What are the expectations of a boat supplier?

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What to expect of a coastal boat supplier? We keep asking ourselves … are we a good boat supplier? Are we doing a good job?  Have you ever thought about how good your boat supplier is – apart from the boats ? What are the expectations of a boat supplier?

Raimond, my colleague from France and I talked about the list of topics at a workshop on service areas in rowing last summer. We hit the topic … suppliers of boats and their service. At the end of the seminar, the (12) participants were asked to prioritize their expectations. Here is the overview of what some people expect from boat suplliers.

  1. Owning your own boat trailer
  2. Nationwide deliveries
  3. Provide test boats / demo boats
  4. Data Sheets
  5. Availability of the team
  6. Repair service:

What one expects from boat suppliers in France also applies to UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. And what one expects for regular rowing boats, applies to coastal boats as well. 12 people are not necessarily representative. Nevertheless, they give a tendency to what is required for the clubs.

Nationwide delivery of boats

That means the supplier has to deliver to every corner of the countries. The supplier brings the boats to the club or private customers. France is much bigger than the UK or Germany, but every rower has the right to have his boat delivered to his home. Pickup should only play a role for cost reasons.

Own trailer: Expectations from the boat supplier

Expectations from the boat supplier: Own trailers and van.

Good substantial boat suppliers have their own equipment. This includes trailers, trucks or vans  and accessories.  The suppliers ensure that the boats have all the papers and documents. Customs is paid.  It used to be very common that suppliers had no trailers and dedicated the boat pick up to the relevant clubs. Pretty easy – for the supllier.  Rental trailers are available and it is the boat suppliers obligation to provide the boat.

We heard abot the “buddy concept”: You call the “buddies” in the clubs, pay them a fee, a beer and let them  transport and distribute the suppliers boats. Participants found that a cheap and unfair way of doing business.  Clubs use their own trailer, their own van, their own driving time and receive not very much in return.  Raimond told me that there was a big discussion going on at this point.

Both are rarely found today. Neither this type of underpayment nor the use of club resources. Perhaps one or the other financially weak supplier uses this strategy – we think this model is running out. As an ad hoc aid, or if unexpected problems come up, it still remains a good model.

Excursion: How much does it really cost to deliver a boat?

The cost of a boat delivery is much higher than you probably expect. This is what you van expect:

  • Buddy Concept: The club organises the delivery. Drivers are members/buddies of the club and the club uses their own trailer or knows someone with a trailer. Costs usually about 150-250€.
  • Price per kilometre: The boat supplier uses a price of 0.25 €/km for the trailer, 0.65 €/km for the truck and 15€ for the driver. That seems actually like a reasonable way where the boat supplier is able to cover the costs while not overcharging their customers.
  • A similar model is to charge the amount of seats. The price per seat is somewhere between 50€ and 100€. If you want to get a Co4x and a Co2x shipped from A to B, with a distance of max. 250 km, you would pay 350€ (7 x 50€).
  • From experience: A boat transport of 4 Co4x (20 seats) from “A” to “C” (1225km) was calculated with 1500€ + expenses for the driver. So we have about 2000€ for all 4 boats, which is about 100€ per seat. What do you think? Is that expensive?

Boat park and demo boats

Suppliers in England provide substantial support to clubs and their regattas – with boats or equipment. Many suppliers maintain a fleet of demo boats. These boats can be tested or used as rental boats for regattas. This is also mostly the case in continental Europe.


The availability of the boat supplier for advice before and after the purchase. Most of the time there are questions or issues that have not been discussed before the transaction. I think this is done today by all boat suppliers and is not an issue.

Repair service

It is beneficial if the supplier can also repair the boats, but it is not a necessity. Especially since many clubs repair small damages themselves, or have – at least in England – their own boat builder of confidence.


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