A blurry vision and other random thoughts

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This is a great time of year. It’s a point when the boating business typically slows down enough to allow time to reflect on thoughts and ideas that, while not earth-shaking, might be helpful going forward. Here are three purely random things worth thinking about:

Is your vision blurry? When we think of having a vision for our dealership, we can easily get hung up on thinking we should be seeing something big and grand. But a realistic vision can be boiled down to clearly answering five questions:

  • As a business, what are we doing?
  • Why are we doing what we do?
  • How are we getting it done?
  • Are we as successful as we should be?
  • Where do we want to go from here?

The entire dealership team should have a commonly understood answer to these questions. If we find they don’t, the vision in your shop is blurry. Only when the whole team “owns” the answers to the five questions can we know our vision is clear.

Who knows you best? Looking for helpful advice for our dealership is just smart management. And there are two sources that know us best – our customers and the sales reps who call on us. In the former case, regularly surveying a random sampling of our customers can reveal the truth about where we’re good or not. Relying on “internal reflection” alone can be fool’s gold – it won’t tell us all we should know. But asking our customers most likely will.

In the case of reps, they are a frequently untapped source of good information. After all, unlike us at the dealership level, reps from the boat or engine companies, for example, get around, see much more and can be excellent resources for ideas both good and bad that they have actually witnessed. Good reps understand their success is dependent on your success, so take the time you have with them to mine ideas they have seen work or fail elsewhere.

What’s the right sales pitch? There’s no cookie-cutter answer to this one, of course. But which pitch do you think worked better for the salesman hawking replacement windows: (a) “Replacing your windows will save you money” or (b) “You’re losing money by not replacing your windows.”

Both are saying exactly the same thing – replace your windows – right? But the salesman will likely be more effective using (b), according to behavioral economists. They call it “loss aversion,” and they contend we fear the immediate loss of things in a much stronger way than the desire or prospect for future gains. In fact, they’ve documented we feel the “agony of defeat” (i.e. losing something) about twice as much as the “thrill of winning.” It’s somewhat instinctive to flee from losses, they contend.

Obviously, applying “loss aversion” in selling marine products would call for caution. We normally want to be thinking about the increased pleasure they’ll be getting from a purchase. Still, when it comes to repowering, as one example, the newest engine technology will certainly back up a salesman’s claim that the customer is losing money by running the older and less efficient engine. Perhaps the same could be true for a new-versus-older hull design. Or how about the angler who could be losing fish without the latest 3-D super-HD fishfinder? Well, it’s something to think about anyway.

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