As the old saying goes, “I’ve got good news and bad news…which would you like first?” Well, here’s a new twist to this: “and I’ve got some more good news.”
First the good news: despite all the pain and troubles our world is facing, the marine industry has done incredibly well. Historically, when there has been the slightest economic or political hiccup our industry takes it on the chin. Thankfully, that has not been the case with the pandemic. From most accounts, many companies in the marine industry have had a good, if not a great year.
Now for the bad news: as we know, nothing lasts forever. We should anticipate at least a slowing, if not a downturn. New boat dealers are finding it difficult to quickly refill their inventories. This can be attributed it several factors, such as the builder’s inability to produce boats caused by COVID-driven changes in production methods, as well as raw and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) goods being in short supply. We all know it’s hard to sell goods from an empty cart and such is the case with both new and secondhand boats being in short supply. While the situation is a near-term problem that can be perceived as bad news, hopefully this will correct itself in time.
About the “more good news:” several important takeaways have arisen from this uptick in the marine industry. First, the overall demographics of this new wave of boat owners has changed. The owners are younger than before. In fact, the trend had been quite concerning for the industry, as the average age of boat owners was increasing, while the number of participants was decreasing. Seeing younger families getting involved with boating is positive in the near- and long-term, as their children will hopefully become involved in boating as adults. We are also seeing more women buying boats and/or actively involved in the purchase and decision-making process.
With the advent of so many products that have made boating easier and hassle-free (such as joy stick controls, bow thrusters, powered winches and much more) all have significantly contributed toward lowering the barriers to entry for first time boat owners.
While the overall prognosis is looking quite positive for the recreational marine industry, we need to be thinking about what happens when the newness of boating begins to wear off, particularly for those who have recently become involved due to the pandemic. For us to achieve the customer retention we all seek; it is up to every member of the boating industry to do their best in supporting their clients. How each of us addresses this issue will determine whether those clients become dyed-in-the-wool boaters or part of the “been there, done that” crowd.
Far be it for me to know what works best for each of us; it is up to the individual and company to figure out what resonates most with your clients. At KKMI, we have made it our goal to better understand the needs of the new boat owner. We are making a concerted effort to be as informative as possible without being overwhelming. We try to ask opened ended questions so that we get a better understanding of their boating background. Primarily, asking directly how we can be of help is a great way to build a rapport and become the owner’s “go to guru” when it comes to boating.
If we all do our job in properly ushering in the new generation of boaters, we will see this pay dividends for years to come.
See you on the waterfront.
KKMI is your one stop full service Northern California and San Francisco Bay Area boatyard providing unbeatable service, competitive prices, and outstanding workmanship. Specializing in boat bottom paint, boat hauling and storage, boat carpentry, fiberglass gelcoat and repair, rigging and much more, KKMI’s North Bay Boatyard location in Sausalito and East Bay location in Point Richmond are here to serve all of your Bay Area boating needs. For great prices and service you can trust, make KKMI your SF Bay Area and Northern California boatyard specialist and give us a call today.