Dealers weigh in on boater education survey

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The results are in from the recent survey conducted by the education task force of the Recreational Boating Leadership Council and there’s nearly unanimous belief among the 166 respondents that boater education and training are important to boat buyers (97 percent said yes, 3 percent no).

So virtually all the respondents to that survey question offer education, right? Not necessarily. The survey reveals some notable differences that will now be studied by the task force members as they work to develop recommended education initiatives that can attract more new boaters.

Here are the remaining 12 survey questions: Do you . . .

. . . offer education on the rules of boating to prospective buyers? Yes: 68 percent; No: 32 percent.

. . . offer hands-on skills training on boat operation to prospective buyers? Yes: 81 percent; No: 19 percent.

. . . offer (check any applicable): classroom/shoreside training: 36.75 percent; on-water training: 75.9 percent; basic walk-through/orientation on boat operation: 92.77 percent; info on required safety equipment: 83.13 percent; other (unspecified): 18.7 percent.

. . . charge for the education or training you provide? Yes: 12.65 percent; No: 87.35 percent.

. . . believe boaters education and hands-on skill training, if offered, could help you sell more boats? Yes: 75.3 percent; No: 24.7 percent.

. . . have prospective buyers ask for boat training? Always: 2.41 percent; Most of time: 14.46 percent; About half: 35.54 percent; Not often: 42.77 percent; Never: 4.82 percent.

. . . think boat buyers are afraid to ask for boat training? Yes: 62.05 percent; No: 37.95 percent.

. . . believe educating the entire family would help sell more boats or improve customer retention? Yes: 81.33 percent; No: 18.67 percent.

. . . recommend any local boater education options to buyers? Yes: 73.49 percent; No: 26.51 percent.

. . . employ staff members capable of conducting formal boater education for new boat owners? (other than for just deliveries) Yes: 63.25 percent; No: 36.75 percent.

. . . employ staff capable of conducting formal hands-on skills training? (not including the delivery) Yes: 68.67 percent; No: 31.33 percent.

. . . believe the word “education” is a deterrent to accepting boat training? Yes: 31.33 percent; No: 68.67 percent.

The survey provides some helpful insight for the education task force going forward. For example, how to deal with the reality that a third of those responding don’t have staff capable of conducting formal or hands-on training or that more than 25 percent aren’t aware of or recommend local boater education options.

Bottom line: With 75 percent of respondents believing that offering education and/or hands-on training could help sell more boats, it’s clear the education task force is tackling a key consideration for boating’s growth. The task force is led by co-chairmen John Kukuk (Nestegg Marine, Marinette, Wis.,) and Chris Edmonston (BoatUS Foundation).