J.D. Power: Boaters are more satisfied

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Latest study shows customer satisfaction is on the rise among new-boat buyers

Latest study shows customer satisfaction is on the rise among new-boat buyers

Boat owners generally were happier with their new boats than motorcyclists were with their new bikes last year.

That’s a turnaround from past years and one indicator that owners’ satisfaction with their new boats, and with their new-boat sales and service experience, is improving, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2005 Boat Competitive Information Study.

“This is a great positive trend,” says Todd Markusic, J.D. Power’s Troy, Mich.-based research director. But boatbuilders still have a ways to go to catch up with automakers in customer satisfaction.

Overall, new-boat owners rated their ownership experience 8.25 on a 10-point customer satisfaction index, compared to 8.05 for motorcyclists and 8.80 for new-car owners. Though satisfaction with the service side of the industry improved from 7.15 in 2003 to 7.44 in 2004, “That’s still a very low score,” Markusic says. “Anything below 8 is a low score.”

Nonetheless, he says overall quality of the new-boat experience is improving, with 44 percent of owners saying they had fewer problems than expected in 2004, compared to 39 percent in 2003.

The findings, released Feb. 17 at the Miami International Boat Show, rate 73 boat and 10 engine brands based on responses of 12,530 owners who registered a new boat between March 2003 and May 2004.

Owners of ski and wakeboard boats were happiest with their new vessels, giving them a score of 8.99 on the CSI, followed by bass boat owners with 8.83 and owners of large runabouts with 8.79.

Most of the highest-ranked boats in the study were at the top in earlier studies. Cobalt, winner in the large runabout category, and Grady-White, top in coastal fishing, led their segments for the fourth consecutive time. Correct Craft (ski/wakeboarding), Bennington (pontoon), and Sea Ray (express cruisers) ranked highest for the third consecutive time. Crownline and Chaparral, tied for the top spot in small runabouts, both have ranked highest once before. Bass Cat, included in the study for the first time, ranked highest in bass boats.

Top-rated boats for customer satisfaction in the 2005 study:

• fiberglass bass boats: 1. Bass Cat

2. Ranger 3. Skeeter 4. Triton

• coastal fishing boats (17 to 28 feet): 1. Grady-White 2. Triton 3. Scout

4. Key West 5. Boston Whaler

• express cruisers (24 to 33 feet):

1. Sea Ray 2. Rinker

• pontoon boats: 1. Bennington

2. Aqua Patio 3. Harris FloteBote 4. Premier 5. Manitou

• small runabouts (16 to 19 feet):

1. Crownline and Chaparral (tied)

2. Four Winns 3. Sea Ray

• large runabouts: 1. Cobalt 2. Regal

3. Sea Ray 4. Crownline

• ski/wakeboard boats: 1. Correct Craft 2. Malibu 3. MasterCraft

• Top-ranked engines for customer satisfaction:

• 2-stroke outboards: 1. Yamaha DI

2. Mercury DI 3. Evinrude DI

• 4 stroke outboards: 1. Honda and Suzuki EFI (tied) 2. Yamaha EFI 3. Johnson EFI

• inboards: 1. Indmar EFI 2. Pleasurecraft Engine Group EFI

• sterndrives: 1.Volvo Penta EFI