How To Choose A Boat Dealer
In what’s left of my personal life, after duties related to running the world’s largest powerboat magazine, I’m often asked to give boat-buying advice. Usually the friend, neighbor or acquaintance has narrowed their choices down to two boats and can’t decide between them.
In those cases, provided the boats are comparable, I almost always advise that they pick the boat sold by the better dealer. The dealer can make or break your ownership experience. But how do you identify the best from the bilge crud?
The boating industry recognizes this problem. Specifically the Marine Retailers Association of America and the Grow Boating Initiative run a dealer certification program designed to grant boat buyers the confidence they need to close a deal with a boat dealer they can trust.
The program is called Marine Five Star Dealer Certification (MFSDC). Launched in 2006 as one of the core strategic programs of Grow Boating, Inc., MFSDC has more than 300 leading boat dealers throughout North America who are currently certified. MFSDC is built on a stringent set of standards to enhance the retail sales and service experience for customers, with the goal to ultimately promote and spur industry growth.
In early June 2013, MFSDC unveiled research results that demonstrate certified dealers outperformed non-certified dealers in every category of the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) surveys.
Boat buyers were asked in a 2012 survey to rank their dealer’s performance in a variety of sales and service areas. In every category, customers were more satisfied with their experiences with certified dealers compared to their non-certified counterparts.
An encouraging part of MFSDC is the Marine Consumers Bill of Rights which certified dealers must post publicly. Many of these rights are criterion we at Boating would include in our own list of standards for judging boat dealers.
But to verify that this program really does provide a set of standards that you can trust, we are digging into the program, and checking out certified dealers to make sure that there’s more to the program than just the issuance of a pretty plaque or showroom window sticker. Look for that in-depth article, How To Choose A Boat Dealer, in an upcoming issue.
In the meantime, you can get more information about Marine Five Star Dealer Certification or the CSI survey, visit www.growboating.org.