Issue 125's Stern Words
Aug 23 2011
|Whilst agreeing wholeheartedly with Martin’s comments regarding the need for “Qualified” project management teams during the build process, I feel that one important point is being missed.|
The Elephant in the room is - Who is advising the client prior to signing a new build contract?
The answer of course is usually the Broker / Captain and whilst in the majority, they do an invaluable job fuelling the desire for wealthy individuals to purchase yachts – without which we would all be jobless – there is a very fine line between willing the client to contract and ensuring that he or she is properly advised regarding the contract specification.
As shipyards move towards a more streamlined production process more commonly termed “Platform Builds” the specification seems to get smaller and with it, far more vague. It is only after the contract is signed and the client’s team of experts is assembled that we discover that the “Best Yacht Quality” product that the client believes to have purchased is a million miles from the one he has contracted and the various specified systems that determine the final “Quality” of the yacht fall some way short of expectations.
There is no easy answer to this problem as it is well understood that shipyards are in business to make money and lower cost, one design specifications are far more profitable than custom; Brokers are in business to make money and it is far easier to get a client to signature based on a positive assessment of a specification (and attractive price) than to raise the subject as one for careful consideration and possibly expert review; Captain’s are in business to make money and progress their careers – and let’s face it, who wouldn’t fancy a 2 year sojourn ashore as project manager on the same salary as a seafarer with the promise of a shiny new yacht command to return to. Everyone wants the client to sign!!
As a contractor, competing for business in the new build sector I find myself far too often having to break the bad news that the system specified, will not meet expectations which in-turn places Shipyard, Broker, Captain and Client in the uncomfortable position of mis-trust. The client then has to either put his hand in his pocket or accept the contract spec., knowing that it is not what he had hoped for.
I suggest that in addition to Martin’s cautionary words regarding “Qualified” consultancy during the build, there is a very real need for a more consultative approach to brokerage and the pre-contract sales process. Any client who has taken this approach – and there are many experienced yacht owners that have – would I am sure talk of a far more successful and harmonious build process, resulting in the high quality yacht they envisaged.
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Aug 26 2011
|My hat is off to Martin for finally shining a light on one of this industry's horrid little secrets. My only question is why has it taken so long to make those comments and why has this topic not been the subject of open discussion in Amsterdam or one of the American venues?|
Hutchlyn has identified the "elephant" as the all too often unholy alliance between the buyer and broker wherein truth takes a distant backseat to an expedient closing. First time buyers are led into the minefield by brokers who want to make sure their own future interests are protected by installing a puppet representative whose best and often only qualification is a history of unquestioning loyalty to the broker.
Who will tell an owner that the captain of his 30 meter boat is probably not the best choice to manage the build of his new 60 meter? Who will tell a buyer that maybe a small boat captain doesn't bring much to the table aside from writing the opening chapter of a sad and very expensive saga.
I wish I had 10 percent of the money I have seen squandered by "build captains" and puppet project managers over the past few years. It would be enough to build a new boat and pay for a team of qualified specialists whose only purpose in the project was to make sure I got what I was paying for. Based on direct observation, such a team will save far more than it would ever cost.
Unless it is simply a case of greater awareness of this type of misfeasance, it seems to have become much more prevalent lately, I think it is a disgrace, it is the kind of activity that will, eventually, cripple this industry. When yards don't feel they can tell an owner that he is being poorly represented, or just choose to remain silent for their own reasons, all of us will suffer. Some sooner than later.
It is unfortunate that the private nature of yachting precludes publishing the horror stories. This ensures that future first-time buyers will continue to learn the hard way what most of us already know about this shameful aspect of yachting.
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Aug 4 2012
In a custom new build, average Change Orders of 30% are mostly a result of design deficiencies, poor research and poor communication.
In my opinion, an Owner or his representative, unwilling to independently research and seriously invest in the detailed study and execution of the Conceptual, Feasibility and Bid Tender process prior to awarding Contract, are primarily to blame!
Unless they can develop the contract details of a “Fixed Price-No Allowances” they will in all likelihood, pay more and receive less….. If they do their homework, then Change Orders are for positive developments and more in the order of 2%.
As an owner’s representative, I prefer to leave competency and ethics for others to judge and focus more on defining the project details that will meet the Owner’s Brief and clearly inform the Builder of what is expected, so he can quote intelligently.
The Conceptual phase should be positive and fun especially for the Owner and family, but if they want to stop there and go to contract, then I will no longer be involved. Who needs the stress!
For the detailed Feasibility Phase you must do your own homework before sharing with the bidding yards.
Some common sense notes:
Hire and pay Architect/Designers for their ideas but keep them out of Engineering
Hutchlyn, eventually there will only be 2 vested elephants in the room, the Yard Owner and the Client. Ethically it is our job to help them both make an informed decision together towards a successful partnership, or whether to just walk away!
But, as in any business, if the Client goes in unprepared, he will suffer!
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