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Ideally, your local dealer sold you your personal watercraft, and is now ready, willing, and able to effectively service it throughout its lifespan. Real life, however, isn’t always so ideal. Maybe you’ve moved to a new area, maybe you got a fantastic deal far, far away, or maybe you just don’t trust that your local dealer is adept at much more than sales. Whatever the case, it pays to look around for good service.
Here are a few tips…
Don’t Be Blinded By Loyalty
Loyalty is a good thing, but just because you bought your ski from a dealer doesn’t mean you have to have it serviced there as well. Hopefully the selling dealer has earned your trust and you’ll give them your service business, but if they haven’t, don’t be afraid to shop around.
The lone catch to this strategy? A good dealer will often put their own customers first, as they probably should. If you’re trying to get your craft fixed and on the water by the weekend and so, too, is a customer who bought their craft at the shop in question, be prepared to get bumped a little in priority.
Ask Your Fellow Enthusiasts
Word of mouth is probably the single-best way to find out who is good, who is bad, who is a bargain, and who is ridiculously pricey. Ask around at your local ride spot, query the members of your club or riding group, and compare answers. Everyone has had a bad experience somewhere, but gather together enough opinions and some shops will consistently rise to the top. Those are the ones you want to give a shot at earning your business.
Check Them Out…In Person
Stop by the shop you’re interested in. A good service manager will want to show you they’ve got what it takes, so ask about training on your specific model, check out training certificates for recent dates, and tell them that you’re pretty particular. Some shops will suggest a particular mechanic that they know does exceptional work.
While you’re there, get a feel for the place. Ideally, you want it to be a little on the busy side. That shows others trust them to do their work. A quiet shop at the height of the summer season should make you a little suspect. But while it’s nice to see a shop that’s meticulously clean and organized, don’t let a dirty or less organized one immediately put you off. You’re interested in the quality of the work they do…and appearances can be deceiving.
Meet The Techs
If you can, meet some of the service staff. According to instructors at a leading marine mechanics school, good ones are proud of their work, and willing to show it off because they know it’s been done right. If you find a shop that’s not willing to share, ask yourself why. Better yet, ask them.
Realize, however, that even the best can make a mistake every once in a while. The key is to see how they handle the problem. If they admit it, and tell you how they’re going to make things right, they’re a keeper. If they hide it, or try to weasel out of the responsibility, move on.
Go Small…Not Big
Test out a new shop with a smaller repair or maintenance issue. It’s always good to know what kind of work they do before you’re forced to go in and trust them with something serious.
Found the one you like? Stick with them, and let them know you appreciate the work. A timely six-pack is always a good way to show your thanks…and make sure you’re remembered the next time you need help.
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