Motoryachts Unlimited

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After spending 30 years in the boating industry, Brendon Grieve has found a business model that works for him in Motoryachts Unlimited. “I decided that it was time I worked for myself,” he says. “Brokerage was what I wanted to specialise in – and luxury pleasure boats. Basically any size; but luxury pleasure boats, and focusing 100% on that rather than getting involved in the juggernaut of trying to sell a new boat brand.”

Grieve says he arranged his business in March of this year; but it took a few months to establish the overall structure, which he deems limitless. “Basically my business doesn’t have any boundaries. It can be global, because I’m not an agent for any new boat brands. My eyes are wide; I can buy and sell boats to people anywhere around the world.”

Currently, Grieve does it all. He serves as a buyer’s agent, an insurance agent, a boat broker, and a broker for remote control manoeuvring devices. People “engage [him] to sell their luxury boats”, and he offers boat handling tuition for those who require some extra guidance. He has also included instructional videos for boat troubleshooting and maintenance on his website. If boat owners require even further assistance, they are encouraged to call him for access to an industry supplier or service person. “Over the last 20 years, I’ve always offered the service where boat people can call me if they have any problems while they’re on board their boat, and the aim that way was to try and make them feel comfortable with their boat.”

Whatever the need is, Grieve does what he can to make his customers happy. “The key to my business, really, is making boating very easy and less stressful, or take the stress out of boating. There shouldn’t be any anyway, but people do tend to get anxious when they’re behind the helm of a big boat.”

Grieve says his aim is to provide convenient and comfortable access to those who enjoy boating. He also stressed the importance of networking with others who may share the same interests. In the past, he has helped organise escorted convoys down the coast in order to assist newer members to the boating community, providing any necessary back-up as needed. “The aim of this was to make them feel more comfortable with their boats, get them introduced to more like-minded people. People that like going boating, because what I’ve found over the years [is that] people with boats have friends with boats, or they have boating friends, and they’re often a different group of people to what they might have on the land. So, these journeys, or ‘experiences’ that we used to call them, down the coast – these convoys – were very good for people to network, meet other boat owners who were like-minded, as I say, and those relationships have lasted and continued to this day, and have expanded.”

Networking has always been key in the boating industry, according to Grieve. After many years working for and managing a marina, he maintains that the inclusion of various “industry partners” are an important factor to a company’s success. “Those are the people that provided mechanical services, boat maintenance services, detailing, mechanics. Whoever it was, I included them on my mailing list; I invited them to my events and functions; I asked if they would be interested in participating in some of my convoys that I ran down the coast, and I found that by doing that I got a lot of buy-ins from all those industry suppliers. Ultimately it was all about making sure that we could look after our customers and get them back on the water straight away, or soon as possible should they have any onboard issues. So, I think inclusion in the industry and sharing the work around is important for the customers in the end, and it’s important for the growth of my business – because that referral is important for me as well – I found a lot of my business was the result of referrals from within the industry itself.

Since 2006, Grieve has also been involved in the Variety Splash, an annual event that allows boaties to get together and take a trip down the coast to the main event in Mandurah. He says the ultimate goal is to raise money for children in need, but there is also an opportunity for participants to become more comfortable with their boats. “It gives people an excuse to travel down the coast a bit, and do things that they wouldn’t normally do.”

Aside from their role in the Variety Splash, these convoys have proven to be a great way to spread awareness of recreational boating along the coast of Western Australia “I’ve been involved in escorting some 400 boats down the coast,” says Grieve. “It’s certainly helped open up southern coastal towns a bit to boating and opened recreational boaters’ eyes to what their boats can do.”

The main issues facing the industry today are the lack of facilities and the current economic state. “More and more people wanted to get into boating, and we have had a huge shortage of marinas,” says Grieve. “It’s not quite as painful in Perth now as it has been over the years; but it certainly is in some of the regional areas – the facilities in regional areas – and it does impact on people’s ability to get into boating, because the facilities in those areas are lacking. So, facilities is the main thing and – I guess, in the short-term – the current economy is pretty tough. That’s going to be another year or two before we see some growth in the industry and people being more flamboyant with their boat purchases.”

While this is true, Grieve also explains that investments from those in other industries is “a very important part of the business.” He says that “without those people we wouldn’t have those magnificent new boats on the water. We wouldn’t have fantastic functions and trade shows.”

Some of his fellow boating representatives do get caught up in the glamour of the industry, but Grieve takes his professional notes from the Marine Brokers Institute of Western Australia. As a member, he strives to keep a level head while staying as formal as possible with current and potential customers. “My aim is to just really do everything on a professional and discreet level. That’s another thing that lacks in the industrie I’ve found, across the country. There’s not a lot of discretion in people dealing with the end of the market that I often deal in. Those customers don’t like everyone else to know their business. So, my aim is to keep things quiet – under my belt – and just get on with business; help people get in and out of boats as easily, as discreetly [and as] professionally as possible, without the world knowing what you’re about.”

Still, it is important to be selective about where you choose to start in Western Australia’s boating industry. Even after so much time in the industry, Grieve himself has faced some difficulties. “As a boat dealer, for example, it’s hard. As a boat broker, it’s hard. Marine mechanic – I think there’s always opportunities for marine mechanics in the industry – there’s probably not enough of those. In other areas, at the moment, I would say you’d want to be pretty careful. I don’t get involved in the charter industry. But even the charter boat guys nowadays, locally, are finding it tough.”

Grieve himself was given the chance to work his way up in the industry. Starting 30 years ago as a boat detailer and skipper, he was able to expand his horizons to a 15-year marina management position, and eventually boat brokerage when he saw there was growth in the business. When the marina was sold to Riviera in 2005-2006, Grieve was presented with “one of the greatest opportunities” through a stakeholder position. “That was a great stepping stone to get to where I am now. One, for product knowledge; but, two, for getting some credibility in the industry from the customers. I’ve got a lot of respect for them and a lot of them have a lot of respect for me and will continue to do business with me. I guess that was key to my business growth and my knowledge of the industry, and during trade shows around the country, I’m keeping my eyes wide open and looking for other opportunities. But, certainly, the experiences and the training I had through working for the Riviera group were exceptional, and you can see why the brand is so strong because of their culture. “

Ultimately, Grieve is proud of what he has accomplished during his three decades in the industry. “Being chairman of the Variety Splash committee, raising funds for the kids and also getting people on board their boats and enjoying their boats to the fullest extent is something I’m pretty pleased to be involved with – and no catastrophes or accidents in the 8 or 9 years that I’ve been doing that, which is a bit of a bonus as well.”

Future customers of Motoryachts Unlimited are guaranteed to receive insightful advice from boating veteran Brendon Grieve: “It doesn’t matter what boat you’re sitting on… don’t think that you need to have a huge boat to enjoy the water.”

Editor’s Note

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