Looking For Mr. Reliable
He says, “Trust me.” But should you? Use this quick guide when you’re sizing up marine mechanics.
Ask Around. Word of mouth is perhaps the best indicator of who does good work in your area. Hanks offers this common-sense parallel: “If you had a child, you wouldn’t just drop him at a day care without talking to anybody.”
Don’t Feel Obligated to the Selling Dealer. You’ve already given him a sale. Now his shop has to earn your business. Don’t be afraid to check out which other shops in the area will honor your warranty. Choose who’s best based on service, not misplaced loyalty.
Drop In. Talk to the service manager and verify that the technicians are trained on your specific motor. Then check out the training certificate plaques on the wall. Dates should be current or, at the very least, up to the year of your particular engine.
Test the Waters. Try a mechanic for a smaller maintenance item before you need a major repair. “I’d rather know what kind of work these guys do before I need something major,” Hutt says.
Appearance Counts, Sometimes. A neat shop doesn’t necessarily mean a good one. Likewise, a neat tech is not always a competent one. “What kind of work does he do?” Hanks asks. “That’s what you should be looking at.” How busy the shop is, however, often speaks volumes. A shop that isn’t busy at the height of the boating season is like an empty restaurant at dinnertime. It could be a red flag.
Accept Imperfection. No tech or shop is perfect, and even the best have a bad day. What’s important is to see how the shops handle mistakes. The good ones will promptly acknowledge a mistake and tell you how they’re going to make the situation right.
Appreciate a Showoff. A good mechanic will be proud to show you the work he’s done. Great ones, Hanks says, will make a boat better because they touched it. “I tell students if you do everything 100 percent, you take pride in your work and treat your customer right, why would the customer go anywhere else?”