When you’re looking to make an investment, you need to do your homework. Buying a hillside tram, also known as an inclined elevator or hillside lift,  is no different. You’re buying a specialized piece of equipment that you will rely on to safely transport your friends and family. You don’t want to cut corners. You don’t want trouble. You don’t want downtime. You want reliability, safety and value. Make sure you ask the right questions to ensure your investment is going to perform to your expectations.

1. How long have you been manufacturing?

This is important, you don’t want some fly-by-night company that is here today and gone tomorrow. You want a company with a long track record. That track record means they have learned lessons and adapted. A company with deep experience has done things the old-fashioned way but has grown and integrated technology. It also means they have developed their own components, processes and intellectual property for continual improvement. They’re not just copying what others have built and calling it their own. They will be there for service and warranty. A company that has been in business for 30 years is here to stay. They will be available down the road to enforce their warranty, perform service and supply the right parts.

2. How many systems have you built?

Although this may seem similar to how long a company has been manufacturing, it has some uniqueness. Although not the same for bridges or two-hundred-foot yachts, this rings true for most items. If a hillside tram company is only making a few systems per year, they probably are building other things also. For something as specialized as a hillside tram, you want to have a company that specializes in trams so your family is safe. If a company has been in business for 20 years, but only built 20 units, they probably haven’t perfected their process. There is value when companies build in scale, they are buying in volume for a better price, they engineer for efficiency of manufacturing with jigs, tooling and CNC machinery for consistency, accuracy and efficiency. Building more systems gives you respect of suppliers for better pricing, knowledge of your needs and front-of-the-line delivery. Being a larger company means we are more visible to regulators and the public. This visibility drives us to be above board and trustworthy, if we aren’t, we’re more likely to be held to task than a manufacturer that only builds two units a year and isn’t noticed by others.

3. What areas does your business cover?

Specialization is critical when buying a product like a hillside tram. That big box store on the highway may have a wide selection of products, but they don’t have any depth of product and they generally don’t have product experts in-house. Your hillside tram will be transporting people. You want a company that specializes in trams so they meet elevator code, are built to the highest quality levels and will last a lifetime. These aren’t throw-away products like today’s TV or microwaves (sadly, many of those big box products can’t be easily repaired). Make sure your hillside tram company is dedicated to hillside trams.

4. Can you show examples of your work?​

How proud is your hillside tram company regarding their work? Can they give you a list of happy homeowners willing to let you ride their tram system? Granted trams aren’t everywhere and some people don’t always welcome strangers onto their property, but if you’re working with a tram company and they don’t have any for people to visit and review, you might want to reconsider. At the least, they should have testimonials on their website (they have a website right?) and have a list of references you can contact, if not view and test their system.

5. What do you offer for service and maintenance?

Service can be challenging, people are often at the lake on the weekends or riding their tram to the water in the evenings. You must talk about service with your tram manufacturer or dealer. See how they handle service. Ask how to contact them. Ask about annual maintenance, because an annual inspection and maintenance visit can ensure your tram stays running for years.

5. What is your warranty?

Although you never want to have to use your warranty, it’s an important question to ask before you buy a tram. Make sure you get a copy of the warranty agreement when, or before, you purchase a tram. And like above, see how long the company has been in business so you know they will be there to back their product for the entire warranty and beyond.

Your hillside tram is a great asset to help you access your property. Do your homework and make sure you go with a company that can answer all your questions and back up their systems and provides you with an investment that allows you to enjoy every level of your property. Don’t spend another summer looking at your hill and hating your stairs. Contact Marine Innovations today to see how our industry-leading hillside tram can make your life easy. Click the Learn More button below or call us at 888-334-4666. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook!