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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. But going by the numbers, there is ample opportunity to grow your boating business all year. 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 percent 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. But in order to get a competitive advantage, more savvy marina professionals spend the other three-quarters of the year assessing the company’s performance and planning how to make the most of that seasonal revenue window when it opens again the following year. They won’t have much time for that kind of activity when a marina’s in full swing.

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. Just because your operation is relatively idle during the off-season doesn’t mean you should be. It’s a perfect time to tweak strategies that went well, alter those that didn’t and even look at ramping up new campaigns ready to kick in by the time your marina swings into top gear.

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? And what’s going to hit the market soon that might be a boon to your business? 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. Assessing the changing market and the faces of your customers over time is important, because inherent in every generational shift is a new way of doing business. Be prepared for that.

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. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the largest in-water boat show in the world, attracted more than 110,000 enthusiasts, roughly five percent more than in 2018. Meanwhile, the Toronto International Boat Show, North America’s largest indoor boat show, is also enjoying a steady annual increase in attendance, including a surprising 33 percent spike in patrons catching the event’s preview night. 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. Remember that each social media platform is used differently when it comes to interacting with your clients and attracting new customers. And to keep your business focus in high gear, make sure your management software system is upgraded to the hilt, and even consider additional training to better understand the functions on that system, should the busy season require you to use elements that previously may not have been familiar to you.

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 higher than yours. Align yourself with your manufacturing 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.

Share – Sharing is a give and take process in the marine industry. Attend classes, engage in seminars when possible and form connections with those in the industry. A great opportunity to do so is by attending DockMaster’s annual User Conference this November.

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 ideas@dockmaster.com. 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.

DockMaster Software is an industry leading management system for marinas, boatyards, and boat dealerships. DockMaster includes Unit Sales, Prospecting and F&I with fully integrated financial management and numerous integrations with CRM applications, dealer websites and text/messaging services. The Service module includes estimating, labor tracking, and complete parts management with ordering/receiving, subcontractor fulfillment and invoicing. DockMaster Mobile allows technicians to clock on/off jobs from any mobile device. Visual Marina™ management includes storage & billing, occupancy tracking, reservations and dry stack management, including integrations to leading consumer applications for boat rentals, online reservations, concierge/launch scheduling and our new Fuel Integration with FuelCloud. DockMaster also includes Point of Sale, Order Entry with eCommerce and a complete accounting system. Learn more at www.DockMaster.com and follow DockMaster on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn. Or email info@dockmaster.com