Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 04-04-2018, 12:11   #1
Registered User
 
Jammer's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,306
Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

Bricks-and-mortar businesses catering to the boat owner. It seems to me that there isn't much love between boat owners and the local and waterside businesses that support them.

I've heard all the rants from the boat owners' point of view. We all have. We know. Much of it comes down to high prices, a lack of organization, unreasonable policies, bad advice, and an unwillingness to stand behind products and services that didn't quite work out the way we, the boat owners, expected.

The level of disdain, it seems to me, is higher than for most other businesses.

What is it about the business of being a marine service provider that makes this so hard?

Are there high-quality businesses out there? You know, places that are generally well liked, that people perceive as being fair and organized and so on?

What is it about customers in this business that justifies, in the minds of businessmen, the attitude and practices that are all too typical?

Is it getting better?

What can boaters do to improve it?
__________________

Jammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 14:02   #2
Moderator
 
JPA Cate's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: aboard, cruising in Australia
Boat: Sayer 46' Solent rig sloop
Posts: 16,554
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

One that has consistently good responses is Fisheries Supply in Seattle. [no affiliation]

On the East Coast, perhaps Schooner Chandlery? [no personal experience]

I think one problem marine related businesses is it is costly to store products on the premises, but as soon as couriers get involved, there's another place for things to go wrong, and people being people, things, do.

Another problem is that there is an innate conflict between good service and high profit, and they have to solve the problem some way. It's sort of the flip side of the old guy who works in the hardware store, and knows how to use all the tools and where all the bits and pieces are; if you hire young (cheaper) help, they have no experience base with what you, the DIYer, are trying to accomplish, and may not care enough to learn where stuff is.

If you're wealthy, you'll not mind so much, patronizing the higher bucks' kinds of places where good service is demanded...and paid for, but frugality is sometimes difficult to implement.

We can't help them do better if they don't think they have a problem.

Ann
__________________

__________________
Who scorns the calm has forgotten the storm.
JPA Cate is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 17:10   #3
Registered User
 
CaptTom's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Southern Maine
Boat: Prairie 36 Coastal Cruiser
Posts: 1,592
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

I've had some great experiences with marine businesses. Hamilton Marine in Maine and Defender both have good reputations.

Whether it's a surprise trip around the mooring field with a batch of fresh-baked blueberry muffins (Dolphin Marina, ME) or a helpful dock hand coming out in the middle of a drenching downpour to make sure we were tied up OK (Halifax, NS), or an experienced dock hand who actually followed my directions and made a challenging docking in strong crosswinds look easy (Quebec, QC), many marinas have consistently gone above and beyond. We've been offered courtesy cars often, even the dock master's own personal car once. I'm sure I have a hundred other similar stories.

Overall, I think the businesses run by boaters, for boaters, have a high level of service. Yes, we've had some less than friendly experiences. But those are the exception.
CaptTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 17:16   #4
Now on the Dark Side: Stink Potter.
 
CSY Man's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Ft. Lauderdale
Boat: 2001 Albin 28TE.
Posts: 3,753
Images: 120
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

Going to a boat yard is like going to the dentist.
Once your boat is on the hard, you are done for.
Been there, done that for 34 years.
Some manager wants $1,100 to remove and instal a transom mounted transducer.
You are not allowed to work below the waterline and you say..?
Do It.
Or DON’T do it and you pay them, splash and go to another yard and do it over again.
__________________
Life is sexually transmitted
CSY Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 17:42   #5
CF Adviser
 
Pelagic's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Boat: Van Helleman Schooner 65ft StarGazer
Posts: 8,413
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

Following up on CSY's comments, it is usually the yacht owner's lack of attention to details that are the source of the disagreements and bad feelings with Marine Contractors.

Many owners don't bother with preparing a detailed scope of work on a spreadsheet. They dont insist on an itemized breakdown of time and materials or prepare a section for them to state..."what is not included".

So the contractor sees this customer as lazy, not involved and probably uninformed as to what real work will be required.

An involved Owner will be able to help the contractor to make a sharpened quote by taking pre-active steps like cleaning and freeing rusty bolts, prior to the works and providing a photographic record of that perpetration.

This allows you to then negotiate a "not to exceed" number on quoted jobs.

Lastly, an involved owner monitors the works, prepares and protects the area for efficient execution and most importantly keeps a log and time stamped photo record of when the workers arrive and depart, so if the yard manager is being told they were working on your boat all day, while they were elsewhere... You have proof.

Bottom line, details in / details out and you never get what you deserve, but what you negotiate!
Pelagic is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 17:55   #6
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2013
Location: Oregon to Alaska
Boat: Wheeler Shipyard 83' ex USCG
Posts: 2,471
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

The only walk in marine stores I use cater to commercial fishing. The counter people have to be knowledgeable, pricing is usually more reasonable and they will quote big projects.
The stores that cater to speedboats/small boats are useless to me.
Lepke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 18:00   #7
Registered User
 
atmartin's Avatar

Join Date: May 2010
Location: US East Coast
Boat: Mauritius 43 Sloop
Posts: 209
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

I've spent time on both sides of this rift.

From the marina/boatyard standpoint, you would not believe just how cheap and difficult many wealthy customers can be. Yes, if you are white collar and/or can afford a moderate-size pleasureboat, you are probably wealthy compared to most who make a living fixing boats. Not to start a class war, but the biggest, priciest boats are not always the best "cash cows". Sometimes, their owners are the most difficult to collect payment from, never mind please. My best customers have been low-key boaters who really cared about quality and were willing to pay for it. Too many owners treat their boats like leased cars, thinking they'll be able to sell it before there's any serious maintenance.

It's terribly old hat, but the adage: "you can have two of three:Cheap, Quick or Good" is important to keep in mind as a boat owner. Boating is an extremely leisure business. No matter how big a deal it is to you (the boater) that your 4th of July was spoiled by a slow mechanic, you're not going to get much sympathy. You have First world problems.

So as a customer, I try my best to be accommodating. A lot of owners come down, rant, rave and bully the manager to cut the bill because things are too slow, expensive or whatever. I'm sure they feel like they're getting a deal, but if they only knew the corners we cut to get things done by Friday.

I'm not saying there aren't some real lousy yards, but not every yard guy is trying to screw you over. The more you know about your boat and the details of the work involved, the less afraid you'll be that someone is trying to work you over. It doesn't have to be a zero sum game.
atmartin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 21:11   #8
Senior Cruiser
 
Dave_S's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Brisbane Australia
Boat: Schionning Waterline 1480
Posts: 1,221
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

After trying to get work done by others on my boat, I gave up about a year ago on all trades except those I can not do myself.

If I had my time again I'd set up in the marine service industry, it is begging for someone who will show up.......... That's all you need to do to be better than the rest. If you ran it professionally you would control the market.

I regret not finding this out about 10 years ago.

In saying that I get very good service on all counts from the chandleries I go to around Brisbane.
__________________
Regards
Dave
Dave_S is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-2018, 05:24   #9
Registered User
 
denverd0n's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 4,434
Images: 6
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

Honestly, I don't see the marine industry being any worse than any other in this regard.

We needed to get some trees removed from our yard. About a quarter of the places we called never called back. Of the three people we asked for estimates, one never showed up. When we picked a guy he didn't show up on the appointed day and didn't call until two days later. Said, sorry, he had overbooked himself. Fine, but you couldn't call for two day? Thanks, but no thanks. Finally got the other guy who had given us an estimate to come out and do the work.

This is one example. Sadly, this is not all that unusual. I suspect that, as boaters, we have a perception that the marine industry is worse only because we deal with the marine industry more.

Customer service and good business practices seem to be a thing of the past (if they ever were a thing of the present!). When I read the statistics about how 90-something percent of small businesses fail within the first two years, I am not at all surprised.

I think a lot of people go into business for themselves thinking "now I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and no one is the boss of me!" Uhhh... No. Doesn't work that way. Your customers are the boss of you, and if you don't "get" that then you are going to be part of the 90-something percent!
denverd0n is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-2018, 08:49   #10
Registered User
 
Zoidislander's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Anacortes WA U.S.A.
Boat: 34 American Tug
Posts: 31
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

In my area of the PNW I do not hear very many complaints regarding marine equipment suppliers, or boat repair yards. Anyone else care to comment?
Specifically Northwest Washington State. Anacortes, LaConnor, Bellingham.
Zoidislander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-2018, 08:52   #11
Registered User
 
Nightcrawler's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Southport, NC
Boat: Grand Banks 42 Classic
Posts: 50
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

Jammer your final point, 'what can we do. . ' struck me. We have not had horrible experiences at yards. Our work is discussed in detail, quotes are often somewhat vague as that is the nature of our beasts. However we've had tens of thousands of dollars worth of work done and so far not one regret. What did we do? We treat everyone in the facility with the same respect we expect. From dock hands to the guy sanding the boat bottom. Everyone. Most of our work has been done at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake VA. The work is top notch and the staff is professional in every way. Cheap? Probably not. But fair - yes indeed.
We had an issue with our autopilot and the recommended installer, Ayers Electric tried for months to diagnose it over the phone. A year later they sent a tech to NC to meet with us and find that gremlin. And he did. AYB made the navigation install recommendation and we signed off on quality work with a real live warranty. Again, during the nav install, questions came up - we discussed our questions with the techs respectfully and they ended up doing a super install.

We can effect good outcomes with the right approach, I'm convinced of that. Good tradesmen are vanishing from the boater's world. We treat each one like family - it all comes around.
__________________
Jan & Lee
Aboard Shangri-La
Eat Life
Nightcrawler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-2018, 08:53   #12
Registered User
 
Zoidislander's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Anacortes WA U.S.A.
Boat: 34 American Tug
Posts: 31
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
One that has consistently good responses is Fisheries Supply in Seattle. [no affiliation]

On the East Coast, perhaps Schooner Chandlery? [no personal experience]

I think one problem marine related businesses is it is costly to store products on the premises, but as soon as couriers get involved, there's another place for things to go wrong, and people being people, things, do.

Another problem is that there is an innate conflict between good service and high profit, and they have to solve the problem some way. It's sort of the flip side of the old guy who works in the hardware store, and knows how to use all the tools and where all the bits and pieces are; if you hire young (cheaper) help, they have no experience base with what you, the DIYer, are trying to accomplish, and may not care enough to learn where stuff is.

If you're wealthy, you'll not mind so much, patronizing the higher bucks' kinds of places where good service is demanded...and paid for, but frugality is sometimes difficult to implement.

We can't help them do better if they don't think they have a problem.

Ann
+1 for Fisheries Supply, I worked for them to 26 years.
Zoidislander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-2018, 09:34   #13
Registered User
 
Cadence's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: SC
Boat: None,build the one shown of glass, had many from 6' to 48'.
Posts: 7,773
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

I defense of marinas I've never had a problem. I can recall one years ago were the owner had the reputation of being a crotchety old bastard. Nicest old man you could hope to meet. Pay your rent, slip or hill, on time he couldn't do enough for you. Others have also been very accommodating a day a month or years.
Take it for what it is worth.
Cadence is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-2018, 09:43   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Alert Bay, Vancouver Island
Boat: 35ft classic ketch/yawl.
Posts: 1,570
Images: 4
Send a message via Skype™ to roland stockham
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

I would say the marine industry is a good as any other in my experience. Possibly we only here about things when it goes wrong? But remember it is an industry. If you come in on a holiday weekend with a rush job it is going to cost, of course it is. Also boats are so complex that no chandler can economically stock everything. Remember yards and chandlers are not like car dealers who maybe only do Ford not Chrysler. They will try to do what they can for you even if your boat is from another continent or 30yrs old, try that in a car shop!
Also look at who you are dealing with. I have had problems with 3rd world yards that don't know how to slip a keel boat but it was because 90% of the time they deal with local fish boats and I did not speak their language. Likewise I have found unfriendly marinas but mostly when I turn up in a small old wooden boat to a dock full of super-yachts. Its like turning up at a 5 star hotel in ripped jeans, your not the sort of customer they are aiming for and they may not understand your needs. If there is no alternative they will hopefully try there best but you can't blame them if it is not what you wanted.
And a cheerful smile solves most problems.
roland stockham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-2018, 11:01   #15
Marine Service Provider

Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 287
Re: Understanding the marina/boatyard/dealer/broker mindset

Buying items of equipment is relatively straightforward but installation and other boat work is anything but straightforward, with confined spaces, concealed defects that only become visible as other items are removed, and the need for multiple skill sets to complete almost any installation or repair. I do all of my own work, but that's been a part of my job for most of life, I have a lot of tools and equipment and if I had to pay others to do what I do for myself, I could not afford to be a boater. This is an important issue to think about when buying an older boat that may seem to be a bargain - many people greatly underestimate what will need to be repaired or replaced, don't understand the complexity and difficulty of boat work, use buying and maintaining a family car as a touchstone for the cost of boat work and are horrified when the bill comes in. One suggestion: look at the staffing of the marina or boatyard where you are thinking of having work done. If it's a large yard with a project manager (good test - please show me a full written statement of the scope of the work and the schedule) well-equipped workshops and a lot of qualified employees or frequently used sub-contractors, a complex job will almost certainly be done on time and on budget (which must include a contingency for concealed conditions). If it's a marina with a three or four person crew where the main activity is hauling, launching and bottom painting, understand that anything else will be done as fill-in work, when time permits. That may work for what you need, and sometimes you can help yourself by assembling any special parts and pieces required for your job, but be realistic about what you need done and where best to get it done.

In more than forty years of boating on the East Coast of the USA, I've only encountered one dishonest boat yard (don't ask), but have also rarely had the thought: "Wow, that was less than I expected"

All the best
John Mardall
Vetus Maxwell
__________________

JOHNMARDALL is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
boat

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Which boatyard - Portimao or Faro (Nave Pegos - Bruce's boatyard)- or maybe La Coruna moniia Monohull Sailboats 22 21-12-2017 09:49
If it's Better to Buy Through a Broker-to-Broker Arrangement, I Need a Broker YesIsail Multihull Sailboats 4 14-11-2011 09:00
Broker or No Broker ? Nick & LA Multihull Sailboats 12 10-05-2010 06:29
Broker or No Broker dingoman General Sailing Forum 8 26-02-2010 13:23



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 13:59.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.