27 Feb 2013

Never judge a book by its cover they say! And it’s true! There’s so much more behind the tan and the friendly wide smile of a boat salesman than meets the eye!  Outwardly it may seem that they spend all their time relaxing on gorgeous boats on the water with the sun on their faces – and while this certainly does apply at times – it’s usually over weekends and out of work hours.

Even customers can be fooled by an eyeful of beautiful craft into thinking its all play and no work! But a closer look behind the scenes and you’ll find a hive of very serious activity going on - designed to take the work out of your leisure time.

Working in boating may be hard work but it is certainly rewarding and selling “big” boats is something of an art, according to sales consultant Greg Alice of Boating World. And he would know having spent many hours learning the ropes from the best - Derrick Levy - master salesman and industry stalwart who has a string of business and national watersport achievements to his name.

One word “perfect” is Derrick’s motto and he expects no less from his staff when it comes to putting customers first – and Greg has quickly caught onto how to turn hopes into reality – successfully matching clients with their dream boats.

 “Clients are often under the mistaken belief that their perfect purchase is just waiting for them to turn up - but usually it takes time, patience and skill to find the vessel that meets the budget, suits their needs and is the type of craft that Boating World is happy to represent and backup once the sale has been completed.” Greg says.

Sourcing the ideal outfit is the biggest challenge in South Africa, especially as discerning buyers  want quality, luxury and performance all wrapped in one – suitable for our rugged coastline and unpredictable weather conditions. Hours are spent on the phone with manufacturers locally and abroad or with existing owners looking to sell and networking with business associates.

Derrick has used his years of experience and considerable expertise to source the best options overseas. “That’s why I have complete confidence in our Australian Riviera Sports Yachts and London-manufactured Fairline cruisers which have successfully stood the test of time and more than lived up to expectation.

“And now we have added the Sunreef range of luxury sailing and power catamarans (60 – 200ft) to our stable  – not to mention the many great pre-owned outfits on our books”, says Greg. “We also have a great range of boats available for charter both locally and in exotic destinations overseas.”

“In this industry one has to be self-disciplined, highly-motivated and prepared to do a bit of everything from liaising with clients, inspecting and photographing boats, to demos or completing the mounds of necessary paperwork – covering change of ownership, licencing, training clients on their electronics or how to drive and maintain their craft, insurance requirements and much more.

 And after all that you have to be able to accept rejection (with a smile) and start all over again! Having a thick skin is an asset – especially after weeks of work and the client changes their mind!”

Greg adds that it’s greatly satisfying to develop a good relationship with people from all walks of life and of course ultimately the client. Finding solutions to potential problems is essential to each deal and rewarding.

“There’s nothing quite like taking a client out on the water for a demo on a potential investment and seeing the joy on their faces when everything falls into place and they realize ‘this is the one’ – especially if you’ve overcome real or perceived hurdles and met their needs.” Greg says.

And of course there’s the ultimate reward of being invited out on those social occasions with clients and their families – where you do get to experience the pleasures of outdoor living and relaxing in style.