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The Promo Boat Paradigm has to change

HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
edited February 20 in Rules/Politics/Issues
Here in south / central California we had just enough promo boats for tournaments last year. This year we will have 1 or 2 less factory supported promo boats. The remaining promo boats engine hours are going to be more of a premium. We are in a pinch.

Talking to boat industry people has convinced me that we simply need to find a new paradigm. Expecting new boats to simply show up at tournaments is no longer realistic. I think the hardest hit is going to be college tournaments.

A boat company executive challenged me to ask you guys for new ideas.
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Comments

  • jhughesjhughes Posts: 1,013 Mega Baller
    What worked and didn't work in the past?

    As I understand it, previously in general the promo owner would get the boat roughly for what they would sell it for for a cost-neutral brand-new boat every year (right?). In return they would be required to drag it around to a couple tournaments (some which may be really far away) and deal with other people driving and handling the boat during those tournaments. Was that a bad deal for manufacturers? I have no idea.
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
    @jhughes To make the programs work in the past the cost of the boat was offset by the factory. As tournament boats represent a smaller part of the boat business the accountants see making the boats as low profit and discounting the boats as a loss. That is the problem.
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  • KelvinKelvin Posts: 1,187 Mega Baller
    @Horton, was the loss of promo boats in southern CA due to manufacturer/dealer cutbacks or the unwillingness of the promo owner to continue in the program?
    Kelvin Kelm, Lakes of Katy, Katy Texas
    wolfgang
  • LoopSkiLoopSki Posts: 638 Crazy Baller
    what about an incentive from the factory for personal boats? could be in cash , gas,
    gear ,creditt towards a new one etc...
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
    @Kelvin The biggest change seems to be with program changes at Nautique but this issue is not about brand. All three factories have to justify the programs.
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  • jhughesjhughes Posts: 1,013 Mega Baller
    edited February 20
    I think any program is going to have to be "performance based marketing". Closing the loop on influence to the actual incremental sale. As such basically anyone who buys a boat based on seeing or riding behind your promo gives the dealer your referral code and the dealer credits you for a rolling 18mo past each promo boat delivery. Something like that. You buy full price but get credited back as the influence spreads.
  • JackQJackQ Posts: 321 Crazy Baller
    I don't know what the solution should be, but you are asking the right question. The current paradigm is collapsing. It is harder and harder to get boats for tournaments.

    At first the manufactures cut the promo boats for many that did not travel outside of their home lake. The tournaments at their site previously were sufficient to remain in the promo program. It was obvious that many of those situations did not provide "brand exposure" for the manufactures. Since then additional boats have been removed from the programs to the greatest extent with Correct Craft.

    We have had to resort to paying a "stipend" to a boat owner with a current model boat, and/or requesting (for C tournaments) a waiver and using an older model boat again compensating the owner.

  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,094 Mega Baller
    What @jayski said x 1000!

    I was in a meeting this winter where the total number of ski boats for all 3 manufactures sold this past year was given. I was utterly shocked. It was about 1/3 - 1/2 of what I thought the number was based on some figures I had from a few years back. The market has shifted again mainly in the price of boats.

    I know that AWSA is aware of these concerning issues and wants to adopt to the changing marketplace and programs. I hope they do and I hope they work in tandem with the companies to find the most beneficial program for the companies and the active membership in the sport.

    Along with @Horton I would be concerned about collegiate events.
    jayski
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,380 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I know it's important to also support their factory team which can mean additional boats for those skiers. I don't know specifically what the deal is for pro skiers but I suspect it can range from a discount to some sort of a managed lease to free use of a boat depending on who you are. My point is taken in comparison with 'privately purchased' promo boats, I suspect the costs are higher to the manufacturer for the team boats. I may be wrong but I'm sure it's also a factor.

    Either way, team boats or promo boats are both a type of marketing and any costs associated with them allocated accordingly. Now that two of the big three are publicly traded companies, I'm certain these kinds of programs are scrutinized even more closely.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Vice President
    AWSA Southern Region EVP
    Stefan
  • MarkTimmMarkTimm Posts: 110 Baller
    I have been trying to get a promo boat for the last year, simply because we don't have enough here in the PNW. The ones we do have are overused, thank God for John Goodman. I recently gave up on that pursuit and purchased a new boat. I am now wrestling with the question, without factory support would I allow my new boat to be used in tournaments? I guess we will see. We may need to move to a Co-op model where a person or group has a boat available for tournaments. In this case the tournament organizer will need to pay more than free entry for the use of a boat(s). If the manufacturers are willing to provide a boat at dealer cost and the LOC will pay a fee for the use, this could be an economically viable solution.
    Mark Timm
    cougfanaupatkingsavaiusini
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,327 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Is promo to support tourneys or promo the brand? If to support the brand they shud sell promo price on ski and wakeboard/wakesurf boats on prominent public lakes and run some clinics on em. Sell some boats.
    Where that leaves tourneys dunno
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • skier2788skier2788 Posts: 763 Crazy Baller
    edited February 21
    My question to the boat manufacturer is where is the incentive for the promo guy? I lease a boat for $3500 and get to put 100 hours on it. At the end of the day the dealer takes it back and sells it. The next year I pay $3500 and get to put 100 hours on the boat. They are giving this guy a new boat and losing money on it but he has no reason to push their brand or attempt to sell it himself. Why not have dates written in the lease that if the dealer gets a deposit on the boat before Sept. 1 your lease for the next year is $1500 Oct. 1 it's $2000 and so on. Actually give the guy with the boat a reason to sell it.

    The current structure doesn't seem equitable for anyone and that is why I think you see promo people quitting and dealers not looking for new promo people
    Travis Torley
  • dbutcherdbutcher Posts: 360 Solid Baller
    The following is simply my opinion. Remember what you paid for it - nothing.

    This is a really difficult problem to solve, and it is completely caused by the decline in 3E skiing. I believe that current 3E promo boat programs cost the manufacturers money - significant money. These losses used to be offset by increased sales of 3E boats to the masses of skiers (theoretically due to promo boat programs). Well, the masses have been lost to wake sports which need and use tow boats that make large wakes (obviously not 3E boats) and probably have larger profit margins. My belief is that all manufacturers have lost big numbers in 3E boat sales. It has become or is becoming financially difficult for manufacturers to provide tournament 3E boats. The best solution I can think of is for 3E manufacturers to go back to selling 3E tournament boats to promo boat operators at or near the price they sell those boats to their dealers. They could reduce or eliminate paying promo boat operators for each tournament he/she pulls. Typical promo boat operators go to tournaments anyway. Thus, the manufacturer would not lose money on the 3E promo program, but they would still have to deal with some dealer complaints about promo boats stealing sales. That is a problem the manufacturers could probably handle/resolve with those dealers. Not all dealers will complain. If a promo boat operator (understandably) doesn't want to take a boat to the Regionals or Nationals without being paid (because of distance and/or cost), that promo operator can probably be replaced. Who among us doesn't want to buy a new boat at dealer cost. Nautique's 3E promo program in 2019 (a short term lease for X $) was a good deal for the promo boat operator, or so it appears to me. It may not have been quite as great for Nautique. I don't know if Nautique is continuing the same program for 2020 or changing it. I don't know anything about the other manufacturers' programs. We cannot expect 3E boat manufacturers to lose money just so that we can have tournaments.

    Exceptions already exist for use of older boats in Class C and below AWSA tournaments. I've heard that IWWF has allowed the use of older boats (outside the United States) for years, perhaps even in record tournaments. Tournament boats have always been in short supply outside the United States. What have other countries done to get tournament boats?
    NameUnavailable
  • dave2balldave2ball Posts: 672 Crazy Baller
    edited February 21
    @dbutcher if the MFG sold boats to promo guys at cost like the prior programs and the did not give compensation for the tournament use the where is the incentive to go to bring the boat a tournament? As with the old programs you owned the boat. So you could not show up and the MFG had no recourse other then not selling you another boat.
    I was on a big 3 promo team for over 35 years. I have seen every program pass through and nothing has worked. We are a thorn in the dealers side in most cases. As soon as I brought my promo to a tournament the first question was how much are you selling it for. The possible buyer would then run to the local dealer and throw that number out of what he would pay. So the dealer would loose money or no sale. That was one problem all programs faced until dealer first right of refusal came into play on a couple of programs. If the dealer did not want the boat back they should not complain right? Wrong. So now the programs are what they are today. There is no easy solution If there was it would of been fixed years ago.
    Having private owners provide boats opens up another thread entirely. Insurance issues, correct ZO program, What is a fair price, mechanically sound. It may come down to the tournaments paying for boats one way or another.
    Have the promo boats bring the price of there boats down either by different models or smaller motors which drive the retail prices up. There are great ideas out there in earlier threads time will tell the fate.



    Gloersen
  • The_MSThe_MS Posts: 5,528 Member of the BallOfSpray Hall Of Fame
    When I left the CC program in 2010 I had about 32k into my last 09. It would be hard to think about going from 32k to over 100k in 9-10 years. Almost 7k yearly. Thanks to those members they have stuck it out.
    Shut up and ski
    Mrs_MSski6jones
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,327 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    They are sticking it out, but business is business. I have to think a matter of time before one of the big 3 drops the ski boat market. If I was on their Board I think I'd be telling them that every year after looking at the numbers.
    I guess they could still view it as a loss leader if they have any numbers on how many aging skiers stay "in brand" and buy a surf boat later.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
    edited February 21
    The elephant if the room is the news that Nautique cut their promo team by more than half 2 years ago and then slashed it again for 2020. That simply creates too much of a gap for the MasterCraft and Malibu programs to fill.

    I am not here to bash Nautique - they have their reasons - whatever.
    The question is how is the sport going to respond?
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  • LoopSkiLoopSki Posts: 638 Crazy Baller
    why would correct craft spend all the time money and effort on the " ski polygon " then slash the program? i doubt too many get sold to open water skiers.
    unksskisski6jones
  • dave2balldave2ball Posts: 672 Crazy Baller
    @Horton great question. Are Master Craft and Malibu willing to put more boats out there for tournaments by increasing there teams? Has MC and Malibu increased there sales due to the changes in Nautique’s program? I have only had maybe 6 rides in the 2 years or so behind the new nautique due to the lack of availability of the boat. Every boat felt different. It’s hard to drop 80 to 90 k on a boat that is now rarely at tournaments in my area.
    ski4xtc
  • jayskijayski Posts: 898 Mega Baller
    From a business perspective I think Nautique is on the right path with their promo program, it isn't 100% and could easily be tweaked to create sales and enthusiasm and be super beneficial to Nautique and the dealers.

    As a site owner and tournament organizer, in a location that is not 'easy' to obtain promo's, all brands are the same, difficult to get and costs money. It's way easier to run my own boat, take the costs of having a promo and factoring that in for the resale cost of the boat when I turn it over for a new one.

    for @dbutcher question about 'other countries', In Canada there is no promo boat program, any level of tournament is run using the 'clubs' boat, could be 2-3 years old, could be 6...
    gsm_peter
  • lazznlazzn Posts: 42 Baller
    I feel like this can go one of two ways in the short run. Either AWSA drops regulations for tournament boats so that more personal boats are eligible, or something changes with promo boats.

    On the regulations side, my feeling has always been that the main purpose of ZO is as a homologation tool. If your boat was AWSA certified WITH ZO as the speed control, and your boat can have the latest ZO version, hypothetically it should be able to pull any tournament. (I am sure i will catch flak for that statement but something has to give eventually.) Obviously the biggest problem with this is that regions with less promo boats will have more older boats pulling tournaments, while places like (florida) are more likely to have all new boats.

    On the promo program side of things, how have the number of promo boats tracked the demand for ski boats in general over the years? Is the lack of promo boats a problem with program design or is it a symptom of what's happening to the market in general? In my mind, everything in this sport is very related. As a collegiate skier, a lot of the kids I ski with plan to buy ski boats after college. Certainly not new, but you could bet that many of them will be able to afford a new one ~relatively~ soon after graduating. But how many of those kids will stay involved enough in the tournament scene to have incentives to buy a new boat. We all love/want the new boats, but in reality, if a skier isn't skiing in lots of tournaments/competing to be on top, there are significantly diminishing returns to getting a new boat. Less people skiing -> less people wanting new boats all the time -> factories having less money to support promo programs -> less people skiing behind the newest boats -> continue cycle.

    SO i guess my point is, is the promo program where the change has to break? Or is it a problem that is more easily solved by fixing the rest. In general, skiers want the latest and greatest. If lowering requirements for tournament boats helps more tournaments happen, and more tournaments helps increase involvement, then eventually there will be more demand for new boats. More skiers in general give a better chance of more people wanting to do promo. More demand for boats gives more money for factories/dealers to support promo programs.

    Idk, just my crappy take on things.
    Wisconsin Waterski Team
    Bongo
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
    @JeffSurdej Comments?
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