Archive for » December 14th, 2017«

Retailers are understaffing stores — and losing sales

Dive Brief:

  • Retailers are losing customers fast as frustration builds when store associates are nowhere to be found. A third of customers who experienced a problem at apparel stores were not able to locate sales help, and 6% of all possible sales are lost because of lack of service, according to a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management emailed to Retail Dive. 

  • In a study of one apparel chain, researchers found the retailer was achieving 85%-95% of potential sales with its staffing levels and determined that basing staffing on past sales was missing the boat because that didn’t take into account lost sales due to understaffing.

  • Sloan researchers developed a data-driven method to determine optimal staffing levels, using aggregate labor requirements from traffic, point-of-sale and labor data across stores with similar attributes like store format, product mix and market demographics. That could increase sales by some 10%, achieving closer to 99% of sales, according to the report.  

Dive Insight:

Retailers with physical stores still have a decided advantage, especially in apparel where many consumers still want to see, touch and try on the merchandise as well as get help from associates before immediately taking home items. But it’s not much of an advantage if stores can’t deliver top customer service or manage their merchandise and store experiences — activities dependent on having enough workers on hand.

With store staffing more important than ever yet one of the biggest expenses for retailers, researchers, led by visiting professor Rogelio Oliva, said in the report that they have developed a platform to achieve optimal staffing levels.

Traditionally, staffing decisions depend on store budget allocation, matching a constant ratio of expected store sales to the number of store associates. But that ignores how retail sales are also affected by store traffic, not just past sales, potentially leading to labor-to-traffic mismatches. When scheduled labor is unable to meet customer traffic flows, sales suffer, and that’s especially crucial at the holidays, Oliva said in a statement.

Anticipating traffic, however, is tricky for retailers, which in the past have relied on “just in time” scheduling — keeping staff on call to come in during unanticipated rushes and sending them hope during lulls. But that practice has come under fire. Though such scheduling policies seem to be a way to save money, they’re not necessarily saving sales.

“The ability to efficiently match store labor with incoming customer traffic is crucial, especially during the holidays when stores expect increased traffic and often rely on year-end sales,” Oliva said. “But optimizing staffing levels is very challenging, as retail environments are characterized by volatile store traffic, which makes it difficult to provide consistent service quality.”

Boosting staffing levels generated enough incremental sales to offset the increased labor costs — to a point — the researchers found. There’s a limit to the number of staff that can be added before stores reach a point of diminishing returns. The goal is to use data to find a “sweet spot” in the ratio of sales people to customers.

“The big takeaway is that retailers need to move past the inclination to minimize cost by understaffing stores because it has a big impact on profitability,” Oliva said. “They could be generating a lot more sales if they staff at the correct level. Stores should staff to maximize sales and profit, not to minimize cost.”


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Boating Industry names 2017 Top 100

Boating Industry announced the 2017 Top 100 dealers at a black tie gala Dec. 13 in Orlando.

“From the thousands of dealers in North America – and hundreds of nominations – these 100 dealers are the best of the best,” said Top 100 Program Director Jonathan Sweet. “These dealers excel not only at the business of selling boats, but also delivering a great customer experience.”

The Top 100 is the only independent ranking of boat dealers in North America.

The list recognizes dealerships that are unsurpassed in business operations, professionalism, marketing tactics, customer service and more. The Boating Industry Top 100 has recognized the top dealers in North America every year since 2005.

“As the Boating Industry Top 100 celebrates its 13th year, the dealers on the list are stronger than they have been since before the Great Recession,” Sweet said. “The Top 100 and Hall of Fame topped $3 billion in total revenue in 2016, surpassing last year’s total by more than $400 million.”

With that growth also came increasingly tough competition to make the list, added Tim Hennagir, editor of Boating Industry.

OneWater Marine Holdings was named as the 2017 Dealer of the Year.

“After capturing Dealer of the Year honors last year, OneWater Marine Holdings hardly rested on its laurels,” Sweet said.

In 2016 alone, the company acquired five new dealerships – and 10 locations – to its holdings, with more in 2017.

HALL OF FAME, BEST IN CLASS HONORED

All five members of the Top 100 Hall of Fame were honored at the Top 100 Gala, including Gordy’s Lakefront Marine, Legendary Marine, Prince William Marine Sales, Galati Yacht Sales and MarineMax.

Boating Industry also recognized eight other companies with special “Best in Class” awards, for companies that particularly excelled in one area of their business.

  • Best Boat Show Strategy – Lake Union Sea Ray, Seattle, Wash.
  • Best Customer Service – Port Harbor Marine, South Portland, Maine
  • Best Events – Oak Hill Marine, Arnolds Park, Iowa
  • Most Innovative Dealer – Futrell Marine, Nashville, Ark.
  • Best Training Benefits – Legend Boats, Whitefish, Ontario
  • Best Marketing – Pride Marine Group, Bracebridge, Ontario
  • Best New Idea – Clark Marine, Manchester, Maine
  • Best Service Department – Off Shore Marine, Branchville, New Jersey

As in past years, the Top 20 members of the Top 100 were ranked, with the remaining 80 being recognized as Top 100 dealers.

For complete coverage of the 2017 Top 100, be sure to check out the January 2018 issue of Boating Industry.

The Boating Industry Top 100 is sponsored by the Leadership Alliance: Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution Finance, Manheim Specialty Auctions, Volvo Penta, Sunbrella Marine, Brunswick Dealer Advantage, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

The complete Top 100:

Rank
Dealership Name
City
State
1
OneWater Marine Holdings
Buford
GA
2
The Sail Ski Center
Austin
Texas
3
Russell Marine
Alexander City
AL
4
Seattle Boat Company
Bellevue
WA
5
Pride Marine Group Ltd
Bracebridge
Ontario
6
Port Harbor Marine
South Portland
Maine
7
Strong’s Marine
Mattituck
NY
8
MP Mercury Sales Ltd
Burnaby
BC
9
Parks Marina
Okoboji
Iowa
10
Bosun’s Marine
Mashpee
Massachusetts
11
Quality Boats of Tampa Bay
Clearwater
Florida
12
Action Water Sports
Hudsonville
MI
13
BMC Boats

14
Marine Connection
West Palm Beach
FL
15
Oak Hill Marina
Arnolds Park
IA
16
Irwin Marine – NH
Laconia, New Hampshire
New Hampshire
17
Regal Nautique of Orlando
Orlando
Florida
18
Hagadone Marine Group
Coeur d’Alene
Idaho
19
Texas Marine
Beaumont
Tx
20
Buckeye Sports Center
Peninsula
Ohio

Alberta Marine Auto Ltd.
Nanton
Alberta

Angler’s Choice Marine
Martinsville
Virginia

Atlantic Outboard, Inc.
Westbrook
Connecticut

Atwood Lake Boats, Inc.
Mineral City
Ohio

Austin Boats and Motors
Austin
TX

Bent Marine
Metairie
Louisiana

Blue Springs Marine
Blue Springs
MO

Boat Town, Inc
Austin
Texas

Boaters Exchange
Rockledge
Florida

Boulder Boats
Henderson
NV

Breath’s Boats Motors
Bay St. Louis
MS

Buckeye Marine
Bobcaygeon
Ontario

Buster’s Marine
Broad Channel
NY

Candlewood East Marina Club
Brookfield
Connecticut

Causeway Marine Sales, LLC
Manahawkin
NJ

Charlotte Ski Boats
MOORESVILLE
NC

Chessie Marine Sales, Inc.
Elkton
MD

Clark Marine
Manchester
Maine

Clemons Boats
Sandusky
Ohio

Cleveland Boat Center
Cleveland
TN

Colorado Boat Center
Johnstown
CO

Deep Creek Marina LLC
McHenry
MD

Desmasdon’s Boat Works
Pointe au Baril
Ontario

Dockside Marine
Conroe
Tx

Don’s Marine, LLC
Lodi
WI

Dry Dock Marine Center
Angola
IN

FB Marine Group
Pompano Beach
Florida

Futrell Marine
NASHVILLE
AR

Gage Marine
Williams Bay
WI

George’s Marine Sports
Eganville
ON

Gordon Bay Marine Ltd
Mactier
ON

Gregg Orr Marine
Hot Springs
AR

Hampton Watercraft and Marine
Hampton Bays
New York

Hoffmaster’s Marina, Inc
Woodbridge
VA

Lake Union Sea Ray
Seattle
WA

Lakeside Motor Sports
Mecosta
MI

Legend Boats
Whitefish
Ontario

Lodder’s Marine
Fairfield
OH

Lynnhaven Marine
Virginia Beach
VA

Maple City Marine LTD.
Chatham
Ontario

Marine Center of Indiana
Indianapolis
IN

Marine Sales Group, Inc.
Counce
TN

Marine Specialties Boat Sales Service
Sparks
Nevada

Mark’s Marine Inc.
Hayden
Idaho

Miami Nautique International
Miami
FL

Munson Ski Marine
Round Lake
IL

Nautical Ventures Group
Dania Beach
FL

Ocean House Marina
Charlestown
Rhode Island

Ocean Marine Group, Inc.
Ocean Springs
MS

Off Shore Marine, Inc.
Branchville
New Jersey

Omaha Marine Center
Omaha
NE

Orleans Boat World Sports
Orleans
Ontaior

Paris Marine Ltd.
Selwyn
Ontario

Payne Marine Ltd
Pointe au Baril
ON

Plantation Boat Mart
Tavernier
FL

Rayburns Marine
kelowna
BC

Reed’s Marine, Inc
Delavan
WI

River Valley Power Sport-Inc
Red Wing
MN

Sea Ray of Cincinnati/Louisville
Cincinnati
Ohio

Shipyard Marine
Green Bay
WI

Short’s Marine, Inc.
Millsboro
Delaware

Silver Spray Sports, Inc.
Fenton
Michigan

Skier’s Marine Inc.
Sterrett
Alabama

Slalom Shop Boats and Yachts
Lewisville
Texas

South Florida Mastercraft
Boynton Beach
Fl

Spicer’s Boat City
Houghton Lake
MI

Spring Brook Marina, Inc.
Seneca
IL

Starboard Marinas / The Harbor
Branson
MO

Superior Boat Repair Sales
Rancho Cordova
CA

Table Rock Boats
Kimberling City
MO

Taylor’s South Shore Marina
Wilmington
Ohio

The Boat House Group
Cape Coral
FL

The Boat Shop
Tafton
PA

The Great Outdoors Marine
Lavalette
WV

The Sportsman
San Benito
TX

Tobler Marina
Hayden
ID

Vallely Sport Marine
Bismarck
ND

Wakeside Marine, LLC
Elkhart
IN

Watercraft Sales
Three
Lakes

Wayzata Marine, Inc.
Wayzata
MN



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Boat numbers reported down 20 percent on lake

WILLIAMS BAY — If this year’s boat count is correct, about 1,100 fewer vessels were sailing on Geneva Lake this year.

The Geneva Lake Environmental Agency and the Water Safety Patrol have conducted boat censuses for the past 40 years.

The 2016 boat census was one of the highest totals ever counted in the census, with 5,598 vessels totaled.

This year’s count came to 4,464 — a decrease of 20 percent.

But Ted Peters, director of the Williams Bay-based agency, said that the count may be lower because it was taken Sept. 9, which is later than usual.

“The significant decrease is most likely due to the count being conducted in the early part of September when many residents have removed their boats for the winter,” Peters wrote in his report on the count.

The 4,464 total boats is one of the lowest counts since the late 1980s, Peters said.

Reports from the public boat launches in Lake Geneva and the town of Linn, however, do not indicate a drop-off in boats for summer 2017.

While the municipalities do not count individual boats, they do count the dollars from boat launch fees, which are based on the size of boats.

Blaine Oborn, Lake Geneva city administrator, said boat launch fee collections did not go down precipitously from last year — and actually edged up slightly.

He said the total launch fees collected for 2016 was $33,176, and for 2017 it was $33,487.

“We’re not seeing a significant drop,” Oborn said.

Sue Polyock, clerk/treasurer for town of Linn, said that the town’s two public launches brought in more in 2017, although she cautioned that launch fees were increased by as much as $3 depending on the size of the boat.

No drop-off

Total fees collected for 2016 were $80,007, Polyock said. The total collected in 2017 was $98,376.

“I don’t see a drop-off in use,” Polyock said.

While Gage Marine did not report any numbers, a representative of the Williams Bay boat dealer and operator said the company detected no decline in activity.

“We didn’t notice a drop-off in business,” sales representative Courtney Blackwell said. “We didn’t see people pulling their boats out of the water early, either.”

If anything, business improved this year over the past summer, she said.

“I feel like it’s been getting better,” she said.

The annual census reported by GLEA categorized boats as motor, sail, personal watercraft and others. Personal watercraft includes jet skis and wave runners. Other includes kayaks, canoes, rowboats and paddle boards.

Motorboats again accounted for the largest lake presence, at 2,974 boats, or 67 percent of the total.

The second largest group were kayaks, canoes, rowboats and paddle boards, at 699, or 16 percent. Personal watercraft accounted for 456 vessels, 10 percent, and sailboats had a count of 335, 6 percent.

During the past 15 years, the number of boats counted have averaged about 5,000 a year.

Also different this year than in past years was the inclusion of empty slips and buoys in the count. A total of 603 empty buoys and slips were counted for 2017.

Peters said he wanted to count the vacant mooring spaces because the number of empty slips seems to have increased over the past few years.

Peters said the annual boat count was conducted more than a week late this year.

“I try to do it before Labor Day,” he said. “Once Labor Day is done, people tend to pull their boats out of the water and go home.”

Intern left early

However, the census got pushed back because the GLEA’s summer student intern had to leave early.

“So, I had to pick up the things he was doing,” Peters said.

Peters said he had students from George Williams College and two members of the water patrol staff helping out.

Of the four persons doing the counting, each one took a particular class of vessel to count to prevent confusion, he said.

The census started at 9 a.m. and was completed the same day by 1 p.m.

He said the weather was nice but there were few boats on the lake. Most of the boats counted were either docked or already out of the lake in storage.


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