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Old 04-08-2006, 09:46   #1
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Boat Yard Advice For Newbies

How do you get things done?

I know it is not uncommon for requested work, done by boatyards, to be continuously shoved down the boatyard's schedule. But that means someone got their work moved up the list...how did that happen?

We have been waiting for a estimate for two months.

And suggestions on how to light the fire under them, still get the job done well, and at a reasonable price? (please don't bust a gut here)

Thanks,

John & Cheryl
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Old 04-08-2006, 12:31   #2
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Squeaky wheel and all that. I'm in the building trades and one of the smartest people I know was a Super who built high rises in SF. He told me to study kindergarten teachers then use those skills to get people to do things. Depending on your personality you can rant and rave but for me consistenetly being nice works better. A phone call "Hello I know your busy but I was wondering if you had time to get the estimates ready." Follow up with an email or a fax. I thought this might help here is a list of the items that I want done could you please give me a price in the next XX weeks so that I can see if it will fit my budget." Persistence works.Being nice gets you a better price.
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Old 04-08-2006, 12:38   #3
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Charlie's right, you catch more bees with honey than sh__.

However, if you've been waiting 2 months for an estimate, it's clear they don't want/need your work, and the rest of the story is gonna be miserable.

Find another place.

What kind of estimate? For what?

Bill
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Old 04-08-2006, 12:52   #4
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I have been nice so far and to be fair we were not in a big hurry and the yard knew that. We are getting to be in more of a hurry as time goes by though.

The service boss 's husband used to work in Vail, CO so since we live in CO I stopped in and bough her, her husband, and their daughter hats from Vail and sent them. If you have ever been to Vail you know how much that costs but I was hoping that a little oil would be put on the wheel.

The estimate is for fiberglass work. This spring some trash got between the hull and the dock and scratched an area about a foot square right on the boot strip. In addition to that the mechanic is scheduled to do some minor work on the diesel.

John
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Old 04-08-2006, 12:56   #5
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John,

Sounds like work any competent yard could do, with ease.

My advice is to move on.

Bill
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Old 04-08-2006, 13:05   #6
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Jemsea:

You are in a difficult spot being so far away and all. Since you have a connection with the yard boss maybe its time to force the issue a little. 1) Ask why you haven't received an estimate yet, then 2) Let them know that it is now important to have the work done by such and such a date can they meet that schedule, then 3) start looking for a new yard.
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Old 04-08-2006, 14:50   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jemsea
I have been nice so far and to be fair we were not in a big hurry and the yard knew that.
My experience is that this is your problem. Do not, under any circumstances, admit to the yard that you don't need the job done immediately.

In fact, failure to get your work done by tomorrow may result in global nuclear war, hurricanes, earthquakes, bird flu epidemics, terrorist attacks, the apocalypse, and an ugly ketchup stain on the service managers tie.

Ok, perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but it happened to me over and over before I figured it out. Most marine businesses seem to be run by managers who can only work in crisis mode, so if your job isn't late already, it doesn't get their attention. So I always say I need it done in a week or two and never admit that I have a flexible deadline.
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Old 04-08-2006, 16:18   #8
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I work in a boatyard here in New England, one of the larger ones, as a small diesel mechanic, mainly sailboats, and I know what the poster is talking about because I am currently under high demand and there are only 4 of us mechanics right now and we are flat out busy right now. Transients broken down are towed to us and we have to address their needs as they are desperate, usually a few days out from their home port on two week vacations etc.....

Unfortunately many who scheduled work to be done get put on the back burner but we do get to them, just not when it was that they had wanted us!
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Old 04-08-2006, 20:14   #9
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One thing boat yards out here hate is long term projects. Mention to them that since they are going to be awhile, you are considering taking on some major project that will keep the boat in the yard for at least 6 months. You will be surprised how fast they get on your project, and try to get you out of there.
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Old 04-08-2006, 20:49   #10
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It's a two edge sword. If your work is that important then it must be more valuable and so must cost more. The better approach is water dripping on a stone. Be around all the time just so you are not forgotten, but not so much as to be more expensive.

Managing expectations is the job of anyone that is in the postion. Sooner or later getting you out of the way is better than keeping you around. It's a very fine line to walk.

1. Never request something as ASAP. You are doomed.

2. Try to time requests when they can be handled easily. Don't press your luck more than required. You are not that important. There is some slob willing to pay double.

3. When you really are trapped expect to pay more. The boat yard isn't that stupid. They know when they have you trapped.

4. If you can get hauled to a place where you need to be put back in to allow others to be splashed then you have the advantage.

5. Never make threats. You probaly wouldn't really do it any way would be the common opinion at most yards. So what if you did? You ain't leaving any time soon. It proves you are scared. Fear shows.

For me I haul in August when no one else would. Spring is the worst time to haul and late season isn't always better though preferable to Spring. If you think you can be pissed off and force something to happen then you have the wrong plan. They can wait longer than you can and charge you storage to boot.

It costs you nothing to be nice, but you can show up every day too. Just don't let them forget you and always pay on time. The latter is more important. When you pay on time would be a perfect time to ramble on about how you did so. Gather points when you can and be nice when ever possible. It's about getting in and out and not if you got the last pound of flresh. You don't have to prove you are better, just get the job done.

Next year counts too. People that know you as a good quick payer matter more. You don't need to prove you are better than they are - even if you think you are. I'ld rather be in the water before you.
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Old 08-08-2006, 17:15   #11
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Jemsea:
If you have paid storage for two months waiting for an estimate then by all means you need to contact the OWNER of the yard and make a quiet but forceful case, IN PERSON, to him/her that you feel that your job is being shunted aside and that you expect an estimate within a week. In addition to that I would make the case to him that he should credit you part of the storage fee for the period of time you have waited beyond a fair time to produce an estimate.

You may be very surprised that the owner does not know how far behind his employees are. He will be more liable to strike a fair compromise with you than the yard manager, as the manager will be covering his butt and not wanting to admit fault.

It is important not to personalize the complaint in terms of the yard manager or the owner. I find that it works best if you speak in non judgemental terms but at the same time be very firm about being treated fairly and as a valued customer. They are taking advantage of you because the yard manager figures that you are the least likely customer to make trouble for him. He needs to find out differently.

I think it is always best as some other poster mentioned never to admit that you have plenty of time. At least until you have a good working relationship with the yard.

I would go a bit farther and say that I always make it clear that I have high expectations of work and service, and make it clear to them at the beginning not to tell me one thing and do another or to change dates on me. Give me realistic estimates and keep me informed of anything and everything that may adversely affect the estimate they have given me. Don't surprise me.

While I always conduct the above politely, I always make it clear with my body language and demeanor that I am serious. I always conduct these conversations in a businesslike manner with respect for the schedule and problems of the business I am dealing with. However I would disagree with the "nice" routine. It is often seen through very quickly by those dealing with the public and probably will not result in you getting done any faster. Being businesslike and firm and fair will get you farther with a businessman who speaks that "language"
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Old 08-08-2006, 18:42   #12
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Jemsea: If I remember correctly, you bought this boat and decided to take it up to Maine? Is that correct? Forgive me if I'm confusing you with someone else, but didn't I give you a bunch of advice as to where some good spots are?

Anyway, you will have to take the culture into account if you are in Maine. It's not going to go like many other places. They are on a sort of "island time" even though they aren't in the Carib. The pace of life is slower there, and they do things a little differently.

The best way to approach the problem is to let them know directly (but in the way Paul says above) that you are stuck. You are in a bind. Don't look like some rich tourist demanding your boat be worked on. You'll sit there until 2008. Act like a worker, a blue collar person. (Maybe it's too late for this... I don't know what you've done already)

Take the approach that you don't have a ton of money, you just bought the boat, and you're in a bind (especially if you are). Go in in person every day. Bring donuts one morning. Bring something. Be nice, be presistant, but be present. Gently remind them that you are facing impending doom and they will bump you up the list.

If they still don't even get you an estimate, call the yard down the street. Find out if they'll do the work instead. Inform your current yard that you'd "love to stay with them, but you can't... you don't have time due to the time bind you're in" And suggest you will have to go to the next yard. You really don't want to go, but you have to due to timing.

If that all doesn't work... definitely go to the next yard.
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Old 08-08-2006, 18:50   #13
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Having just read another post of yours in this thread (after missing it in my last response), I see you are now back in CO and away from the boat. This will be a problem... no doubt. Since you aren't there, they won't view you with the same priority as their regular paying customers, or me when I pop in with my donuts to get my repair bumped up the ladder.

After reading that you aren't where the boat is, I would imagine the problem is that:

1) Out of sight, out of mind
2) It's high tourist season right now. They are more than busy.

If you are leaving the boat here for the winter, why not just push the little minor repairs off until they have some time to address them?
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Old 14-08-2006, 21:16   #14
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Thanks to all for your time and info.

After a couple of phone calls and e-mails it looks like things are moving ahead. About half the work requested has been done.

I think I was easy to put off since the yard knew my time frame. In the future that will not happen as much but right now while we are away from the boat for extended periods its hard to get around that.

Sean, Yes you did give me some advise on where to go as we brought the boat up from MA last spring. I am slightly behind in saying Thanks. But Thanks!! We had a wet but very fun trip.


John
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Old 15-08-2006, 05:13   #15
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Boat Yard Advice:

Avoid them if at all possible. Do the work yourself. There are multiple benefits... The job get done... It gets done right... it costs less... you learn how to do something and not rely on others.

Small yards are better than big ones... but they DO also rely on sub contractors.

Complex jobs requiring parts will see you paying full retail especially when the yard supplies the parts. Try to supply your own.

Yards need work in mid summer and winter. Spring and Fall.. fageddaboudit.

Bribes work.

You can never actually witness work being done by a boat yard on your boat! So don't hang around if you want it done!

Work is NEVER done when they say it will be. You cannot make plans based on expectations of having the yard complete your work list. EVER EVER EVER.

If you sail, go to a yard that has few power yachts.. or one that has none!

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