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Why Is It Important to Buy from the Right Boat Dealer?

Everyone simply wants the best price, but buying from the right dealer can save you more than you know.

If we’re being 100% honest with ourselves, buying a boat can be overwhelming and confusing for a consumer. Between picking which brand and model is best for you and then trying to find the best deal on that boat, it’s easy to be led down the wrong path by salesmen who are supposedly trying to help you. This guide was designed to shed a little light on how boat dealers operate. It's also intended to show you how to find dealers with your best interest in mind. After reading, we hope you are able to ask the right questions and know how to spot a good dealer.

A Valuable Relationship

Lasting and Valuable Relationships

Let’s just jump right into some things that many dealers probably wouldn’t want you to know. We’ve got nothing to hide, and this bit of information can absolutely make or break your boat buying experience. Listen close!

When it comes to making money as a boat dealer, there are two schools of thought. The first is an old-school mentality based on short-term gain for the dealer. This method  consists of getting every possible dollar out of the buyer. It also puts emphasis on taking advantage of buyers that choose not to negotiate. As horrible as that sounds, this actually happens in the industry. This does absolutely no good for the customer or even the dealer in the long run. That’s why we subscribe to the second philosophy, which is this based on a long term relationship that works for both parties. This method is based on the principle that the dealer gives the consumer a fair price in the beginning. This puts the dealer in a position to sell a customer more than one boat in the future. Dealers that do business this way simply understand that selling at fair prices and keeping customers excited about boating make the buying process a win for both parties.

What Does This Mean?

With that said, it is your job as a consumer to identify what dealers are interested in that relationship. Here’s our best tip on how exactly to determine who is and who isn’t. Let the dealer know in advance that you are interested in a continuing business relationship. You also want to make sure to let the dealer know you would appreciate their best price up front. Determining a dealer that values short-term monetary gain over a lasting affiliation is extremely simple as well. This can be determined if you are given one price up front and it keeps dropping along the process. This doesn’t mean that the price can’t change from the start, often manufacturers will offer small discounts to the dealer. However, the initial price you receive should never change by $10,000+ as a dealer’s fear of losing you grows. While we’re on the subject of price, let’s now talk about why finding the absolute lowest price also may not mean you have found the perfect dealer for you.

Price vs. Cost

We didn’t invent this concept, and there is a good chance you’ve heard about the difference between price and cost. To sum it up, the initial price paid for a boat does not always reflect the boat’s cost of ownership. It can be enticing to go for the dealer that is showing you the lowest price. This can often be deceiving though. It is important to consider who will actually provide you with the lowest cost of ownership. Here are some things to consider:

Concierge Service Special Program

Special Programs

Certain dealers offer special programs that can have a high monetary value, but save you money over time and not up front. For example, Charlotte MasterCraft Center offers up to two years of free concierge service with the purchase of every new boat (you can learn more about that here or click the button below). Normally you could be out of pocket thousands of dollars in maintenance per year, not to mention the headache of towing your boat up to the store to get serviced. This program and ones like it can save you a lot of money and headache, so it’s important to factor that in when determining who is actually giving you the best price.

Properly Educated Buyers

Proper Education

Although it may be harder to determine what it saves you in dollars, there is value in proper education. Certain dealers will not only spend time educating you on how to use your new toy once, but will actually schedule a follow-up appointment to make sure you are an expert. At Charlotte MasterCraft Center, this follow-up delivery is a way to further expand your knowledge about your boat. These are often complete with more advanced information on how your boat works as well as surf or wakeboard lessons for the family. There is something to be said for a dealer who is willing to make sure that everyone in your family is experiencing the best of what your boat has to offer, and some are willing to do this for free.

Service Experience

A Better Service Experience

Finally, let’s look at something with tremendous value that has nothing to do with money at all. This subject is based on the premise that your time is worth something. A boating experience free of headaches is what makes all the money you spent on the boat worth it. We’re talking about your service experience.

As much as we hate to admit it, boats are not perfect. Each one is built by hand with a slight degree of human imperfection baked in. This means that it should be expected that your boat could have an issue beyond regular maintenance. How your dealer handles these situations, however, can be the difference between an issue being a slight bump in the road or a catastrophic failure.

Why Is This Important?

If you’ve been boating for a long time, you’ve likely had an experience like this before: You make plans with friends for a day on the water. People travel from near and far to join you on your boat for the day, then just as the fun is about to begin, you find out that your boat is not working properly. Regardless of the brand you bought or how new your boat is, these things can happen. This is where that solid, long-term relationship with your dealer comes in. Part of what makes a dealer money is helping their customers enjoy their boating experience enough to continue having interest in new boats. This means they will always go the extra mile to make sure your little hiccup doesn’t ruin your entire day. As a consumer, it’s important to ask your dealer how they would handle this type of issue and if they have a procedure in place to take care of you as soon as a problem arises. If you get the feeling that they’re going to tell you they can "get your boat on the schedule in a couple of weeks,” run the other way and don’t look back.

Wrap Up

So to sum it up, finding the perfect dealer really boils down to one concept, and that concept is trust. When you buy a boat, you buy more than just the vessel. You buy an experience that starts with your first test drive and continues as long as you own the boat. The dealer you buy from must be more interested in helping you love boating than getting rid of another unit. If you can trust that you’re entering into a long-term relationship based on that, then you have found a dealer you should buy from. Settling for anything less can be the difference between buyers remorse and a happy life on the water.