We know that headline flies in the face of conventional thinking about client/salesperson relationships, but this is, after all, the boat business, not the real world. If a prospective boat owner wants to maximize his boating pleasure and minimize frustration, he needs to make sure he buys his next new boat from someone with whom he has a strong relationship, not just a well-scrubbed kid in topsiders or a grisly old salt who says he knows it all.
The buyer should take the first and, possibly, the second step to building a relationship. Yes, the customer is king and the salesperson should be following up; but the trouble is that he/she is dealing with dozens of people who are all “playing it close to the vest” or just dreaming while killing time at work checking out boat manufacturer websites. The salesperson doesn’t know who is real and who is a just a hull thumper. That’s why taking this extra step is worth it.
A Boating Salesperson is a Lot More
The power of a salesperson can be huge. A good one knows the lowest price he can sell the boat for. He knows what equipment should be on a boat and what is superfluous. He also knows the right incentives including extended warrantees and rebates on factory or dealer-installed accessories such as navigation electronics. He knows which lending institutions are likely to approve a candidate and how a buyer can save money on financing, insurance and many other things. The right salesperson significantly enhances the overall buying experience.
Certain models in some boat lines are hard to sell on the used market. The knowledgeable salesperson will know which ones they are and -- and if a good relationship has been established– will steer a buyer to something else. He knows where slips are available, the electronics shop who can install aftermarket navigation equipment, and which canvas maker really stands behind its work.
Long story, short: a boat owner should never be without a strong relationship with both a salesperson and a dealership. Boats and boating are simply too complicated and problematical to go it alone.
Finding the Right Dealer
The fall is a good time to be doing research on your next boat and also research on your next dealer. A good dealer will make your boating experience more pleasurable and more rewarding. Once you have developed a relationship with a dealer you like and respect, good things will flow from it.
BoatTEST.com provides three devices to help buyers find the right dealer: 1) The red Dealer Contact Card next to the boat tests (as seen above); 2) The four buttons that appear on every boat test page (see above); 3) Ask BoatTEST a Question (see above). This link appears on the BoatTEST.com home page and on each test page by brand.
The Galati family, who owns 10 dealerships all around the state of Florida, has won Boating Industry Magazine’s highest honor and the Galati family represents eight of the top boat brands. For many of these brands Galati is the builders’ top-selling dealership. The Galati family’s credo is to make boating more pleasurable for its clients, and profitability will take care of itself. Their efforts at customer service and at building relationships have obviously paid off on both scores.
When a BoatTEST member clicks on a dealer contact button at BoatTEST.com like the ones shown above, we send contact information ONLY to the brand selected -- once. A salesperson from the dealer should follow up quickly during business hours. Three days later, BoatTEST follows up with all members who clicked on a “Customer Service” button to make sure a dealer followed up. If one did not, the builder is immediately notified.
BoatTEST is in business to help consumers find the right boat for their application. That is our reason for being. Likewise, we want to help our members to establish relationships with the right dealer and salesperson. When our “Customer Service” contact buttons are used, we do our best to make sure requests for information and help comes quickly.
Choosing the right boat is not easy. That’s why BoatTEST.com is in business – to help sort out the best model and brand for any given application. But once a buyer decides on a brand and model, he needs to find a good dealer and salesperson for that brand. Be advised that most boat builders do not like customers buying boats from dealers outside their “territory” because it often causes servicing issues. The selling dealer should be near where an owners boating is done.
Consumer laws let a buyer purchase from whomever he wants, and shopping dealers will provide realistic pricing information on a boat, but think twice about buying from a dealer far from where the boat is kept.
How to Make Contact?
During the last several years, boaters have discovered that if they put their name and email address in the wrong place they may be called or spammed when they don’t want to be. Unfortunately, some organizations in the boating business have advertised for names and then distributed them to a dozen builders to send to their dealers. It was a well-intentioned effort (it is still going on), but it drives both would-be boat buyers and dealers’ salespeople nuts.
Boat shows and boating industry ads are the biggest culprit of this practice. When you are ready to make dealer contact, go to the right source.
BoatTEST.com advises that a buyer simply pick up the phone and call the dealer. Ask for the sales manager. A buyer should be honest, explaining that he’s doing some research and would like to ask some questions. When that happens, response is usually swift.