The Grow Boating program has been redesigned to send collected funds back to dealers.
In October, the National Marine Manufacturers Association said it was redirecting Grow Boating assessments because the money collected would not be enough to mount an effective national campaign.
It was agreed that 85 percent of what’s collected from engine assessments would be given back to manufacturers to pass along to dealers, and the other 15 percent would support public relations, the Discover Boating Web site, Marine Industry Dealership Certification and other core programs.
This will occur with assessments incurred on or after Oct. 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009.
Industry leaders expect about $6.5 million to be redistributed back to manufacturers and dealers and about $1 million will remain for the Grow Boating budget.
“The $6.5 million spread out through all the companies and all the dealers may not be a lot on an individual basis, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t stimulate more investment in (sales building) tactics by those companies,” said Carl Blackwell, vice president of marketing and communications for Grow Boating Inc. and the NMMA.
Dealers have had a mixed reaction to the announcement, with some saying it’s a good idea in these economic times and others skeptical they will see much money.
“We all agreed as dealers and manufacturers and the NMMA that money was supposed to be spent for the Grow Boating campaign and we’ve paid into it all these years and all of the sudden a bunch of guys get together and redirect it and (decide) not to use it for what it was meant to be for,” said Jim Thorpe, from Spring Brook Marina in Illinois.
“We need buyers today, not next year and the year after, and all of our marketing messages were geared toward non-boaters in non-boating venues, non-boating publications, attracting and trying to persuade new participants into the recreation of boating,” said Larry Russo, Sr., of Massachusetts-based Russo Marine, who agreed with the changes.
Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Retailers Association of America, said he understands the concern, but feels the “new direction has plenty of safeguards in it for dealers.”
Manufacturers must agree to apply 100 percent of the money toward creating marketing and promotional efforts that assist dealers in moving product; assist dealers in converting prospects into buyers and fully report to dealers on how the credits are being spent.
Any manufacturer who does not live up to his pledge will risk NMMA membership, Keeter said.