If you’re looking for a great boat-shopping experience, try poking around on the Tracker Boats website. I was there last week doing some research. I don’t think there’s another boatbuilder site that lets a potential customer gather information so easily and make comparisons within the brand. The site then produces a guaranteed price that can include any options you to want to add to the boat, as well as precise shipping and dealer prep figures.


Like the looks of this Tracker Pro Guide V 175? You can spec your own, and get a no-haggle price, on the Tracker website.

Other builders often offer a fixed or advertised price on boats that are part of a special promotion, but Tracker is one of the few that offers “no haggle” pricing on every boat and option in its line. Other boat-brand websites let you “build this boat” and come up with a price they call “MSRP,” but then leave the actual sales price up to the dealer. And that MSRP price too often has no basis in reality. There are still boat manufacturers that publish a list price that includes a 40-percent mark-up over dealer cost, because the dealers want plenty of wiggle room for haggling and trade-in. I know this because when I write about a new boat, I’m often asked not to publish the unrealistic MSRP. Instead I’m given a “street price” that’s much lower.

At Tracker you can cut through the bull. The price on the site is the price you’ll pay at the store. It’s been that way since 1978, when Bass Pro Shops founder John Morris offered three Bass Tracker boats, 16- to 17-foot-long aluminum mod-V fishing rigs. Striving to take the hassle out of buying a boat, Morris turned the boat into a commodity, like a television or a washing machine. He offered each model as a boat-motor-trailer package, rather than selling the three components separately, as was the custom at the time. Then he advertised the boats at a fixed price – come to the store, and this is what you’ll pay. Your buddy can show up in two weeks and pay the same price. And by the way, the price was lower than the competition. People drove hundreds of miles to Springfield, Mo., to pick up a new boat at the original Bass Pro Shop.

You don’t need to go to Springfield today. Tracker boats (and the affiliated Nitro, Sun Tracker, Tahoe, and Mako brands) are sold through 54 Bass Pro Shops, 20 Tracker Boat Center stores, and more than 200 independent marine dealers that sell Tracker boats. And you don’t even need to go a Bass Pro Shop or dealer. You can spec out a Tracker right on the website, and then go to the “Buy Now” area and a sales consultant will get on the phone with you, search area stores for your boat, or make arrangements for your boat to be built and then shipped to a Tracker dealer near you. If you live 200 miles away from a dealer or store, you can still do business with Tracker, even in the middle of the night.

“We’ve had people order a $60,000 boat sight-unseen off the website,” says Tracker director of marketing Maurice Bowen. “That reflects a high degree of confidence in our brand. Our sales organization is set up to help the customer buy the best boat. It’s an attitude that’s been ingrained in the company culture for a generation now.”

It’s a business model that’s made Tracker Boats number one in sales in aluminum fishing boats and in pontoons. Tracker may not be the only boatbuilder to make good boats or offer good deals, but its simple, no-nonsense approach to website sales is unique these days in offering the path of least resistance to boat ownership. It should always be this easy.