Owner John Eppehimer discusses his goals to improve both communication and privacy throughout the loan approval process.
For many prospective boaters, securing financing to purchase that boat is far from a sure thing. BoatLoans.com aims to accommodate those who would rather undergo that process from the comfort of home, not a dealership, according to John Eppehimer, owner of BoatLoans.com.
Although it lacks the face-to-face interaction that is often part of the process, Eppehimer said BoatLoans.com is very much a service-minded company, working to ensure each applicant is communicated with throughout the approval process.
“Even if people do not have the proper credit, they deserve an answer,” Eppehimer said. “So often these customers put in applications and never hear anything back.”
Approximately 80 percent of applicants on his website are looking to pre-qualify before visiting the dealership. Eppehimer said this post-recession trend to pre-qualify early on in the boat-buying process makes BoatLoans.com a valuable resource.
“We are getting, more or less, the first shot with the consumer — they are looking to see if they are capable,” he said. “The world has changed and people want to know they have the ability before they sit down with the broker.”
BoatLoans.com works with eight different banks on financing options for applications with the guideline that the amount asked for exceeds $25,000. Eppehimer said banks generally do not finance for any less.
However, as part of his drive to build the company’s reputation as service-driven, Eppehimer said he has worked with applicants looking for as little as $1,700.
“It is all to gain a customer. I look at myself and where I came from earlier in my life when I couldn’t be a boat owner,” he said. “Somebody that is declined today, I still want to give them that service because five years from now they may be coming back for that big boat.”
Eppehimer said he is looking for partnerships beyond his customers as well. In the future, he would like to see BoatLoans.com turn into a one-stop resource for prospective boat owners, which would require boat builders, dealers, insurance companies and even marinas or boatels to join in.
“They want to buy a boat? They are going to need a manufacturer. And every person buying a boat will need insurance,” he said. “This goes the whole way through the industry from where are they going to dock that boat.”