HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT YACHT SALES BROKER?

Finding the right broker is essential for your journey to assist you with your investment and experiencing yachting to the highest levels! A broker not only sells you the yacht, he is actually providing you with a bespoke experience, through the provision of products and his own network on specialist services, and all of the support that delivers it.

Over the years I have noticed that there are several factors that repeat the pattern from success-stories of happy yacht owners. Here are some of them:

Chemistry

Is a personal relationship choosing the horses for courses, often the broker and the clients have same age- range similar likes and hobbies like hunting or golfing, there has to be chemistry between them and they have to have things in common,. Because the client and the broker will spend a lot of time together, it is important that there is a strong compatibility factor. Neither does the broker nor the owner want to work closely for 2-5 years with someone you personally find objectionable.

Language

Language is also an important factor. For example some Russian-speaking Owners prefer to deal mainly with Russian brokers. I think this is obvious as you naturally get along with people who share the same history and traditions. It is not about understanding what is being said, it is rather about understanding what is not being said aloud. The famous “read between the lines” is significantly simpler when you communicate in your mother-tongue.

Location

If it is a boat that is appealing more to the American Market than the European market for example, then the owner might choose to go with a broker that has a strong presence and strong sales record in USA. If the owner lives in Monaco and likes to go cruising in the Med, he might have a yacht sales broker based in Monaco whom he can meet often at the yacht club and have nice chats and drinks and talk about fun things after work.

Track sales

For yacht owners selecting a yacht broker, it is important to also check which boats have been recently sold by the broker him/herself but also by brokerage house.  For new build, if a yacht owner wants advice on buying a 60 meter yacht, he is better informed and educated by a broker who has experience in that size range.For brokerage, If you are selling a 60meter yacht for example, you should check which brokerage house has recently sold yachts in that size range, most likely they will have the data base of potential buyers for your yacht

A  broker who has sold several similar yachts recently probably has a better idea of what your yacht is really worth in the current market. He is probably aware of similar vessels available in the market that could be the competition for prospective buyers.

Marketing Power

They have the right marketing tools to get yacht sold. A good broker will cover the costs of marketing the vessel, and will provide a marketing plan in regard to professional photography, magazine, digital marketing, advertising, brochures, boat show participation.

Yachting Knowledge

Brokers need to know every brand of yacht build there is out there, the pro’s and con’s, the shipyard management, the culture, the relationships with the yacht crew on board to have feedback on the performance of the yachts, the maintenance cost, etc.

‘Most client don’t really know what they want’ it is the expertise of the yacht broker who will be able to match client-to-yacht based on the broker’s experience. 

The broker also should know the operational costs of the yachts he/she is proposing to his clients before they buy it. Usually operational costs are around 5% of the cost of the price of the yacht (depending on the brand and the age of the vessel) but for example a 58 million euros North European-built yacht of 900 GT the operational costs would be circa 2.200.000 – 2.500.000 Euros depending on a number of factors like one or two seasons operation, private or commercial use, and most importantly the number of crew. A broker should know the typical running costs for different types of vessel and of the importance of being open and transparent about these to a potential purchaser.

Yacht brokers need to constantly be visiting shipyards and speaking to key industry players to stay up to date with advancements so they can properly educate their clients ‘visiting shipyards on a regular basis is a vital part of understanding the philosophy and USPS behind every yard.

Expect professional expertise and extensive market knowledge, information from advanced databases, full specification sheets listing all of a yacht’s features and links with the global market. The more forward-thinking a company is and the more it gives you the impression of regular contact with clients, the more you can rest assured.

The Industry network

The relationship between brokers it is important. They know each other and they build reputation on previous selling cases. It is also a matter of personality and business ethics. Some brokers simply don’t want to work with others. Therefore a brokers reputation is very important.

Reputation

A company’s reputation – apart from obvious tell-tale signs of untrustworthy, look out for things like how patient they are and good rapport – and process of payment are worth checking out. Having an idea of their spread in the international market can help you conclude whether a broker is the right one for you.

CLIENT/BROKER RELATIONSHIP

Ian Sherwood from Burgess Yachts tells us:

‘My relationships with clients are based purely on trust, if they do not have faith in what I say to them or if they do not want to deal with me, then they will replace me with another broker who they have formed a better connection with.  They are busy people and usually don’t have the time or inclination to fly and inspect 10 yachts, they want to see 3 that have been carefully shortlisted and fit their requirements’

Prior to joining Burgess I spent 5 years in Australia as a broker and found that over 60% of my sales were with returning clients or new faces who were directly referred to me, which I took to be a huge compliment.  My focus is just the same nowadays in the Superyacht industry and I regularly look how I am best serving the interests of my enquiries and yacht owners. 

Yachting is chosen as an escape for many people, they want to own or charter a boat in order to relax and wind down away from their usual lives.  But for the industry, we have to remember that our collective professionalism is what enables the clients to enjoy their leisure time. 

Brokers must maintain the highest standards in the same way that the crew will operate onboard as it will determine the overall client experience.

Professional knowledge is obviously important, but I also have to stand behind what I say and how I advise them.  The most successful brokers are those that operate with integrity as they retain the support of the client and then work together on multiple occasions.  The broker who is driven to get the deal the done at all costs, will enjoy the rewards in the short term but then often struggle to maintain the client’s trust and then find that they have missed out on the next occasion

Without knowledge or experience it is easy to find yourself led astray by the inspiring yacht concepts of boundary-pushing designers or talked into building a super-fast yacht with technical capabilities you’ll never use.

Can you buy a yacht without a broker?

It is definitely possible, but for a purchase of this magnitude there cannot be many examples in life where a client would allocate a budget of this size to a purchase without using the guidance of an industry specialist to assist them.    Typically, a sale will involve a number of people who are often spread out in several countries/time zones and the complexities of ownership and registry further complicate matters.  A professional yacht broker is a fantastic advantage for the client and will facilitate the sale so that their best interests are being looked after for what is hopefully a smooth and successful purchase.

A broker will also know much more than is in the public domain and information that you simply would not find out about as an individual client.  Off-market opportunities, the motivation of the seller, industry factors, market data and price comparisons are all common topics that I discuss with a potential buyer.  We can open doors and find situations that others can’t and in small industry like yachting, our reputation is vital, so there is no resting on our laurels, maintaining our relationship with the client is a never ending process.

There are also advantages in terms of privacy and credibility, there will be a degree of professional courtesy that is offered to me when dealing with other brokers and shipyards.  Until a direct negotiation is taking place there is no need for me to disclose the identity of the client nor their financial situation in order to maintain discretion.  As an individual you are much more likely to be challenged at every step, to demonstrate credentials and establish some background details.  With a fast moving scenario, this may preclude you from being part of the action.

Finding a yacht online

The internet has changed the process of how yacht buyers research yachts and find inspiration, the major websites have very comprehensive lists of available yachts and they are receiving a huge level of traffic every day.  The thirst for instant information and high-resolution images has led these sites to readily distribute content directly to phones and tablets.

For the industry they create increased exposure to potential clients and promote the brokerage companies to a wider audience.  They offer the yacht buyer an ability to target their interests in a tightly controlled way and filter comparable yachts for sale.

It however is a common misconception that the information displayed is a true reflection of the market conditions.  Don’t forget, all figures shown are asking prices and not the actual transacted prices, so when using the websites to benchmark against price for example, they lack real time accuracy.

You have to be careful, and don’t believe everything you read, some boats are already sold, poor images, wrong specs,

It can often be confusing about who the actual central agent is and there are occasions where the information is being misrepresented by a third party.  Errors occur because it has been taken out of context or is out of date, but the information is often left out there as a butterfly net to hopefully lure in potential clients. 

MATCH- MAKER

They call me the Yachting Match-Maker for a reason! if you want me to help you find the perfect yacht sales broker to you, just drop me a line and I will make sure to introduce you (or provide you with a list of the top 3 brokers) suitable to either sell your existing yacht or find you ‘THE one’.

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