Skip to main content

The real world of no model years for outboard motors and great customer service

  • Author:
  • Updated:

I recently got a boat delivered to me. It was a custom order that I was very pleased to have earned. In the current marketplace it was for a custom Bass Boat, a market we are just breaking into with one of the high level manufacturers. It had been ordered in the “official” 2008 model year and; therefore, was priced at 2008 pricing.

It was ordered with a specific motor. It was a motor from one of the companies that I feel is strong-arming the industry in a number of ways. One of which is the lack of model year. So far no one has convinced me it’s a good thing for anyone, but the motor manufacturers who have adopted this policy.

The boat was ordered with a 200 H.P. motor. That particular motor had undergone some changes in designation and marketing as a result of some real and perceived reliability issues. So it got a new name. And that was what was on the dealer’s order spreadsheet, and what the customer specifically ordered.

But the boat manufacturer [who stepped up to the plate with a big motor order] was saddled with motors the motor manufacturer had marketed into obsolescence with no responsibility The pick system for the builder, no doubt, selected the oldest motor in stock. This was a huge and costly problem for the dealer and builder. 

Motors that had been built one, two or three years prior to the boats manufacture are a problem for dealers. That date of manufacture plate does not lie. A customer wants a boat that matches the motors year and, especially important, the current version.

So where does the expense and superior customer service enter the picture?

It was delivered to us and a quick check revealed the non-current motor. [I will continue to use that term if the motor is a year or more older than the hull I.D].

I called the manufacturer and told them of the problem not too long after I had called my very excited customer that his boat had arrived. We were tracking the delivery and progress of the boat since the order. It took some time to hear that I was not being left alone with the wrong motor and disappointed customer. The boat manufacturer and I agreed to get the customer what was ordered. And do it quickly.

How do we accomplish this at 6 O’clock in the evening on a Monday? The manufacturer did not want the risk of shipping motors back and forth. The chances of damage and delay as well as wanting to be responsible for the fully rigged product they sell led us to a 525 mile trip to the factory.

At first I thought weeks of delay, and a lost deal with a custom boat and then I simply asked, “if my driver is there in the morning, will you replace the motor while he waits?” The answer was yes. The cost of that transportation would be more than half the dealer's profit in the boat. With a great deal of respect and gratitude I will tell you the factory picked up our drivers tab and had a current motor in stock.

Ok now I am on the ground at 6 o’clock, replacing a shipping cover and making sure the boat is ready to go over a thousand miles rain or shine. Our driver said he would drive all night. The boat was back at the boat manufacturer's rigging shop in less than 24 hours after it shipped. Our customer had no choice, but was certain we cared about his business.

The customer will get his boat for the weekend, and a dealer and boat manufacturer have had to jump through hoops to be heroes because model years have been eliminated. For the convenience of the motor manufacturers.

Marc Grove
Wefings Marine



Volvo Penta Reports Q4, FY22 Results

Net sales of $470 million for the quarter were a 33% increase compared to the prior year period.


DEALERS: Are You Improving the Service Experience?

Our monthly Pulse Report survey asks this and other questions about your dealership. Take the survey here.


NMRA Sets Scholarship Deadline

Students pursuing education in the marine trades can apply for the National Marine Representatives Association awards until April 1.


Marine Products Reports Record Q4

The builder of Chaparral and Robalo boats reported net sales were up 42% for the quarter and 28% for fiscal year 2022.


Shurhold Appoints COO

Forrest Ferrari has years of management, business development, IT and quality-assurance experience.


RBFF, Pure Fishing Partner for a First Catch Center

Pure Fishing will equip a mobile trailer with tackle and gear to bring fishing experiences to areas of South Carolina where participation is low.


An Oft-Overlooked Sales Opportunity

A recent report from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation showed that women comprise 37% of all anglers. If you haven’t tapped this segment, you’re missing out.

1. 2023 new boat retail outlook

Too Many High-Priced Boats

To wrap up 2022, marine retailers reported lower demand, expressed more negative sentiment and voiced concerns about rising inventory. Boat prices and the economy remained top of mind for dealers in December.

Soundings Nov 2022

New-Boat Registrations Continue to Slide

As the gaudy sales figures from the pandemic continue to return to more realistic numbers, the main segments of the recreational boating industry saw new-model registrations of 4,421 in November, a 30.3% drop from 6,340 during the same time in 2021. .