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Old 02-22-2020, 03:50 PM   #1
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Buyer 101

I was planning to post this under the Helmsman builder thread but thought a few others may be interested (maybe not) in a recent observation I made. We have our current boat for sale which always brings an interesting array of potential buyers with different levels of experience and knowledge (all good). What I find somewhat disheartening is when a seasoned boater who is smart enough to ask questions about my explanation of our boats hull design only to see (usually) him drift away and start focusing on everything else. While I’m not saying that a buyer should make his/her decision on only one or two factors I can not think of a more important factor than the hull design. The other “observation” I have made over the years is the level of influence the “partner” plays in the decision process. I’ll be the first to say the if the partner is not onboard you might as well give up the search all together. Maybe I have been fortunate over the years to have a wife “go along” with the type / style of boat I thought we needed for the mission or planned use. One thing I did learn to do after finding the right boat was to listen to her every suggestion on how we should equip and decorate it. For us this has been a successful win/win on every boat.

Back to a more recent experience and an individual who appeared to appreciate my explanation of how great the hull design on the H38E is including performance numbers only to comment how his plans do not require such a well designed hull and live with something less as long as rest of the boat works for him and his wife. Ouch!

John T
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Nordhavn 4050, 4061, 3522 - Former Owners
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Old 02-22-2020, 07:43 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by N4061 View Post
I was planning to post this under the Helmsman builder thread but thought a few others may be interested (maybe not) in a recent observation I made. We have our current boat for sale which always brings an interesting array of potential buyers with different levels of experience and knowledge (all good). What I find somewhat disheartening is when a seasoned boater who is smart enough to ask questions about my explanation of our boats hull design only to see (usually) him drift away and start focusing on everything else. While I’m not saying that a buyer should make his/her decision on only one or two factors I can not think of a more important factor than the hull design. The other “observation” I have made over the years is the level of influence the “partner” plays in the decision process. I’ll be the first to say the if the partner is not onboard you might as well give up the search all together. Maybe I have been fortunate over the years to have a wife “go along” with the type / style of boat I thought we needed for the mission or planned use. One thing I did learn to do after finding the right boat was to listen to her every suggestion on how we should equip and decorate it. For us this has been a successful win/win on every boat.

Back to a more recent experience and an individual who appeared to appreciate my explanation of how great the hull design on the H38E is including performance numbers only to comment how his plans do not require such a well designed hull and live with something less as long as rest of the boat works for him and his wife. Ouch!

John T
Helmsman 38E
Nordhavn 4050, 4061, 3522 - Former Owners
I agree 100%

Pretty typical for new boaters to focus on the interior living area configuration and price. The male may focus on engine room but more concerned about how much horsepower the engine has. The female looks mostly at decor, stateroom, head compartment and general cleanliness and presence of odor. The gallery maybe, but she intends not to do any cooking. They often equate buying a boat to buying a car.

More seasoned boaters have a better idea of what is important to them from previous boat ownership, friends boat or looking at other boats while cruising. A lot depends on whether they are dedicated boatnuts, casual boaters or possession/toy accumulators. Are they intending weekend cruises, taking friend out for day trips, joining fellow boaters or Yacht Club on cruises, staying inland etc. Or are they planning months long trips to distant places, crossing open water and straits, going offshore etc. Seasoned boaters may still make compromises due to price, striving for the most bang for the buck. And as far as hull design, most boaters don't have that at the top of their list.

Without knowing what is important to them in a boat, many boaters buy and sell multiple boats before finding the right boat for them expending time and resources.

That's why retaining the services of a Buyers Consultant is a shortcut to finding the boat right for your intended use. A good consultant will earn their keep by minimizing time spent hunting for a boat, steer you clear of problem boats and issues and manage the broker for you as a fee based fiduciary agent instead of a commission based relationship.

Or charter/timeshare a variety of boats to narrow choices. But that avenue is more costly than hiring a consultant but more fun.

Most Real Estate and Boat Brokers, furniture and mattress salesmen etc do not expect a purchase if the spouse is not present. The smart ones always ask if anyone else will be participating in the decision and spend time with them according to the reply.
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Old 02-23-2020, 07:16 AM   #3
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Maybe he agreed with you 100 percent on the hull and did not need to dwell on it.
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Old 02-23-2020, 07:50 AM   #4
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I think that hull design importance is very relative to what type of cruising you plan to do and how much weather your willing to tolerate. While you may have chosen the hull design based on rough water cruising as a maximum, the potential buyer may see his use limited to near coastal and inland cruising on fair weather days. The buyer may have heard what you said and might actually think the hull is more than what his perceived needs are.

I owned my own store for 20 years and sold technical scuba diving equipment for 30+ years. A common mistake made by sales people and probably you is too much information and talking people out of a purchase they are considering. A pitch is fine. Then answer their questions. Let them determine when they feel they have enough information. If I'm looking at cars, I don't need to hear the salesperson go on and on about how it handles at 120 MPH if I have no intention of exceeding 80 MPH.

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Old 02-23-2020, 11:02 AM   #5
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Maybe he agreed with you 100 percent on the hull and did not need to dwell on it.
If you are a serious buyer then by the time you go look at a boat you should have done your homework and know the design considerations and propulsion options. You're there to asses condition and the presence/lack of ancillary systems. As a buyer I don't need a "guided tour". Just let me puts around and get a feel for things.

People that don't know what they're looking at aren't going to want the dissertation either. They just want to imagine themselves sunning on the back deck holding a drink with an umbrella in it.

As a seller you ask questions to ascertain what you have, and then see IF they are interested in hearing technical details. If not, you show them pictures of you sitting on the back deck holding a drink with an umbrella in it.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:29 AM   #6
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Old 02-23-2020, 12:23 PM   #7
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Out of curiosity, are 8 knot boats popular in Southern California?
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Old 02-23-2020, 03:29 PM   #8
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Out of curiosity, are 8 knot boats popular in Southern California?
Not as popular as sailboats which is unfortunate. I would say express cruisers and fishing style boats are most popular ( people are in rush around here).
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:53 AM   #9
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I have to agree with a lot of the sentiment above.

1) I know what I'm looking at.

2) I know what I'm looking for.

3) I ignore the 'marketing spin' of a seller or a broker.

We are coastal cruisers that cruise to the weather. We push it more than many, but we don't push the envelope hard. A Bayliner express would easily meet our needs (if large enough).

I'm more interested in how much time and money I'm going to need to invest. And Yes, my wife gets an equal equity share vote. It's not my boat, and it's not her boat. It's OUR boat. We will each have to live with the compromises of the other and hope that we gave as much as we got and can both be happy with the outcome.
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Old 02-25-2020, 12:51 PM   #10
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Back in the early days of Trawler Fest, I was one of the regular presenters at all of the TFs. One of the two presentations I did was a Buyer's 101 seminar on selecting the right boat. Needless to say, it was a popular seminar given why people attend a TF event.

My gut feel is the new/lightly used boat buyer probably hasn't changed much. I used to say "The good news is it's harder to figure out how to pay for one of these puppies than to learn to cruise it." These are healthy people who have raised a family, had some success in life, and are ready for their next adventure. Expecting them to get super jazzed about hull-form is akin to asking a tadpole what it's like to be a frog. They read the brochures, do the research on hull-form and such, but when push comes to shove, it's the emotional feel they get when they step aboard at the show docks.

Unfortunately, the boat world is littered with carcasses of decent boat builders who just didn't make it. Look no further than my beloved Willard. Frankly, they were unable to compete against the Nordhavn 40 which was really the death of the company in 2004. The Helmsman looks like a nice boat - I love the full-width salon. To me, I'd happily give up side decks for more lounging space on a small boat where skipping through the salon is not a problem. But I have no idea how you differentiate this boat in the open market against Nordic Tug and American Tug.


Good luck!

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Old 02-26-2020, 05:11 PM   #11
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And Yes, my wife gets an equal equity share vote. It's not my boat, and it's not her boat. It's OUR boat. We will each have to live with the compromises of the other and hope that we gave as much as we got and can both be happy with the outcome.

Shrew, I might add to the above "Unless it's BROKEN, then it's YOUR boat! At least until it's fixed again . . .
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Old 02-26-2020, 06:37 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by N4061 View Post
I was planning to post this under the Helmsman builder thread but thought a few others may be interested (maybe not) in a recent observation I made. We have our current boat for sale which always brings an interesting array of potential buyers with different levels of experience and knowledge (all good). What I find somewhat disheartening is when a seasoned boater who is smart enough to ask questions about my explanation of our boats hull design only to see (usually) him drift away and start focusing on everything else. While I’m not saying that a buyer should make his/her decision on only one or two factors I can not think of a more important factor than the hull design. The other “observation” I have made over the years is the level of influence the “partner” plays in the decision process. I’ll be the first to say the if the partner is not onboard you might as well give up the search all together. Maybe I have been fortunate over the years to have a wife “go along” with the type / style of boat I thought we needed for the mission or planned use. One thing I did learn to do after finding the right boat was to listen to her every suggestion on how we should equip and decorate it. For us this has been a successful win/win on every boat.

Back to a more recent experience and an individual who appeared to appreciate my explanation of how great the hull design on the H38E is including performance numbers only to comment how his plans do not require such a well designed hull and live with something less as long as rest of the boat works for him and his wife. Ouch!

John T
Helmsman 38E
Nordhavn 4050, 4061, 3522 - Former Owners
Perhaps the buyers didn't want a full lecture on hull design. I wouldn't. I know all I need to know about the hull design of your Helmsman 38E. 30 seconds of hull design and I'd be interrupting to get to the next topic. Buyer 101 in my mind has the Buyer setting the agenda and their questions leading things. You act like it's your program and your agenda and that's just not the situation. I'd venture 90% of all boat buyers aren't interested in hull design 101. In fact, you don't sell design, you sell benefits. Smooth riding, good in rough seas. If they ask more, you might explain briefly why.

That last buyer sounds smart in knowing his intended use for the boat.

As to your comment on the level of influence of the partner, I find it offensive and dismissive. It's a 50/50 partnership and in my opinion means it takes two "yes" votes as either partner being opposed rules the day.

You seem upset because the buyers don't do things your way, but that's the right of buyers and to think you know better than they do is arrogant. Good sales persons listen to the customers.

Once went to call on a major regional department store. We had planned what we referred to as our Profit Pitch. The Owner interrupted and said if we wanted to talk about Profit we might as well lead, that he was there to serve his employees and customers and community. That makes you do a double take. We listened and still made the sale.
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