Seedealercost to the rescue? Huh?

Let’s see now… Gas prices are rising, and the latest reports are that The Consumer Confidence Index has dropped, reversing five straight months of improvement. The index dropped from 72.0 in February to 63.4 in March. Add to that the fact that rising food and clothing prices are taking their toll on consumer budgets, plus housing prices and sales are down, and unemployment is still very high.

But here comes the cavalry, Seedealercost.com, to the rescue of the boating industry, with Dave Taylor and Jack Malone on their white steeds leading “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” (Just Google “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and see how that worked out.) Not well!

SDC thinks the “Charge of Their Light Brigade” is going to minimize the economic impact on our boating industry, and even help dealers and boat builders prosper. How you ask? Well Seedealercost.com thinks they will be saving dealers, boat builders and the entire industry by showing consumers dealer cost on boats and engines. Costs that questionably are inaccurate or, at best, incomplete, according to what dealers and boat builders are saying.

Are you kidding us, Jack Malone? And Dave Taylor, after you and Malone spent years working with dealers and boat builders in this industry, how can you really believe this will work? What on earth are you thinking? Or are you selling this website hard because it has just been that difficult for you two industry veterans to get a job?

SDC claims they have had thousands of clicks on their website. Maybe. However, I wonder how many there were if you subtract the number of industry folks checking the site to see just how off base the “dealer costs” are that are on the site.

And I have to also ask… just when are the money folks behind this website going to come out of the closet and let us know who they are? Why are they hiding behind Malone and Taylor?

The head of one major boat company, when asked what their response and strategy to this website was going to be said, “First, we will arm our dealers so they are ready to reply to a consumer that may ask about the website in the next few days. (I feel this will unlikely happen very much as I think if people use the information, the site will be discredited very rapidly). We will also recommend that our dealers tell consumers that they don’t know where the SDC information came from but they know for a fact that it wasn’t provided by the manufacturers. And if the consumers shop around, they’ll see big discrepancies with how invoice prices are structured. (One boat brand has a 12% program after the published cost while a competitor has nothing, for instance).”

He went on to say, “Secondly, for the long term, as a boat builder, we won’t do anything at this point. We’ll just wait and see what happens, as I believe that in the short term there will be no traction and eventually, they’ll realize that it is like trying to herd cats.”

The SDC website doesn’t have much in advertising. And much of what they do have is totally unrelated to our industry… like a Buick, GMC dealer, and a cycle accessories retailer. What was really disappointing to me was seeing the two ads from two Florida dealers on the website. Why any dealer would support this is completely beyond me.

I think dealers should follow the advice above from a leading boat builder and tell any consumers who might ask, that they don’t know where the info came from, but it is not accurate or credible and certainly did not come from manufacturers.

Here’s hoping the industry doesn’t continue to get more help than it needs from SDC!

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About Ben H. Sherwood

Ben H. Sherwood is a marine industry veteran and a marketing consultant who operates Sherwood Marine Marketing in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. For more info, click About on the main menu.

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