Martin yacht broker credits online service with increasing his sales

PORT SALERNO — Tom Whittington, broker-owner of Manatee Pocket Yacht Sales, said a new, secure online boat closing solution has helped him increase sales.

Developed by a Lake Mary yacht broker in partnership with two software developers, YachtCloser provides an online platform where secure electronic signatures and document management expedite the closing process and eliminate buyers or sellers having to travel to an actual closing location, or to even fax documents back and forth.

YachtCloser founder and President Brad Parker said the software, launched in January after several months of beta testing, is being used by about 160 boat brokers throughout the nation, about half of those in Florida.

Manatee Pocket Yacht Sales is the only Treasure Coast boat brokerage using YachtCloser, Parker said.

Whittington and five of his full-time brokers each pay $50 a month to access YachtCloser.

He said he began using YachtCloser in March during what is normally his company’s busiest sales week.

“We closed a sale in two hours from initial showing to delivery; closed three additional sales, including one in Australia; submitted offers on three additional boats; and signed four new listings,” Whittington said. “Without YachtCloser, this would not have been possible.”

Whittington said he started working in boat sales after retiring from Hewlett-Packard, where he sold mainframe computers for 20 years.

He worked for other brokers in Stuart for six years before starting Manatee Pocket Yacht Sales in 2010.

“I decided I was going to do this my own way with my own shop,” he said.

Drawing on his experience with computers, Whittington said, “I looked for solutions to help me automate my business; I thought about writing some software.”

While researching that, though, he found YachtCloser already was available.

Whittington said the typical yacht sale can take at least six hours to close, often after several days of faxing and overnight mailing of contracts to be signed by the seller and buyer.

“Besides reducing closing time, this technology gives the buyer, seller and broker secure electronic access to the documents,” Whittington said. “Contract changes can be made quickly, documents can be downloaded to one’s personal computer or uploaded and archived to the YachtCloser’s secure data center, and the convenience of electronic signatures means we can conduct a closing anywhere in the world.”

Not only does YachtCloser electronically store the contracts and other legal documents, Whittington said, “I can keep information that allows me to connect buyers and sellers much more seamlessly by matching the needs of my buyers with my listings.”

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