YOU Need to Build The Dealer Relationship - 10/15/2008
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 you want to maximize your boating pleasure and minimize frustration, you need to make sure you buy your next new boat from someone with whom you have a relationship, not just a well-scrubbed kid in topsiders or a grisly old salt who says he knows it all. The Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show coming up on October 30th will be not only a good place to zero-in on your next boat, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to establish some relationships with dealers and their salespeople. You should take the first and, possibly, the second step to building a relationship. Yes, the customer is king and the salesman 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” and the salesperson doesn’t know who is real and who is a just a hull thumper. That’s why you need to take the extra step. Trust us, it will be worth it.

The Galati family, who own 10 dealerships all around the state of Florida, is remarkable because not only have they won Boating Industry Magazine’s highest honor, but they also represent eight of the top boat brands. For many of these brands Galati is the builders’ top-selling dealership. The Galati credo is to make boating more pleasurable for their clients, and profitability will take care of itself. Their efforts at customer service and at building customer relationships have obviously paid off on both scores. Our congratulations to Galati Yacht Sales!

Galati Yacht Sales 10 dealership locations with phone numbers…

Building Relationships

A recent two-month study by has discovered that 36% of reader requests for dealer contact go unanswered by dealers after 72 hours, and it is not much better after five days. Yes, this summer was one of the worst in anyone’s memory for boat sales, and yes, every inquiry should have been answered. But this is the boat business, and if you are a long-time boater we’re sure you’ve noticed the difference between boating and the rest of the world.

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Dealer contact info next to tests.
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.

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Three dealer contact buttons that transmit your member data ONLY to your local dealer in real time. provides three devices to help you find the right dealer: 1) The red Dealer Contact Card next to the boat tests (as seen above); 2) The three buttons that appear on every boat test page (see above); 3) Owner reviews that can steer you to or away from a dealership (see below).  This link appears on the home page and on each test page by brand.

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Owner reviews also contain comments about boat dealers.

Choosing the right boat is not easy. That’s why is in business – to help sort out the best boat and brand for you. But once you have made that decision, you need 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. Consumer laws permit you to buy from whomever you want, and shopping dealers will inform you of the best price on a boat, but you should think twice about buying  from a dealer outside your “territory.”

Industry Certified Dealers

The boating industry has a Dealer Certification Program to train marine dealers in good customer service. Over 400 dealers nationwide have been certified, and this list is a fine place to start your quest for a good dealer. To access the data base…

The Salesman is Your Friend

The power of a salesperson can be huge. A good one knows the lowest price he can sell the boat for. He also knows what equipment you should have, and what you should stay away from. He knows which lending institutions are likely to accept you and how you can save money on financing, insurance and many other things. While the right salesperson might not be worth his weight in gold, he could be worth his weight in silver.

Certain models in some boat lines are hard to sell on the used market. The good salesperson will know which ones they are and – if you have a relationship – will steer you to something else. He knows where slips are available, the electronics geek who can install your aftermarket chartplottter, and which canvas maker really stands behind his work.

Long story, short: whether you know it or not, you 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.

Should You 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. Policy advises that you simply pick up the phone and call the dealer yourself. Ask for the sales manager. Tell him the truth – you are doing research and you would like to ask him some questions.

FYI, when you click on a dealer contact button at like the ones shown above, we send your contact information ONLY to the brand you select – once. You should get a call back quickly during working hours if the builder and dealer are on the ball.  (Some aren't.)

Where to Make Contact?

Of course the best place to establish a relationship with a dealer is on his home turf. There you can see the dealer’s infrastructure and service facility. Is the place neat, clean and tidy, or a sloppy mess?

Boat shows are a good place to make your initial contacts. In that way you can meet several salespeople, take their measure in a relaxed atmosphere, then follow up after the show with the person with whom you connect best.

Use the fall to do your research, make your contacts and build relationships. And be sure to make your significant other part of the process. Then, when all of your ducks are lined up, you’ll know what to do.