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Why is boat pricing so difficult?

Old 08-20-2018, 06:10 PM
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Default Why is boat pricing so difficult?

It is remarkably difficult to buy a boat, especially when compared to cars. I realize that this is not a direct comparison due to the volume of cars vs boats, and the fragmentation of boat builders vs automotive companies, but the difference is stark.



1) Manufacturer websites don't list prices. Actually, some do, such as Pathfinder, but most don't.

2) Dealers don't post prices. This is huge difference compared to cars where the price is plainly posted.

3) Some dealers won't provide pricing over the phone ( which is bizarre)



4) The dominant website ( boatrader.com) is a absolute pile of crap compared to the functionality of car websites, such as cars.com .

5) There is no objective quality ranking for boats like Consumer Reports, Edmunds, etc. In fact THT probably is more successful because of the groupthink knowledge on quality. ( Wrong or Right !)



So help me understand why the boating industry has developed these concepts around pricing and marketing that are vastly different from the other motorized vehicles in our country. Why has no boat manufacturer decided to provide clear pricing to consumers, and provide a distinct advantage over their competitors?


It's a real PITA shopping for a boat.
Old 08-20-2018, 06:14 PM
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Boats are a luxury, they do that because only serious buyers go out of their way to contact a broker (at least they help)
Old 08-20-2018, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by tommy099431 View Post
Boats are a luxury, they do that because only serious buyers go out of their way to contact a broker (at least they help)

So instead of collecting the information I need to purchase on the internet, I'm going to call a broker for a $40k to $70k boat?



I understand if I'm looking for a Fleming, Grand Banks, etc, but the vast majority of purchase volume is probably with boats in the sub $100k range.
Old 08-20-2018, 06:20 PM
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There is far less boats than cars to be sold. They want to keep what dealers they have happy and in business.

Manufacturers want to keep boats as local to the closest dealer as possible. Not all dealers get the same amount of boats.

So the bigger dealers can sell cheaper because they have more volume to sell.

You could get higher volume dealers in the mid tier markets to low ball the low volume dealers a state away. Guess which boat the person is buying.

My local SH dealer gets 60 to 70 boats a year. Chatlee in N.C. gets 250 boats. Guess who is much cheaper?

My local dealer wants more boats but SH only has so many to go around.
Old 08-20-2018, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by captain28570 View Post
There is far less boats than cars to be sold. They want to keep what dealers they have happy and in business.

Manufacturers want to keep boats as local to the closest dealer as possible. Not all dealers get the same amount of boats.

So the bigger dealers can sell cheaper because they have more volume to sell.

You could get higher volume dealers in the mid tier markets to low ball the low volume dealers a state away. Guess which boat the person is buying.

My local SH dealer gets 60 to 70 boats a year. Chatlee in N.C. gets 250 boats. Guess who is much cheaper?

My local dealer wants more boats but SH only has so many to go around.

Boat manufacturers are scared/ unwilling to add capacity ?
Old 08-20-2018, 06:25 PM
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My thoughts,

Boats are a recreational item. Sure they get used for businesses and charters but primarily the use is recreation. Lower volume of sales means dealers have to make bigger margins.

A higher volume dealer can sell cheaper than a lower volume dealer. Therefore they won't be so transparent so they can work with that larger margin.

There are so many variations that its nearly impossible to get standardized testing. Like with a car, there's crash testing(on boats? yah right), and all performance testing is done on the same track, same day etc. All the testing, like Boattest.com shows cosmetics and opinions, versus numbers.

Eventually as the market grows there will be more model vs model testing.

But yes. You're right. Boat shopping is a HUGE PITA.

And, lastly, I've never had a dealer not give me numbers over the phone. Sometimes they don't want to give you anything in writing but if they're not at least giving you numbers over the phone, hang up. That seems dishonest and gamey.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:26 PM
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Robalo prices their boats. NAP. Scout posts retail with some national deals on their smaller boats. There are many brands that do post pricing, although not industry wide like autos. Same with dealers, some price their boats like a car dealer would, many don’t. If you want clear pricing attend a boat show; they will all have a price.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Srbenda View Post
Boat manufacturers are scared/ unwilling to add capacity ?
SH sells out a lot of their models before years end. They only have so many molds. They sell over 2000 boats which is among the most sold.

Its expensive to add molds and more people to build them.

Get ahead of yourself and quality suffers.
Old 08-20-2018, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by captain28570 View Post
SH sells out a lot of their models before years end. They only have so many molds. They sell over 2000 boats which is among the most sold.

Its expensive to add molds and more people to build them.

Get ahead of yourself and quality suffers.

2,000 boats at an average selling price of $55K is a $110,000,000 a year business.

Making 10% on that revenue allows for $11M a year to be reinvested- if they wanted to add capacity- it would appear they have the ability to do so, unless they are concerned about a slow down.


Again, this has no relevance to posting pricing- if you can sell all you build, then post a price- that seems simple.
Old 08-20-2018, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by FloatMyBoat13 View Post
Robalo prices their boats. NAP. Scout posts retail with some national deals on their smaller boats. There are many brands that do post pricing, although not industry wide like autos. Same with dealers, some price their boats like a car dealer would, many don’t. If you want clear pricing attend a boat show; they will all have a price.

I'll plan all of my future boat purchases around a once a year event in the off-season.



Old 08-20-2018, 06:45 PM
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Plus if you shopped the best deal and drove out a state for the purchase.

What happens when warranty claims happen. Your local dealer doesn't wont to do that work. Because they aren't making much of anything off of warranty work on the boat itself.

That's work they could be doing on a customers boat bought from them.

Yes they will do it or be told to do it. But I'm sure it wont be the service if you had bought the boat from them.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:46 PM
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Also a lot of time its the manufactures that tell them not to list the price
Old 08-20-2018, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Srbenda View Post
I'll plan all of my future boat purchases around a once a year event in the off-season.



I and many others are capable of purchasing boats by doing research and speaking with dealers. Maybe your not a people person.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:48 PM
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Most Manufacturers wont allow online pricing.

I could imagine all the tire kickers trying to see what kinda deal they could get.
Old 08-23-2018, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by captain28570 View Post
Most Manufacturers wont allow online pricing.

I could imagine all the tire kickers trying to see what kinda deal they could get.

Isn't that the point? Do you pay MSRP when buying a car? Or are boats different?
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Old 08-23-2018, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Srbenda View Post
... 2) Dealers don't post prices. This is huge difference compared to cars where the price is plainly posted. ...:
Go to Bass Pro. The boats for sale have a nice little sign in front of each one with the price.

I find buying a car is a whole lot more hassle than buying a boat. In part because there are so many dealers around that you have to visit a LOT of them, and at everyone you visit you have a salesman pounce on you as so as you get out of your car.
Old 08-24-2018, 06:07 AM
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Last time I checked which, admittedly, has been a while, there were over 3500 boat builders registered with the USGC. Many are inactive. A few are fairly big players. A whole bunch build a small number of boats per year. Many of those small builders build more specialized products, good for one area but not so great in another. A white water drift boat is great for a raging river but it's not going to get you very far offshore. A Chevy Impala can drive on any road in America (okay, at least the paved ones). Not having the same business model as the auto industry comes as no surprise.

As for your question on expansion, the building and the molds are the easy part. Getting and retaining quality employees is the tough part. Hell, getting decent employees is hard enough. It's not a high margin business (despite what some here think). You must also consider ancillary suppliers/supplies. I'm sure by now everyone has heard of the engine shortages. Guess what, it also happens with resin and glass, core, hardware, etc. Getting all those bits and pieces to make a boat can be difficult at times. The industry is relatively small compared to other industries so it doesn't always get the first bowl of soup out of the pot. The marine industry is also very cyclical. Yes, it's hot right now in some sectors but sniff a recession and guess what becomes a leading economic indicator. And during a recovery, who do you think lags?
Old 08-24-2018, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Srbenda View Post
2,000 boats at an average selling price of $55K is a $110,000,000 a year business.

Making 10% on that revenue allows for $11M a year to be reinvested- if they wanted to add capacity- it would appear they have the ability to do so, unless they are concerned about a slow down.
Yes, they are. Always. Boat builders (in general) are among the first to suffer and last to benefit in economic cycles.
Old 08-25-2018, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by OReely View Post
Last time I checked which, admittedly, has been a while, there were over 3500 boat builders registered with the USGC. Many are inactive. A few are fairly big players. A whole bunch build a small number of boats per year. Many of those small builders build more specialized products, good for one area but not so great in another. A white water drift boat is great for a raging river but it's not going to get you very far offshore. A Chevy Impala can drive on any road in America (okay, at least the paved ones). Not having the same business model as the auto industry comes as no surprise.

As for your question on expansion, the building and the molds are the easy part. Getting and retaining quality employees is the tough part. Hell, getting decent employees is hard enough. It's not a high margin business (despite what some here think). You must also consider ancillary suppliers/supplies. I'm sure by now everyone has heard of the engine shortages. Guess what, it also happens with resin and glass, core, hardware, etc. Getting all those bits and pieces to make a boat can be difficult at times. The industry is relatively small compared to other industries so it doesn't always get the first bowl of soup out of the pot. The marine industry is also very cyclical. Yes, it's hot right now in some sectors but sniff a recession and guess what becomes a leading economic indicator. And during a recovery, who do you think lags?
Best answer yet.
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Old 08-25-2018, 08:13 PM
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When someone needs a car, they do not pussyfoot around. They shop around and go out and get it. Taking a bike to work or waiting for Uber to arrive gets real old, real fast. This prompts folks to make a decision quickly and make the purchase.

No urgency to buy a boat, and a face to face selling job where the dealer sells the idea that the boat on his floor is the right one for that buyer. Price, while important is secondary on a lot of these types of purchasers.
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