As a boat owner, you want to spend more time on the water and less time at the dealership. Preventive maintenance and unplanned repairs are obviously givens, and where and who you choose to do the work can prolong those sunny days of fun on the water.
Keep your boating budget in the green by choosing the most qualified professionals who do the job right the first time, and save you money in the long run. You can do that at a Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Boating Center.
What sets the Boating Centers apart are the Power Pros technicians who can handle any job, from scheduled service and repairs to repowering and professional accessory installation and more.
In addition, many technicians are factory trained and certified by Mercury Marine, and some have reached the top level as Master Certified technicians. Getting to that Master level takes more effort than just going to school to get a certificate. Work experience, and lots of it, and years of previous factory certifications are among the required certifications.
Know what level of service you are getting for your boat by understanding what comes with the various levels of certification. You will be better equipped to communicate your needs with the technician, while feeling more confident about your boat care decisions.
“At our service department, having direct interaction with the customer is important to us,” explains Tim Thompson, a Master Certified technician and Power Pros technician at the Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Boating Center in Sevierville, Tenn.
“That two-way communication goes beyond reading the repair ticket, because we can actually begin the diagnosis before taking the boat in the shop, or running a computer to find out what needs to be done.”
Before becoming Master Certified, Thompson earned his basic certification from Mercury. Certified Technician is the first level of recognition. Certification requires attending Mercury University, the brand’s learning program that combines classroom teaching with hands-on training in a shop environment.
Technicians take online and classroom training on all engine products by selecting from courses on MerCruiser sterndrives and/or Mercury outboards. When technicians complete instruction, they must pass a test to become Certified Technicians in that product line. To maintain Certified status, technicians must continue their product training by taking two additional courses in the following two years.
“There is no end to the certification process, because technology and products continue evolving,” adds Thompson.
Becoming Master Certified is a choice that comes with the highest level of commitment and recognition.
“Master Certification is a feather in the cap of the service department and dealership,” explains Thompson, who has 18 years of experience as a technician. “It is the highest level of training and experience that separates you from everyone else.”
Master Technicians demonstrate outstanding knowledge and professionalism, as well as a commitment to provide only the highest standards of service. Candidates are selected by a recommendation given by the dealership in conjunction with a Mercury Marine field service representative.
“For me, it’s quite an honor because it’s about recognizing the experience that goes above and beyond the course training,” Thompson says. “Master Certification is a time-invested experience.”
Master Certification is available for MerCruiser sterndrives and Mercury outboard products. Qualifying technicians must have been certified in the specific product line for four consecutive years without any lapses in training. Taking the course comes next, followed by a closed book exam. A passing score is 90% and only then are technicians awarded Master Certified recognition.
Upon reaching Master Certified status, technicians attend Mercury University to maintain certifications for their areas of specialty. Keeping current with new products and enhancements to existing engines is an ongoing requirement.
“What that means to the customer is we stay up-to-date on the latest service technology, and that can save them time and money,” Thompson adds. “And for us, that means we can provide even better customer service.”
At Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Boating Centers, you will find services such as Urgent Care Diagnostics, where you can receive an immediate evaluation of your service needs. That is especially useful when you are away from home on a boating vacation. The service allows the technicians to determine if repairs can be made during the same business day.
There are many more services available. When the time comes to repower your boat, you can benefit from expert advice at the Boating Centers. Some even provide vinyl and fiberglass repair services, winterization, summerization and shrinkwrapping and storage preparation.