Boat Dealers: Helping Your Customers with Delivery
North America’s boat ownership continues grow and the forecast for 2018 only supports a continued upward swing in sales. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the outlook for 2018 new powerboat sales is another five to six percent increase above 2017.
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, basically a check list to demonstrate your experience and professionalism to your clients.
Client Transparency with a 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 recommend that you take photographs or video 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.
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 check list 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.