Shows offer tremendous opportunities

It seems that the boating season is getting off to a slow start this year. I wonder if it has something to do with a certain football team winning the Super Bowl. Perhaps you too were one of the many who put everything aside while relishing in the performance of your New Orleans Saints. Were you considering a new boat this year but put that decision on the back burner in order to cheer your team on? It is not too late!

We are still in the middle of the boat show season. There will be many opportunities to shop for boat-show special deals in the coming weeks. Two of the state’s largest shows will take place this month. The Boat Show in the Louisiana Superdome is set for March 4-7, and the Louisiana Sportsmen’s Show is set for March 12-14 at the Lamar Dixon Center in Gonzales. There are also many smaller shows on tap throughout the state.

If you are considering the purchase of a new boat, there is no better opportunity than one of these many boat shows for you to get a great deal. The phrase one-stop shopping takes on a whole new meaning at a boat show. All of the dealers in your area will be represented in one location at the same time. You can inspect several brands and models of boats at the same time. It would take you several weeks and many gallons of gas driving from dealership to dealership to see the same selection. With so many dealerships in close proximity to each other the competition for sales becomes fierce. Special deals abound. It will be up to you to sort through all this excitement and find the best package to suit your boating needs.

One of the biggest pitfalls you can experience at a boat show is confusion over what type of boat you are shopping for. Many times I have watched people walking aimlessly around a boat show, going from boat to boat, aisle to aisle, and dealer to dealer only to exit the show confused and disillusioned. Shopping at a boat show can sometimes be confusing, but if you do a little homework before going to the show, you will have no trouble sorting through the large selection and seeking out the boat that will best suit your needs.

Your first step should be to decide what type of boating you want to do. Will it be fishing, skiing, cruising or maybe some combination of boating applications? Make sure that your expectations are realistic. A 27-foot offshore fishing boat does not make a good choice for duck hunting. Creating a ranking of your boating needs (75 percent inland fishing and 25 percent cruising and skiing) can be helpful in choosing the right boat. Determining your boating needs will also be helpful in determining size of boat and horsepower of motor.

Technology will also play a large part in your decision-making process. Will your new engine be a two-stroke or four-stroke? Would you prefer carbureted, fuel-injected or direct-fuel-injected? Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages. Spend as much time as possible researching these options. Engine manufacturer’s literature can be helpful, but you may want to use your computer to find additional information such as product review articles in boating magazines. I recently did a Google search for two-stroke vs. four-stroke, and got 15,900,000 links on the topic.

Pre-shopping the show will help you to establish a price range that you are comfortable with. Contact your local bank or credit union to find out what terms they are willing to offer you. Interest rates and duration of loans do vary from different sources.

Allow yourself ample time to shop. Look over the product selections. Talk to the dealers, and allow them to show you the features and benefits of their rigs. Ask questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question. The dealer is there to help you. Let him do his job. Don’t be afraid to go back to a dealer you talked to previously if you have more questions.

Dealers participate in boat shows for only one reason — to sell boats. They get no points for beautiful exhibits. There is no prize for the largest or smallest exhibit.

They are there to sell boats. They know that if you close your wallet and walk out of their exhibit, they lose. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal. Negotiate price, negotiate financing and negotiate lagniappe — you’ve got the power and if you have done your homework, you will know exactly what direction you want to go in.

Congratulations to the world-champion New Orleans Saints and congratulations to the Who Dat Nation. It was a great ride, but now it is time to go boating. Good luck shopping, and have a great summer full of boating pleasure.

If you have any questions about your boat, motor or trailer, contact me at theboatdr@yahoo.com.

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