How To Make Big Waves In The Marine Industry Despite Supply Chain Challenges


President/CEO of S&S Houseboat Rentals. Freedom Boat Club Marina, and 2019 Young Marina Leader of the Year.

The past few years have provided lights out sales in the marine industry (as well as most outdoor recreational industries for that matter) … if you can get the product to sell that is. The boating community wasn’t able to hide from the supply chain crisis. Due to this, I’ve observed that some consumers are buying used boats at new prices just to be able to get out on the water. The question is, “How can I motivate my sales team when we don’t have products to put on the showroom floor?”

The nice thing about the marine industry is that most dealerships also have an on-water marina or very close access to a marina. This is your key to out-of-the-box thinking to keep and motivate your sales teams. Hopefully, your sales team is good at selling, not just good at selling boats. If this is the case, then keep reading.

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The first option is daily boat rentals. This is your highest margin option. Think of short-term rentals in the boating world. This is a great way to reach people who may have sold a boat and still want to get out on the water or families traveling through on vacation that want something to do. Do a market study and find out what type of boats consumers are looking for or using in your area and start with one or two of those.

Secondly, look at the option of a boat club franchise. Of course, you’ll have to give up a percentage to the corporation, but the perks of having a national club backing for marketing, insurance and support can be worth it in many cases. Clubs are a great option for a moderate boater that can’t justify the cost of owning, insuring, maintaining, storing, etc. of their own boat. A national club is also a good fit for someone who has multiple residences, as many national companies have reciprocity for members across all marinas.

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Also, look for those unicorn private sale opportunities that your team can flip. Typically, the margins on used vehicles aren’t enough to get people excited. But not in today’s world. Although it takes a little bit of time and work, they are out there and people are paying for them. Offer your team a bonus if they find any vehicles you end up buying. Social media marketplaces, classifieds and even just word of mouth are great places to find those gems that can turn big margins when availability is slim. Sure, “anyone could do this.” But they don’t. Whether it’s because they are lazy or not good at searching the web, the deals are still out there and waiting for you to find them and put them back into circulation.

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If your sales team is coming up short or getting into an unmotivated funk, get creative and start thinking outside the box. These are fairly nontraditional opportunities for sales teams. However, modern problems require modern solutions, and to survive, we all have to look at things we never thought of. And when your team members see success from these types of endeavors, it can get them amped up again about selling new shiny objects and create more life around their slowing motivation.


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