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It takes a village to sell a yacht, catch an owner

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I just watched my wife buy her first racing bike, and I couldn’t help but see a parallel in her experience and that of someone buying their first yacht.

She was excited at the prospect of having this new bike and drove all over town, visiting one fancy bike shop after the next, researching what was out there, talking to everyone for advice, even dropping names from referrals.

But each time, the salesmen left her feeling dismissed, with no one spending the time to help her figure out what would work best for her. She had the money to buy any bike she wanted. Instead, she left each shop empty handed and feeling a little worse about the industry.

In this age of Google billionaires, it’s impossible to know who’s walking down the dock or into your showroom. Do you know what a Chinese millionaire looks like? Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant, went public in mid-September valued at $168 billion.

There are scores of new millionaires out there, and they don’t look like yacht owners of yesterday, steeped in generations of money, wearing style on their wrists and feet. They look like everyone else, so we need to treat everyone as a potential buyer. Many of them can write a check for any yacht they want; they just don’t know what they want.

It’s our job as players in this industry to help them figure that out, to make them comfortable and listen to them, whether we’re yacht crew or business owners, not just brokers. We should encourage them to try on a couple yachts, suggest they take a charter or two, even if it means we don’t sell the fancy yacht today. It’s all of our responsibility not to send them away.

Lucy eventually found the perfect used bike. She’s been riding and likes it. A new bike is in her future, I can tell, but she won’t buy one from any of the fancy bike shops in town who made her feel so unwelcomed.

We can’t let this happen to the potential new yacht owners that will certainly be walking the docks at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show later this month. This is our chance to shine, and leave our guests with a great feeling about yachting.

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