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Selling boats on consignment?

Yesterday, I picked up The News-Press in Cape Coral, Fla., turned to the Sports Section for some late scores and found myself looking at an awesome full page ad for boats. Dead center across the page, in large bold print no one could miss, was the statement: “Let Us Sell Your Boat!! Consignment Boats Wanted!!”

Now the idea of selling boats on consignment may be familiar to you, but I must admit I’ve never seen the words “boats” and “consignment” together before. Yes, I know lots of things — clothes, furniture, decorator items, etc. — are sold in consignment shops these days. But boats? Now that’s thinking out of the box! Well, apparently not at Scotties Canvas & Marine Outfitters in N. Ft. Myers.

The top half of Scotties’ ad was filled with 16 pictures and prices of four new boat lines. The bottom half showed 14 pictures and prices, plus 10 additional listings with prices of pre-owned and consignment boats. I was impressed so I checked out Scotties Website:

Now here’s what impressed me about Scotties’ idea. As I noted above, consignment selling and buying are common and very popular these days. At first, I thought it was just another way to say “brokerage.” But upon reflection, I realized two things: First, the boats in Scotties’ listings were primarily 18 to 22 footers; second, owners of smaller boats would be much more likely to identify with selling on consignment than by brokerage contract, the latter suggesting larger boats in most minds.

Finally, if you study the list of reasons to let Scotties sell your boat on consignment, you can’t help but admire the clever power of suggestion and excellent marketing of all the possible services Scotties can sell the customer!


9 comments on “Selling boats on consignment?

  1. George DeLoach


    Where have you been? There are many dealers out in the real world who chose not to take used boats in on trade. Often, dealers tie up huge sums of money to “buy” trade-in boats in order to pay off the floor plan on the new boats they are selling. I have seen several dealers who consign boats for potential customers rather than take those trades. It simply makes sense. Many dealers have had great success with taking a customer’s boat in on consignment, charging a small fee for selling it and selling them the new boat of their choice. It is a win – win situation. Scotties has no leg up on anyone with this one!

  2. Joseph Tyson

    Consignment is hardly a new idea. It was pioneered by Oak Gentry, at White Water Marine, back in the early nineties. Gentry had so much sucess with consignment selling that many Long Island area dealers followed suit shortly after and it has been a well-received process by buyers and sellers ever since here in the Northeast.

  3. mike webster

    Typically,even in ‘good’ years for new boat sales over half of all vessel transactions involve a previously owned vessel. Why not capture that market? Consider specializing in certain types and brands. Be selective,review all potential ‘listings’, learn to say ‘no thanks,not my market’ and decline poor listing prospects, based on vessel condition,seller expectations/attitude or both.Provide leadership to the seller in preparing the boat for sale.Your agreement with the seller should include routine washing and the understanding,via sales contract,that there will be demo and mechanical inspection upon accepted offer with deposit.Above all-have all vessels at one location,convenient to see.The listings will generate interest from each other.Prospects will often come to see a particular boat and end up buying something different they saw.Exposure,foot traffic! Keep the “inventory” in good shape.Treat it just as you would with brand new vessels or a trade in.(The bonus being that you have little $$”in it”).Provide leadership to the buyer for upgrades, repairs and personalization for their ‘new’ (used) boat. Managed properly,this approach could become recognized by the buying public as a most effective way to purchase a used boat and a viable connection to the new boat department.By the way-this can’t be done for a compromised 5% fee…it’s too involved-and effectively worth more.See note above about qualifying the seller.

  4. Nathalie Cournoyer

    Norm, this has been common practice in Canada and especially in my territory-Québec for the past 10 years now. Even so more this year due to the strength of our dollars thus affecting all trade-ins of 2 or 3 years old.

  5. Lou Rauh

    Norm- I started our business in 1990, after being frustrated and disappointed in trying to buy an antique/classic boat. At that time, the only way to purchase an antique/classic boat was to respond to individual ads of sellers located all over the country. You can imagine the misrepresentation and time wasted in traveling to see individual boats. So, we built two 10,500 sq ft. buildings to showcase consigned antique/classic boats. Sellers like it, as their boat is shown under ideal display conditions, and buyers like it as they can come to one location and see 65-70 antique/classic boats. In addition, we have over 500 antique/classic boats displayed on our web site –

  6. kent

    Don’t you have to have a broker’s license to sell some else’s boat? I understood dealer can only sell boat they own. Kent

  7. Nate

    What percentage can I expect to pay to a boat dealer that will sell my boat on consignment? In case it matters its a 19′ Glastron I/O and would likely list at $7,995. Thanks!

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