The coronavirus pandemic has touched every part of our daily lives, including boat shows and dealer open houses. Major winter boat shows have been canceled, and while dealers are technically allowed to operate, many have capacity limits, state guidelines, and other health and safety considerations. This is a challenge for the boating industry: boat shows play a crucial role in showcasing new products and innovations and generating sales.
Luckily, you can still talk to dealers and make purchases from the comfort of your home thanks to technology. There are even (depending on conditions in your area) some parts of the sale that can still be done in person with proper preparation. Here are some tips to make previewing and buying a new boat or dock system easier even without a boat show.
Doing your homework is a part of any significant investment decision, whether boat shows are open or not. There are many resources available to research your boat brands, models, and features based on your needs. You can visit manufacturer websites, and virtual boat shows to browse options and video chat with dealers. If you find something you like, you can email, call, or text a dealer with specific questions or even a video walkthrough.
It’s possible to set up a private sales appointment to see a new boat, and with advanced scheduling and a limited number of passengers, you might be able to do a sea trial, too. Before arranging an appointment, ask your dealer about their safety and sanitation policies to ensure that they’re a responsible business. Meet your dealer at the marina or slip directly if possible, respect social distancing, bring PPE and anything else you might need to the appointment (sunscreen, water, a way to record the trial, etc.). No matter how you meet, the questions you ask your dealer will mainly stay the same:
What will work with my waterfront?
Can I remove this dock system myself, or do I need a dealer’s help?
How long have you been in business?
Paperwork can be completed at a socially distanced “closing table” or digitally. If home drop-offs are available, the process will include social distancing measures and proper sanitation according to CDC and local guidelines.
Before you get your boat serviced, other equipment installed, or additional support from your dealer, call ahead to schedule it. When scheduling, make sure you’re both clear about the issue, what needs to be done, how long it will take, how much it will cost, how the process is managed, and who is managing it. It might be helpful to arrange a video call to a technician to explain a mechanical issue, and you might need to complete service forms online and prepay work in advance. Properly sanitize your boat before dropping it off, and request to get it back sanitized as well. Ask if your dealer staggers service appointments to limit exposure risk and if you must come in, distance yourself, and wear PPE.
A lot has changed in the pandemic, including boat shows. Fortunately, many changes can make the boat purchasing process more straightforward than before. With a little thought ahead of time, you can keep yourself, your family, and others safe while still enjoying the water.
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1025 International Drive
Fergus Falls, MN 56537