Pete Werner likewise turned to a dealer for his purchase, in his case a 2010 Malibu VLX. Werner, of Orlando, Florida, upgrades his boat every year, so he’s built a good relationship with his dealer. Still, he acknowledges the deal was even better due to the current economy.
“I’m kind of a research hound,” Werner says. “I look at Boat Trader and eBay, look at what old boats are going for on resale. I read the magazines, go to the boat shows. My dealer has always taken good care of me, but he bends a little farther now.”
How far? Werner’s not comfortable saying, but his dealer, Liquid Sports Marine’s Mark Watts, is. Watts says a manufacturer’s suggested retail price is typically about 35 to 38 percent above invoice. Back in the day, getting a good deal meant paying around 22 percent above invoice. Today? He’s letting boats, especially leftover models, go for as little as 8 to 10 percent over invoice.
“It’s a good 15 percent below what we would have previously wanted, just to get them off the lot,” Watts says. “Dealers have been paying interest on [2008 and 2009 models] and were getting rid of them at any cost. But that inventory is dwindling down quickly.”
Even the used market is affected.
“We do a lot of used and consigned business,” Watts says, “and the attitude of the consumer is that, if we’ve got a boat online for $39,000, the first thing they offer is $29,000. nobody offered $10,000 below price before, but buyers are of this mentality that we’ve got to get rid of our boats. In the summer of 2009 that was true, but we’re turning the corner.”