How do I buy a bass boat?
Response by Bass Rogue - Dated 11/04/1997
Some boat dealerships operate like car dealerships. The people who work in these places don't drive the products they sell. Avoid these places, they only want to sell you something. Look for a dealership where everyone who works there is a bass boat driver and fishes for bass.
These people want to sell you something too, but they are also interested in you joining their crowd. Dealerships like these put on tournaments and are well-known by the local bass fishing crowd. Look for a dealer who sells bass boats first and other boats to feed the family. Avoid a dealer who also sells bass boats, they aren't all that interested in selling them.
Spend some time at the local bass lakes and talk to the bass boat drivers. They will point you to the good dealers and give you some good advice. Ask them how many boats they've own and what their experiences have been. Most bass boat drivers enjoy talking about their boats. Try to get to them after they have come in for the day. You can often find the real boat lovers wiping down their boats in the parking lots.
As far as dealing goes, that's pretty much up to you. Most people in this country are willing to pay what they are told to pay. If you are going to spend $10,000 to $40,000 for a boat, have something to say. That's a lot of money and a lot of hours at work. When I buy something big like a boat or a car, I do it in one day - I don't have a lot of time. I tell the dealer that I'm buying today, and if they are nice and polite, they'll make the sale.
I also tell them I'm the world's nicest guy, but I have little patience with game playing. It also doesn't bother me to tell off a dealer. Don't act like a kid in a candy store, be all business and be a hard-sell. Make the dealer do the work. Generally speaking, I'm quite reserved and make the dealer do all the work.
Look for package deals, where the dealer orders a bunch of boats configured the same way and then offers them at a savings. When you add upgrades and accessories, only pay cost. Get the dealer to throw in something to close the deal. A custom cover is a good throw-in ($300 - $400).
Late spring through early fall is the selling season for boat dealers.
A lot of people spend the whole summer talking themselves into buying a boat and just before summer dies off for the year, they buy a boat. Wait until the holidays set in, and the bass go deep and sit there until next spring. When the bass aren't biting, the bass boat dealers will be willing to work a little harder to make a sale to pay some bills.
You might also be interested in getting a boat that is a year old. Some bass boat drivers start off with a 17 or 18 footer with a 125 to 150 hp motor and then within a year move up to a 19 to 22 footer with a 200 - 225 hp motor. The smaller boats are often taken in on consignment where the dealer has to sell them before they can sell the bigger boat.
I had my dealer sell my old boat before I would close on my new one. He sold it in two weeks, and I got a little less than what I wanted. You can get 30% to 40% off on the original price buying a year-old boat. Generally speaking, it only takes a weekend to make a year-old boat look like a brand new one. If you go this way, be sure to check on the remaining warranty times, especially on the motor.