We keep asking ourselves … are we a good boat supplier? Do we do our job like other competitors or are we too careless? Have you ever thought about how good your boat supplier is – apart from the boats ? What are the expectations towards the boat supplier? Are there bad boat suppliers?
My colleague Raimond from France and I talked about the list of topics for a seminar on service areas in rowing last summer. It was also about 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.
- Owning your own boat trailer
- Nationwide deliveries
- Provide test boats / demo boats
- Data Sheets
- Availability of the team
- Repair service:
We think: What one expects from boat suppliers in France also applies to UK, Germany, 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.
Expectations from the boat supplier: own trailers and tractor units .
Good substantial suppliers have their own equipment. This includes trailers, tractor units and accessories. The suppliers ensure that the boats have all the papers and in extreme cases that they are even unloaded from the shipping container and onto the trailer. Anything else would shift their own logistics problems on to the clubs. It used to be very common that suppliers had no trailers and means for delivery. After all, they cost several thousand euros. You called the “buddies” in the clubs, paid something like “a hundred and a crate of beer” to use the trailer and the transport was organised cheaply. Sometimes the club members even drove themselves. 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 it in the beginning. We have prepared a short list with examples of the different ways of delivery.
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 100-150€.
Price per kilometre: The boat supplier uses a price of 0.25 €/km for the trailer, 0.65 €/km for the tractor unit 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 Hamburg to Bremen (125km), you would pay 350€ (7 x 50€).
From experience: A transport of 4 Co4x from Düsseldorf to Venice (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.
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.