How do you stand out in a crowded marketplace?

Is anyone actually standing out in this (over)crowded marketplace, or is this commonly asked rhetorical question an empty promise and collective marketing subterfuge?

I often wonder if there is enough variation in the way the larger brokerage firms structure their services for yacht owners – and whether we do deliver a truly bespoke service that is made-to-measure, or if we almost reflexively nudge owners and buyers into conforming to our standards. 

For West Nautical, it has become all too apparent that the market is void of alternative professional service operators who serve owners differently to the masses; companies that have sculpted their portfolio around their operational and technical services and not their yacht sales division.

In the next issue of The Superyacht Report (issue 189), we speak to Kurt Fraser and Geoff Moore of West Nautical about how the firm has formalised a ‘broker-free’ configuration to leverage its team of specialists and create an altogether different experience for owners. By removing brokers as the “power players”, as Fraser terms it, clients have access to the best, unfiltered advice from an entire team of professionals.

This arrangement is reinforced by plans to keep the company’s fleet small yet focused. West Nautical believes that this will provide them with the time and resources to get into the heart of the selling points of the yacht and provide a drumbeat of lasting impressions for sustained engagement. This is a refreshing alternative for the owners who want to be a big fish in a little pond, and not just a cog in the wheel of big corporate marketing programs.

"Our competition is under massive financial pressure to grow and manage larger fleets and the teams are getting thinner and thinner."

“Our competition is under massive financial pressure to grow and manage larger fleets and the teams are getting thinner and thinner,” Fraser explains. “If you have a charter fleet of 50 yachts, how do you promote all of them in equal measure? It simply isn’t possible.

“It’s only the newest, biggest and sexiest yachts that are heavily profiled – the rest just become one of a hundred on a brokerage website and are left with their stories untold because these companies simply don’t have the time and resources to give them the attention they need.”

According to Fraser, increasing fleet sizes and expanding services to capture market share is the only way the larger brokerage firms can deal with the huge financial pressure and keep on top of their overheads. As a result, yachts receive “flash in the pan coverage on the back of big promises.”

From his large brokerage house experience, Fraser says it’s very common that yachts that are managed at traditional firms are in the sales or charter management fleets of other companies. But, he questions why, if your relationship with a client is strong enough on the brokerage side, they would they manage their boat with a different firm.

“I have seen evidence of very high percentages of client retention if the yacht joins the company through management or other service areas, as opposed to clients who enter through the sales brokerage department and deal with yacht brokers first,” Fraser continues, rationalising West Nautical’s approach.

“In our view, this is because management divisions take a different communication and service approach than a broker would. And that comes back to what we know in general about the world of clientele. Our customers know and expect knowledge, expertise and tangible value more than ever before.”

The full-length version of this dual interview will feature in issue 189 of The Superyacht Report.

 

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