The Advantages of Purchasing Your Boat from a Certified Dealer

Certified boat dealers provide the best possible experience for their customers.
Boat for sale at a dealership
Buying from a certified boat dealer ensures the best possible experience. MRAA in partnership with Discover Boating

Most prospective boat buyers understand that it’s critical to buy a NMMA certified boat, but what many buyers don’t realize is that they should also buy a boat from a certified boat dealer.

Working with a boat dealer requires a certain amount of trust and faith, and when a dealer is certified, you can be much more confident that they’ll treat you right.

What is a Certified Boat Dealer?

Boat dealer certification is a voluntary program provided by the Marine Retailers Association of America. The concept is to give boat dealers a customizable blueprint that helps them establish efficient and effective practices that lead to the best possible experience for their customers.

Dealers who participate in the program focus on key areas including:

  • Sales
  • Service
  • Operations
MRAA certification
When a dealer is certified, you can be much more confident that they’ll treat you right. MRAA in partnership with Discover Boating

In each of these areas, dealers commit that consumers can expect:


  • The assistance of a capable and knowledgeable sales consultant
  • Advertising and representations are truthful and factual
  • A written disclosure of all details associated with a purchase
  • An explanation of the proper usage and operation of products
  • Products properly prepared, inspected and tested before delivery
  • The delivery of new products as scheduled
  • An explanation of all maintenance requirements and schedules established for your product
  • An explanation and written copies of warranties on all products and major components

What to Expect from the Boat Buying Experience at Certified Dealership

Which dealership you buy a boat from can ultimately have a huge impact on how happy a boater you become.

  • Your boat is likely to be serviced and at least to some degree maintained by the dealer you buy it from, so most dealer-customer relationships are long-term; 
  • You’ll likely be depending on that dealer for everything from lower unit oil changes to warranty claims;
  • And if that dealer has taken the time and effort to become certified you know that at the very least, they’re going the extra mile to try to keep their customers satisfied.
Buying a boat at a boat show
Capable and knowledgeable sales consultants are just one of many benefits of using a certified boat dealer. MRAA in partnership with Discover Boating

Innovation & Technology

Since certified dealers participate in ongoing education, you can also rest assured that they’re staying ahead of the curve when it comes to the ever-changing technology of marine systems. The latest in boat monitoring systems and boats becoming part of the “internet of things” is a good example. Using modern tech, in some cases with certain manufacturers the dealership can receive a steady stream of information about your boat and/or its propulsion system—everything from engine hours to fault codes—and contact you if service becomes necessary. But a dealership that doesn’t engage in constant education and professional development may not have the know-how to utilize such valuable technology.

Regular Maintenance & Scheduling

Another example can be found with the certified dealer’s commitment to giving customers an explanation of maintenance requirements and schedules. These are constantly evolving, not only with the introduction of new products and systems but also over time as manufacturers learn how their products perform in the field. If a dealership hasn’t made a clear pledge to continuing education, it’s all too easy for them to provide dated or incorrect information.

While a dealer’s certification isn’t a guarantee of any one specific capability, it is a guarantee that they are constantly striving to learn about the latest developments. And in the long run, that will lead to boat owners like you being more satisfied with their overall experience.

Ready to Buy? Here’s How to Find Certified Dealer Near You

Of course, buying a boat from a dealer isn’t the only option these days. In fact, there are number of ways you can go shopping for a boat.

Outboard being serviced at dealership
A certified boat dealer offers maintenance and repair work done by trained technicians. MRAA in partnership with Discover Boating

In the long run, however, these alternatives all share the same pitfall: you can’t have confidence that there’s anyone looking out for your interests, other than yourself. And when you get down to the bottom line, that’s the best reason why you should buy a boat from a certified dealer.


  • The explanation of maintenance/repair plans including estimated repair time and cost
  • An itemized list of all charges with thorough explanation
  • Prior approval of changes in repair costs or additional charges should they occur
  • Maintenance/repair work done right the first time by knowledgeable, trained technicians
  • Maintenance/repair work completed when promised
  • Timely notice of changes in service delivery time if delays are experienced in repair completion
  • Inspection of replaced/damaged components upon presentation of the invoice/work order


  • Fair, open and honest treatment without discrimination
  • Respectful, professional, and accurate responses to all product questions and requests
  • Privacy and confidentiality of customer records

When a boat dealer becomes certified, the process doesn’t end there. Certified dealers are able to partake in education via the Continuous Certification program, which helps both management and employees up their game and keeps the dealership focused on constantly improving their services.

The entire concept is to create a culture of constant improvement, which leads to satisfied customers. And for you—the boat owner—the benefits are obvious.