trade Only Today on Monday. A more detailed report will appear in the March edition of Soundings Trade Only.

— Jim Flannery

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