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Outboard Service Shops Delays
|Author||Topic: Outboard Service Shops Delays|
posted 05-11-2015 07:06 PM ET (US)
It's past due for the service on my 135 HP Verado. I was shocked to learn that two to three week delays are the norm for getting a service done. Since the majority of engines in the Mobile Bay, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach areas are Yamahas delays for service on those engines may be as bad or worse.
To compound the problem many shops don't work on an appointment basis. One of the most touted Mercury Marine shops by the Mercury web site does not use an appointment system. Their backlog is two and a half weeks. To get in line you must bring your boat to the shop for the wait. So to get the powerhead and lower unit oil changed at that shop your boat must be out of service two and a half weeks. Wow!
The closest Verado qualified shop to me is about a half mile away. It's the Bass Pro's Tracker Marine Shop. Happily they will do work on an appointment system so the wait there, at least as of today, is two weeks.
I'm not a big fan of big box shops but Bass Pro, at least, steps up in my area. Plus my boat is available during the waiting period.
If I was going to go into business I would consider the outboard engine repair regardless of the high start up costs. Their certainly seems to be a big demand here. Perhaps a mobile shop would be a less expensive way to break in.
posted 05-11-2015 08:09 PM ET (US)
or a moblie set up
posted 05-12-2015 05:42 AM ET (US)
Only fast turnaround motors are serviced that day including oil changes, 20 hr checks, pre-purchase inspections, and engine computer diagnostics. That way a facility can knock out a number of engines in a short time, alleviating a long backlog. This makes the shop money not only from the repairs but from being more efficient, plus it helps the customer avoid long waits for routine needs.
Many repair shops shy away from appointment servicing. Historically a large number of boats do not show up when scheduled, then the owner comes in a day or two later demanding that the boat still be completed for the weekend, even though he missed the scheduled appointment that was agreed upon and that disrupts the scheduling for the rest of the week. It also affects any parts ordering as they may not be able to be delivered with time for installation prior to a busy weekend in season.
posted 05-12-2015 09:33 AM ET (US)
That seems like a good way to keep customers reasonably happy. As a consumer my inclination is to buy my repair service from a shop that seems responsive to my needs for routine maintenance. If I were to ever repower the shop with hte most responsive service would almost certainly get my business.
I understand the difficulties and frustrations involved in doing work on an appointment basis. Since I'm an old guy I have more than the average number of preventive medical and dental appointments each year. I get a reminder call a day or so before each appointment. Some are automated calls. It's annoying to get all these calls but I'm sure I wouldn't be getting them if it was not necessary. Some of the reminders also state that if the appointment is missed without prior notification I'll be charged a fee. I wish I could charge a fee for all the appointments when the practice keeps me waiting for an hour or more.
Although probably a pain to set up an appointment system with automated reminder calls would probably be a good thing for marine engine businesses during the busy season.
posted 05-12-2015 09:36 AM ET (US)
What works for me for routine pre-season service is to get it done in February or March before the facility gets swamped. That time of year I don't care if they have the boat and trailer for 2 weeks. Sometimes they don't.
posted 05-12-2015 03:08 PM ET (US)
"Outboard Mechanic" is a dying breed- it's not going to get any better as the older guys are starting to leave the field.
Even the "rigger" jobs are getting hard to fill...
Last month, I had the dealership just unbolt my old Johnson V6 and bolt the new E-TEC on the transom, I already de-rigged the old outboard and was going to rig the new E-TEC myself. Four nuts and the steering cable- that's all they had to do.
A two to three week wait is nothing... how about having qualifying people work on your boat?
posted 05-12-2015 07:12 PM ET (US)
In the Mobile Bay area we boat year round. There is no off season although there is certainly less boating December through February. It's also nice if our maintenance hours or time interval conincides at least somewhat closely to the non-off off season.
There are plenty of shops out there but only a few are "Verado Qualified" and that is part of the problem.
posted 05-13-2015 09:43 AM ET (US)
In the initial article in this thread, Butch (JEFECINCO) proposes the idea of a mobile outboard engine service shop. That idea has apparently already come to one of the local marine dealers in my area. They have begun a mobile service shop option. The mechanic comes to the boat instead of the boat coming to the shop.
posted 05-13-2015 11:50 AM ET (US)
One issue with the mechanic coming to the boat is the United States Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Act with regards to workers compensation insurance. If an employee of any kind is working on a dock, pier or vessel on any type of navigable waterway they are eligible for increased benefits under the USL&H Act. Most workers compensation carriers will not write coverage for risks with USL&H exposure. Carriers that will write coverage generally charge much higher premiums.
Most boat dealers/mechanics get around this by claiming their operations are "shop only" and they do not do work on the water. If there is a claim on the water, the dealer/mechanic would likely have their coverage non renewed and have a very difficult time obtaining workers comp coverage.
posted 05-13-2015 11:52 AM ET (US)
An acquaintance of mine started Mobile Marine, Inc. about 20+ years ago here in New Orleans area. He does occasional work for the local yacht clubs, and many, many individuals that need "driveway" type service.
posted 05-13-2015 02:55 PM ET (US)
Whaler Bob, I agree with you 100% not only are the marine service mechanics a dying breed, very few are waiting in the wings to fill the positions. Another problem with the workers they get do not care or do a good job. I went to the local Evinrude dealer and question them about purchasing a new engine and the rigging. Per the dealer the new engines must be rigged by the dealer. They stated that they (the dealer) have to run the engine and make sure it is in specs and everything is connected and working correctly. I got them to agree with letting me rig/mount the new engine as long as I returned to the dealer for the start up. My reason being I know I would do a better job rigging my own engine and not take any short cuts. Just doing electrical connections I crimp, solder, heat shrink, and coat with a marine grease. I know the dealer would just crimp.
posted 05-13-2015 06:56 PM ET (US)
I agree with boatdryver in that it is best to get routine service done before March 1. The shop I use even has reduced winter rates until then. Up north many boat mechanics get laid off or hours cut in the winter months.
posted 05-14-2015 07:26 PM ET (US)
I'm trying to get upholstery and canvas work done this year. I can't even get people to return my calls.
Based on my conversations with others, this is also the case with mechanical, electrical and glass work.
Because our boating season is so ridiculously short, technicians and craftsmen are overwhelmed.
posted 05-14-2015 07:34 PM ET (US)
My Whaler 27 WD with a 10 foot beam was too big to trailer to the shop even if I had a trailer for it. Whenever I needed service, my Evinrude dealer came to my boat at the marina. Usually the service was rendered within two or three days of my call for service. Of course I had pay for their travel time.
posted 05-20-2015 09:40 AM ET (US)
This year, I missed the rush!
I was forced to start early.
At the dock and on the water service is avail and will be. It does have costs.
This time of year is just an annual rush.
Captain Cook had to sail all the way around the world to get his ship fixed.
posted 05-29-2015 07:27 PM ET (US)
This afternoon I picked up my Montauk from the Bass Pro Shop Service Department. They had it for three days which was quite acceptable.
The work order stated "service engine and lower unit w/impeller and adjust cowling latch.
The cost was a whopping $542.58 including sales tax. Wow, that was a small shock but with a labor rate of $100 per hour for Verados it isn't too bad. Three filters were replaced, two fuel filters and one oil filter. At $42.75 for a fuel filter. Full price for Mercury parts soon adds up. Dropping the lower unit to replace the impeller was the largest share of the 3.5 manhours charged. They also hooked up the computer for the final engine test and that was another expense. Tax for everything except the labor (which is not taxed) was 10.5%.
If not for my arthritic hands and lack of tools I could do almost all this work myself and save about $400. But, I would not have a computer sheck of the running engine and I would have had to gather up the parts, clean up the mess and dispose of the oil and filters. Those are tasks for a younger man.
Overall I'm pleased with the outcome and the service. I'll do it again next March or April without the impeller replacement.
posted 05-31-2015 10:31 AM ET (US)
Hope John did the work. He did a great job on my boat.
posted 05-31-2015 11:21 AM ET (US)
Hard to do in Northern climates in February and March when there is still a lot of snow on the ground. This winter was particularly bad.
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