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To: Our Valued Customers
After almost 35 years in the Marine industry and the last 20+ as the owner of a repair shop I would like to help answer some of your questions about the quality of service you may receive.
It seems popular to believe that most repair shops are trying to “rip you off”, be evasive and overcharge for what they do. I am sure that some of those shops exsist but, I am also sure that the vast majority strive to give the best possible service for the most reasonable cost , that is just good business. Why do customers feel this way? Pehaps they don’t understand how complex that boat and motor is, or how hard it is to balance good service, , profitability and reasonable prices. Owners need to understand what we deal with daily basis.
First the product: Your boat is fabricated from hundreds of parts. Fiberglass cloth, mat resin, various wood, foam and other components. Wire, switches, bolts, hardware, electronics, hose, fittings, clamps, differing quality of these materials and labor are all incorporated to produce this boat. Add in the hundreds of different manufactures and their ideas of quality and you begin to see the complexity.
Your motor is comprised of hundreds of parts, pistons, electronics, wires, shafts, gears bearings etc. Many different kinds of metals, extreem tolerances. It is subjected to heat, cold, corrosion , abuse, neglect and all of these parts have to act in concert to perform as designed. Manufactured in many different countries, assembled by people on an assembly line( not “Angels in Heaven“) all with different ideas of quality control and what design really is the best. Add in a range of horse power from 2 to 500, 2 cycle, four cycle, outboard, inboard or stern drive. Several different manufactures. Gas, gas and oil or disel, you begin to see the complexity.
The Boat& Motor Package: Assembled with miles of wire, controls,steering systems, plumbing, electronics, hydraulic systems. Sometimes rigged an assembled at the dealer, factory, independent shop, or even the customer himself. All with different ideas of quality control and what is correct proceedure. You begin to see…..
To this complexity factor add in owners that often don’t know any more than how to turn the key ( gee, I didn’t know there was a kill lanyard, no wonder it won,t start). They let the boat sit for months at a time, only service when something is broken, try to “tinker” with it themselves and you begin to see……
The average repair shop has invested thousands of dollars in manuals, educating technicians, special tools, parts all to be able to work on your boat. Rarley do you see the owner of that shop or his employees on the Rivera, driving a Rolls, or dropping wads of cash at Vegas. The reason we have to charge those outrageous rates is so that we can be here to help you out on that weekend you planned, most of us because we truly love what we do. And I have to ask… When you spent $25,000 on that boat did you really evpect to find some guy named Babe at $5.50/ hr to work on it, and would you really want him?
Now to address some questions and complaints I hear from customers.
Estimates: Do not call, ( or have your wife) and ask for an estimate on the phone. My e-ray vision has failed, even if you back it up to the phone I still cannot tell what is wrong with any accuracy. Do not ask for a “ball park” figure. All you will get , if any thing is a SWAG(scientific wild assed guess). Believe me, any one that gives an estimate without checking hands on is making it up or lying. Take it to the shop, ask for a written estimate and rember that it is an estimate allow for some error. Most shops will call you if they discover additional problems after an estimate has been given. Most estimates will be free, sometimes we have to disassemble parts to give an accurate assessment and there may be a charge for this, check with the shop. Go in and look at the damaged parts and they will be happy to explain the cost etc.
“I brought it I for a tune up and now they are telling me I need new steering, or control cables or something else I didn’t ask for“. “Are they Jacking up my bill“. We are charged with your and your families safety. Some failures like steering or control can be very dangerous on the water. Most good shops try to inspect the boat and recommend repairs before they become critical or even more expensive. Again go to the shop look at the parts they recommend you replace and use your judgment. In the same token after the tune up and you go for your next ride if the bilge pump does not work it is not he fault of the shop nor could he have foreseen that it might fail. Because they installed new spark plugs does not make the shop responsible for all of the parts on the boat.
Do not tell them how to fix it. After getting an estimate do not try to eliminate some parts or steps to cut cost. We can not partly repair something, if you don’t like the price get another opinion.
This is perhaps the most controversial of all comments.” I had my boat repaired and after running it for the first time the problem is not fixed. You are correct to be upset, however understand that no shop wants you to go away unhappy and complaining. Mistakes do get made or even other parts may fail and cause the same symptom. Go back to the shop and give them an opportunity to correct the problem. You will find most shops will bend over backwards to correct the problem and keep your confidence and future business. If they refuse you service and fail to make it good then you have reason for anger and recourse. In addition if you had major repairs done do not plan a weekend trip with the family or a hundred mile cruise the first trip. Take it out for a “shake down” cruise, their may be some minor bugs to work out, list any problems and take it back and have them taken care of.
Listen to the Service Manager. Most of us want your business over a long period of time. We will try to recommend preventive maintenance schedules and things you can do to eliminate some of these problems. LISTEN TO THEM it is far less expensive to prevent a problem with regular service than it is to repair it after it is damaged.
Things you should do. Find a reputable shop that has a solid reputation, check with other boaters for a recommendation. Get Written estimates , make them explain what the damage is, what caused it and what is ness to repair it in terms you understand. Do NOT give advance deposits without a receipt, specific time table and delivery dates. Under no circumstances advance money to a mechanic that does not have a business license, and business address. Ask for old parts to be returned. Do not except shabby work, when you pick up your boat it should be clean and neat, If it covered in greasy prints, dirty, old parts lying around you can guess what kind of work they do and how much pride they take. Finally expect to pay for what you receive, we need to make a profit in order to be here for you next time. If a new lower unit for your motor costs $3000.00 and yours blows up don’t expect to get it repaired for $300.00, you get what you pay for.
I n closing, Many years ago as I was about to take my first job as Service Manager the retiring Manager gave me some words of wisdom. “Remember when you get up every day everybody you meet today is going to be mad. The customer is mad cause his boat is broken, costs to much to fix and takes to long. The boss is mad cause the shop is losing money. The mechanics are mad cause they don’t make enough money, and you have to keep them all happy.”
Please remember we did not design it, build it, set the price of parts and we did not break it. What we do try to do is give the best service possible on a very complex piece of equipment in a constantly changing industry. We want you to be happy and enjoy your boat with the least possible cost and minimum of hassle. Work with us to make your boating fun. Excuse me now I need to go get the oil changed in the Rolls!