Buying a boat is a tough decision… We know.
It’s like buying your first new vehicle, although most of the sales pitches with boat salesmen probably sound like complete gibberish to you, whereas the vehicle process is pretty straight forward. I mean, everybody has purchased a vehicle sometime during their adulthood, so you have the right amount of influence around you during that process. With boats, the influences can sometimes be overwhelming – leading to a stressful ordeal, typically leaving you without a boat again for the summer.
So, I’m going to help you out. And even if you are a seasoned boat owner, this information may be of value to you. At least you can pass this along to that couple that’s been hopping on your boat for three summers now, and doesn’t feel comfortable buying one of their own. Isn’t it time for your kids to get their own boat?
With that being said, consider these 5 Basic Fundamentals to Boat Buying:
1. Know your lake, know your size –
The first step in boat buying, pontoon or not, requires the consumer to know the lake at which they plan to do the most boating. Know your anchorage, requirements, restrictions, and so forth. Take a glance at the boats docked on that given lake. Realize that if they have a big boat, you will need a big boat. Smaller, local lakes are typically ideal for pontoons 18-22’ in length (generally speaking). Bigger lakes, with constant weekend activity, are more ideal for your pontoons 23-26’ in length. Beyond that, you should consider adding the third tube (what most call a tritoon). This gives you more lift on the water, and often, a better turning radius.
2. Loungers, Cruisers or Fun Seekers? –
The pontoon boat industry continues to grow for many reasons. One, being the multipurpose functions. Pontoon boats are no longer recognized as no-wake deck floats. They serve a variety of people and activities. There are almost too many reasons to buy a pontoon boat, so you need to narrow it down. Are you looking for something to fish with, equipped with live-wells, rod holders and bucket seats? Do you intend to hold up to 15 people at a high-cruising speed? Or – Are you looking to pull skiers and tubers, while adding along a diving board and sports tower? These are all options to factor in the decision-making process. Most pontoon boats are built for a specific consumer. Capacity, motor size, floor layouts, and structure can all influence a boat’s effectiveness for your desires.
3. Options + Motor = PRICE –
The first question I always get from prospective boat buyers on our property is generally something like this: “Why is boat X this amount of dollars, but boat Y only this amount of dollars?” That question, while absolutely valid, usually gets answered by me discussing each boat’s options and max motor size. You see, when you shop from dealer-to-dealer, prices aren’t always going to be 100% accurate during comparisons. For instance, our dealership may have a 24’ pontoon boat with similar options to one of our competitors. Our boat may look like it cost $5,000 more, BUT the key is to look at which motor is included with that specific model. Maybe our boat comes with a 150HP motor, while the competitor’s was only listed for a 75HP motor. This can make all the difference when dealers are trying to sell you on price. Make sure you’re getting the motor to fit your needs. Options + Motor size tend to drive up the price. Know what options you are needing on your boat, and make sure the included motor on that price tag will get the job done!
4. The trailer… –
Yet another factor to consider during price evaluations is the trailer. The trailer, while needed in most buyers’ circumstances, is not always included in the listed price. The reason behind that is nobody wants to pay for something they don’t need. Not everyone uses a trailer, so why should they have to see a price tag $3,000 more than they are anticipating? It is much easier to add on the price of the trailer to the buy order, than to remove it. And, in some cases (as we do), the dealer will do a free delivery to the recipient’s lake or home. Some trailers are more unique than others, so keep an eye on that during the buying process as well.
5. Sustainability or Affordability? –
Of course there’s a happy medium, BUT it can’t always be found. With pontoon boats, there’s a big decision to be made: Are we buying for NOW or for the FUTURE? Financial rates for your boat can be dreadful to see for the first time. Not everyone NEEDS a boat – this is a luxury item. So, if you’re purchasing a luxury item, wouldn’t you want to make sure you’re getting something that’s going to hold its superior quality? Sure, you can save a few thousand by going with the mass-produced float. But, we wouldn’t recommend that. You’re either going to be paying those thousands back in performance issues or not getting something that you and your family are truly content with. When shopping around, go tug on the deck supports, lift the seat cushions, see the framing, notice the details surrounding the boat. Does the manufacturer sell a product or an experience?
Good luck this season, and thank you for reading! If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email at Lucas@KCWatersports.com – I’d be glad to hear your thoughts and to discuss this topic further.