Boats are not like other automotive products. While a car might succeed or fail on the basis of its abilities, to really fulfill its potential and excite a buyer, a boat needs the added allure of bright sun and fulsome bikinis. It needs the promise of scented skin oil, the mesmeric seduction of turquoise waters and the hiss of fresh squid griddling on a beach barbecue.

Try before you buy

Try before you buy: There's nothing like a taste of the lifestyle to help you take the plunge

What it doesn’t need is Britain. It doesn’t need sideways rain on a dark February day; it doesn’t need short, choppy seas whisked up by frosted south-westerlies; and it doesn’t need boat dealers whose idea of a showroom is a Portakabin on a dirt track with a boat on a trailer strapped to the owner’s family car.

It is for this reason that I find Essex Boatyards so pleasing. They have been doing things properly for nearly 40 years, expanding from a modest business to become one of the UK’s most prolific dealers of Arvor fishing boats, Glastron sports boats and Fairline motor yachts. Today, as the world’s largest Fairline dealer, with bases both in Essex and Hamble, they sell around 600 boats a year – and in a bid to push home their advantage, they have launched a very attractive 'try before you buy' initiative.

Known as ‘Essex Boatyards Charter’, the first boat in the fleet (a Fairline Targa 47) will be based at the lovely Port Petit Marina in Cala D’Or, Mallorca. This will enable UK buyers not just to trial the hardware, but also to experience the best elements of the boating lifestyle before committing to a purchase. Now plainly, Essex Boatyards has to cover its admin costs, but anyone who goes on to buy a boat from the company will have the bulk of their charter cost deducted from the purchase price.

With a bilingual concierge service, local guidance on cruising destinations and professional skippering for novices, it is easy to understand how this new initiative might find big favour with the UK buyer in need of a push. See for more.

Do you know of any outstanding customer service initiatives currently on the go in the marine industry? Let us know in the comments section below.