What show customers are thinking

As another boat show season gets underway, wouldn’t it be nice to know what those would-be customers are thinking as they walk the aisles and docks browsing and shopping?

Well, it’s a good bet that at least some of them will have the lessons of an article printed in the January 2011 issue of Boating magazine in mind. Titled “Backstage at the Boat Show,” the article aims to arm readers with “insider information” as the author walks the show floor accompanied by an industry veteran who offers insights into how buyers can make the best deal.

Among the tips the insider ­– identified only as “Jack” – shares are these:

– Qualify your salesperson: Jack says customers should make sure the salespeople they are talking to at the show actually work for the dealership and weren’t just brought in for the event. He also advises them to ask salespeople if they are specialists in the brand being discussed, and if they’ve been through that company’s sales training and been certified.

– Visit the competition: The advice here is to shop around and make sure to let a dealer’s competitors know what brands you are considering, because it’s likely they’ll bring up some potential drawbacks you won’t hear from the boat’s seller. Some of that, of course, will be the salesperson trying to sow doubt, but by talking to enough people a consensus opinion on a particular boat is likely to emerge.

– When you find someone you trust, listen: After making sure you’re talking to a salesperson you feel is qualified, don’t assume everything he or she is saying is a sales pitch. If you’re told a bigger engine is needed in order for you to use the boat as you plan, there are legitimate reasons for that.

– The dealership isn’t making a killing on the deal: There’s not as much room for dealers to haggle as you might think. As Jack says in the article, “When you go in and try to negotiate with a dealer, he’s already taking a very thin margin.”

– Don’t be afraid to walk away: That’s the final piece of advice Jack offers. His reasoning – “In this economy, that boat and that deal will probably still be there tomorrow.”


  1. Great article from Jon! Also wanted to offer up RBFF’s latest research we shared at IBEX and MDCE about who’s buying boats. http://www.rbff.org/uploads/RBFF_Study_-_Full_Deck_(Revised_09010).pdf

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