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Find the Right Boat Dealer

Make sure where you buy your boat is as good as what you buy

January 5, 2016
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buying a boat
Don’t fail to focus on the importance of the dealer in the buying equation. By Randy Vance

These five tips, from among 12 on boatingmag.com, can make the difference between a bad dealer experience you could regret for years or a great one that leaves you smiling, thanks to Jim ­Hendricks, an editor for Boating, Sport Fishing and Salt Water Sportsman magazines.

Meet and Greet?

Does ­someone from the sales staff welcome you early on during a visit and offer to help? Or do you wander around ignored? The difference is likely to be indicative of the sort of attention you will get down the road from sales and service.

Just Google It

Find ­comments on forums or ­discussion boards pertaining to dealers; you can also ask for ­others for their ­experiences. Of course, one or two vitriolic rants or effusive love-fests don’t mean much, but a whole slew of either angry or satisfied commenters can be telling.

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Visit the Service Department

Is it efficient, clean and organized? Chat with a mechanic or two and/or the service manager; get a sense of the culture of the shop. Also see if it holds manufacturer certifications — the more, the better (especially if current or recent).

Chat Up Some Customers

Does your salesman seem reluctant to contact some of his clients for permission to share their email addresses or phone numbers? Or does he say yes, then promptly get back to you with that information? If not, that’s a black mark. If he does get back to you with client information, sure, they’re going to say glowing things — probably. But before you spend an arm and/or a leg, it’s worth talking to them.

Location, Location, Location

Sometimes, caught up in the excitement of buying a boat, you might consider a two-hour drive a small inconvenience, but it could be more significant when you need service — plus, that will usually mean two round trips to drop off a boat and pick it up when it’s ready.

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