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Thriving in a Seasonal Industry: 3 Keys to Optimize your Boating Business All Year

Thriving in a Seasonal Industry: 3 Keys to Optimize your Boating Business All Year

Whether you are a boat dealer, marina, or boatyard you are probably familiar with the peaks and valleys of operating in a seasonal industry. According to research by Global Market Insights, Inc the recreational boating market is predicted to top $230 billion USD by 2024, with the US accounting for nearly 50% of the volume share. Many businesses in the marine industry make or break their entire year in one hectic quarter; putting management and staff under heavy pressure to deliver. Here are a few ways to make the most out of the seasonal shifts.

Evaluate Your Business Performance & Plan for Next Season

What went right? Assess your business performance and analyze the factors that contributed to this.

Staffing – Did you have enough hands-on deck to handle the fuel dock, boat show, busy launch schedule, and all the other areas your customers expect? Are they annual or seasonal hires; any individuals you relied on or did not perform as expected? Your people are important, take notes while the impressions are still fresh.

Inventory – What sold, what didn’t? Where did you see customer interest? How did your inventory differ from previous years? What’s your competition selling? Schedule your annual inventory counts so you know where to stock up.

Customer Profile – Are you seeing a new generation of customers emerge or are they more or less the same ones you’ve been serving for years? Do they have new expectations? We frequently hear dealers & marinas discuss ways to bridge the gap between millennial expectations and current business operations, something we attempt to address at DockMaster with our open API and solution partners.

Space & Materials – Are your docks in good shape? Do you need to get around to that expansion? How are your boat show booth supplies? Which boats are you featuring, which accessories will you include, what partners or suppliers will you team up with? Are there any maintenance or material upgrade that you can’t put off? Schedule them now during a seasonal shift before you get too busy again.

Spend More Time Making Meaningful Connections with Customers

After the conclusion of boat show season last year, numbers in attendance and boat sales showed record increases. Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the largest in-water boat show in the world, saw a boost in attendance by 7% last year; and Toronto International Boat Show, North America’s largest indoor boat show, also surpassed expectations in both sales and attendance. Make the most of the opportunity to promote your business!

Spend time on your online presence – kick up your social media content, update your website, consider the benefits our web-based solution partners bring, engage your customers with digital campaigns to maintain their interest & enthusiasm.

Host kickoff & branding events – Remember to promote your brand, not just your featured boats this season. Invite your customers, send tickets to your VIPs & keep track of who attends.

Make the most of your manufacturer resources – Chances are, their marketing, branding, and swag budgets are a lot more than yours. Align yourself with your network and double your chances of success.

Follow Up – Call the prospects you meet at the show & thank them for coming by, host your own events afterwards, have a clear plan in place so your sales team capitalizes on the opportunity this season.


Finally, if you are a DockMaster customer, we encourage you to share the lessons you’ve learned and ideas for the future. DockMaster’s Ideas Portal is a platform to collaborate, suggest, and vote on ideas that we use to improve our products. If you don’t have access, simply email If you are not a DockMaster customer, we still encourage you to engage with us and give us your best seasonal strategies. Please leave your feedback below. Our business in the marine industry may be seasonal, but our commitment to it is not.

– Monica Ringle