Shop With Confidence With These 5 (Not So) Secret Boat Show Tips

November 22, 2011

If you’re in the market for a new boat, the boat show can be a great place to work a deal. Of course, it can also be a dizzying and confusing experience if you’re not prepared. The good news is that with a little research and some easy planning, you can head through the front door with confidence.

1)    Start early. That’s all part of the fun, isn’t it? The anticipation. The build-up. The excitement. Make that a key part of your experience. The more time you spend thinking about how you’ll use your boat, the more time you spend comparing features, and the more time you arm yourself with research, the more confident and focused you will be on the boat show floor.

2)    Ask around. To say that boaters like to talk about their boat  is the understatement of all time. If you got into boating, like most people, through family or friends, start there. Ask about the amenities they use on their boat and the ones they could live without. You’ll find all kinds of information about gas mileage, top speed and other “specs.” Once you get past all that, however, it comes down to how happy other folks seem with their purchase.

3)    Make a list. It can be something as simple as a sticky note or as detailed as a notebook. You’ll soon discover that list is getting pretty long. Enclosed head, swim platform, space for a cooler, full galley, oversized sunpad, top-of the-line stereo, etc. Now, once you have your list together, start organizing into “must-haves,” “would-be-nice,” and “don’t really need.” This will help you really wind up happy with your boat, rather than jumping at a “good deal” in the heat of the moment.

4)    Go ahead and climb aboard. You’d be surprised at how many folks are too intimidated to really give a boat a thorough inspection at a boat show. You should feel welcome to spend some time acquainting yourself with the boat you’re about to buy. Sit in all the seats, not just the helm. Is the backrest at a comfortable angle? Open the cabinet doors. Do they open and close securely. Does the boat feel solid?

5)    Remember there are no dumb questions. Repeat, there are no dumb questions. If you’ve gone through these first four steps and you’re still confused about something, just ask! The dealership has an entire team of people at the show. A reputable dealer will want you to be just as confident about your purchase as you walk out the door as you were when you walked in.