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Making it as a Wavewalk dealer – Q&A

We started our local distribution program as an experiment. We didn’t know exactly what to expect and how to achieve it.
We just knew that our product is unique, and that offering it for sale through regular stores alongside other fishing kayaks would not necessarily do it justice.
Our first local dealers were just clients who loved their W kayak so much that they felt like spreading the word around them and resell our kayaks out of their garage. This is the basis of our program even today, and it’s a sound one.

Over the years, we’ve gained some experience, and we can share a few tips and recommendations with prospecting W dealers.
The purpose of this article is to help a prospecting W dealer decide if they’re fit to become a successful one, but every case is different, and we don’t guarantee that what we say here is fully applicable in every situation. In other words – results may vary, and you’re most welcome to call or email us if you have more questions.

What factors determine the potential of a local W dealership?

The factors are 1) Location, 2) Location, and 3) the dealer –

What’s a good location for a W kayak dealership?

Demographics – By good location we mean an area that’s populated with enough potential customers. These are mostly people who like to fish, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re kayak anglers, since we have many clients who have fished out of motorboats for many years, and became interested in our kayaks and boats as a portable alternative to a skiff or other boats, namely a car top motorboat. Normally, most of these people wouldn’t even consider fishing out of a common fishing kayak, but they’re open to test and use the W500 or W700 because unlike other kayaks, our kayak and boats are comfortable, stable and dry, and they offer plenty of storage space for gear.

Competition – The presence of many other kayak dealers in your area could be a problem since it means more competitors, but it’s also a good indicator to the fact that there may be many disgruntled kayak anglers out there who are looking for a sensible way to fish out of a kayak, that is while being stable, comfortable (no more back pain!) and dry, and for them your Wavewalk kayak dealership will be the only game in town.

Geography and climate – The dealership area can be suburban or rural, or a mixture of both, and whether it’s in a cold or warm region doesn’t seem to affect the W dealer’s success unless weather conditions are exceptionally bad on a certain year, such as a very cold spring and summer in a cold region, or a prolonged and severe drought in a warm region.

What’s a good WAVEWALK kayak dealer?

The dealer is important too, naturally. A good Wavewalk dealer doesn’t necessarily have to have prior commercial experience, although it can help in the beginning.

A people’s person – What matters more are the dealer’s interest in their clients as people, and their ability to communicate with them, as well as help them with technical information and practical advice, if needed.

Don’t push – It’s important that the dealer listen patiently to their client’s questions, whether they come by email, by phone, or in a face to face meeting. If fact, it’s much more useful and productive to listen to the client and give them a chance to ask their questions and speak their mind than it is to bombard them with information. Being a good listener is far more important than being technically savvy or ‘persuasive’.
Furthermore, it’s also important to observe the client and their interaction with the kayak or boat before and during a live demo – For example, most people appreciate the fact that they can walk into the W’s cockpit without having to step in water. Reminding them about it and showing them how to do it usually has a very positive effect on them, since it saves them the unpleasant feeling of getting their shoes wet. It’s also important for the dealer to make sure that their client who uses a W kayak for the first time does it while riding the saddle in the middle of the kayak, and not in the rear, as some people tend to do. Riding makes the user and their Wavewalk more stable, and the user being positioned in the middle of the Wavewalk keeps it level, and thus makes it go faster.

Time is of essence – Running a W dealership doesn’t require much of the dealer’s time, but enjoying people’s company and being a good enough communicator and instructor won’t help you much if you’re too busy with your day job, your family, or with other businesses or activities, to a point where you have no time to spend with your clients. The sale of a W kayak and paddle isn’t that hard, and it can generate hundreds of dollars of profit for you, but you may have to work a couple of hours and sometimes even more to close the deal. Wavewalk dealers with sufficient time on their hands tend to succeed more than ones who are very busy doing other things. For this reason, we see that a W dealership works pretty well for retirees, but less so for people who have a full-time day job or a full-time business.

Technical aspects – We offer our dealers continuous technical support by phone and email, so that there’s little room for errors on a dealer’s part. A dealer’s technical skills should suffice to outfit a W kayak, namely drill holes and use a riveting tool, if necessary. It’s very easy for most people, but we’ve also come across people who couldn’t do it.
The fact that our dealers are primarily our clients and use the product themselves helps them a lot, and so does the fact that our website offers plenty of information in various formats (pictures, reviews, videos, articles, etc.). This said, a dealer who can show on their website what they do with their Wavewalk benefits from a great advantage compared to a dealer whose website stays underdeveloped and reflects little interest for the product or for what can be done with it locally. Clients like to talk to dealers who can understand them, and if you show them that you know both your product and the area first hand, you’ve gained their confidence before even talking to them.

Stay informed – A Wavewalk dealership is a small business, but it’s still a business, and that business is part of the kayak and boat markets. Therefor, it is in your interest to stay informed about what Wavewalk offers, as well as have a basic idea about what our competitors offer both in their terms and in real terms… Visiting our website and staying in touch with us would usually suffice for this matter, unless you feel like becoming an expert in this field, which can’t be a bad thing.

A dealership is a service – It’s not just a point of sale. You need to put yourself in your clients’ shoes, and ask yourself what kind of service you’d like to get. For example, a great demo might end in a fiasco if your enthusiastic client is forced to order a Wavewalk from you and wait two to three weeks before you can have them pick it up from your place. This is why you should make sure to have at least a couple of kayaks available for pickup on your premises, and order new ones once you’ve sold most of your stock. You certainly want to avoid a failure, let alone have to disappoint a client by letting them wait.

Family business – A local Wavewalk dealership works better when both husband and wife are involved, and it’s fun for both. It rarely works well as a father and son, or father and daughter business.

The above said can be summarized in the following sentence –
There’s hardly such a thing as a bad area for a a dealership, unless you live in the middle of a scarcely inhabited desert or on a small island, and there’s almost no such thing as an unqualified dealer unless that person has neither patience for people nor time to deal with them.

How much?

How much money can you make? -It’s hard to tell in advance, but in average a local Wavewalk dealership generates thousands dollars of profit, annually. The combination of a good area and a good dealer can yield more, but you won’t get rich from it.
On the other hand, it’s a business that doesn’t require any major investment, it’s not too demanding, and it can be a nice side occupation.

Wavewalk’s local kayak dealership – basic info >

Time to downsize from a fishing motorboat to something smaller, cheaper and smarter

USCG stats - recreational vessels registration by year.

U.S. boat registration has been declining in recent years. From a peak of 12,942,000 boats in 2005, the number went down to 12,102,000 in 2012 – a  7% decline.

This figure is intriguing for a number of reasons, and the first one is that during this period, the US population increased by a similar percentage. In addition, regardless of their country of origin, new immigrants love boating and fishing as much as other Americans love these activities, and those who can afford it get a boat, be it a yacht or a kayak, depending on their budget.

What has caused the decline in the number of leisure boats Americans own is a continuing erosion in average, middle-class Americans’ income, especially their disposable income, which is the part used for spending on luxury items such as boats – Just for the record, the number of leisure boats owned by Americans still tops the number of leisure boats owned by all other people in the world.

The typical boat here is a motorboat, usually powered by an outboard motor (or more than one motor), and typically used for fishing. Owning such a boat is no longer as easy as it used to be if you’re not rich, which most of us aren’t.

But not being able to afford a center console or a bass boat, or even a skiff, doesn’t mean you should start fishing from shore, or worse – stick yourself on one of those wet, unstable and uncomfortable fishing kayaks that may altogether dissuade you from fishing… For a fraction of the cost of a traditional motorboat, you can fish out of a comfortable, stable, dry and fun watercraft that has the word ‘kayak’ in its name, and can even be paddled, but in every other sense it’s a totally different animal – We’re talking about the W kayak, outfitted with a small outboard gas engine.

Words are cheap and ineffective, so why not watch this video and see for yourself?

Intriguing?  –

Think about it: This little personal micro skiff is not only comparable to traditional small motorboats such as jon boats, dinghies and small skiffs in terms of fishing (i.e. ‘fishability’) – it even exceeds the performance you got used to, and in more than one way.

Here’s a couple examples:

  • Forget about a boat trailer – This watercraft can be easily car topped.
  • Forget about boat ramps – You can launch this super kayak practically anywhere.
  • No motor zones? No problem – You can paddle this ‘kayak’ more easily than you can paddle any other kayak out there. You can even paddle standing, as well as fish standing up in full confidence.

Food for thought? We’ve created a special website offering detailed technical information to motorized anglers who are looking for something smarter to fish from, and by that we rule out kayaks, naturally. The website is called Personal Microskiff > Check it out!

Your boat trailer, the abominable fishing-time guzzler

The idea to write this piece came from a client in Rhode Island who owns a 20ft center console, who told me he never uses it on weekends because of all the time he had to waste at crowded boat ramps, and the aggravation associated with it. Michael Chesloff added a few wise comments too, from his own experience as a fishing boat owner.

So how much quality time do you waste on activities related to your boat trailer?

To begin with, you need to attach the trailer to your vehicle, but that can be done in a few minutes.
Then, you need to drive to the boat ramp, which can be located far from the area that you’d like to fish in. This is a big waste of time, especially in slow traffic, since you’re wasting time both driving your vehicle to the ramp and driving your boat from the ramp to the area you’re going to fish in.
And then comes the big frustration – You get to the boat ramp area, and you have to wait in line with other fishermen and their trailers. All of you wait for fishermen that got there before you, and need to either launch their boat, or take it out, so the time waste is significant, and so is the frustration associated with it.
Finally, you get to approach the boat ramp with your trailer, and launch your boat, which can take considerable time, and it’s not a nice experience since you know that so many people are waiting for you to finish.
Then, you have to drive to the area where you’re going to fish, and you’re in a hurry because of all the time you had to waste on launching.
Then, at the end of your fishing trip, you have to quit earlier, so that you can get back to the boat ramp in time to take your place in the queue, together with other motorized fishermen waiting to take their boat out, or put in… And here too, once your turn to put out arrives, you don’t feel good about wasting other people’s time, and that can be stressful and unpleasant.

How much time would a car top motorized W kayak save you?

In contrast, car topping your motorized kayak takes little time, and you can launch it practically anywhere you need, including places that are much closer to where you’re planning to fish, and where no other motorized fishermen are waiting for their turn to launch or take out. Launching itself is easy, takes very little time, and requires no special maneuvering, since you can launch in any kind of dock or beach, including launching in the surf.

Driving your motorized kayak (a.k.a. personal microskiff) at 8 mph gets you to your fishing destination pretty fast, even in the presence of wind, waves and current, and that makes a big difference from human powered fishing kayaks, whether paddled or pedaled.  This said, you can fish in no-motor zones (NMZ) too, since your little W motorboat is a paddle craft as well, so you keep getting the best of both worlds.

On your way back from from your fishing adventures, you can simply approach your launching spot and beach there immediately, without waiting for other boaters who are either launching or beaching. This is true even if that spot is a rock garden, or if the tide has changed the conditions there.
You just car top your little super-versatile marvel, and you’re on the road again within a couple minutes.

The bottom-line advantage of owning a motorized W kayak

Spending more time fishing and less time on the road and in boat ramps is a win-win proposition, since it means you’re having more fun and catching more fish.
The same is true about spending more time fishing and less time paddling or pedaling to your fishing spot and back from it.

This video shows how easy it is to launch and carry a motorized W kayak:

More on motorized fishing kayaks >

To learn more on this concept, go to microskiff >

Why I became a W kayak owner, by Michael Chesloff, NY

There I am on the right, holding the reason I bought a Wavewalk.

I became a Wavewalk owner because I wanted a solution to my fishing dilemma. Maybe if you know a little more about my journey you will find something that will prove useful in deciding on your next watercraft.
Here’s my story.

After buying 7 boats, I knew what didn’t work. These 7 boats were, in order of ownership:

1) Jon boat – simple 10 footer with electric trolling motor and a paddle
2) Inflatable – Fairly heavy duty with removable wooden floor, outboard electric trolling motor and oars
3) Bass boat – 16 footer with full flat deck, gas outboard and bow-mounted electric trolling motor
4) Folding boat with electric trolling motor and oars
5) Ultra-light sit-in kayak with paddle
6) Fiberglass skiff – 14 footer with gas outboard, bow-mounted electric trolling motor and oars
7) Square-ended, 12 foot aluminum canoe with bow-mounted electric trolling motor, gas outboard motor and oars

As you can see, I have had almost every kind of freshwater boat, driven by almost every mode of propulsion. They also covered almost every means of transportation; car-topping, towing and stuffing the boat in the trunk of a car. Capacity ranged from 1 person up to 4 and each had its pluses and minuses. So what was missing? This past winter I decided to make an exhaustive list of my requirements and see where it led me. Here is that list:

1) The boat must be easy to car-top – so many lakes and streams forbid boats on trailers.
2) The boat must be easy to row or paddle – many lakes do not permit motors of any kind and I have experienced the misery of being far from the dock with a dead motor/battery.
3) The boat must be capable of taking an electric motor – I did not want to paddle if I didn’t have to.
4) The boat must be capable of taking a gas motor – I fish some large lakes and 3 mph was just not going to cut it.
5) The boat must have room for my gear – Can’t fish without multiple rods, rod holders, tackle boxes, net, anchor, sonar, toolkit, throwable cushion, thermos, etc. and of course, lunch.
6) The boat must allow me to stand up to cast, sight-fish and stretch – I couldn’t last 2 hours in the kayak before my back started to ache and my legs would to go numb.
7) The boat must be stable – the kayak and the Jon boat provided some unwanted excitement by nearly capsizing.
8) The boat must be able to go in shallow water and through weeds – that’s where the bass are most of the time.
9) The boat must keep me and my stuff dry – can’t fish with a wet butt and I did not want to have to put waders on every time I got in and out.
10) The boat must be quick to launch – I can’t spend 20 minutes setting up and taking down every time I want to fish… fishing time is too precious.

So there I was in the dead of winter with my requirements and the Internet. I researched every brand of boat under every category I could think of; dinghy, Jon boat, skiff, catamaran, pontoon, tender, punt, car-topper, canoe, drift boat, etc. Why, I even tried “kayak”!

After many months I had narrowed it down to just a few possibilities. One boat (with 2 electric motors) looked so interesting I was even willing to consider going back to using a trailer. Yes, these were desperate times! But the single most important decision I made was that I WOULD NOT BUY ANOTHER BOAT UNLESS I TRIED IT FIRST! In retrospect this seems so obvious as to be almost silly. I certainly would never buy a car without test driving it and every boat that had let me down was purchased without ever going anywhere near the water, until it was too late!

By spring I had exhausted my ability to absorb any more information from the Web and I pursued my commitment to a test drive. One boat just wasn’t available to try. I managed to test drive the second boat because the maker had a customer in the area who was willing to help. He lives on a small lake only 30 minutes away and so, with great anticipation, we set a date. It was a dud. Not only did it require a trailer (though you do not have to put the trailer itself in the water), but it was, as the owner himself described it, a “barge”. Slow and cumbersome. Well okay. AT LEAST I KNEW FOR SURE BEFORE IT BECAME BOAT NUMBER 8!

Finally, one manufacturer said: “Of course you want to try it first. When would you like to come here for a test drive?”. While this sounded great, the company was over 2 hours away and the boat appeared, to put it mildly, unusual! They called it a kayak, but it didn’t look like any kayak I had ever seen. But spring was approaching and after all, he was offering a TEST DRIVE. I wouldn’t be fooled again.

I can launch anywhere and within 5 minutes of arriving at the water’s edge I am out fishing from my Wavewalk.

So consider my story, then consider a Wavewalk. Google your way to being an informed buyer. Spend some time on YouTube. Don’t buy 8 boats… get a Wavewalk and be happy.

Michael Chesloff

Hillsdale, NY


 

More from the cockpit of Michael’s fishing kayak >


Read more fishing kayak reviews that our clients have contributed >

Happy New Year 2013!

Happy New Year to all our clients, fans, dealers and employees!

You’re all truly wonderful people 🙂

2012 was our best year ever. We broke our previous annual sales records by wide margins, and increased our ‘brick and mortar’ presence in the world outside the Internet through our rapidly expanding network of local distributors and dealers.

W kayaks outfitted with outboard motors are everywhere now, and it feels really good considering we came up with our motor mount and the motorized W kayak concept just a little over a year ago.
In fact, many clients choose a motorized W kayak as a their portable, car top motorboat – a personal microskiff they can also use in no-motor zones and areas where only W kayaks can be launched, paddled and beached.

Compared to the previous year (2011), the total number of visits to our website in 2012 increased by 30%, and the number of unique visitors increased by 29%.
As in previous years, 3/4 of our visitors are new visitors and 1/4 are returning visitors.

Thank you for visiting our website, for your patience and interest, and for your various contributions to our blog.
You’ve helped turning our website and this fishing kayak blog into a popular source of information and entertainment for people around the world.

We look forward to another fun and successful year,

Happy New Year!

Yoav