"We've never done anything like this, but these are unprecedented times," Yamaha Marine Group president Phil Dyskow told Soundings Trade Only recently.
Authorized participating outboard dealers can defer the interest due on eligible boxed Yamaha engines in inventory already under interest payment to GE-Atlanta as of Nov. 25. The program will "defer bill" the interest on qualified boxed inventory for November, December, January and February, so the interest need not be paid until July 15. Participating dealers' normal interest program will begin again on March 1.
"During these tough times, we know interest expenses on unsold inventory are a challenge for our dealers," said Dyskow. "At the recent MRAA conference, many dealers challenged manufacturers to do something to help. Well, this is Yamaha's answer."
As a retail incentive for boat-show season, Yamaha also will apply an interest credit to dealers' GE-Atlanta accounts for eligible Yamaha outboards sold, retail-registered and paid off in full to GE-Atlanta during the applicable deadlines.
Yamaha Boat Companies - Skeeter, G3 and Century - will also offer an Interest Deferral Program to their dealers for eligible boats in inventory, based on similar terms and conditions.
To be authorized to participate, eligible Yamaha full-line dealers must sign up for the program on or before Dec. 15.
Dyskow said this is an expensive undertaking for Yamaha, but one that is necessary to ensure the survival of its dealer network through the slowest selling season of the year.
"We're not made of money . but we've focused our financial resources on what we can do to help dealers sell more product," said Dyskow.
"Ultimately, the way to get out of this industry funk is to sell more boats," he added. "That sounds simple, but if we do that then everything else will take care of itself."
On a related topic, Dyskow spoke briefly about one of the biggest obstacles to selling boats these days: the credit market. He noted that the federal government is committed to infusing money into the capital markets, but many banks and lenders are sitting on cash from the first phase of the stimulus package so they can strengthen their balance sheets.
Dyskow says that a second or third round of stimulus from the federal government will free up the credit markets, perhaps as early as next month.
In the meantime, Yamaha is experimenting with its own retail finance program. This fall the company offered a finance program for small engines and repower engines. Another program planned for this winter will offer retail financing incentives for a limited number of Yamaha products.