Boat Show Buying, Blessing or Curse?
By Wayne Ek
The boat show season usually starts around the end of January and by March it is in full swing. It can be great fun to wander down the aisles of any boat show looking at all the new boats, motors and accessories. But if you're in the market to purchase a new boat, can you really get a better deal at a show or is it all hype? And if you can get a better deal at a show, what are some of the things a buyer should be considering before buying a new boat during a boat show?
Last fall I did an article on some of the advantages of purchasing a boat late in the fall season. To get some information on boat show purchases I went right back to the same source of information. Kent Scheel is the Ranger/Stratos line manager for Crystal-Pierz Marine, and was very helpful with that article and now this one.
In our discussion, Kent brought up a number of good points but was insistent that the most important thing was to come to a boat show prepared. You should already have an idea as to what you want in a boat and what the boat will be used for most of the time, before you even walk in the door. Kent said it was a very good idea to do some research at home on the different options available to a new boat buyer.
Consider major decisions such as: will this be a family boat used for fishing or a fishing boat used occasionally for the family? Or is this strictly a family boat used for cruising and water sports? Who knows, with the improvements made over the years on pontoon boat trailers, it's now just as easy to trailer a pontoon boat, as it is a family fishing boat. So don't rule out looking at a pontoon boat as they make a great family boat for fishing and fun.
The type and style of boat you purchase should ultimately be determined by what you're going to use it for. At the show you can work with a dealer to decide if your new boat will be a glass or aluminum boat. The dealer can help you decide if you need a boat with console steering or tiller steering. And if you select console steering do you want a single or dual console setup. Also, a dealer can help you decide on the size and type of engine you will need for the boat. Because once you've established what you want in a boat, it is much easier to do a side-by-side comparison of different boat brands and styles.
Kent said that a serious buyer should have a price range that they want to work within, but it is unwise to get caught up in the "cheaper is better" mentality. In the long run it has been proven time and time again that cheaper is not better. It's more important to focus on the reliability, quality and warranty of a boat rather than the bottom line cost. The old adage " you get what you pay for" definitely holds true on boat purchases. Reliability, quality and warranty are the factors that make owning and using a boat a pleasure rather than a headache. And down the road they will also add to the resale value of that boat, especially if there is a transferable warranty.
I believe that purchasing a boat from one of the major manufacturers like Ranger Boats ensures that you will be purchasing quality in both the craftsmanship and materials used to build your boat. And with the state-of-the-art technology used in modern day boat building you are assured of reliability in all components. Also, by purchasing a quality boat from a leading manufacturer you will get a better warranty and the boat will have a greater resale value down the road.
As an example, Kent used the new 1860 Angler Series (muti-species) introduced by Ranger Boats this year. This new glass boat is priced compatibly with aluminum boats, but you're getting a Ranger boat, backed by a great warranty and a boat that will hold its resale better than aluminum boats.
Even in the entry level boat market, which historically has been comprised mainly of aluminum boats and where the big question always was "which is better welded or riveted hulls" the answer now is neither - glass seems to be the trend today.
Both Crystal-Pierz and Ranger will have boat show incentives this year according to Kent. On-floor financing right at the shows will be available, at extremely competitive rates. Ranger, along with other major boat manufacturers, usually has a number of manufacture incentives such as, "Got You Covered" where each Ranger boat purchased during a boat show comes with a free Ranger cover, an $800.00 value to the customer; certificates for Ranger Wear clothing and accessories, which are presented with each new boat purchased; and extended topside warranties on all electronics (pumps, switches, lights and such), which would push the top side warranty to 5 years and still be transferable, a great resale factor.
Whether you're purchasing your first boat or have purchased boats in the past there are other things that need to be taken into consideration. Such as, will my current vehicle be able to tow this boat (unless of course you're looking for an excuse to purchase a new truck)? Or will this new 20 footer fit in the garage? It would be nice to know this before pulling up in the driveway with your new pride and joy. If you have to store the rig outside all year, it's important that you know it will fit in the side yard or back yard. Will you have to lease winter storage space for the boat? It's a good idea to check on storage availability and cost now rather than later.
There are always additional items to purchase whenever you get a new boat. Most boaters will need one or two mooring lines. Also, you will need an anchor and anchor rope. There are life-vests to purchase and probably a couple of boat cushions. On larger boats most people will want to have a couple of mooring bumpers available to them when they tie up with other boats or to use when docking. Most dealerships will work with you on purchasing the extra accessories you need for your boat, and some dealerships will include some of the above accessories as incentive items when you purchase your boat from them.
I'm on my 4th Ranger boat; the last two were purchased from Crystal-Pierz Marine. During the ordering, financing and final purchase procedure they were a pleasure to work with. And later when I needed warranty work or accessories added to my rig they got it done quickly without added costs or problems.
In closing, Kent said a boat should be a source of fun for an individual or family and not a point of contention or a money pit. So when you go to the boat show to buy a boat, come prepared and bring the whole family, especially if you're looking to purchase a boat that the whole family will use and enjoy.
As always, stay safe and we hope to see you on the water.
Wayne is a competitive tournament angler, fishing guide and writer. Currently Wayne is field-staffing for Cullerton and Ludwikoski marketing services, doing buyers shows, sports shows, grand openings and numerous in-store promotions and seminars. Wayne is currently representing: Ranger Boats, Crystal-Pierz Marine, Quantum, Strike King, Sufix Line, Motor Guide, Salmo Lures and Bagley Lures.