A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

The real world of no model years for outboard motors and great customer service

I recently got a boat delivered to me. It was a custom order that I was very pleased to have earned. In the current marketplace it was for a custom Bass Boat, a market we are just breaking into with one of the high level manufacturers. It had been ordered in the “official” 2008 model year and; therefore, was priced at 2008 pricing.

It was ordered with a specific motor. It was a motor from one of the companies that I feel is strong-arming the industry in a number of ways. One of which is the lack of model year. So far no one has convinced me it’s a good thing for anyone, but the motor manufacturers who have adopted this policy.

The boat was ordered with a 200 H.P. motor. That particular motor had undergone some changes in designation and marketing as a result of some real and perceived reliability issues. So it got a new name. And that was what was on the dealer’s order spreadsheet, and what the customer specifically ordered.

But the boat manufacturer [who stepped up to the plate with a big motor order ] was saddled with motors the motor manufacturer had marketed into obsolescence with no responsibility The pick system for the builder, no doubt, selected the oldest motor in stock. This was a huge and costly problem for the dealer and builder. 

Motors that had been built one, two or three years prior to the boats manufacture are a problem for dealers. That date of manufacture plate does not lie. A customer wants a boat that matches the motors year and, especially important, the current version.

So where does the expense and superior customer service enter the picture?

It was delivered to us and a quick check revealed the non-current motor. [I will continue to use that term if the motor is a year or more older than the hull I.D].

I called the manufacturer and told them of the problem not too long after I had called my very excited customer that his boat had arrived. We were tracking the delivery and progress of the boat since the order. It took some time to hear that I was not being left alone with the wrong motor and disappointed customer. The boat manufacturer and I agreed to get the customer what was ordered. And do it quickly.

How do we accomplish this at 6 O’clock in the evening on a Monday? The manufacturer did not want the risk of shipping motors back and forth. The chances of damage and delay as well as wanting to be responsible for the fully rigged product they sell  led us to a 525 mile trip to the factory.

At first I thought weeks of delay, and a lost deal with a custom boat and then I simply asked, “if my driver is there in the morning, will you replace the motor while he waits?” The answer was yes. The cost of that transportation would be more than half the dealer’s profit in the boat. With a great deal of respect and gratitude I will tell you the factory picked up our drivers tab and had a current motor in stock.

Ok now I am on the ground at 6 o’clock, replacing a shipping cover and making sure the boat is ready to go over a thousand miles rain or shine. Our driver said he would drive all night. The boat was back at the boat manufacturer’s rigging shop in less than 24 hours after it shipped. Our customer had no choice, but was certain we cared about his business.

The customer will get his boat for the weekend, and a dealer and boat manufacturer have had to jump through hoops to be heroes because model years have been eliminated. For the convenience of the motor manufacturers.

Marc Grove
Wefings Marine


8 comments on “The real world of no model years for outboard motors and great customer service

  1. Robbie Norris

    You state that you will continue use the term “non-current” when the manf. date is a year or more older than the boat hull ID. By your own definition the majprity of all engines would be “Non-Current”. Boat made in May of 07 was stamped an 08, engine was built in March of 07 (only 3 months earlier than the boat) would be a non-current by your definiton. How can you have an engine built in the future? You can’t! You speak nothing of the boat manufacturers responsiblity in this. Did they not manage their inventory of motors? Did they buy it on discount program and simply passed it on to the dealer with no additional discount? Boats with I/O’s have been under this program for a long time, with no issues.

  2. Wade N D Waters

    Doing skinny deals for $2,500.00 (525 miles x $2.00=$1,050 a 1 way mile- typical boat freight rate) is not a good practice either on a complete custom boat, motor(200hp)package & trailer that I would guess sold for a minimum of $35,000.00.
    Not knowing the motor manufacture, makes it hard to comment on. I understand if there are changes then the manufactures part number changes and so as you say the motor becomes a “non current model”. Your boat builder should be aware of changes with his motor suppliers and should have worked with the manufacter & the dealers to clear the non currents.
    How do you feel about that one motor manufacturer, who does have model years, who lowered their prices on 2009 models even though the dealers & boat builders still have 08’s they are trying to market & sell for more $$$$ ?

  3. Jerry Stout

    In our state we have to register the boat and motor seperately and when you have a 2008
    boat and a “current” motor that have a manuf dateof 2006 or 2007 that you paid current price for it is dificult to explain to the customer.If the MSO’s had aplace to specify date sold then aaccording to our tag agency they coul be sold as that year model.

  4. Robert NorVelle

    It seems to me that the boat manufacturer’s responsability is to supply the new hull with the most current motor, without regard to the manufacter date of that motor. If a motor is provided by the hull manufacturer that does not contain all the current features and upgrades for that model, the hull manufacturer should provide that “non-current” motor at a discount.

    But current is current, and non-current is non-current. It the responsability of the hull manufacturer to police this if he wishes to provide hulls with engines installed (Outboard, inboard, or IO!)

  5. marc Grove

    clarification; I actually meant to say a year and a half older than the boat . The point is the Dealer and Manufacturer took responsibility for the problem created by the lack of model year . The motor manufacturer has removed themselves from the loop by their policies and tactics.

    The deal was profitable enough [including a trade and finance] and would have been pretty easy had the boat come in correctly, and as it turned out was still delivered to the customer just 2 days later than planned .
    The customer is aware of the situation, and how it was handled , and will probably be a customer for life .

  6. C. Karentz

    Sounds like the PO for this particular vessel was concise and clear about the desired motor model and year of manufacture as part of the boat-motor “package” being sold to the client. With so many motor options available, the client and dealer apparently knew what they were ordering but the factory failed to fulfill the order properly. The factory did right by correcting the problem at their expense in a very short time.

  7. Steve

    I have been in the boat retail and service for over 20 years and seen just about everything go and come. We have been battling this bull for years with all the motor companies . I fill if the motor company makes a change in a engine than it is a non-current. I had engines dropped late week (July 2008) which where built in 2006. ( Thats is hard to explain to the customer)

  8. Gary Williams

    Are we missing the point of this story??? (I have been following the “non current” fiasco since announced.)
    In todays market of shrinking profitabilty let alone customer base we have a dealer showing true concern for doing the right thing for the customer and for that Mr. Grove is my new hero!
    It is absolutely amazing that this deal wenrt so smoothly and worked ouot oout for the customer in the end.
    I am sure Mr. Grove is right in that he just earned a custmomer for life. Whats the saying about good serveice Vs bad and the number of people told of the issues and length of time that story is told???
    Marc could have saved the exspenses and let the customer walk knowing it wasn’t his fault but you have to wonder how much damage would have been done to the engine manufacturers (and boat builders) image and for how long?? (re-read ?? above re. customer service)
    As to the comments of non-current boats to motors…lets be serious.
    When a boat builder announces a model, he builds then identifies each hull by serial # thereby tracking it’s life cycle.
    Last I heard it was a Federal/Felony offense to manipulate those #’s to say/mean anythinig else. So in other words, a builder goes to jail for doing it and an engine mfg. does it legally??
    We all know the answer to this one.

    Well done Mr. Grove! Good to see there are still some people out there to remind us what a “DEALER” meant back when we had to “trust” him to pick power and trailer for our boat and assemble the package!

    Regards, Gary Williams

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