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How should we compensate Promo Boat Owners?


Horton
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Like it or not one makes money as a promo boat owner* and most are lucky to break even. Bottom line is we need promo boats and we need skiers who are willing to be a part of the programs. I have heard the idea that a Promo guy should get $150 to show up and then $20 per engine hour during the event. Another idea is to simply pay the boat owner $5 per skier pulled. There is also the issue of miles. If a boat comes from hundreds of miles away that is gas and truck wear and tear.

 

It is for us to figure this out. It seems to me that it would be a good thing if the solution was standard across regions or the country.

 

*Yes I am aware that over the years some have managed to make a profit or claimed to have made a profit. That is not the issue here.

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Each manufacturer's has separate programs for supplying boats for events. To try and put a blanket policy in effect across all regions , states and sites more then likely will not work.

Central and so south Florida have no problems getting boats at their events. North Florida and the panhandle struggle to get boats as does central Georgia and so Alabama.

What the answer is I dont know. We have been applying for rules exempt and utilizing older private boats.

I think the real issue is that skiers have become obsessed with the idea they need to ski behind the latest greatest slice of bread when in reality the older slice will work just as well.

Get back to true title events and get away from the back yard performance ideology then it does not matter what is being utilized to pull the event as the best skiers of the day will win!

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The first question to ask is "who is we?" Who exactly benefits from the promo program?

 

In the old days, it was a huge benefit to the manufacturer to get their boat out to the tournament skiers so they could "test them out" and hopefully be a future buyer. In that scenario, the "we" was the manufacturer, and they had major incentives and made it a good deal for the promo owners.

 

In today's model, its really not clear who, if anyone really benefits from the promo programs. If the boat manufactures really want to get their boat in front of the tournament skiers, its 100% on them to make a "good deal" to the promo owners.

 

If the manufacturers don't really care (not a good business model and they make their money from wakeboard and party boats), then USAWS or whatever needs to move farther away from requiring "current year" models for tournaments. As Jody has alluded, who cares if a tournament is pulled with a 20 year old boat as long as the driver can keep it straight and it makes a "good time".

 

The details of $/mile and engine hour are missing the bigger picture.

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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I think we need to have a balance, I practice on a 2009, 196 Nautique (that is well maintained, 500hr, current software and tight steering), would I mind skiing in a tournament with that, no. I don't need to have a current year boat.

 

But do I want to ski behind some of the other boats at my lake (and others) that are poorly maintained if at all, have loose steering, and questionable running engines with 1500+ hours, No.

 

Even if my 196 was brand new it does not track nearly as well as the newer crop of boats (2019 Ski Nautique, not so sure) and I feel I am not as likely unless the driver is top notch to get a good pull. So should the rule be current hull type? No older than 7 years?, etc, not sure but some balance needs to be found or possibly one tighter standard for R/L/E and a less prescriptive standard for C tournaments?

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My lay view is that it seems that many sites that are hosting tournaments have a promo boat booked and 2 late model acceptable boats owned by people who are at the site sitting on trailers.

 

If you shifted the idea from Promo having a contract to provide these pulls and trying to break even on boat ownership when they resell - to paying owners of boats, wouldn't many of these tournaments be able to be pulled by locally sourced boats?

 

It just seems that the MFG should want to have a select group of people who would be bringing the BRAND new boats to major events, nationals, the masters etc. They'd be more brand ambassadors then promo owners - but could use the same general format, these would be the guys who were really involved at the regional levels and pulled only certain specific events with the boats that were being released. Then you could have tournaments provide the boats locally and pay/insure the boat's owner.

 

And as a third tier to that maybe you could talk to the MFG to provide a sponsorship to the events "collegiate alumni tournament 2019 - brought to you by MC" as opposed to their involvement being through the local promo guy who maybe doesn't really want to be at the collegiate alumni tourney, and really wants that last skier to wrap up so they can get their boat wiped down and head home.

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To the original question... Several years ago we started adding a $5 "boat fee" to the tournament entry fee, which all participants happily paid. In addition to free tournament entry, all meals and drinks provided (to all participants), the promo rep went home with $500 after two 1 day tournaments. Being that we are on the Western Slope of the Rockies, and the promo boat comes from 300 miles away over the Continental Divide, we wanted to thank the promo rep for their sacrifice in hauling a boat that far.
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I am confused by the discussion of older boats. To me the problem stems for the artificial requirement to have class L tournaments. For class C you can pull a tournament with pretty much any boat. If its old you just need approval which at least in SCR has always been granted. So why do we need all these L tournaments? Its because the top skiers need the scores for stuff like the Jr Masters and Jr teams, world teams and so forth and regional records. What we need to do is allow class C scores to be used for these events and we will get away from all the crap we inherit with IWWF like tons of video gear, TC's, surveys, lots of sr. judges and so forth.
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Some of you feel that the solution to the problem is to simply revert to older boats. I do think that the sport has gone down a treacherous path demanding that we always use new or almost new boats but the alternative is actually more complicated.

 

The owner of 1000 hour 10 yr old boat might not be particularly bothered by another 5 or 10 hours on the boat over the course of a weekend. If he takes that boat to three or four tournaments a year now we're going to call that 15 to 40 hours. You do that a couple years in a row you are really depreciating the dependable old tug. As a percentage the wear and tear on this old boat is much smaller than it would be on a brand new boat but at the end of this process the owner is left with a boat closer to the end of his life.

 

My point is many skiers might be just as happy with old boats but in the long run it might be harder to find Boat Owners to supply boats.

 

The current system may not be perfect but I think it is simpler and more practical to make being a promo guy more attractive than it would be to revert to some new system.

 

 

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Being new to the program last year there is a definite positive aspect to the promo program. First off promo use in tournaments is part of the right idea to reach a certain group of skiers, yes we could use a older boat, but scores WILL be different for most, adaption is not quick for the majority. The consistency of knowing what will be there is golden with a guaranteed of a year or two old boat, with current tech. In Canada there is no promo program or stipulation of how old a boat maybe. You could in theory show up and ski behind a 196, an old 197 or a LXI...A lot comment here about the copious amounts of settings with zero off and it's difference in boats, lets now add different versions of ZO, stargazer and PP classic into the mix.

 

I cannot speak for the all manufactures but I do feel Mastercraft is committed to the program and cares about tournaments, the non tournament skier, the Prostar and selling them. Personally I feel the 'antiquated mentality' of the tournament pulls are where you sell a boat is flawed. It helps but it's not a great sales opportunity. So you get to ski behind a boat for 3-4 passes maybe 6 times in a weekend...the majority will not get to drive it or let alone ride in it, standing on the shore watching it go by 400 times and staring at it on the dock is not what is going to make someone make that definitive decision.

 

What needs/should/will be done is full on demo days at ski sites. Boat is there for the day, EVERYONE, tournament and non tournament skiers get to take sets as they normally do, at their home site, with their regular boat crew. What possible way could be better to actually try a boat and see if you really like it? This, as @BraceMaker commented is where "promo people" become more like brand ambassadors. Mastercraft is behind this concept, and perhaps not all promo people are grasping this path currently but it will come. I cannot think of a better way to spend a day, hanging out at a lake, with a group of like minded people, skiing in a non pressure atmosphere, getting to drive, ride and ski in a brand new boat.

 

In regards to compensation, I fully understand there are costs involved with travel, time and such, but when one signs up for a promo program one is fully aware of the commitment and fulfilling that commitment is ones responsibility, the program is not a lucrative business venture and should not be. A blanket payment plan is not realistic as @Jody_Seal commented. Compensation IF ANY should be negotiated between the parties. Some promo people will be on board with this all, but there is still lots that are stuck in the past and need to re-visualize the path.

 

With that if anyone in the South Central region would like to have a Mastercraft demo day at their site reach out to Trent Finalyson ( @TFIN ) or myself. Personally I would be more than thrilled to bring my boat over to your site and spend the day! Or come on over to my place and give it a try!

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I don't mind skiing behind older boats. My back up boat is a 2004 196 with ZO. But finding individuals willing to use their boats for all tournaments is just as hard as getting a promo boat. They usually have to carry extra insurance $500k liability and AWSA as additional insured and don't want the wear and tear on their boat. Sometimes we can find one for a day or so. If we don't support the manufactures, the programs will go away. Just look how much people complained with Nautique cut back their program last year. If we continue complaining about the boats and saying older boats are better, why invest in the future. As a promo owner, I'm not in this to make money, but I do like to at least break even or cost me a little. We need to stop trying to live in the past, things are not going to get cheaper, not just skiing.
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The term Promo means that the promo boat and (promo guy) are promoting the manufacture's product.

It is the manufactures responsibility to make it worth the "promo guy" time and effort. It seems like the boat should belong to the factory and should be turned back to them when the factory wants to promote a new or better product. It is nice to ski behind the latest and greatest and if the tournament director wants to show case the latest and greatest they should be able to charge a $5 premium entry fee to cover the promo guys time and gas for the tow rig. The factory should supply the boat.

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10 years in the cc program and lost money every year but 1.

In one case I got a call from a site 2.5 hrs away on a Thursday prior to event. I asked at least for lodging help or to stay with someone but they were unable so I made the decision to remain at home. The site owners called CC and complained to them, after which I had to explain it to CC.

In another case I showed up Friday 3.5 hours south of me and pulled practice after which the site owners asked me for any practice money collected.

How the times have changed in last few years.

Another issue is trying to keep up with YOY price increase.

I respect anyone who Promos. Show up early, leave last, lose money and have to own an nice truck.

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@T_C if that was the program I suspect all 3 factories would say "good luck” and move on.

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At the end of it the promo guy should be able to walk away cash neutral.

Hours based depreciation on the boat

Miles Depreciation on truck and trailer

Room and board within reason

If they are skiing, a person could see their way to a free entry as well... hard to have an event without a boat.

 

They voluntarily joined the promo program so they know they're going to be out money on the turnover to a new boat YoY but they shouldn't be out anything for getting the boat to an event.

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@T_C it is about economics not apathy

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Promo guys get a free boat they can ski behind as well, in return you use it for events. You do choose to be to be that “promo guy” and we do appreciate it, however you can just think about as not having to make a boat payment and that money can go towards the trips. Our Nautique promo guy is very generous with his boat, and never complains about being compensated because skiing and events is what he loves to do.
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@bigskieridaho you are totally misinformed if you think being promo means a free boat. There is cost or financial peril with each of the 3 programs. It is more expensive than ever so I'm just saying tournament organizers and skiers should be looking for ways to support the promo guys.

 

The argument can be made that being a Nautique or MasterCraft promo today is better than it was in the past because you don't have to sell your own boat at the end but the boat is certainly not free. The Malibu guys are still buying and selling their own boats so if they get lucky some years and sell their boat for a profit that's great but other years they're likely to take a loss.

 

FYI - my boat is technically not a promo boat. This thread is not me fundraising for myself.

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There has been some changes recently to the model year a boat can be used, in class C it is now all the way back to 2009 and for records it was just extended to 3 years old, so some steps are being taken but it has not shown to aide in any increase in events, at least this past year.

 

As for promo guys, yes we need to think of ways to help them but its not just the promo guys themselves but also we need to think of more ways to make this worthwhile for the manufacturers. They are not seeing an ROI on giving out 30 plus free boats a year when they only sell 200 are best. The profit margin on them is small and they sell 2000 wakeboard boats a year. So its a tough sales pitch.

 

At the end of the day we have to prove that the promo program sells more boats.

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As far as what I know how the Nautique promo program works:

The promotional agent is not the owner of the boat. A dealer orders the boat equipped as prescribed by the manufacturer and the color, bells and whistles the dealer orders. Then the dealer is assigned a agent by the manufacturer promotional director. It is a joint decision between a dealer and the manufacturer. Then this agent will pay aproxamatly $3500 to utilize the boat for their own enjoyment and is assigned a number of events both agreed upon by the dealer and the promo director. This agent can only put a small amount of personal hours and a small amount of promo participation hours roughly totaling less then 200 hours. The dealer then gets the boat returned at the end of the season if the promo agent has not sold it for the dealer. Again each dealer will make the deal with these agents as per what they feel will benefit their dealership.

5 years ago there were nearly 50 boats being utilized under the old promo ownership program nation wide and I am including athletes team boats and a few loose boats the factory proper supplied.

That number is now around 30 boats covering the same territory, with certain restrictions. Restrictions such as a tournament must have a minimum of around 20 entrys. If a boat is transported say over 100 miles round trip, the loc then must make an agreement for compensation for the travel expense.

Now Nautique wants very much to have their products utilized in the sports competitions and they pay a very large amount of money in licensing fees and support to our organization to do so.

However in the last number of years nautique asked for compensation in some manor or another as they have participated at a level that the other three manufacturers combined could not equate too , our organization turn them down.

Now Nautiques have stipulations that a LOC must adhear too and Nautiques are no longer sending boats to almost every event scheduled.

I still go back too are our current rules and guidelines towards towboat usage for competition a good route given the current trends and atmosphere in our sport? AWSA will not deny tournaments for older boat usage. 2008 is the last year for inclusion. In May I got a rule exception to use a 09 196 in our record as Nautique was not ready to let the new boat be utilized.

Bottom line want to hold an event with new boats? Then a LOC has to make the arrangements and the deal to do so.

If tacking on money to an already high entry to do so is the direction then so be it, want to play? Got to pay!!

 

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Seems to me the manufacturers are supporting the sport, rather than the sport driving sales thru tourneys, and they are beginning to realize same in dollars and cents.

 

On the one hand they need to sell some lower margin tourney boats...on the other hand they have become a pretty expensive proposition.

 

As for promo guys/gals...love 'em. They should not pay for tourneys, food or lodging. The rest of us shouldn't complain about $25 higher tourney fees per person...if we are skiing tourneys in the first place, have $2K slalom skis, expensive boats of our own, and the means to get there and lodge we are doing ok and can support the promo people.

 

I remember the BOS income distribution from @Horton survey.

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I agree that the incentives need to be in place to support the Promo "owners", and a additional fee to be included with entry fee of the tournament is one of, or part of a package of solutions. However, depending on magnitude of the entry fee increase, a balance needs to be found. If entry fee increase "too much" and fewer skiers attend tournaments we could end up with a death spiral of lower participants driving up higher entry fees....causing less participation.
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@bigskieridaho you are so misinformed. Promo members put out between 55 to 65K for there boats. As stated earlier mentioned Malibu team members do have to sell there boat at the end of the season. MC has buy back program. Nautique has a lease type program as Jody Seal mentioned in an earlier post. A promo person may have to tow 2 plus hours spend all day or weekend at an event not including regionals or nationals which are 5 to 7 day tournaments. He might get a free entry or hotel out of it if he is lucky. He gets NO compensation from the MFG nor does anybody pay for his gas for his tow vehicle. The promo person has to carry additional insurance on the boat a 500K boat insurance policy just to have the boat at tournaments.

Plus make the boat payment and or pay cash. Either way that doesn’t sound free to me.

If you would like to be apart of the MC team call your local dealer or MC. If you are able to be apart of the team and see what type of commitment it takes maybe your option will change.

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Being in the Promo Program for 8 years now, I assure you it’s not profitable, it does cost money and it’s in need of “Promo Incentive” by the LOC. Personally, with the changes that are evolving, if/when my dealer needs me, that will take first priority. Of course we do have a personal life and sometimes we have other plans. I’ve decided that if I’m asked to attend a tournament and if that event hasn’t been a good fit for me in the past, that may be a weekend where I help the dealer with a demo day or take a weekend with my family. As a Promo Rep, it’s not my place to suggest bigger incentives. If they want to keep us coming back, they need to come up with a good plan. At times, I just have to tell myself “I’m doing my part to promote the sport.” Thanks @dave2ball and @MS for your comments.
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I was a Promo Team member for Correct Craft for over 27 years. I purchased 30 boats over the years. I assure you that it is not free. I did it as a contribution to the sport that I love. I was also very loyal to Correct Craft and supported many tournaments a year: Sometimes making a 20 hour round trip to pull Regionals and Nationals. The financial hardship that promo boat owners have to endure is real. There used to be more people that wanted to get involved with these programs. MasterCraft and Correct Craft used to have about 200 promo boats nationwide: Now only 30 for Correct Craft. This is definitely a sign of declining industry support related to the decline in waterskiing events and participation. People that continue to be promo team members should be recognized and appreciated: I would still be in the program today if there were a bit more appreciation for this thankless job. The new programs seem to be improving for the better, but this job of being a promo team member is always going to be a loss of time and money. I doubt that these programs will ever be a break even or profitable arrangement. Those dedicated few will always be making donations of time and money to support waterskiing and provide a sort of free advertising for the manufacturers that they represent. I hope that I am wrong, but it seems that the promo programs are on the way out. I see more and more tournaments pulled by the local club boats and less choices of boat manufacturers represented. Sorry to ramble on, but this is a subject dear to my heart. We have needed new solutions for many years. I will gladly pay more at each tournament if it will help this problem, but I think we are nearing extinction with the promo programs.
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@Alvin_Neff I too was on Nautique for over 40 years also. I agree with you on just about everything except the notion the promo teams will go away. I believe that it if things don’t change it may come come down to the cordinators to do much of the leg work and just pull the needed 20% of tournaments for nationals and the rest will be up to the tournament hosts. I really hope I am wrong.
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Thank you all promo owners, I get it and appreciate it.

 

Going forward, someone has to pay for the boats we use in events. Seems like there are 3 options for subsidy: 1) boat companies 2) the promo owner or 3) the skiers in the events. Perhaps 1 is fading and 2 are justifiably growing weary. I am fine with 3 personally.

 

This fall I used my personal non-promo boat to pull a local class C. I was chief driver and it would have been hard to get promos to our lake. Everyone in the tournament was a friend of mine so what the heck. But I would not want to do this all the time.

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This thread has really made me start thinking and trying to justify in my mind why I have spent a whole lot of money over the years on almost 40 inboards, and over 30 years of pulling tournaments. This year I spent 26 days away from my lake, towed my boat around 4,000 miles with a brand new truck and spent a WHOLE lot of money on gas, hotels, and entry fees, not even considering boat costs and maintenance. (Water pump impeller, FCC filters, primary fuel filters, 4 oil changes, boat cleaning and waxing), using up 10 vacation days that I could have sold back for a ton of money. I think you get the picture. Those were days that I could have spent at my lake relaxing and skiing all I wanted. The only justification that I can come up with is that I try to support the sport that I love. I also love watching the kids grow up and improve (and yes, start kicking my butt). I also enjoyed it. I really felt bad having to turn a couple tournaments down this year. It is getting harder every year to explain this to my wife. Bottom line is I do it because I enjoy it, but if I start enjoying it less....
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What about this - it can be refined. $50 per tachometer hour, free tournament entry, and obviously tournament used gas - personal or promo. We'll have tournament towboats. Tournament sponsors increase entry fees to cover. Nautique/MC promo operators - give the $50 tach hour money to the boat owner.
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@skiinxs sums up @Horton original question. The promo team promotes the Manufacture's product. If the company doesn't see enough benefit to the program to make it worth the promo guys effort and if the promo guy doesn't see the benefit to the program then don't do it. In the past promo teams would get a new boat every year or two. That isn't necessary any more. The 200 for example was around for a long time and we could have used the original promo boats for a lot more years which would spread the cost out over a longer period of time and when the boat was worn out the factory would take it back(ownership of the promo boat should remain with the factory to begin with). There is no need for a new promo boat every year if only the color changes. If we need to increase the entry fee to compensate the promo guy for bringing the boat so be it. If there is no promo boat at the tournament the extra fee should go to whoever owns the boat, could be the LOC club or a private owner. I can't believe that there weren't enough 200's sold during that model run to make it well worth Nautique's advertising dollars to support the promo program. The same goes for Master Craft. The new boats are so good I don't see any major design changes for a number of years. Those promo boats could remain in service for years.
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@T_C , First, with 2/3 of the Promo Boats going thru the local dealers; these boats are on their floor plan being leased to the Promo Rep (Nautiques Program anyway). They want to get them back asap so they can sell them while still “near new.” This is good for the tournaments in that new boats arrive each year. Second, regarding a fee included in each entry fee to compensate the Promo Rep, how is this handled if 2 or 3 Promo Boats support a tournament? I assume it would just get diluted by the number of boats that show up. If/when this is implemented, the LOC will probably choose not to provide lodging for the Promo on long trips. That would have to be worked out. Not sure what the answer is. As for Nautique’s involvement, I “think” they are still looking at improvements and maybe “leading the pack” with changes albeit, less boats nationwide. In the end, the Promo Rep doesn’t want to lose money and neither does the LOC. I guess everyone must do the math. Hopefully, innovative evolvements will occur.
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After reading all these treads it seem like all the push back against promo boats being compensated and a resolution to solve an on going issue have never been on a promo team and made the financial or time commitment necessary to get a boat to a tournament. I don’t see any or very few privately owned boats stepping up to offer up or bring there boats to tournaments. The endless era of readily available promo boats are over. The dealers didn’t feel they were getting a fair deal when the promo boats were sold in there area at a reduced price. Now with the MFG changing the programs to favor the dealers. But the dealer is now being forced to put out money to buy back these boats with 150 hrs on average. So they are not going to have 4 -5 boats In there dealer area may be one or two. It maybe time for all skiers and or tournaments to start paying up to have a towboat two year and newer boats at the site.
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@liquid d I figure @bigskieridaho has gotten more than enough grief over his comments.

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I had a MC promo for 26 years, my dealer took the boat back at my cost, unless I sold it, I kept my service pay, and my years of service rebate, usually arriving on December 15th each year. That was until the 2008 black on black MC, had to give it away, from then on I was lucky to sell each year boat at cost. The problem is were not talking about $40,000 boats anymore. If you want a new boat at your events, buy one use it and sell it every year
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Maybe this is naive, but why does a promo boat have to be a one person gig. Perhaps a small group could be the "promo team" for a specific area, it's less financial and time commitment for everyone and the factory gets even more people that are promoting the brand. If one person isn't available to get the boat to an event, chances are good that another would be.

 

Just a thought...

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The only compensation we ever wanted was a fair offer (ie- reasonable loss) on our boat at the end of the season so we could order a new one. Regardless of who takes the risk; promo owner, dealer, or mfg, if the local tournament skiers don’t buy the product, we won’t see new promos for much longer.

 

I’m guessing our promo has cost us $4-5k per year in terms of depreciation based on what I’ve seen on ski-it-again. If I do run a promo in the future, I’d strongly prefer to know my cost/loss upfront (ie - CC/MC programs) then deal with the hassle of a sale.

 

@lazzn - that is how I did it with our CarbonPro. We have a 3 member LLC that owns the boat, I was responsible for all of the promo obligations, we split the costs amongst the owners. Definitely softens the blow from a cost perspective. If all co-owners/contributors are on the same page it works really well. The biggest challenge was coordinating weekends when the boat was gone, but we always made it work. At this point we’d probably only run it in a pinch at our home site.

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I highly doubt the sales & marketing execs. at the boat manufacturers rely on the tournament promo program as a reliable means for marketing and selling new boats to consumers.

 

Isn't the real reason for the promo program to generate revenue for our governing body?

 

USAWS needs revenue

Skiers need boats for tournaments

USAWS makes a deal with boat manufacturers

USAWS requires promo boats to be used for tournaments

USAWS collects money from boat manufacturers

Boat manufacturers get free labor from Promo owners

Skiers are expected to compensate Promo owners

 

I was a promo boat member for 4 years and to me it's a scam.

 

IMO there are 4 things that can be done:

 

1 - USAWS provides its own set of standards for promo owner compensation - at the very least they could mandate that all promo owners are not charged tournament fee. As a regulatory body, there is a conspicuous lack of regulations on a major source of revenue.

 

2 - The boat manufacturers can start paying for their free labor. The modernization of the programs to "take back" the boat is real progress, but still too little for guys like @skiinxs

 

3 - Charge more for tournament fees and specifically allocate that to promo boats. At least in Ohio the cost of a tournament (nearly all Class C) has been stuck at $50 for a decade. By comparison it's $80 to run in your local half-marathon. Tournament directors can't make enough money with 35 skiers (less discounts to officials and juniors) to pass on any compensation to promo owners. This could be an option for tournaments - much like skiing Class C or L in the same tournament, but with a different pricing structure. The difference is that if you pay the "promo fee" you get to ski behind the new Nautique, if you don't pay, then you ski behind the 2012 200 with 650 hours on it.

 

4 - Get rid of the promo program altogether. The reality is most tournaments (in Ohio at least) are held at private sites and personal boats are used. If the program went away, we would just keep using the same new boats provided by the same boat owners each year.

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