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North America’s boat ownership continues grow and the forecast for 2021 only supports a continued upward swing in sales. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), boat sales have seen an increase as high as nine percent compared to 2019 levels. The cause of this uptick in sales has been linked to first time boat buyers seeking new hobbies amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. With boating being a safe activity and it being easy to practice social distancing, more and more consumers are expected to discover boating as a new hobby.

In fact, the increase in boat sales has been so high that the challenge that’s come along with it is keeping up with inventory. With boats selling so rapidly, manufacturing facilities have had to play some catch up. Whenever the boats do in fact get to clients though, it’s important for dealers to offer the best possible delivery experience. With the rise in first-time buyers, a good first impression may make all the difference in determining whether a boat buyer is a one-time customer, or a customer for life.

As a boat dealer, an important part of the customer experience is the delivery of your client’s new boat. There can be a lot to learn, plan and understand regarding how to transport a boat. Working transparently with your customer to show them exactly how you plan on safely delivering their new pride & joy will make for a strong customer experience and help build loyalty. Here are a few ideas on setting up this process. By following this simple check list, you can demonstrate your experience and professionalism to your clients.

Boat Delivery Check List

Confirm Good Condition or Identify Pre-Existing Damage – Whether perfect or slightly damaged before your transporter loads the boat, an inspection must be done to ensure any responsibility for the shipment and the condition of a boat prior to transport. This helps to avoid any conflicts around vessel damaged in transit, as it should be easy to distinguish between new and pre-existing marks or dents. Some of the most common things to look for include cracks and scratches in the fiberglass, damage beneath the hull and broken windshields.

Pick a Marina or Boatyard with a 14′ Clearance – As a preferred loading spot, when choosing a viable loading location for your client’s vessel, selecting locations that have a minimum clearance of 14′ regardless of the size of your boat, it will help to avoid branches or wires and could interfere with the boat.

Secure Everything Down on the Vessel – You’ll need to take accountability for the individual items and fixtures aboard the boat, as everything must be secured down to minimize the risk of damage. While this should be second nature for experienced boat dealers, ensuring this is part of the check list allows your employees to demonstrate a secure vessel and its fixtures, as this negates the risk of human error and careless mistakes.

Ensure That All Fuel and Water Tanks Are Drained – Prior to sending your client’s newly purchased vessel on its way, you’ll need to ensure that all fuel and water tanks have been drained. While some will want all tanks completely drained, some clients will ask you to leave them one quarter full. It’s important that you clarify this point as early as possible, while ensuring that you comply with this fully. Regardless, you should remove any drain plugs from the hull, as this is a mandatory requirement for all boatyards and marinas.

Disconnect Batteries and Secure the Cables Elsewhere – In order to prevent any contact, you should also make sure that all batteries are disconnected prior to your boat being shipped. Not only this, but all associated cables should be secured well away from the battery unit, preferably below deck, and hidden away. This not only protects and prevents the unnecessary loss of battery power, but it also serves to keep the cables away from terminals and negates the risk of any accidental contact.

Take Photos or Video Before Shipping – It’s strongly recommended that you take photographs or videos to document the pre-shipment state and process. This is the final step of ensuring all is in order, and it might even be a nice touch to pro-actively send them to your customer when their boat is on the way.

Streamline The Process

This type of process can be automated by using a marine/dealer software solution with integrated Sales and Service Management (Boat and Major Unit Sales) that includes Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functionality. In DockMaster, when a boat is sold, an internal work order can be created from a template where each of the checklist items above and any other tasks specific to your dealership are included. By using templates, you can ensure that a similar process is followed each time. Furthermore, the sales manager and/or service manager should be required to sign-off on the work order once it’s marked complete by your technician.

While these are only a few points to cover in the delivery and shipping process, with a solid checklist in place, you can expand it to safely and securely prepare the boats you sell for travel to anywhere in the world, while protecting your investment and achieving genuine peace of mind with your customer and you.


DockMaster Software is an industry leading management system for marinas, boatyards, and boat dealerships. DockMaster includes Unit Sales, Prospecting and F&I with fully integrated financial management and numerous integrations with CRM applications, dealer websites and text/messaging services. The Service module includes estimating, labor tracking, and complete parts management with ordering/receiving, subcontractor fulfillment and invoicing. DockMaster Mobile allows technicians to clock on/off jobs from any mobile device. Visual Marina™ management includes storage & billing, occupancy tracking, reservations and dry stack management, including integrations to leading consumer applications for boat rentals, online reservations, concierge/launch scheduling and our new Fuel Integration with FuelCloud. DockMaster also includes Point of Sale, Order Entry with eCommerce and a complete accounting system. Learn more at and follow DockMaster on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn. Or email

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