My answer to We manufacture aluminum boats, but how do we find foreign customers to sell our boats to?
Answer by Desmond Last:
It will very much depend on what design and size of aluminium boats you manufacture.
Most countries manufacture small aluminium boats up to about 20′ with their own local manufactures.
Therefore, if you hope to enter the local market you will have to compete on Price or a completely new technologically advanced design that has proven advantages over the current manufactures.
You will also have to comply with any national and International regulations for boat-building and use.
If the boat is to be used commercially it will also have to comply with any seaworthiness Directives and regulations for commercial use.
Hull Identification Numbers must comply with the International Standard.
Should you wish to export into the E.U the design will have to be Type Approved and certified. Exporting into the E.U also means compliance with the E.U Product Liability Directive so you will need an audit and design document system. Your ability to export into the E.U will depend on what country you are from.
You will also need an advertising budget and an importer to carry stock.
However, you must first determine the market for your design.
Aluminium boats are not inexpensive to make and the Boat market is not a big market.
For instance when I was selling Boats at my brokerage on Sydney Harbor I used to tell prospective boat sellers that there are only approximately 6000 boats over 25′ on the whole of Sydney Harbor.
Below 25′ you will be able to trailer the boat which does open up the market.
My advice is to first determine the market for your design. Are you competing on price, availability or/and design?
Then provide a boat to the local boating magazines. Once you have a successful boat test then place an advertisement seeking an importer. I prefer the importer and distributor system as it protects territories and margins.
Most boat businesses are relatively small You will need an importer to finance the stock and then sell or consign it to dealers. Make sure your importer knows boats as it is a very specialized business.
When selling boats location is Number One. Unless you are on a Marina or adjacent or close to the water then you will never realise your full sales potential.
I was the Australian agent for the Cranchi Boats and an sales agent for the Dufour Yachts importer so I know how difficult it can be.
Exporting is not as easy as Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage of the U.K seem to think it is.