The leisure marine industry has many different companies in many sectors selling a wide variety of goods and services to boaters and potential boaters. In this special interview, we talk to Boat Trader and explain why ‘Go Earth does it differently’.
Boat Trader: Martin, can you tell us a bit about why you started Go Earth
Martin: There are two main elements to this; a link with the water and wanting to do something different – some ‘thinking outside the box’ – if you will forgive the cliché!
Firstly, we have had a link to the water in one form or another for many years. We been boaters ourselves for over two decades, and I have been a scuba diver for four decades. Our daughter and son-in-law are both qualiﬁed PADI scuba diver instructors. I am also a dinghy sailor – or at least attempting to be! So, we got to know the vast variety of companies in the broad leisure marine industry.
Next we decided to form a company – with something to do with boating. Initially we were not sure what exactly was wanted. One thing we were sure of – we did not want to do the same as everybody else.
In a nutshell, we wanted to do something different that would ‘add value’ to the boating community.
Boat Trader: What do you mean by ‘something different’?
The art, craft and science of boat buying
Martin: Frankly, at ﬁrst we were not sure. So, we indulged in (cliché alert!!) some out of the box, blue-sky thinking. (Well, I did warn you about the clichés!)
What we eventually realised was that we needed to do things that were of genuine value to boaters, which were not currently being done, and which we could deliver successfully. We did not want to be just another chandlery or another boat sales company or another training school.
One thing that we kept on hearing was of people who were not quite sure what they wanted when they were buying a boat and how to go through the whole process. Brokers help, of course. However, they have to act for the seller, not the buyer. Therefore, a key element of our business is helping people with buying a boat, acting on behalf of the buyer, not the seller.
Boat Trader: How do you do this?
Martin: By becoming experts in boat buying. The concept is simple enough. Most people only buy one, two or three boats in their lifetime. They simply do not do it often enough to know all the things that should be considered when buying a boat. We go through the process time and time again with multiple clients, multiple brokers and multiple types of boats. As a company, we aim to be the expert ‘port of call’ (another cliché ?) for boat buyers.
Boat Trader: Is that all there is to it?
Martin: No, not quite! As well as expertise, you need processes, tools and data to support the activity.
As an example of a process, for our boat search, we typically spend some time with the client developing a ‘Requirements Analysis’. We talk to the client, ﬁnd out what they are looking for, offer advice, and iteratively develop and improve the requirements analysis. This does require a bit of time and work up front; but – very importantly – it helps ensure that the client ends up with a boat that really does suit them and their needs.
Note that this is the polar opposite of ‘Oh –I have just seen a nice boat – let’s buy it’. We start with the client, not the boat!
Boat Trader: So the ﬁrst step is the requirements analysis. What do you mean by iteratively?
Martin: Sometimes, the client is not quite sure what they want. So – in our enhanced service – we might for example develop a requirements analysis, then do a boat search. After getting our written report, the client will think about it, might develop their thinking further, and might realise that they need something slightly different, or simply change their mind about some aspects of their requirements, or have a change in the budget they are willing to spend. We then (at absolutely no extra charge) change the requirements analysis and re-run the search for them.
Boat Trader: What if they change their mind again?
Martin: No problem. With the enhanced search, we will run the requirements analysis / boat search a third time, again at absolutely no extra charge.
The important thing for us is that the client should not be locked into their initial thoughts. We want them to end up with a boat that really does suit their needs.
Boat Trader: Earlier on, you mentioned that you used some ‘tools’ in your work.
Martin: One of the tools that we use is some software that we developed in house. It holds an enormous database of brokers and others – UK and global – covering a vast range of budgets, boat types, locations and so on. During a boat search, we can input some key parameters from the requirements analysis and use that to query the database to identify the brokers that are likely to have boats that match the requirements.
This database also includes, for example, user forums that sell boats, brokers who don’t advertise on the internet, some private sources, some not-so-well-known auction sites and so on.
If you are searching for a superyacht, then you clearly need to focus on those brokers, not ones selling, say, narrowboats or river boats. The software helps us to this effectively and eﬃciently.
Boat Trader: What about the ‘data’ bit?
Martin: Easy – We accumulate masses of data inside our software. We use that data to inform our searches and ﬁnd more suitable boats at the most cost-effective prices.
Boat Trader: Do you help with other aspects of boat buying?
Martin: Yes, we help with all aspects of the process – end-to-end. We can do as much as, or as little as, the client wants.
Boat Trader: let’s move onto some other aspects now. At the start of this interview, you mentioned ‘thinking outside the box’ and various other corny clichés! What else do you do that ﬁts into, or I should say ‘outside’, this box?
Goodwood Festival of Speed
Martin: We have two major current projects.
The ﬁrst project is working with Goodwood Festival of Speed to develop a marine section.
For those that don’t know it, the Festival of Speed is the UK’s largest outdoor festival of its type, with a footfall of 200,000 which, for example is even larger than Glastonbury and twice as large as the UK’s biggest boating show.
However, Goodwood – until now – has focussed on cars, motorbikes, bikes and aircraft. We approached Goodwood and simply said –“You do land and air – why not sea?”. We held discussion over a period, and they have agreed that we would develop the marine section. It’s all about bringing boating to a wider audience, and that’s what we are doing.
Automatic Fender System
Boat Trader: The second project?
Martin: As boaters, we know that deploying and storing fenders is a total faff. Usually at a time when you are busy, getting ready to berth the boat. Often it involves a degree of the skipper shouting instructions at the crew.
We thought that there must be a better way.
We discovered an American company that was developing an automatic fender system. It deploys the fender at the ‘press of a button’ as you approach your berth. Then, when you leave, it automatically lifts the fenders and stores them for you.
The ﬁrst version of their product was good. However, we felt that it needed some further development, and we fed this back to them. The ‘mark 2’ version is now out, and it’s great. More information can be found on the dedicated Automatic Fender System page.
Boat Trader: OK, Martin. Thank you very much for your time. We look forward to future articles that we hope you will write for us.