Bowrider Boat Buying Guide, 10 Facts to Consider Part 1

Looking for a family bowrider in Ontario or a great deal on a bowrider at The Toronto Boat Show or the best bowrider boat in 2017?  Here are 10 bowrider boat buying facts you should  consider when buying a bowrider in Ontario or buying a bowrider at The Toronto Boat Show.  The Boater’s Chat Bowrider Checklist is your means of maximizing value and satisfaction during and after the purchase.  Maximize your value…get more for your money!

Boater’s Chat Bowrider Buyer’s Checklist

The Salesperson.   The salespersons job is to sell you a boat based on what is available for sale at that dealership not at the dealership just down the road a few miles.  It does not matter if their brand is actually the best built or best available value….they need to sell you a boat to maintain their job and pay their bills.  A dealership survives on profit and profit only comes by way of successfully selling products above dealer cost.  Rather blunt but there it is!  No matter how friendly they are….they are doing their job.

Boater’s Chat Boat Buyer Tip #1: Research your salesperson as the quantity and breath of the salesperson’s experience and knowledge they possess can either help you to position you to making a good decision or a poor decision that you will regret.  Boat sales is a situation where the required level of knowledge base is not learned in a couple of weeks or a couple of months.  It is actually years!  Find out how long they have been at the dealership and how long in the marine business.  If they are a short timer…move on!  Buyers at the Toronto Boat Show be aware that not all salespersons you meet actually work at that dealership fulltime.  Some will be show only hired car salespersons or professional boat show salespersons paid strictly on commission and they can be very aggressive and excellent closers at a show.

The Dealership.  The dealership not the salesperson is to whom you will be having the long term relationship through the warranty period and perhaps beyond.  All dealerships have earned reputations and not all stuff you see on line about a dealership is true or even nearly true good or bad.  To me the decisions a dealership makes in which brands they chose to represent and then what claims they make about that brand are a key.  One of the second important points is whether they chose to be dryland or on a lake.  Why on this point…. because the choice to be off water by a dealership is simply a business decision based on reduced operating costs….not what is in the best interest of the boat buyer.  You cannot test a boat on a highway…hull damage just too severe… or properly set it up either as the engine is never under load.  As a note…all Mercury Verado Outboards must as a requirement by Mercury be set up on the water by the dealer…no exceptions!  Also note that Mercruiser now has a policy that all oil levels be adjusted to required levels on water and not on the shop floor.  Mercruiser has stated that too much oil in sterndrive engines resulting in seal problems will not be covered under warranty.

I am going to use two brands that Huntsville Marine does not represent in this statement.  If a Marina A which represents Glastron Boats were to state that Glastron is in the same category with regards to build quality of say Chaparral, Monterey or Regal that Marina B represents…this is plain and simple nonsense!  That Dealership A may want to actually sell Chaparral but cannot as another competitive Dealership B has been selected by the boat builder for that geographic trading area. Therefore Dealership A…they have no other choice….must move heaven and earth to convince you that a Glasstron is where it is at.  You can insert any Tier 2 or Tier 3 boat brand in this equation versus a Tier 1 brand.

Boater’s Chat Boat Buyer Tip #2:  Take time to understand the reputation of the dealership and brand.  There are three district tiers to brand build quality and material composition that each tier tends to utilize.  Does the dealership’s ethics, value relationship and service ability after the sale meet your expectations.   

The Brand.  Boat builders spend huge money each year supporting and promoting their brand in the marketplace for the simple fact that they want you and your family to consider buying their brand.  Each brand has a niche in the marketplace based on sizes, built quality offered, types and models offered, price versus actual value provided and warranty actually provided after the sale.  A Brands reputation and products is not static but changes over time and sometimes in just a few months I have seen people come into our dealership and say their father owned a 1950 something Keikoffer/Mercury outboard and he did not like it so we will never buy one of those.  Well maybe it was not a gem but neither was anything else in that time frame. Plus they do not make those engines anymore and all of the staff or management at that time is either passed on to the hereafter or retired.  Over the years brands such as Grew or SeaRay were regarding as the best in the late 70’s early 80’s, then Doral in the late 80’s and then fast forwarding to now brands such as Campion Boats, Monterey Boats, Crownline Boats, Regal Boats and Chaparral would be considered the leading brands.

Immediately listed below are two U tube videos posted recently by the actual brands themselves.  So what you will see here is marketing spin buy these brands as they try and convince you that they are building a quality bowrider or boat worthy of serious consideration.  Interesting to note that these are the only two recent ones we could find.  Lots of lifestyle video without much meat on the bones.

If you have taken the time to review each video you will notice some significant differences in the construction process.  The most obvious one is the extensive use of treated marine plywood’s by Crownline Boats versus a no wood construction process by Campion in the transom and stringer area.  Boater’s Chat had the opportunity to tour and have the building process in the Crownline plant explained over 15 years ago.  The process detailed here in the Crownline video are the same as I saw in that plant tour with the exception that CAD design and computer cutting of all parts is now standard.   The processes in the Crownline video may be considered “old School” boat building but some would argue that the wood plug and wood stringer system are still the best in producing superior hull support and design.   Other major brands such as Campion Boats build a wood free product.  Monterey Boats and Cobalt have chosen to return to wood stringer systems because there are significant advantages.  Confusing…..absolutely!  Regal Boats warranty right now is 90 days on stringer systems…..OMG!   We are using these videos as great examples of what is being done in today’s boat building.  Buy the way Campion changed out of the plywood building stage in or around the year 2000.

Boater’s Chat Boat Buyers Tip #3 Brands have an earned reputation…not what the salesman tells or the competitive salesperson tells you which can be a very short lived thing good or bad..it is of the moment for many brands depending on their financial status.  Those glossy magazine articles tell you nothing and statements that “we build with quality” are in fact meaningless.    A builders actual bill of materials….example…what resin system they utilize…tells you a lot.  Not all Brands build boat models in all size ranges so choices are going to have to be made.  An example right now is that Campion is the only large scale outboard bowrider boat builder plus offers the most complete selection of fiberglass outboard powered models under 20′.   Campion based on the information presented in the video builds an excellent boat otherwise you would have to consider a Tier Two Four Winns or Glastron.

The Boat Retail Marketplace.  In Ontario the boat retail marketplace is dominated by such names as The Pride Marine Group, Gordon Bay, Walker’s Point, Paris Marine, Buckeye Marine, Boat Warehouse to name a few.  These are the player’s with the top rated brands in terms of retail sales not necessarily best quality brands.  If we use Pride as an example they are normally sole retailer in Ontario for a particular brand.  Why is that?  Being a sole source for a brand means….you can change more as there is no dealer to dealer competition.  If we use ourselves as an example for Monterey Boats there are 5 dealers in Ontario.  Pricing is competitive and service by region is improved as you do not have to drive large distances for warranty or service.  If you are fixated on a particular brand you will have to bear the travel and time costs of service to an inconvenient location relative to where you actually use the boat. A recent example of this was a gentleman came into our dealership having purchased a Four Winns from a Kingston dealership at The Toronto Boat Show.  Well he had warranty issues and wanted to know if we could take of that.  That answer is no….has to be taken back to a Four Winns dealer in this case in Kingston some 4 plus hours each way away!  Was not happy but that was at the end of the day his choice not to consider support for his brand choice relative to his boating location.

Boater’s Chat Boat Buying Tip #4: Boater’s Chat recommendation is to purchase a suitable bowrider brand within 2.0 hours of your actual boating destination. This may mean that you should purchase say a Campion over a Four Winns or a Regal versus a Cobalt.  Any brand with multiple dealers will normally provide an opportunity for savings.  Any brand will single source will have no check in place for not humping up retail pricing.    

Understand the True Value Proposition Offered by The BrandEach brand has a value proposition attached or earned over time.  In other word for this amount of money I give you, this level of construction and hull technology versus competitors.  The offered value may be superior or inferior and this information is not coming unbiased from a salesperson or dealership.  Remember if a dealership only sells one brand…then that is what they have to try and convince you to buy.  No dealer or salesperson is going to tell you that Brand X at another marina is better value and construction than their Brand Y.  Research is a key from such places as Boater’s Chat….caution on the lifestyle advertising…pictures look great and all those models are always smiling.

Boater’s Chat Boat Buying Tip #5:  Truly understand boat retail pricing by brands and what it means to you. Pricing in the boat retail marketplace can be more deceptive relative to construction quality and ingrained value than the car business.  A brand is less money not because they have some miracle production process that reduces their build cost more than competitive brands.  For example a Bayliner is and should be less that a Chaparral, Monterey, Campion, Regal or Cobalt.  Boat pricing with the exception of sole dealership brand source retail is not more boat for less money….never!  Understand and consider that the value proposition of a brand is not static year over year decade over decade.  Financial pressures on the builder and dealer can dramatically change the value proposition and sometimes very quickly.  No boat brand is ever sold to a new owner because it is making to much money and their backs are sore form having to carry this cash all the time to the bank.  When a boat brand goes into Chapter 11 in the United States and is bought by a hedge fund company…it is never a good thing. Content or build materials which is a fixed cost has to be reduced to make a profit and retail pricing cannot be increased.  Question:  what boat brand has either gone Chapter 11 or been sold 5 times since 1999.  The answer is Four Winns.  In comparison Monterey, Regal and Campion are family owned boat builders with no changes in ownership other than an internal family management change and very strong financial positions.  

We continue this discussion on Boat Buying tips in article 2!

Bowrider Boat Buying Guide, 10 Facts to Consider Part 2

Choosing a Bowrider Boats….Why Do They Deserve Your Consideration

Bowrider Boat Buying Tips, Bowrider Gelcoat Discolouration, Gel Coat Cracks and Osmosis

Bowriders for Sale, Compare Campion Boats, Crownline Boats, Regal Boats, Chaparral Boats