BOAT SHOW TIME!
You have decided you are going to buy a new boat. So, now where to go? You likely already have a general idea the class and models of boats you are looking at. It is important to do your homework before investing in something as large as a new wakeboat. The boat show is a great place to have all the local dealers in the same place competing to earn your business. With that, it is important to have a lot of your homework done before going there so you aren’t pulled in a direction simply because of what you see being a good deal. The main things to consider with your boat purchase are the target brands, class (entry or premium), and dealers.
The biggest thing to point out is that everyone is making cool stuff right now. Most all of your current wakeboats have an integrated ballast and surf system, and are making waves substantially bigger than those we surfed 5 years ago behind our heavily listed boats. What separates some from others are things like fit and finish, design, sound systems, and technology like touch screens and lighting. It is important to evaluate what features you want and need. You also have to keep in mind that in 2 years the new models will likely be doing something new that yours may not, so is the model you currently want the best out there? It is important as a consumer to be careful about being “brand loyal.” We have seen some brands excel and other fall behind in many departments. If you follow blindly, you run the risk of overpaying or having an inferior product, or both. Look closely at standard versus extra options and evaluate how they will stack up in a couple years.
Most manufactures these days have a value and premium class (Supra/Moomba, Malibu/Axis, Centurion/Supreme, Tige/ATX, and so on…). This means that they carry a lot of the same warranties and technology but not always the same bells and whistles. That being said, with some effort and patience you can make a premium quality wave with a value class boat if you know what you are doing. If you are someone who is not concerned about a specific name/class, and could care less about the extra touch screen or upgraded vinyl, then a value class is perfect for you. But if you want turnkey excellence with minimal effort and more USB ports than you can count, a premium where you should be!
Many would agree that the only thing more important than the new boat itself is the dealership standing behind it. Where someone may say that brand loyalty is a dangerous thing, dealership loyalty is not! Let’s face it, the word boat being joked about as “bust out another thousand” exists for a reason. They require some upkeep and at times, things fail. With the massive amount of technological advancements in the industry and increased production of them, it is safe to say a new boat owner may see a couple hiccups here and there no matter the brand. Boat dealerships are different from auto dealerships in that they do significantly less volume. What this does, or should do, is creates more of a personal and family like relationship. There are plenty of avenues to research dealers online. Look and see what people are saying about them, what awards they have gotten, etc. See what consumers are saying on social media and forums, you will be happy you did!
What makes a good dealership? Is a larger dealership better than a small? The dealership you want is one that makes it their mission to keep you on the water. They realize that the days a year we get to spend enjoying the sun are limited. Some of the larger dealerships with 40+ employees and massive inventory may have too much volume to have a quick turnaround on even minor repairs, while a small dealership may not have enough volume to pull their weight with the manufactures and get things done quickly. You will get a feeling from the staff and you really should trust your gut. We found a dealership that we love, and it is for that reason that we drive almost 2 hours for our needs, as opposed to 30 minutes to other dealers in town. When we were shopping several years ago for our first new boat, we found several in the area that we liked, but what sealed the deal for us what the feel and relationship that we built with this particular dealer. We had it down to 2 models, but Rocky Mountain Boat Company was the one who went above and beyond for us. In the time since (and 2 boats later) we have had instances where they have bent over backwards to keep us happy and on the water. Wherever you end up, you will surely be in close contact with that dealer so make sure you get a good feel from the start!
Buying a new boat can be both exciting and stressful. Doing your homework early can reduce the negative aspects of the experience and provide you with some clear direction. Having your search down to a few dealers with a few brands will help you make that final decision and save you some time and money. Going in blind can be overwhelming and you may end up spending so much time jumping back and forth that you miss boating season. Dealerships are well informed on their competition so have an open discussion about your wants/needs and see where it goes. Happy boating!