There are fewer dealers than in 2007 — the numbers floating around indicate about 35% or 40% fewer — and although people aren’t turning out in droves to buy boats, dealers appear to be realizing the fruits of the discipline imposed on them by what many have called the industry’s most brutal recession ever.
Soundings Trade Only reported that there has been an uptick in sales, although data show that the increase is modest — about 10% in a market that remains drastically reduced from prerecession levels.
“But I think what we don’t understand always is that’s 10% up over a market that’s got fewer dealers, so the dealers themselves are seeing greater growth individually because there’s fewer dealers to do that business,” says Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.
Prior to the recession, dealers relied heavily on new-boat sales, Gruhn adds.
“What the recession taught them was they have to profit from service, figure out a way to profit from parts or F&I or rentals. Basically, they needed to diversify,” he says. “Those who were able to do that came out of this much stronger, and the opportunities they have today are much greater than they would be if they hadn’t. I think that plays into the upside that dealers are feeling today.”
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