World’s largest boat broker brings successful online methods to age-old trade
Until recently, the boat brokerage industry was fragmented, old-fashioned and opaque. Yacht brokers worked alone, with lists of privileged clients and according to whatever methods they preferred.
Back in 1999, Boatshed changed all this. Brits Neil and Mandy Chapman determined that listings of boats for sale would go online. All the dealings involved in a sale were online as well, so both seller and buyer knows exactly what is going on. And Boatshed broke the selling process into modular form, so that different agents could be responsible for different aspects of the sale.
Used boats are the sweet spot
Activity in the used-boat sector is on the rise in most major markets, according to statistics from International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA). In France, for example, used-boat purchases were up 5% last year to 65,000.
Yet the fragmented yacht brokerage industry wasn’t equipped to deal with demand, nor to take advantage of it. Boatshed is the exception that shows just what opportunities have been missed.
Selling a boat is an emotional decision, as good brokers know. It’s very important that a seller’s expectations be met, just as buyers usually have a very exact picture of what they’re looking for.
That’s why Boatshed uses cutting-edge technology to match buyers and sellers.
The technology is part of Boatshed’s customer focus. Boatshed has records of thousands of viewings, dating back to 1999, and these have resulted in literally millions of engagements with boats by customers.
With over 62 million rows of data, Boatshed can use its top-of-the-line analytics and Artificial Intelligence to make extremely accurate predictions on which boats a buyer will be interested in. We reinforce this knowledge with further analysis of customer actions – based on boat viewing patterns, we know that when a customer is interested a certain boat, there are specific other boats that the customer is likely to want to see. And the Boatshed website offers literally hundreds of ph0tos and videos, showing every detail of the boat under consideration.
“The result is that Boatshed can then be very precise about which listings show a potential buyers, zeroing in on those that are almost certain to please, and providing all the information about those listings. So that when buyers go to visit a boat, there’s a very strong chance he or she will find what they are looking for. Boatshed’s local presence – the company is represented by offices in every major marketplace – supports the effort,” comments Graham Wharmby, head of Boatshed operations in France.
Once a sale is made, Boatshed’s international corporate organisation takes over, managing the legal formalities and the financing.
“And so we handle everything at the highest professional level,” Wharmby adds, “which is another reason we close sales faster than others.”
Modular Sales Process
Boatshed’s disruption of the sales process has another dimension, one of interest to everyone in the marine industry.
Boatshed has broken down the sales process into separate modules. For the the first 2 processes no selling or negotiating elements are involved, you simply need to love boats. Instead of one single broker finding listings and managing the logistics of sales, Boatshed has made separate roles for each of those operations.
The most basic module is finding a listing. If you find a listing that leads to a sale, then you earn up to 20 per cent of commission. Just enter the name of the boat, the owner’s name, and your name on Boatshed’s online platform, and Boatshed will do the rest. You’ll be notified about every phase of the sales process, and, if the sale goes through, you’ll receive your 20% automatically.
Or take on another module: Carry out the 'on the ground' element of the process, which means meeting the owner on board, taking the photographs for the listing and accompanying buyers on viewings, handing over the keys and receive up to 20 per cent of the commission when the boat sells.
Put the two modules together, and you’ve a right to 40% of the commission.
We engage with great people, we empower them with great technology. So we help great people and great boats to find each other.Neil Chapman - Founder Boatshed.com