The Best Time to Buy a Boat – The Honest Answer

I’ve been in the boating industry for a good bit of time, and December is the slowest time for boats, but it’s not the best time to buy a boat.

The honest truth is that September is the best time to buy a boat.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a jet boat, outboard, inboard, pontoon, Wake boat, or whatever boat – September is the best time to buy.

Buy In September

What the dealerships want is you to come in around December because that is when they’re the slowest. And sure, you’ll get a good deal, but it’s not always the best deal.

The best deals come when the manufacturer releases the new year models, and that often falls around September.

It’s not only you buying boats but also the dealerships. The dealerships buy the boats from the manufacturer in the hope of selling them to customers.

If a dealership has too many boats in inventory, they can’t buy many new boats from the manufacturer.

It’s in the manufacturer’s best interest to help dealers sell as many units as they can, so they’ll buy more new ones from them at dealer meetings that happen around September. The manufacturer’s help by releasing some of the best rebates and warranties they give all year long.

End Of Season – Great Time!

Something interesting happens during September, a sharp fall in buyers.

Kids are back to school, and everyone is going back to normal life as the summer is over.

This can put a dealership in a tight spot. No one is buying as much, and the manufacturer is about to release new models. If the dealership finances the units, they can be in an even tighter spot as many finance companies also want the units sold as they know buyers lack at this time.

Funny enough, all the websites saying December is the best time to buy have never really been in a dealership during December. September and October are far slower. Christmas and Black Friday sales events do help bring more customers in, and it’s a gradual increase until April when things take off.

Worst Time

If you want to know the worst time to buy any boat, it would be between April and May. People start to want them, and dealers know this. You’ll often find the worst rebates if there is any during April or May.

That is only on current year models – if you can get a previous year model then April or May will be ideal as they won’t last for long. The rebates on previous year models won’t get any better either so the time to buy them is now when they have them in stock.

It’s not uncommon to find manufacturers giving out good deals to the dealerships during July or August to get the final push and help with the release of new models in September.

How To Get The Best Deal On A Boat

If you want the absolute best deal you can get on a boat; there are two things you can do.

  1. Either buy it in September or when the manufacturer releases the new models and get the previous year model.
  2. Or go to your local winter boat show.

You’ll want to go to the boat shows that happen during the winter months, not the summer boat shows. These shows usually occur during January or February, but other parts of America may differ.

What is great about the winter boat shows is that they’re very cut-throat because of all the dealerships their. All the dealerships are within walking distance of each other, so it’s nothing to price shop as a customer.

As someone who’s worked many boat shows, I can honestly say I’ve given my best deals during this time because of every dealer undercutting each other. You’ll get the most money off and warranty in September because of the manufacturer, but during the winter boat show, you get the most honest prices from dealers.

Avoid These Mistakes

I’ve seen just about every game a customer could play on me when I was selling them a boat. Here is a list of things you should not do.

Don’t Lie About Price

Don’t say this or that dealer is $1k cheaper. If it’s the same manufacturer, I know what they have in a boat as we all get them from the same place. So I know when a deal is too good to be true.

Also, if a dealer is willing to go way below another, it’s a trick they’re playing. They just want you to leave a deposit and will change or back out of the deal. To some dealers, it’s better to steal a customer away from someone else than not to make a sell at all. Like I say, winter boat shows can be very cut-throat.

Don’t Ask For The Manager

For some reason, people think the sales manager is the one you need to speak to if you want the best deal. This is not true.

If you honestly want to know who is the best person to talk to about getting the absolute best price, it would be the owner of the dealership. Since the owner is not often at these shows or stays in the shadows, you won’t get that magical deal. Not only that, it’s not the owner’s best interest to undercut their staff and lose profit.

Same thing with the sales manager. It’s not in their best interest to undercut their staff, especially since many of them make money off the deals their salespeople make.

If the salesperson is not making money, then the sales manager is not making money either.

Do These things

We covered what not to do, so it’s time to tell you what you should do.

Get Prices From 3 Dealerships

Get three prices from the three closest dealerships to you. If you’re at a boat show, this is easy to do. If not at a boat show, get them to email you a price.

Avoid going into the dealership if you can and do most of your work through email.

Ask About Accessories

You’ll need life jackets, dock lines, fenders, and many other accessories.

Some dealers throw in stuff when you buy the boat while others don’t. This could affect price, so make sure to ask what accessories you’ll get in the boat. Some accessories you’ll need to keep you legal so don’t forget to ask about those.

Buying A Previous Year Model Boat

I know some might not like the idea of buying a previous year model boat, but it’s not that bad.

Boats don’t change much year to year.

Even if you get a boat that is two years old but still new and never registered, it’s still very similar to the current year models.

Don’t be surprised if that boat has five or so hours on it. The boat may have been taken on a few test drives for customers. It’s when you start to get over 10 hours that I would demand more money off.

The Best Time Of The Month

The best time of the month to buy a boat will either be the first week or the last week.

The last week is kind of obvious. Many dealerships need to sell so many boats by the end of the month to keep manufacturers and owners happy. There may even be a push by the managers to reach a new goal and get bonuses.

The first of the month is kind of tricky. Here’s the thing about a lot of salespeople, they’re kind of superstitious.

If you start with a good month, you’ll tend to have a higher chance of a good month overall. Getting those first few sales at the start of the month can affect the mindset of a person.

If you time it just right you might get a good deal because the salesperson needed that first domino to fall.

The Best Day Of The Week – yeah, it’s a thing

The best day of the week is not Saturday, no matter what other websites are saying. If anything, Saturday is the worst day to buy a boat.

Saturdays are your busiest days, and you’ll find a lot of salesman on test rides as that is when most customers have off.

If I had to pick a day, it would be Wednesdays. There is just this odd lull on Wednesdays that I can’t explain. Even Monday’s can be busier than Wednesdays for some reason.

You’ll want a day the dealership and the salespeople are not overwhelmed so you can get the most help and the most focus on price.

If you get a salesperson who is slammed on a Saturday, they may give you a price higher than usual as they have two other people they can fall back on.

If you come on a slow day of the week like Wednesday, the salesperson may have nothing else going on and want to make a sale. They may even be lacking a sale and need that domino to fall as talked about earlier.

Holiday Deals Can Depend

This depends.

I know several boat dealerships that close on the 4th of July because not many people want to buy, and all you get is people who broke their boats coming in. To the average person, you would think the 4th would be a great day to buy but most dealers are worn out by then and just close to allow the staff to relax.

It also depends if the manufacturer or dealership is running a special promotion then too. Sometimes it is worth it to go in to check out the boats.

Boat sales are not like mattress sales, where they heavily depend on holidays to move inventory. Pretty much every day from April to August is a “holiday,” and they’re moving inventory, especially on the weekends.