Most people who are shopping for a boat go to a boat show with high expectations. The majority of boat show attendees however leave the show at the end of the day with nothing to show for their efforts but sore feet and a sunburn. The disappointment is as obvious as is the frustration. Boat shows are after all one of the least expensive ways to shop for a boat with the largest selection and the best deals. So what goes wrong?
Let us take the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show as an example. This is the largest boat show in the world. This year the show will feature more than 3 billion dollars worth of boats, yachts, superyachts, electronics, engines and thousands of accessories from every major marine manufacturer and builder worldwide. The Boat Show encompasses more than 3 million square feet of space, both on land and in water, at six sites. Surely with this kind of selection available you should be able to find exactly what you are looking for.
This is a short video of the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show last year.
The boat show that you attend is likely to be on a smaller scale than the one in Ft. Lauderdale. But the challenge is the same. No one has ever taught you how to shop for a boat at a boat show. Attending a boat show without a well thought out plan is likely not going to lead to satisfactory results by the end of the day. Here are some tips to guide you through the day and find the boat you want.
Go to the boat show website several days in advance. This is the link for the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show here. Most well organized boat shows should have a list of exhibitors somewhere on their site. Search that list for the boats that you want to take a look at and write down where that boat will be at the show. If the location is not listed there should be the name of the dealer with a contact number. Call the dealer and ask how to find them at the show. Get a cellphone number to call in case you get to the show and get lost in the maze of boats that are there.
Arrive at the show when the gates open as the crowds will be thinner than at mid-day. Get the show guide when you enter and locate the boat show map. Find a place to sit for a few minutes and mark the locations on the map where your boats are supposed to be displayed. Make a “You Are Here” mark on the map and plan your day. Failing to do this simple step will certainly lead to the day ending in frustration and disappointment.
Now this is likely to be the most valuable advice I can give you and that is to attend the show with your broker. If you do not have a yacht broker in your employ like you do an accountant and an attorney – get one. Unlike your accountant and your attorney who charge by the hour, yacht brokers do not get paid until a boat is sold. Furthermore, the yacht broker’s commission is paid by the seller. Most boat dealers will accommodate you if you insist on having your broker act as your agent in your purchase.
If the salesperson that meets you on the dock or at the booth in the convention center tells you that they don’t work with outside brokers you need to ask for the sales manager in that exhibit. The sales manager will likely be the owner of that dealership. The dealer is extremely unlikely to lose out on a sale just because you wish to use your broker as your agent in the deal. This will be especially true for every boat show in the United States this season.
Your yacht broker is also the best person to have in tow if you are considering the purchase of a brokerage or previously owned boat. It is a fallacy to think that you will get a better price if you deal directly with the listing broker. The seller is paying a commission whether there is one broker involved in the sale or two. The commission is simply split between two people rather than earned by one. With large numbers involved that are directly associated with your hard earned money this is the time you need to have a professional on your team whom you have grown to trust.
After the purchase of your home, buying a boat will likely be the largest buying decision you have to make. Most people are not born nor are they trained in how to search for or negotiate to buy a boat. Having your yacht broker meet you at the boat show will likely mean that not only do you not have to go through the effort of having to locate the boats you wish to see. You will not likely have to pay for the boat show tickets either or for lunch.
If you need a broker to show you around the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show please call me (954) 614-1663). If you don’t plan to attend but could use some help at a boat show in your home town and need a yacht broker to help I can refer you to someone locally. Call me (954) 614-1663 or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). And I would appreciate it if you left a comment on your experience at a recent boat show in the box below.
Have a great show!