By Morgan Rush

  1. 1.Research the market. Visit other boat dealerships in your area, scoping out new and used boat lots to identify potential marketplace niches. If your area is already saturated with used sailboat lots, consider specializing in ski boats.
  2. 2.Find a location. Think about locating your used boat business near the water, where other marine-related companies are typically located. Before signing a lease, make sure your used boat lot is zoned to store, repair or refurbish vessels. Check with the harbormaster about properly disposing engine fluids or hazardous chemicals.
  3. 3.Stock your inventory. Your used boat business could sell vessels on consignment, or used boats purchased from other sellers. When purchasing used vessels, require a sea trial of the boat to make sure it’s seaworthy. Contract with an independent marine surveyor to inspect boats for flaws or damage. Remember that sellers aren’t always required to repair problems that may emerge during this process.
  4. 4.Apply for permits. You’ll need a business license, tax identification number and retail or reseller’s license to open a used boat business. Don’t forget to purchase liability insurance to protect your assets.
  5. 5.Advertise the boat business. Create a business website with professional-quality photographs of available vessels. Pictures should be taken on a sunny day and include the following vantage points: a profile shot, rear shot displaying the engine, the helm and a photo of the interior showing seating arrangements.

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