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Old    Kevin Garner (KGar11)      Join Date: Mar 2010       10-15-2010, 7:41 AM Reply   
How hard is it to make it as a Boat salesman?
I have been interested in boats my whole life and I am now a student in college. I would love to do this but I was wondering what some of your stories where if you pursued this career or other stories you have heard
thanks for the help
Kevin
Old    Brett Yates (polarbill)      Join Date: Jun 2003       10-15-2010, 7:50 AM Reply   
I tried it. I would only do it again if the dealership had a great reputation and was smaller/family owned. When I did it we sold runabouts and fishing boats as well. I would of rather had just ski/wakeboarding boats. There is lots of down time at certain times of year and lots of crazy, working extra hours and bending over backwards at times. At least if you want to be a good salesman that really earns the trust of your customers. I worked for Cope and McPhetres and because of how terrible it was run I don't think I ever had the chance to do my best. I was busy fixing other people's mistakes. I was spending as much time getting boats ready for demo's and deliveries as I was selling. This wouldn't of been a problem if it was a small place with slower traffic but when I was missing out on possible sales for myself and the company it makes no sense. I was a 50k/year boat detailer. I only tried it for about 9 months and I did have a lot of fun though. I would also make sure the dealer has their own truck for towing the boats around. I had to use my rig a lot and I was spending as much on gas as I was making almost.
Old    Bill K (bill_airjunky)      Join Date: Apr 2002       10-15-2010, 8:25 AM Reply   
The thing about working in the industry.... most guys who do this stuff for a living.... don't do it for fun any more.

I can't tell you how many guys I've known who worked for various boat dealers, HO/Hyperlite, Obrien, Wiley's, SkySki, AirChair, etc.... many times they get into it because they love it. And after a couple years, when they get a day off, the last thing they want to do is go out on the boat. So they go kite boarding, kayaking, rock climbing, etc. But they don't go wakeboard, ski or SkySkiing.
Old    Matt Anderson (xaggie)      Join Date: Nov 2002       10-15-2010, 8:57 AM Reply   
Quote:
there is lots of down time at certain times of year and lots of crazy, working extra hours and bending over backwards at times.
x 1,000,000
Old    MCC (craig_xti_88)      Join Date: Apr 2009       10-15-2010, 9:14 AM Reply   
Kevin- I worked as a boat salesman in college for a while. There are a few things I would think about.

1. Type of dealership. Do they sell boat, motorcycles, atv's, ect. or just boats? There is an upside and downside to both. If they sell "everything" then you probably won't get to spend as much time getting to know the product your selling, and you will have to try to sell something you may not know everything about. But you will have your bases covered during different seasons (you probably wont be selling as many boats during the fall and winter, but you can make up for the lost sales with bikes and atv's). I worked for a dealership that relied heavily on ATV's and bikes, so boats were kinda an after thought until summer.

2. What is the local economy like? Do people have the extra money to spend? I'm sure you know this, but boats are luxuries, not nessessities, so when the economy gets bad (as it is now in most places) the boat will the the first to go.

3. What is the demand for boats? (Ex. How many lakes are within a reasonable proximity to your dealership) I live in a town were the economy is doing very well, but there was only 1 lake within an 1.5 hour drive. Most people had to go 4 hours or more to get to a lake.

4. Be ready to budget or save your money. One month you might sell 5 boats, but the 2 or 3 you might sell 2 total.

5. Long hours. Sure the dealership might be open 8 or 9 hrs a day, but you will be there early and late doing paperwork, making calls, cleaning your product, ect.

6. If you decide to give it a shot have fun!! Some of the best salesmen I know aren't pushy, but are there to have fun. Personally I would rather buy something from someone who's there to have fun and enjoy's his product than someone who's cut throat and just wants to get down to business.

Good luck!!
Old    Andrew Carnacchi (07launch22ssv)      Join Date: Feb 2007       10-15-2010, 9:14 AM Reply   
Quote:
The thing about working in the industry.... most guys who do this stuff for a living.... don't do it for fun any more.
This is pretty much on the money.....I sell Skiers Choice product and love the manufacturer and the dealership I work at but it is very hard to find time during the season (which is when you are busy) to use your own stuff. I definately still enjoy it but definately dont have the time and enthousiasm I used to. There is also a fine line you walk when you sell folks you know a boat.
Old    Nu Bu (05mobiuslsv)      Join Date: Apr 2006       10-15-2010, 9:41 AM Reply   
Being a student in college I wouldn't aspire to be a boat salesman. It's a hard time in the industry and you would have a serious handicap coming into the industry new to it all. The veterans that have been doing it for a long time are having a hard enough time. It's not an industry I'd want to be starting out in, pretty tough. I've never sold boats so I could be totally wrong.
Old    Brett Yates (polarbill)      Join Date: Jun 2003       10-15-2010, 9:43 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by 05mobiuslsv View Post
Being a student in college I wouldn't aspire to be a boat salesman. It's a hard time in the industry and you would have a serious handicap coming into the industry new to it all. The veterans that have been doing it for a long time are having a hard enough time. It's not an industry I'd want to be starting out in, pretty tough. I've never sold boats so I could be totally wrong.
Nu, you pretty much nailed it.
Old    Jason B (jason_b)      Join Date: Feb 2008       10-15-2010, 9:49 AM Reply   
Just tend bar in college, you'll snake waaaay more poo, and after all, isn't the poo what college is all about! anyway? lol
Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       10-15-2010, 9:52 AM Reply   
Jason B. nailed it! lol.
Old    Alan Slabaugh (alans)      Join Date: Aug 2005       10-15-2010, 9:56 AM Reply   
Nu, that is a very good point. THis is a very hard time to get into the business due to the amount of talented/experienced people who are struggling.

I used to own a boat dealership. I started out because it was a great passion of mine and I really enjoyed helping to put people in the right boat (the sale.) When the economy started tanking, I got out of the business and left my dealership with my partners, they closed the doors 9 months later.

I have since been working a nice desk job and while it is nice to make good money again and have tons of time for boating. I definitely miss wearing jeans to work, playing with boats, fixing boats, and meeting the awesome people that buy wakeboard boats. I even miss the late nights , a lot can be said about doing something that you are sincerely passionate about and working hard at it. I have definitely been keeping in touch with the industry and if the stars align, I do see myself getting back into the business one day.
Old    Alan Slabaugh (alans)      Join Date: Aug 2005       10-15-2010, 10:00 AM Reply   
Kevin, just saw that you are in MD. I know a dealer in the area that is may be looking for a rockstar salesman. PM me if you want to know who it is.

I also would say that if you are really serious about it, you are at the right age to try to make it happen. I am 30 now with a wife, kids, and a lot of responsibility, which makes the job offers I have had a little too risky for my family, but 10 years ago, I would certainly have jumped on.
Old    Hate N Pain (hatepain)      Join Date: Aug 2006       10-15-2010, 11:10 AM Reply   
Sales these days is a tough racket and I sell something that people use and need everyday. Since the recession hit I have taken a $35k pay cut per year and I have been doing this for 6 years with a good clientele built up. I cannot imagine how tough its got to be in todays economic climate to sell boats and make a living doing so. Obviously, we all define a living differently but as I define it I can't see it happening. All that said if you like sales (takes a certain personality) I'd imagine that boat sales could be great fun.
Old    mojo            10-15-2010, 1:20 PM Reply   
i'm also a college student. where i live there aren't many ski/wake boats. slowly but surely growing w/ no dealers or cert. inboard shops within hours. i love boats and water stuff so i've thought about it. my major is entrepreneurship. the problem is that you cant get as much money for floor plans"the boats" as you could before and obviously most people are not buying right now new. you have to supplement with either outboard boats of some type or another item like jet skis or atvs that can fill the skier/wakeboarder niche that is only so big. the only way to keep that type of business going is the best customer service no matter what and the best mechanical work with the quickest turn around that proper fixing requires.
Old    VLX Envy (cavlxenvy)      Join Date: Aug 2007       10-15-2010, 3:08 PM Reply   
Did it for 4 years at a medium sized boat dealership.

Worked my ass off. Hardly any days off in the summer. When I had days off, I went out on the water. It was hard to shed the feeling of working and enjoying myself. When I did go, I had to hide from people that I sold boats to. All they wanted to do was ask me questions or have me "look at their boat real quick." I didn't mind at first because it was part of the job but after a while, I started taking a big ass hat that I would throw on at certain times.

I even watched a customer I sold a boat to park on the launch ramp on a Saturday and sit there prepping for 20 minutes. Then, after he dropped in, I actually heard him telling people where he bought his boat from and how I sold it to him and taught him how to do everything on the launch ramp. My jaw hit the floor when I heard him say that. I didn't teach him that sheet about taking up a launch lane forever. I was pissed.

You also have to realize when the weather is good and you want to be on the water, you will be working.

I did enjoy all the trips I got to go on (Dealer meetings with boat and wake MFGRs, Surf Expo, etc). Lots of awesome people in the industry. The people made it worth while.
Old    Nu Bu (05mobiuslsv)      Join Date: Apr 2006       10-15-2010, 3:15 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by cavlxenvy View Post
Did it for 4 years at a medium sized boat dealership.

Worked my ass off. Hardly any days off in the summer. When I had days off, I went out on the water. It was hard to shed the feeling of working and enjoying myself. When I did go, I had to hide from people that I sold boats to. All they wanted to do was ask me questions or have me "look at their boat real quick." I didn't mind at first because it was part of the job but after a while, I started taking a big ass hat that I would throw on at certain times.

I even watched a customer I sold a boat to park on the launch ramp on a Saturday and sit there prepping for 20 minutes. Then, after he dropped in, I actually heard him telling people where he bought his boat from and how I sold it to him and taught him how to do everything on the launch ramp. My jaw hit the floor when I heard him say that. I didn't teach him that sheet about taking up a launch lane forever. I was pissed.
You also have to realize when the weather is good and you want to be on the water, you will be working.

I did enjoy all the trips I got to go on (Dealer meetings with boat and wake MFGRs, Surf Expo, etc). Lots of awesome people in the industry. The people made it worth while.
Maybe he was pissed you threw your "big hat" on when he rolled up on you and was getting you back .
Old    VLX Envy (cavlxenvy)      Join Date: Aug 2007       10-15-2010, 3:21 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by 05mobiuslsv View Post
Maybe he was pissed you threw your "big hat" on when he rolled up on you and was getting you back .
he seriously had no idea. His wife had to tell him it was me.
Old    Nu Bu (05mobiuslsv)      Join Date: Apr 2006       10-15-2010, 3:26 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by cavlxenvy View Post
he seriously had no idea. His wife had to tell him it was me.
Did he also idle out of the No Wake bouy's and immediately start doing powerturn doughnuts? If so I think he might have moved to the lake I always go to .
Old    VLX Envy (cavlxenvy)      Join Date: Aug 2007       10-15-2010, 3:52 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by 05mobiuslsv View Post
Did he also idle out of the No Wake bouy's and immediately start doing powerturn doughnuts? If so I think he might have moved to the lake I always go to .
let's just say this guy frequents Lake Nacimiento in Central California. That was the last time I ever went to that lake.
Old    Darren Lamont (dlamont)      Join Date: Apr 2003       10-15-2010, 6:11 PM Reply   
Working in this industry has it's pros and cons. I can't really imagine myself doing anything else. It's extremely rewarding when you see a happy customer on the water or get a letter from their 6 year old kids thanking you for the boat. Not to get too sappy but selling a boat is different than selling a car or house, I think it's the one big ticket item that really brings people and families together better than any other.
I've been in the watersports industry for over 10 years and I still love boating just as much as I did before. You can't really beat a 80 degree day, flat water, and friends. If you are passionate about boating, and don't mind working weekends, and don't mind getting calls from customers at every hour of the day, and can save your money through the rough times, and can have fun, then selling boat is a job for you.
Old    Meathead (meathead65)      Join Date: Sep 2006       10-16-2010, 10:36 AM Reply   
A lot of your success as a salesman in the boat industry will rely on the Dealership itself...there has to be a strong commitment to service after the sale from the Service and Warranty folks. I worked at Cope's for 7 years in a roving management/operations capacity...we had some really good salesmen there. However, with very few exceptions, the service departments absolutely sucked. New boats are going to have some issues...some minor, some a lot bigger, and how the service side of the dealership handles these things will make or break the reputation of the dealership.

Research the dealership, and specifically the GM and Service Manager carefully....if they are good, service focused people, then the sales staff has a much better chance of success.
Old    Jeremy Nelson (jnelson)      Join Date: Oct 2005       10-18-2010, 8:25 AM Reply   
I have worked in the business for almost 10 years with the exception of 6 months. I will say that I don't strive going out on the water as much as I used to but I do still enjoy spending time with family and friends on the water. But also know that not many people get paid in fun. I do work for money but I do throughly enjoy getting up every morning and heading into the office, boat show, or on water event my company participates in. If being around boats makes you happy then you will be good at it and the money will come.

Best of luck.
Old    Alan Slabaugh (alans)      Join Date: Aug 2005       10-18-2010, 8:29 AM Reply   
Haha ^^^^

If compensation by Fun = Money I would be a Billionaire
Old    J D (jeff_mn)      Join Date: Jul 2009       10-18-2010, 11:18 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnelson View Post
I have worked in the business for almost 10 years with the exception of 6 months. I will say that I don't strive going out on the water as much as I used to but I do still enjoy spending time with family and friends on the water.
How much of that do you suppose comes from your career vs. aging, having a family, diversifying hobbies, etc..

A lot of peoples interest in being out on the water varies as they age - up and down.. Probably less likely that this decrease has to do with your job and more with the rest of your life.
Old    Jeremy Nelson (jnelson)      Join Date: Oct 2005       10-18-2010, 1:13 PM Reply   
^^^

Good point Jeff.

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