Get your Boat Fix in Australia

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US-based telematics service seeks business partners to launch locally.

A US-based boat monitoring service called Boat Fix is seeking to establish B2B partnerships with marine businesses in Australia as it expands its coverage on a global basis.

Boat Fix (not to be confused with Boat Fix, a repair service in WA) offers a 24/7 boat monitoring and support service for boaters which tracks critical onboard systems and provides technical support and advice when needed. The company has been running a concierge service for boaters in the UK since 1990 but is now expanding its remote monitoring services to marine businesses around the world.

Company CEO, Alastair Crawford, said that with today's communication technology it doesn't really matter where a boat is located for it to be monitored so long as it has cellular data connectivity.

“I'm currently tracking two boats in Argentina, several boats in the UK and I've got boats all over the US. It doesn't really matter so long as there is a cellphone tower somewhere nearby,” he said.

When a boat is out of cellphone range, the data is stored and then transmitted as soon as it reconnects. Crawford said the main difference between the Boat Fix offering and other monitoring services is that Boat Fix is backed by contact centres manned 24/7 in the US and UK which monitor a boat's activities even when the owner isn't.

“We are the only people to offer third party monitoring, with everybody else it's just a box and an app. No-one monitors their phone 24/7, but we do.”

“Don't forget, 98% of the time you're not on your boat but we are, we're looking after it.”

In terms of the hardware involved, Boat Fix supplies a 'black box' monitoring device about the size of a cigarette packet which is installed at the time of manufacture and stays on the boat, regardless of whether or not it is connected to the monitoring service. Typical systems monitored by Boat Fix include battery levels, bilge pumps and shore power but it also offers geo-fencing for greater security, anti-theft protection for outboard motors and 24/7 GPS tracking with free storage of all recorded data.

For Australian marine businesses, Boat Fix is looking to provide a B2B service which can be tailored to manufacturers, dealers, insurance underwriters and marinas. For high volume users, it can offer a 'white-label' solution with a company's own branding, effectively providing a ready-made app for boat tracking, monitoring and customer support.

Crawford acknowledged that with contact centres in the UK and the US, it is not possible to provide an on-the-spot solution to every customer's request for assistance but said the majority of situations can be managed over the phone, drawing on the company's experience as a concierge service in the UK.

“We provide technical support and we've been doing it in the UK for 28 years so there's nothing that we haven't seen.

“If it's a technical issue then 6 times out of 10 we'll come up with a solution that helps them on the day.

“Can we offer great concierge services in Australia? Not today, but we work with B2B operations so if we're working with a boat dealership in Sydney or wherever, they have the local knowledge. There is also a lot of knowledge that we have and which we can provide.”

Crawford likens the service to the concierge services offered by car manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes, and while those services are a lot more advanced in terms of what they can offer, Boat Fix is intent on bringing the same customer support ethos to the marine world. A boater himself, Crawford said the business was born out of his own frustration with the lack of service in the industry, particularly when he needed it eg on weekends.

“I wanted to provide a service that reaches everyone through telematics and that's what I've done.”

While it might be expected that the service would appeal to larger, more expensive cruisers, Crawford said it is in fact finding a market with smaller boats such as tenders and trailer boats.

“Our geo-fence works on the road as well as on the water. It's affordable to the small boat owner.

“It suits any boat, any age and any size.”

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