Communication – The Key to a Successful Marine Service Experience?

It happens all the time. We drop our boat off at the local marine service shop and get a promise that it’ll be ready for the upcoming weekend. Our spouse is happy, the kids are excited, and we start planning a great weekend boat cruise, fishing adventure, or day trip to our favorite sandbar. You head to the shop on Friday afternoon as agreed, and the boat mechanic comes out from a back room looking surprised to see you. Guess what? Your boat isn’t ready. You and the family won’t be boating this weekend and you’re the one who has to deliver the bad news.

As boaters, we cherish our time on the water. How do we avoid being disappointed by the marine service businesses we depend on? Do we have any control over our destiny?

In our experience, the relationship between boater and marine service provider could benefit greatly from some simple-to-follow communication steps. Here are our recommendations.

  • Don’t take anything for granted. Ask questions. If your outboard engine mechanic, boat restoration specialist, or whatever marine service provider you’re depending on says your boat will be ready on Friday, ask if this is just an estimate or a commitment. If it’s an estimate, let him or her know that you’d like a call as soon as the completion date firms up. If it’s a commitment, let them know that you need to be notified in advance if they can’t keep the promise.
  • Communicate your expectations. If you’re planning a weekend boating outing and need your boat back no later than Friday at 5pm, speak to the marine shop owner before you bring your boat in. Ask if they can make a commitment to meet your deadline. If they can, great. If not, you’ll know and you can postpone your boating plans, delay the service work, or look for another marine business that can finish the job sooner.
  • Verify! If you need your boat by Friday, ask your boat mechanic or boating shop owner to check in with you Thursday to give you an update. If you don’t hear from anyone on Thursday, call the marine business owner yourself and ask for a status. If there was a specific item that you wanted your boat engine mechanic, or other boating specialist, to fix, confirm before you leave the shop that the item was corrected to your satisfaction.

These simple communication tips should not make you seem like a bothersome customer in the eyes of your favorite boat shop. As long as you are courteous and reasonable in your expectations, the marine business owner should appreciate the fact that you set clear expectations. If the boating business you use exceeds your expectations, don’t forget to give them kudos on If they fall short, let other boaters know by describing your experiences honestly in a factual review that will help other boaters and, hopefully, give the marine business valuable feedback.


5 responses to “Communication – The Key to a Successful Marine Service Experience?

    • Thanks, Gary! They seem like pretty simple tips, but based on our own experience, communication really takes a lot of effort. For some reason, lots of folks are shy about following up with the marine service provider. But, yes, it’s much better to be kept in the loop, rather than getting an invoice that you’re not expecting (or being unpleasantly surprised by the outcome).

  1. I always get a mobile mechanic out to service my outboard. This allows me to learn a thing or two everytime i get it serviced. Who knows when this kind of knowledge may come in handy when your on the water. It also allows you to continually check on progress. I guess the downside is that it costs a fraction more.

  2. “Communication – The Key to a Successful Marine Service
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