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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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Manufacturing concerns: Sale of Sea Ray Boats raises questions about the future

The announcement last week by Brunswick Corp. that it intends to sell its Sea Ray Boats division raises some concerns about the future of the manufacturing plant and the 440 people who work there.

“Obviously there is always concern with all of those jobs on the line,” said Flagler County Commissioner Donald O’Brien. “But I got a decent feeling talking to the plant manager last week and he seems to think they will land with a purchaser that is interested in staying in the boat business.”

O’Brien was at the Sea Ray plant as part of the Americas Competitiveness Exchange tour that visited Flagler County on Dec. 6. He said if a new owner decides to shift production to other facilities or cut workforce levels at the plant off of Roberts Road “it would be a major jolt to our local economy.”

He said parent company Brunswick has not indicated any dissatisfaction with the local plant.

“I think it’s just a strategic decision and nothing that doesn’t happen every day of the week around the world,” O’Brien said. “I don’t know if there is anything particular we can do about it.”

While the local implications of the Sea Ray sale are still unclear, the announcement comes as the marine industry is riding a wave of growth. Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said the boating industry is “doing very well” and optimism is high.

“We are in our sixth year of growth,” he said. “We are projected to grow 5 to 6 percent in units and in the low double-digits in dollar sales. Confidence among people in the boating industry is very high today.”

In addition to the Flagler County manufacturing facility, the sale includes Sea Ray’s Sykes Creek plant in Brevard County, a manufacturing facility in Tellico, Tennessee and support facilities in Dandridge, Tennessee and Greenville, Tennessee, as well as a research and development facility on Merritt Island, the company said.

Brunswick officials said the status of all the Sea Ray facilities would be determined by the new owners.

“The specific and ultimate impact on any plants and facilities will depend on the prospective buyer and an evaluation of their needs and capabilities,” said Brunswick spokesman Daniel Kubera.

Kubera said during the sale process, expected to be completed in the first half of 2018, “it will be business as usual at Sea Ray” and Brunswick will focus on a “seamless transition of the business to a suitable owner who will carry the Sea Ray business forward and be a good steward of the brand.”

The level of that stewardship depends on the business needs of the new owners, according to Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida.

“I think it really all depends on what happens after the transaction and what changes, if any, the new owners make,” Snaith said. “If they are buying it with an eye to investing and expanding the operations, certainly there could be a positive gain to the region. If, on the other hand, they are making changes and outsourcing elements of the production to other parts of the country, that could potentially result in a job loss.”

Snaith said a large corporation peeling off subsidiaries is fairly common.

“All businesses are not locally owned mom-and-pop stores they all have diverse structures,” he said. “It’s just the nature of the beast, really. Being acquired by a larger company brings with it the ability to access capital more easily. There are upsides to it.”

Jayne Fifer, president and CEO af VMA Manufacturing Alliance, said she is not concerned about the sale of Sea Ray.

“I think that it will be great,” she said. “It will probably enhance their manufacturing up there.”

Fifer said the Flagler County facility has an “ideal location” and an “established workforce” and while it depends on who eventually buys Sea Ray, she believes it will remain a viable piece of the local manufacturing landscape.

“I can’t imagine they would be moving it,” she said. “Anything can happen, but I think it will be all good.”

At the Flagler County facility, plant manager Tim Singley said employees are still “wrapping their heads around” the announcement and awaiting more information from corporate headquarters.

Kubera said company officials are aware the announcement could raise concerns about the future of the manufacturing facility.

“We understand that this decision will be difficult for certain stakeholders, but we want to be clear that we will continue to diligently manage Sea Ray through the sales process by executing its business and product plans to support and protect the interests of our employees, dealers, customers and shareholders,” he said.

 

 


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Cruise line operator welcomes new president aboard

WILLIAMS BAY — Bill Roehrick is tackling a big job with a company that is a big player in the Lake Geneva area.

And he has some big ideas about it, too.

Roehrick is the new president of Gage Marine Corp., the Williams Bay-based company that operates the Lake Geneva Cruise Line sightseeing boats in downtown Lake Geneva.

He was hand-picked by CEO Bill Gage to assume top management responsibilities within the company, while Gage himself focuses on long-term strategy and business development.

“We need to have someone there on a day-to-day basis,” Gage said. “I think I’ve found a good comrade.”

Roehrick, who joined the company effective Oct. 1, is new to the core businesses of Gage Marine, although he has a long track record in business management.

For the past five years, he was president of San Jamar Inc., an Elkhorn company that manufactures household fixtures and equipment for kitchen and bath. Before that, he spent 18 years in management at Ecolab Inc., a St. Paul, Minnesota, provider of kitchen sanitation services.

The Chicago native said that while he needs to get acclimated to Gage Marine’s unique products and services, he is confident about instilling the company with sound business principles and skills.

“It’s a lot easier to learn a business than it is to learn how to become a business leader,” he said.

Among the changes already being planned or implemented at Gage Marine are a retooling of the company’s Pier 290 Restaurant in Williams Bay, and a new marketing campaign aimed at broadening the cruise line’s appeal to summer tourists in the Chicago area.

The restaurant, in a process that began before Roehrick’s arrival, has gotten a menu overhaul to replace pricey exotic dishes with affordable and traditional Midwestern fare.

The tourism effort, still in early planning stages, is intended to reach new and bigger audiences of summer visitors, enticing them to visit Lake Geneva for the cruise line and other all-day tourist attractions. Although tourism already is big in the Lake Geneva area, Roehrick believes the best is yet to come.

“We still have a lot of new growth there,” he said.

Ed Svitak, president of the VISIT Lake Geneva chamber of commerce, said he is impressed with Roehrick, whom he regards as a strong addition to the local business community.

Although talks regarding the new marketing campaign have been limited so far, Svitak said, he agrees with Gage Marine’s new president about doubling down on the Chicago market.

“He shows great insight,” Svitak said. “His track record in business is very impressive.”

It was about three years ago that Roehrick’s career led him into a chance meeting with Bill Gage. The two men found themselves together in a regional group of business owners and executives who met regularly to discuss management issues.

As they got acquainted, they developed a friendship and began sharing ideas about business.

“We clicked fairly well,” Roehrick said.

Gage said he was impressed by Roehrick’s business experience as well as his life experiences as a Midwestern guy who was committed to the region and who turned down offers to go elsewhere.

Gage soon realized that he was looking at an ideal candidate to assume a new leadership role at Gage Marine: taking charge of management while Gage himself focused on bigger, long-range growth planning.

“I saw his nice, steady hand, and common-sense approach,” Gage said.

As president of the company, Roehrick reports directly to Gage and has oversight responsibility for all three major facets of the business: the cruise line, the restaurant, and boat sales and service. He is the first outsider to assume the title of company president, while Gage will remain CEO and chairman.

The company employs about 180 people.

Roehrick, who already lives in Williams Bay, said he is excited about the opportunity. While he plans no major operational changes, he is enthused about introducing new management training ideas, and looking for ways to elevate Gage Marine’s community profile.

Gage said he was pleased to hear Roehrick show excitement about living and working in the Lake Geneva area. The company CEO said he has no plans to assume a lesser role in Gage Marine, but he is comfortable sharing management duties with his new president.

“As companies change, you realize you need different mixes and different people,” Gage said. “This is a logical evolutionary step.”


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Alaska Airlines’ new planes a boon to state’s fresh seafood sales

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A little over six months ago on May 19, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 took off from Cordova, Alaska, landing in Seattle, Washington. On board were 22,000 pounds of fresh sockeye salmon, the first fruits of the Copper River run. That event kicks off Alaska’s salmon season and generates a lot of publicity.

Next year could see a lot more fresh seafood flown from the state. The state’s seafood sector is poised to benefit in 2018 and beyond from Alaska Airlines’ investment in Boeing 737-700 cargo freighters.

The recent phaseout of the carrier’s fleet of “combis” — Boeing 737-400s, which carried large quantities of cargo in the middle and 72 passengers in the back — marks the end of an era. For decades that plane was the carrier’s cargo workhorse, providing 19 Alaska communities with much needed shipments, and, for many, a way to get their fresh seafood to market.

Rick Bendix, the airline’s manager of marketing and business development for cargo, told Undercurrent News that the supply runs to Alaska include “produce, milk, eggs, building materials, anything that’s rushed, a part for a boat that’s broken”. 

The fishermen and processors who make up the carrier’s seafood sector customers mostly ship salmon, but halibut, sablefish, crab, even geoduck are also sent to the “lower 48″.

“It’s the Trident’s, Ocean Beauty’s, the big guys, Yukatat Seafoods but it’s also fishermen who have their own small business too and they may be supplying a restaurant in Portland,” Bendix said.

The new freighters can carry around 40,000 pounds of cargo per flight.

“Seafood’s super dense. So we can pack it super full and there’s probably some space left before we hit the weight limit of the plane,” Bendix said. 

The new planes will be a boost in airlift of about 20%, he added.

“We’ll be serving Bristol Bay in Alaska much more and with a freighter for the first time so that will be good. We’re still talking about what that’s going to look like exactly but that’s something we weren’t able to do because we had one freighter and five combis before that were often controlled by the passenger schedule,” he said.

That flexibility could benefit the seafood sector, particularly the key Bristol Bay salmon fishery.

“With these new ones we can basically say, ok this time of year we want to operate into Dillingham and King Salmon, this time of year we need extra flights in Cordova,” he said. “I think folks up here should be very excited, not just in seafood but the amount of flexibility we have and the more space that we have is going to be good for the state.”

Tom Sunderland, vice-president of marketing for Seattle, Washington-based Ocean Beauty, told Undercurrent that the new freighters should bring benefits.

“Improved lift out of Alaska will allow us to get fresh product to market faster; it’s a good thing because it’s been a bottleneck,” he said, adding that the Copper River fishery, which is mostly sold fresh, will especially benefit “because there’s tremendous value in high-value species.”

Delayed transition

The fleet transition hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Alaska Airlines. Speaking to a roomful of seafood industry workers at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s recent “all hands” meeting in Anchorage, airline representatives apologized to their customers for recent disruptions to service seen as the combis were phased out but the freighters weren’t quite ready to take their place. 

Bendix told Undercurrent that the Federal Aviation Administration took more time than anticipated to ensure that the 737-700s — which, for the the first time, had been converted from passenger jets — were certified to fly.

Because the phase-out of the combis had already been scheduled, the end result was a temporary shortfall in airlift.

“It ended up happening at the same time,” he said. “It was not ideal.”

Contact the author [email protected]


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Eric’s Outboard opens new location at Black Point Marina

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Eric’s Outboard Marine Service has opened a mobile service center and Contender Boats showroom at Black Point Marina, whose waterside location makes sea trials and service easier than ever for customers.

Founded by Eric Raistrick in 1986, Eric’s Outboard is among the top Yamaha dealerships and service centers in the country. Its headquarters in South Dade is also home to Eric’s Contender Boat Sales, dealer of high-end custom-made fishing vessels manufactured in South Florida.

The expansion at Black Point, Raistrick said, marks a significant step forward in customer care, convenience and great service for his company.

“To have a place out on the water is a huge thing to be able to offer,” he said. “We’ve always catered to clients whose boats are hard to get to the shop—we’ve provided trailers, trucks and a location to take the boats. We can still do that, but now we can offer this new option to the residents of Gables Estates, Gables by the Sea, Cocoplum and many other neighborhoods at this accessible waterfront facility.”

Eric’s secured a long-term lease at Black Point’s barn, with boat racks and a lift system that has been upgraded to accommodate the larger boats the company is known for servicing and selling.

Customers who need service need only make an appointment, bring their boat to the dock and let Eric’s do the rest. And for the duration of their service clients pay no daily storage fee, says Eric’s Outboard Chief of Operations Kelly Fullerton.

“The marina’s waiting for them,” Fullerton said. “They can just drop off their keys and say, ‘I’m with Eric’s.’”

Prospective boat buyers can also arrange to take Contender boats out on the water for sea trials, whether for purchasing a used boat or to develop ideas to custom build a new boat to their own specifications.

Contender Boats is a Homestead-based builder of custom tournament fishing boats. Customers have a say in nearly every aspect of construction; with Contender, you truly can build your dream boat.

“Customers love it,” Raistrick said. “Who wouldn’t like being able to pick the color, size, T-top, type of seats and leaning posts? The reactions I’ve gotten are great.”

A Yamaha Five Star Dealer and Authorized Service Center, Eric’s Outboard has the largest on-hand inventory of Yamaha parts and accessories in South Florida.

Eric’s offers a full range of services, from minor tune-ups to major overhauls, all of which can be done on premises or on location by mobile technicians. All technicians—including two Yamaha certified master technicians, of which there are only a handful in the country—receive ongoing training at Yamaha Marine University.

“We’ll go to your house, to your dock or to marinas all over Miami-Dade [County], the Keys and Fort Lauderdale,” Fullerton said. “Our customers are No. 1, and that’s how we built our business: by treating them like family.”

For information or to book an appointment, visit EricsOutboard.com or call 305-251-4067.


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North Korean bodies and boats reach Japan’s coasts, but more survivors, too

It was yet another grim discovery: The bodies of three unidentified men suspected to be from North Korea were found Tuesday, washed ashore on a beach in Fukaura, Aomori Prefecture, just over a week after a small wooden boat was found in the area.

The latest find has further deepened a mystery that has captured the attention of the Japanese public in recent weeks — an apparent surge in the number of wooden boats from North Korea that have been found on and just off the Sea of Japan coast.

Over the past two months, local authorities have already uncovered debris from five similar boats in the same town, with all believed to have come from Japan’s isolated neighbor.

Last month alone, the Japan Coast Guard found 28 wooden boats believed to be from the North across a wide swath of the country’s Sea of Japan coast and in the waters nearby.

In December so far, 20 similar cases have already been reported as of Tuesday, according to the coast guard.

While that number may appear alarming, the coast guard has routinely found a number of similar North Korean fishing boats — including those holding bodies — stretching back several years. And this year’s number, according to the coast guard, may still fall within the range of past years.

According to coast guard data, it has spotted 79 wooden boats believed to be from North Korea on and off the Sea of Japan coast so far this year. Last year, 66 such boats were spotted, while 45 were found in 2015, 65 in 2014 and 80 in 2013.

What made this year different, and is seen as a possible reason for the increased media attention, has been the surge in the number of surviving crew members from wrecked or damaged North Korean fishing boats.

This year, authorities have found 42 survivors, while a total of just five survivors were found from 2013 to 2016.

Hideshi Takesada, a professor at the Takushoku University graduate school in Tokyo and an expert on North Korean affairs, has speculated that the greater number of survivors may be because more fishermen have been forced further from their shores after Pyongyang reportedly sold much of its fishing rights in nearer seas to China.

“As a result, they have to come to Japan’s exclusive economic zone to catch fish. They’re not to used to making a such a long trip on such a small boat,” he said.

Takesada said this meant that they were loading up with more supplies, including food and water, than in previous years. Because of this, he said, “there’s a higher chance that they survive.”

Pyongyang, desperate for foreign currency, is believed to have sold a chunk of its fishing rights to China. An August 2016 report by the Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean government source as saying that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earns $75 million annually from the sales of Sea of Japan fishing rights to China.

“It has been confirmed that North Korea has sold its fishing rights in the East Sea to China, in addition to the Yellow Sea, to earn foreign currency,” the source was quoted as saying. South Korea refers to the Sea of Japan as the East Sea.

The coast guard says hundreds of North Korean fishing boats have been detected in the Yamato Bank area in the middle of the Sea of Japan this year.

Most are believed to have been engaging in illegal poaching in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.


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Brunswick announces partnership with DockMaster, MyTaskit

Brunswick Corp.’s dealer services team, Brunswick Dealer Advantage, has partnered with DockMaster to offer exclusive discounts on DockMaster and MyTaskit products to their marine dealers in the United States and Canada.

Launched in 2007, Brunswick Dealer Advantage is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and DockMaster and MyTaskit are two of several new programs being launched in honor of this milestone.

“Brunswick Dealer Advantage is committed to offering Brunswick dealers with more options to strengthen their businesses and increase their profits,” said Kirsten Schuchardt, program manager for Brunswick Dealer Advantage. “By partnering with DockMaster and MyTaskit, our dealers now have access to two more industry-leading comprehensive and integrative dealer management systems, and for much less.”

DockMaster pioneered the Marine Management Software industry, deploying the first marine management solution in 1983.

Today, DockMaster continues to meet the demanding needs of marine dealerships and marinas with scalable full-business management solutions.

DockMaster software offerings include accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger, haul and launch management, parts inventory, prospect management, service and work orders, boat sales with FI, order entry, point-of-sale, reservations, slip and rack management, and so much more.

In addition, DockMaster partners with over 16 best-in-class web-based and mobile apps to provide CRM, dealer website integrations and EMV credit card processing, among others.

“We are excited to partner with Brunswick Dealer Advantage to provide their extensive dealer network with exclusive pricing on our DockMaster and MyTaskit products,” said Cam Collins, president of DockMaster. “As a technology solutions company that is 100 percent dedicated to the marina and marine industry, the BDA program provides us with a unique opportunity to help more dealers grow and improve their businesses.”

As an official reseller of MyTaskit, DockMaster will also be providing Brunswick dealers with exclusive discounts on the MyTaskit software product.

MyTaskit provides a comprehensive software platform for work coordination within companies and between multiple businesses and their customers. The software allows service professionals to assign tasks from work orders to each other or subcontractors, prioritize works tasks for technicians, allow entry of labor hours and notes for work tasks using mobile phones, look up boat history using a mobile phone, seamlessly share labor hours, notes, tasks status and more between DockMaster and MyTaskit.

“We are very proud to be affiliated with Brunswick Dealer Advantage and the Brunswick marine brands,” said Kevin Hutchinson, founder and CEO of MyTaskit. “MyTaskit provides marine dealers and marinas with a platform to run their businesses more efficiently and move away from chaotic paper based processes and overuse of email and texting which are fast becoming cumbersome and outdated. We are excited to offer our robust software solution to all Brunswick marine dealers in the US and Canada.”

Brunswick Dealer Advantage consists of dealer services that are designed to help dealers reduce costs and drive revenue, as well as enhance the retail customer experience and reward employees.

Dealers can visit Booth 826 and 828 at this year’s Marine Dealer Conference and Expo (MDCE) in Orlando to learn more about more about DockMaster or MyTaskit or Booth 832 to learn more about BDA.

Dealers can also contact DockMaster and MyTaskit directly at (561) 969-2882 (Option 2) or Brunswick Dealer Advantage at (877) 462-3884.



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