the view from the boat broker’s desk

the view from the boat broker's desk

With a new decade starting the Aqueduct Marina team at Church Minshull in Cheshire began to discuss the changing way people view, buy and sell boats through the brokerage.

Aqueduct Brokerage and Sales Manager Ian and team look at the evolution of the boat brokerage.

yesterday, 2010

Ten years ago, 2010, individual boats were listed by brokers in adverts in boating magazines. This was at that time the main way for buyers to search for boats for sale. This got a lot of boats in front of thousands of potential buyers in a cost effective way for brokers. Unfortunately, printed press lead times could be so long that often boats had sold before publications went out to print!

Social media was still very new in this time for the marine industry and was an undervalued sales tool. Most brokerages had a website with boats listed, but customers were much less accustomed and less confident shopping online.

Customers visited sites to view boats after seeing them advertised in the press. The buyer would then peruse the range of several boats before finding the right one.

today, 2020

Today, 2020, very few brokerages list individual boats in printed adverts, but instead brokers and boat builders use the press for promoting the business brand. This is often to attract the boat vendor as much as a buyer.

Individual boats are almost always first viewed by potential buyers on the internet either by going to brokerage websites, industry website such as Apollo Duck. Following boats sales social media feeds for newly listed boats is now top of the list when researching a purchase.

Buyers are arriving at brokerages having already seen the boats on the internet and are fully briefed on the boat details. Their visit is primarily to reassure themselves the boats is what it purports to be, and the selling brokerage or marina is professional.

tomorrow, 2030

Fast forward to 2030, the move away from  printed press to online advertising will likely continue and grow. We feel the only publications remaining will be magazines with a strong online readership.

At Aqueduct we are already seeing certain areas of the country become hot spots for brokerages. Such as around Nantwich, with several good brokerages within easy driving distance. These hot spots will continue to grow in areas where there are both excellent transport links and several canals in one area. Resulting in buyers being prepared to travel and stay locally while visiting several brokerages in one day to the benefit of all the brokers and marinas on the local hot spot circuit. This could result in outlying smaller brokerages struggling.

We could then see an emergence of super brokers who like the ‘car supermarkets’ are able to provide the widest range or quality boats on one site, These super brokers will also have the finance packages, surveying facilities and engineering support services at one site that will provide reassurance to both buyers and sellers.

New boat builders may increasingly use these super brokerages as a sales showroom and place stock boats for sale in these outlets. Enabling builders to focus on building boats and the Brokerage providing the buyer with the touch-and-feel element.

We hope to finally see a boat ownership (V5 style) document created. To make proof of boat ownership more straight forward. We will probably see boat ownership and finance change. The car market has made a move away from traditional ownership to lease hire and Personal Contract purchase (PCP).

As a result, it is likely that the boat ownership may be with the marina or finance house and the boat buyer is renting/leasing for a number of years while they operate the boat.

These leasing PCP ownership models could then be linked to mooring fees and service packages, giving a truly all-inclusive boat price meaning the ownership model as we understand it today becomes the exception rather than the norm.

Which Marinas with the extensive facilities from café and chandlery to engineering and moorings, offering a full service all in one place, and excellent locations will be the super brokers of the future?


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About Robert Parton

Robert Parton is the managing director and owner of the award winning Aqueduct Marina, Church Minshull. His business career started with dairy farming, then he moved on through a self catering holiday cottage, a machinery hire business, and canal boat storage enterprise. During this period his vision and long term strategy was to open a new Inland marina, which he did in 2009.