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I'd rather be sailing
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We need help installing our new Sirius Weather for our Raymarine unit and also installing our yet-to-be-ordered new charger/inverter (Only West seems to have the Xantrex Freedom 25 in stock and for a ridiculous price). We got a recommendation for a facility in Ft. Lauderdale to help us with the install and gave them a call. They told me that they couldn't help - they only install products they sell. I was suprised that in today's boating economy anyone would turn down a gimme - services have a much higher profit margin too!
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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Business must be good? Seems strange but I've been surprised by the lack of interest in some work I need to have done too. What recession?
 

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I use "marine" guys as seldom as possible. There is a bigger proportion of incompetent prima donnas who can't master a schedule in this field than in any other. I greatly favour using "industrial" guys like welders and truck rebuilders who are open to the very few special considerations boating brings.

Having said that fairly bitter obsevation, there are some real pros out there who've saved me time and money, but it seems I have to consult three or four sphincter-brains until I source one of those.
 

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Business must be good? Seems strange but I've been surprised by the lack of interest in some work I need to have done too. What recession?
I was up in Boston on Friday to visit my son, a collage student . While my wife and daughter went shopping, I went over to the Boat show and talking to some of the equipment vender's, They all claim to be doing pretty good and have gotten a good number of orders. You would never know there was a recession going on. Maybe people are fixing what they have?
 

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Here in the Bay Area, I have heard brokers, dealers and mechanics singing the blues. Business is waaay off. But those are all big-ticket guys. As a hull cleaner (and definite small-ticket guy ;) ), I can say other than a couple of my brokerage accounts scaling back on their regular hull cleaning regimens, it's business as usual.
 

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I remember when I was a college kid working for a plumber as his helper in the summer. Every morning we would go to the local dinner for coffee before we got started for the day.

One morning the dinner owner came over to the table and told the guy who owned tire shop in town, who way sitting with us. I a got a special on 4 shock absorbers and my car really needs them. When can you put them on?

The owner of the tire shop said I will get back to you.

Then next day the the tire shop owner was there and when asked for his order he asked for a glass of milk and a bowl. The dinner owner came over and said what the hell is this. The tire shop owner said. I got my own corn flakes and he did!!
 

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I remember when I was a college kid working for a plumber as his helper in the summer. Every morning we would go to the local dinner for coffee before we got started for the day.

One morning the dinner owner came over to the table and told the guy who owned tire shop in town, who way sitting with us. I a got a special on 4 shock absorbers and my car really needs them. When can you put them on?

The owner of the tire shop said I will get back to you.

Then next day the the tire shop owner was there and when asked for his order he asked for a glass of milk and a bowl. The dinner owner came over and said what the hell is this. The tire shop owner said. I got my own corn flakes and he did!!
:laugher

How many times have I told clients I won't install customer-supplied zincs? I ask them, "Would you take your car to a mechanic for a tune-up and ask him to install the spark plugs you found at Wal-Mart for cheap?" ;)
 

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Owner, Green Bay Packers
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Bubb's story resonates.

Many people are so proud of the deal they got on their, say, boat electronics. They hire you to put them in. You didn't sell the gear so that profit went elsewhere and you're working for less than you might doing the same job, with the same overhead to pay. If your employee slits his wrist open working on that boat you still have to fix him up. The profit form the electronics sale might have allowed you to carry insurance on him but you're competing in a very competitive market where people buy their stuff online and all you can get are jobs to install them.

Of course, once you install those electronics you didn't sell and there is the slightest problem with them, you find that now you "own" them. You touched 'em last are expected to deal with the manufacturer and stand behind the customer. Of course, the customer is sure that the gear he bought is appropriate for his boat and of the same high quality that you would have sold him. You might have your doubts. Nevertheless, you've now got possibly uncompensated time to spend on a job that you didn't make the proper margin on to begin with.

The only top flight stereo shop in my town just went out of business after forty years serving the area. They couldn't compete with online and the big chains. I was always willing to pay a little more for the comfort of dealing with someone who'd be there to stand behind the product. Others were apparently not so willing.

I'm sure you'll find someone to do an adequate job but, it's something to think about next time you purchase something. Don't blame the small businessman who has to make a profit to exist. He's probably seen the results of such practices before. In times like these, the cut-rate guys fall by the wayside because they don't have the reserves to weather the economic storm. That's why they're not there when you call two years later with a problem.

I know that you're transient and might not have thought of any of this, as well as had limited options; it's not meant to be personal. But it's a subject area I deal with every day.
 

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We need help installing our new Sirius Weather for our Raymarine unit and also installing our yet-to-be-ordered new charger/inverter (Only West seems to have the Xantrex Freedom 25 in stock and for a ridiculous price). We got a recommendation for a facility in Ft. Lauderdale to help us with the install and gave them a call. They told me that they couldn't help - they only install products they sell. I was suprised that in today's boating economy anyone would turn down a gimme - services have a much higher profit margin too!
Both of those projects are DIYers IMHO (Have done them both).

The Sirius install is a a easy one less if you want to install the Sirius Unit outside the distance the provided Ethernet cable to your C / E or G series. Basically route the DC power / mount the unit / and plug in the ethernet cable to the chartplotter / display. If the Ethernet port is already occupied on your display you'll need to get the Raymarine Switch...

The Charger install - if you are replacing an existing unit - is again a no brainer. You can use the existing wiring for a template and re-run new wires or use the existing.

If still maybe you just do not feel like you are up to it - talk to some of your dockmates. They will recommend a local yard (yes that will incur a haul-out fee), or they maybe they will recommend a local installer. West Marine when they recommend outside sources will be dependent on the experience the staff member has and what they can pull out of their hat. I have yet to have a successful West Marine "suggested vendor" find the time... Even better if you talk to your dockmates - they maybe have done the same and can give you a hand for the mere bargain price of maybe dinner or beer... and the latter will be better for you as you'll know more about what is involved...

Just my 2 cents... If still at a loss - contact again the suggested vendor again - and ask if they have ever installed either - and you will waive follow-on support as long as it works after installation... That may get their attention... If you do the latter - be present during the install and ask questions...
 

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Telstar 28
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I fully agree. I'd include PKYS in Annapolis among the morons not to hire as well. :)

I use "marine" guys as seldom as possible. There is a bigger proportion of incompetent prima donnas who can't master a schedule in this field than in any other. I greatly favour using "industrial" guys like welders and truck rebuilders who are open to the very few special considerations boating brings.
 

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I'd rather be sailing
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sailaway - I'll heartily agree to disagree with you. I own a technology company and we vary between 18 and 22 employees. We work primarily with mid to large businesses, and they often bid out the equipment to get the best price. If they want to do that, that's fine. All I care about it getting the services. We make far more money off the install and support of the equipment than we ever would off the hardware. After talking to many electronics shops, I've found that marine electronics are pretty much the same - low margin.

If you focus on the services, you don't have to carry the paper on the equipment and you'll end up making a lot more - plus the services are where you get to build a repeat customer base. I don't care who I buy my equipment from - I just want a good price. I care greatly as to who touches my boat to install the stuff. The fact that if something is damaged that they are liable for the equipment doesn't play well with me. If the people know what they're doing, they won't fry it. I mean, most times they are integrating what they sell you with stuff you already have, so what's the difference between frying what they sold you and frying something already on your boat? They are still just as liable. Just have me sign something stating that the condition of the equipment they install is my responsibility, and that if something breaks I have to deal with getting it replaced. It's what other industries such as mine do.

Jody - I agree, they are mostly DIY. I need to integrate the Sirius stuff into my existing system, and I'm more interested in having someone come in and help me trace what's already there - pointing out which bus is which so I can do all future work myself. I have 3 different places where instruments go, and it's difficult to tell what is what. I figure that someone who knows Raymarine can help me document it. I also need to make sure I have the right cables to integrate into what's already there. One length is definitely farther than the cables the unit comes with. Also, this is all SeaTalk2, not the newer ethernet STNg stuff. With regards to the charger, it's pretty much a drop-in replacement - I just want someone with easy access to the right connectors and the ability to make cables onsite so I can get it done quickly. Speed is the important thing here, not price, as we want to get to No Name to make our jump to the Bahamas as soon as possible.
 

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With all respect labatt, your business appears to be different than most retail businesses dealing with the non-commercial market. As you're experiencing in Lauderdale, a goodly number of us are reticent to install equipment purchased elsewhere lest it bite us in the rear. We have relationships with distributors and manufacturers that we rely upon, not only for profit but for warranty and back-up when there is a problem.

The example of frying something is an apt one. (I say that, having just cooked off a $3000 submersible motor based upon customer assurances that his electrician had the proper 3 phase overloads in place!) If I'm the Furuno dealer with a ton of experience installing Furuno radars and I take on your Raytheon radar project, a brand I do not deal in, and the unit is either defective or cooks off during install, what assurances do I have that Raytheon will honor my professional experience and warranty the unit? Now my Furuno distributor knows me and knows I've put a couple hundred units in, so he's going to ship me one out overnight based upon my past performance. Most boat owners are not going to be as willing to sign a waiver as you are, either.

A good part of the money made by these guys, usually equal to the labor, is in the sale of the gear itself.

Again, I'm not trying to hammer you in any way and I'd be lying if I said that we have not, nor do not, install other's equipment on occasion, but we're always half a step away from implementing such a policy. When we do install customer supplied equipment, we do so at our normal labor rate and so, we lose our normal profit margin on the job. To charge an appropriate price to maintain our business model's profit range, I'd have to charge the amount of profit I'd have made on the equipment sale. Then where are your savings of buying elsewhere? Of course, most people don't want to pay above average labor rates to install the equipment purchased elsewhere. I've expressed frustration at similar experiences such as your's but the years have made clear to me why some outfits have such a policy.

And, from your standpoint, my experience has been that you never want someone working on a job they really didn't want in the first place. They're not properly motivated and, in my experience, someone who is turning down work is sending you a subliminal signal that they don't want the job and you maybe shouldn't want them either. I can't quantify that for you but I've experienced it. (A guy took the center right out of a $500 alloy tire rim and just gave me the, see, I told you so, look! I didn't really realize it but, he done his best to inform me that he was incompetent.)

Good luck to you and continued smooth sailing.
 

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I'm not sure who I take issue with...so many comments are spot on.
It's been my experience that a customer, at a show, can easily succumb to the passion of the moment and waltz out of the tent with a Garmin or Furuno system, reasonably complete, fairly complex and with every sense that someone, somewhere has the expertise to install it for him. Maybe it's a mistake to think that..maybe not. That's where I have a problem. Sure it's a mistake; but on the other hand, it's my job to mitigate that mistake and get everything to work...either I'm the guy who can do it or not....but that's what I do for a living.
Our yard isn't affiliated with any particular equipment brands...electronic, mechanical, paints, whatever; but whether it's a paint job or new batteries, customer has to get the benefit of a first rate job, and the yard hires the best talent available however you define it. A good Garmin install looks and performs just like a good RayMarine install, and it's fairly easy to accomplish that if the tech is knowledgable and pays attention to fundamentals..
Sorry for the rant.
Howard Keiper
Berkeley
 

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I'd rather be sailing
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Perhaps it's time for the marine industry to change then. Times are tough, people are going to be looking for good prices, but good technicians and companies need to get paid appropriately for their services. The obvious balance to this is just what sailaway suggested - make the procurement of the product irrelevant by charging a reasonable price for equipment (as opposed to over list price as I've had several companies try to charge me), and sell their services at a reasonable rate.

Sailaway - I'm sorry you cooked that motor, but when I have someone work on my boat I expect them to not take anything I say at face value and to make sure everything is working appropriately prior to doing the job. When we had our liferaft installed, I told the contractor that the the hole placement he drew on our deck was correct for his first hole. Unfortunately, we had two different ideas of what the first hole was. As a result, he drilled down into a piece of trim and it had to be repaired. Had he checked for himself as to whether what I said was correct, it wouldn't have happened. There were no electronics involved here, yet a mistake with liability was still made, and it shouldn't have been made. I don't see how this is different from ruining a piece of electronics. Going back to my mention of my company, our first step in any engineering engagement is an assessment - we spend a bunch of time understanding what is already there and what our customer is trying to accomplish. We make sure we have all the appropriate parts and that what our customer has told us is correct. THEN we do the install. What's that saying about the word assume? :)

I say all of this with humble disagreement and respect for your opinion.

By the way, in my case I went to a certified Raymarine installer and asked them to install Raymarine equipment. They should know how to do that with minimal risk to property and themselves. If they can't, they shouldn't advertise themselves as Raymarine experts.

Chris
 

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Here in my area there is a WM clearance center and a salvage place. People often come in to the shop with a piece of wire and some swage fittings and request that I use my equipment to make up the shrouds or stays for them. It chafes my butt, but I usually do it anyway. I also disclaim any responsibility for the quality of items that I don't supply.

Now I don't know what the margin in electronics is but it in not insignificant in my line of work. It adds up.

Bubb's story of the diner owner and the tires illustrates the situation very well. There are some professions where it might make sense to use the customers parts and materials, although I can't really think of one at the moment. But for the most part, I think it is a little presumptuous of customers to expect that kind of service.

I have a big sign that says "Cruiser Friendly" so I am more than willing to work with people on a budget and to let them do as much of their own work as they want. But I gotta tell you. I have customers that I have known for years, and have treated like friends, and they will have their mast laying in my yard while it's being worked on and they will buy something like an antenna or a Windex at WM for the same damn price that I would sell it to them for. They don't realize apparently that the five or six dollars margin on that item really makes a difference in a small business like mine.

I just think that most people don't understand. They seem to think that just because one is in business that they are raking in the bucks.
Sometimes I feel like showing them the books.
 

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I guess I got lucky here, I was turned on to a repair shop that openly offers any level of service you desire. I brought in the engine guy with the knowledge I was supplying everything and he was teaching me how to do his job. He ran me through the specifics of doing all my oil, fuel & coolant changes. We worked together, with me assisting him. I won't be needing him anymore for this stuff. He was happy to do this. he does have plenty of full service customers, and expressed that they are happy to do it any way the customer likes.
Went to another shop for radar install. They were also happy to install the radar & bracket I bought at an excellent price. This was primarily figuring how to fish the wires up the mast & mount the bracket properly. I did the plotter install myself. Again, they seemed happy for the business.
 

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I just do install unless the client insists then I just set up the purchase and have the client pay with their credit card.

I build up a lot of good will with my suppliers so when I need something for me it is usually free.

I perfer just to do labor then there is no discussion that the price of the parts could be had on ebay cheaper.

I have some on line vendors that I recommend because their prices are reasonable and service is good.
 
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