September '15

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rv-pro.com SEPTEMBER 2015 • RV PRO • 117 "We know there are trends in southeast Idaho as to when people are going to buy. It always stays within a few percentage points. We know that January to February is very slow, and October through December; it's always a five-month slow period when we want to have the least amount of merchandise on the lot. Then we want to ramp up for the peak season. "Part of that is being aggressive in advertising: we're spending money across all media, like the local papers and trade circulars. We're very aggressive on radio, and also aggressive on TV. It's not something we can throw money at all the time; we basically take money based on need and the history of our departments. We have to be careful and cautious on what we spend, but we are not opposed to pulling the trigger on impromptu advertising. "The name of the game is to market to the online customer and make sure that online customer sees why we're an attractive option for purchasing. You have to set yourself apart." Mike Dalton, president McKay's RV & Marine Center Rochester, N.Y. "We have been in busi- ness since 1963 and started selling boats in 1985. We sell probably around 70 percent RVs. The RV and boating seasons run at the same time, so it gets a little crazy in spring and early summer. "Some of the issues you run into are that you have to have tech- nicians who are dedicated specifically to the marine stuff. We do cross-train, but you need at least one guy who is a certified marine technician. I have my RV tech who can help out with some of the crossover, such as 12-volt electrical. "Boats have a similar setup with their power systems, although there are variations on how they handle connections. There are also special tools needed for marine that can be quite expensive if you don't work with the manufacturers to offset the initial cost. "On the sales side, it gives us an advantage to have the marine products. We do a lot of business with people who have a trailer, motorhome or fifth wheel who want to trade for a boat. We have a distinct advantage because we deal in both fields and we know what the values are. A straight boat dealer is not going to be able to take an RV in on trade and not going to be able to move it. We do a lot of business with people who cross over and trade one for the other. "The customers tend to be different in marine. For instance, they are more specific when it comes to colors, where in the RV stuff it is a little more generic. When you're talking about boats, they might have five or six selections of exterior colors. It can be more challenging to put them in one color when it might not be what they wanted initially. You just don't run into that with RVs. "Also, the marine market is a younger crowd, but it's not a huge difference. In both markets, it tends to be a disposable income issue. When someone gets to a certain age, they have more, depending on what their interests are. The younger buyers tend to buy inexpensive fishing boats and pop ups or small travel trailers. "The recession completely changed what we sold. Before the recession, we did a lot of fiberglass bowrider boats, the standard boats, such as a stern drive with a small bow seating area. That was probably 75 percent of what we sold, but it seems like that market has gone down significantly year by year and converted to the pon- toon market. It was a little more expensive product so it impacted us during the recession. "The number of boats didn't change drastically, we just sold more inexpensive fishing or pontoon boats. Now we sell almost all pontoon boats. The total number of boats sold didn't go down as much as it did in RVs, but the dollar numbers did go down. Over the last couple years it has come back to about 90 percent of what it used to be. "The area we're in is so seasonal that it pushes us into a smaller pocket. One big thing we get out of our marine business is shrink wrap, winterization and storage. Those are big-ticket items you don't get in the RV industry. If you shrink wrap, winterize and store a boat we're generally talking $1,200 for that, where for RV storage and winterization it's around $400. There is more work to it, but we collect a lot more on that type of stuff, and those people you usually see back every year. "In RVs, travel trailers and fifth wheels are for sure our stron- gest sellers. Our sales team works in both markets. They have to be educated a little more on the marine side because they have to deal with the engines, the boats and the trailers, so they have to be educated in three things to make one sale. "Marketing can be challenging because you can't just do one ad – it's hard to do both products together. We do separate ads for marine from what we do for our RVs. That creates more expenses and makes it more challenging and more costly." Brandon Bretz, controller/ office manager Bretz RV & Marine Missoula, Mont. "During the recession, the marine industry was impacted similarly to the RV industry. There was a significant downturn, but it has made a comeback over the last few years. "We sell more RVs than we do boats, but our boat numbers have grown quite a bit and are becoming a bigger part of our business. "There is some crossover between the RV and boat customers. Both enjoy spending time outdoors with family and friends, and

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