Our Company was featured in article for the NewsPress Business section on March 6,2011
Cheryl and Tom Fischer, owners of Fischer Marine Boat Sales and Yacht Brokerage in Fort Myers, are experiencing steady business after a rough last couple of years.
/ Brian Hirten/news-press.com
Fischer Marine Boat Sale and Yacht Brokerage
• Where: 13400 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers
• When: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday; 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday
• Cost: $2,500 to $500,000
• Details: Call 694-3000 for more information
Tips for success
Cheryl Fischer, co-owner of Fischer Marine Boat Sales and Yacht Brokerage, said she and her husband, Tom, keep chugging along by:
• Thinking outside the box.
• Regularly going over expenses because when you get busy you can forget about them.
• Rotating advertising across platforms to stretch the company’s dollars.
• Treat customers right and with honesty.
Boat sales are scooting along at Fischer Marine in Fort Myers, despite almost sputtering to a halt two years ago.
Cheryl and Tom Fischer had built a reputation for selling quality pre-owned boats since they opened more than 20 years ago, but in late 2008, the boat sale and yacht brokerage company lost its $500,000-line of credit when the company’s lender, GE Capital, pulled out of the marine financing industry, co-owner Cheryl Fischer said.
“That left many reputable businesses scrambling to find alternative financing at a time when no one was lending money,” she said.
Still, the Fischers knew the used-boat market well and worked hard over the past two years to transition from purchasing boats from dealers to working on a consignment schedule directly with individual boat owners.
They got their sales staff more involved in finding consignment boats, streamlined their advertising and trimmed what overhead costs they could to keep the company open, Fischer said.
“Some days you thought, ‘Are we going to be able to do this and pay the bills?’” she said. “It ended up being a good thing and made us think outside the box.”
In the third quarter of 2010, the company’s gross sales soared to $341,972, up from the $72,478 it grossed for the same period a year before, more than tripling its sales year over year.
Selling through consignment deals instead of using credit to stock the bulk of their pre-owned boat inventory helped the company eliminate interest they were paying to their lender, Fischer said. It transitioned from owning 75 percent of its inventory before the company lost financing in 2008, to only owning about 20 to 25 percent of its inventory today.
The company also maintained its good standing with vendors and clients, despite the shift in how it sources its product, she said.
Jim Hohnstein, vacant land asset manager for Bonita Bay Group, has recommended Fischer Marine to his clients for 15 years.
Hohnstein, who formerly worked as general manager of Bonita Bay Marina, said some clients would look to sell their boats as they got older or used them less often.
“We could always expect an honest price and an honest deal for our customers,” Hohnstein said about Fischer Marine.
In the past year, the company also expanded its inventory to attract a wider client base, adding airboats, swamp buggies and off-road trucks.
The owners also renegotiated the company’s advertising contracts, staggered its ad campaigns, and trimmed the company’s cell phone bill and liability, property and auto insurance payments –– all of which helped the business reduce overhead costs.
It also launched a referral program, offering a minimum $100 reward for referrals that lead to a purchase, sale or consignment, Fischer said.
These efforts have helped their sales jump from a monthly average of three or four sales during the height of the downturn, to about 10 or 15.
Fischer said: “It’s the first time in years we’re getting back to the numbers we used to get before everything went south.”