It's high summer as I write this, and that means there's hot, humid and heavy boating activity on my local lake, as well as others across the country. As anglers know all too well, service is at a premium during these times. When the rig's broken and you're chomping at the bit to get back on the water, the service department's hourly rate is but a minor concern. You need to be on the water fishing, and fast, so you're more concerned about the quality and speed of the service, rather than its price. What's more, your rig needs to be fixed right the first time. You can't waste your valuable time running the boat back up to the dealership for things to be retweaked. For Northern boaters, the speed and accuracy of a dealer's repairs is doubly critical. The season's only so long (usually no more than six months for most, save for the diehard cold-weather fishermen), so downtime is not negotiable. When something goes wrong,it must be fixed fast and fixed right the first time. The off-season is when smart anglers schedule performance up grades, re-rigging or performance tuning jobs. There's no way jobs like these will ever get done in a timely manner in the hot season. In addition, since you'd likely be rushing your mechanic to get the job done so you could use your rig, it's entirely possible that the work would be rushed and not done the way you had envisioned.
WHO SHOULD DO THE WORK
When it comes to boat and out-board repair, the most common complaint we hear among bass fishermen is that dealers don't know what they're doing. I'm sure there's a little "kitchen bitchin"' mixed in with those sentiments (after all, I know some very good and forthright bass-boat dealers and, from my younger days rigging and setting up bass boats, I also know that you can't please everyone all the time). However, it makes me think that before I get too old, I should quit my day job and go into the bass boat rigging, set-up and repair business full time.I think the demand for good, quality services (like the ones from Rockdale Boatmart in Ashland Kentucky, Anglers Port in Warsaw Missouri or Bunch Marine in Harriman Tennesse ) would be incredible-even in the Northeast where I live and boat, despite the fact that this area of the country pales in comparison to the Southeast when it comes to bass-boat popularity.
Leavingyour pride and joy with a dealership or independent repair shop is a decision that must be weighed carefully.Your first choice should be your dealer, of course, for any war- ranty work or work that involves things that only a certified dealer can do, such as engine repairs that require diagnostics and/or special tools. General repairwork, set-up tuning, per formance tuning or performance modifications are all things any dealer or independent shop can do, but the devilis in the details so pick your shop carefully. A quick check of Internet sources is a great way to use today's far-reaching technology to learn if there are dealers in your area who can handle the type of service you need- Just be wary of the aforementioned "kitchen bitchers" -those who won't be satisfied no matter how good the service is. Balance these opinions against others who've usedthe same dealer for repairs and service. Make a few preliminary phone calls to prospective shops, and make note of the attitude you get when you discuss your service needs. You're looking for that "can-do" atti- tude, for somebody who is knowledgeable,willing to quote a price and confident that the job will be done right the first time. Pay a visit, if possible, to the shops you've called. Make note of the service certifications on the walls. Check the qualty of the tools in the shop. While a $20,000 chest of Snap-On tools and a wall full of special equipment certainly doesn't guarantee that you won't be ripped off, it usually means that the dealer and his technicians care enough to seriously invest in their profession and buy the best tools to do the job right.
GET IT IN WRITING
Be specific when you discuss what work is to be done. It's not enough to say you want better performance. Tell the technician exactly what you're looking for, such as better holeshot with out saCrificing top end. If you want your new graph installed on the console in a specific place, be sure to tell the tech exactly where you want it, and how you want it positioned. If you want a hydraulic jackplate installed, be sure to specify which brand and don't be afraid to ask how the transom holes will be sealed. The bottom line is that exact communication is the key to get ting what you want. Without copping an attitude, it is possible to get exactly what you want, for a reasonable price,without getting ripped off. You just need to be dilgent and to pay attention.
Be sure to get a firm quote on when the job will be done and, while you shouldn't become a pest, don't be afraid to call and/or stop in every once in a while to ensure that progress is being made.When the job's done, of course do a close inspection or the work, but even better,get the test ride you need to ensure that you've received what you paid for. In the end, don't be stingy; it's not a bad idea to give the tech a tip if you feel he's done agreat job. Unfortunately, marine technicians are part of our underpaid society; most don't make much, and many in the Northern climates go unemployed for part of the winter season if business is slow. A nice tip will help forge a good relationship for future work. After all, if you're not mechanically inclined and can't (or don't want to) do your own boat work, the relationship with your dealer/repair shop can make all the difference between a great running rig and a mediocre one. And if your rig needs in-season emergency repairs,that solid relationship could be the difference between fishing next weekend or sittng in front of the tube.
John Tiger Jr