Are you looking to start a boat rental business? Boat renting is an excellent business opportunity with a huge earning potential. It can even be a fun career if you enjoy sailing and living close to water. However, like with any other business, there are several things you need to consider before setting up your venture.
Furthermore, there are other things you need to know besides the basic business stuff – when it comes to boat rentals. For example, you need to know about sailing, sailing routes, boat repairs, maintenance, etc. Therefore, much planning is necessary to go into this type of business. Lucky for you, this article offers you all the tips and tricks you need to start a boat rental business successfully.
Top 12 Tips for Starting a Boat Rental Business
Launching a boat rental company can be an exciting opportunity. However, as already mentioned, it requires a lot of planning, time, and effort to ensure the success of your venture. Below are some top tips you will need if you want to start a boat rental business.
1. Decide if the Idea Is Right for You
The first thing you need to do before starting a boat rental business is to decide whether the idea is right for you. Boat rental can be very profitable if you do it right. It is also a fun business where you can have a lot of fun in the water.
However, numerous challenges come with running a boat rental business. For starters, it requires a considerable capital investment – to cater for the cost of boats and other expenses involved. You will also have to deal with maintenance and repairs, which can also be pricey, on top of managing your business.
Other challenges that affect a boat rental business include the high cost of fuel, possible accidents, injuries to customers and employees, etc. Therefore, you must carefully weigh all the pros and cons involved and decide if this is the right idea for your business venture.
2. Conduct Thorough Research on the Market
If you have decided to forge ahead with your boat rental business, the next step will be to hone your idea. And the way to do this is to research the market carefully.
Start by identifying your target market – tourists, residents, fishing enthusiasts, etc. Next, learn about the experiences and activities these people seek and other details about them, such as demographics, boats they like, etc.
Next, you want to research your competition. Find out if there are other boat rental businesses in the area you want to set up. Besides competition, you also need to consider other factors that affect the success of your business. These include destructive weather issues, availability of fuel, boat maintenance prices, high or low seasons of boating activities, etc.
Besides market research, it is also a good idea to research the boat rental industry. Find out about the latest industry trends and growth forecasts, which can help you better plan for your business.
3. Create a Plan for Your Business
Before you start a boat rental business, you must create a business plan. One of the top reasons for business failure is the lack of a clear plan. Therefore, you will need to develop a sound business strategy which will act as a road map for your business.
Your business plan will primarily contain information you have uncovered during market and industry research. This includes your target market, the services you want to offer, the competitor analysis, challenges in the market, etc. Additionally, you want to have a financial plan, marketing plan, goals and objectives, an expansion plan, employees, etc.
Lastly, if you want your boat rental business to succeed, you must follow your business plan to the letter. While you might need to review and update it over time, you should never throw it out. Doing this is like starting a journey only to throw the map out midway – you are bound to get lost.
4. Come Up With the Funds
Funds are another critical requirement to starting a boat rental business. The business plan you create will cover the financial plan of the venture. However, you must go the extra mile and make those funds available before launching your venture.
You will need to consider several budget items when looking for funding for your business. These include the cost of equipment purchase – boats, boat operating equipment, etc. You will also need to consider office space, permits and licenses, staff salaries, boat storage, boat expenses (fuel) and repairs, taxes, marketing, etc.
With a boat rental business, you will also need to hire specialized services, such as a lift service company, to help get the boats in and out of water. Additionally, you will need to factor in things like future expansions, which also cost money.
Starting a boat rental business is an expensive affair. For example, the average startup cost for a speed boat rental business is $20,000. Of course, the figure can be higher with other types of boats and depends on how many you will purchase initially. Therefore, you need to have funds ready – which can be from your savings. Other funding sources include investors, bank loans, etc.
5. Find the Right Location for Your Business
Before you start a boat rental business, you need to find a suitable location – the location is everything. So first, you will want to find somewhere with access to a water body. This can be a lake, river, ocean, canal, artificial water body, etc.
Next, you must ensure that your chosen water body will offer the appropriate activities for your target audience. For example, if you target anglers and fishing enthusiasts, the place needs to have a good fishing spot.
When considering the location of your business, you need to factor in its popularity. For example, if you are targeting tourists, you need to choose a spot with a high population of visitors.
Lastly, you must consider safety when choosing your boat rental business location. The larger area itself needs to be a place that has enough peace and security. Additionally, the water body selected should be safe. This means you must consider factors such as ease of navigation in the water, dangerous tides, dangerous water animals (sharks, alligators), weather, etc.
6. Set up the Office Space
Once you have chosen the location, the next step is to set up your boat rental office. The type and size of the office space you need will depend on your type of business, its size, and other factors, such as the number of customers you expect.
Examples of facilities you will need for your boat rental business include a front office, customer waiting room, back office, and employee break room. You will also need boat storage, garage space (for repairs and maintenance), washrooms, docking facilities, etc.
You will want to hire office renovation contractors to design and set out your office space for the best results. Some contractors you might need include painters, electrical contractors, commercial concrete polishers for flooring work, HVAC contractors, etc.
You might also have to build some of the facilities from scratch, for example, the storage sheds and the docking facilities. Therefore, you might need to hire additional construction contractors, for example, architects and a drilling company with directional drilling hammers. Likewise, you will also need to find reliable suppliers, such as metal distributors, to provide the building materials.
Once all the renovations and construction are done, you are one step closer to launching your business. From here, you only need to hire a mover to start moving your boats and equipment in place.
7. Get the Required Permits and Licenses
Before you start a boat rental business, you will need to acquire permits, licenses, and certifications. First, you will need a commercial business license to operate your business. In addition, you might need a water permit from state and local authorities to use and dock your boats on a water body.
Besides these permits, you might need certifications for operating the boats and any other specialized equipment you need to use. Some of the required licenses, permits, and certifications involve complex bureaucratic processes, so you should hire an expert to negotiate them. In addition, they cost money, so you should make the necessary allocations for them in your budget.
8. Buy the Equipment You Will Need
Acquiring the necessary equipment is another critical requirement when you are looking to start a boat rental business. The boats you rent out will be at the top of your equipment to purchase. Depending on your capital, you can choose new boat sales or second-hand ones from boat dealers or individual sellers.
You will also need to purchase additional equipment to operate your boats safely. These include refractory anchor, life jackets, floaters, fire extinguishers, visual and sound signaling devices, VHF radios, boat lights, medical kits, etc.
Additionally, you will require more equipment to cater to the boating rental activities of your customers. For example, if your target customers engage in fishing, it might do well to have some fishing equipment such as rods, reels, and fish finder gadgets. Likewise, if you are targeting divers, you will need equipment such as air cylinders, buoyancy control devices, regulators, compressors for cylinder refilling, diving masks, diving gauges, etc.
Lastly, you will need equipment for running your office space. These include computers, payment processing gadgets, inventory and booking software, HVAC system, etc. You may also need a backup power solution for your boat rental business, for example, a generac generator in case of a power blackout.
9. Get Your Boat Rental Business Insured
Before you start a boat rental business, you will need to have your venture insured, just like any other venture. However, boat renting also comes with additional risks, which will mean additional insurance coverage. For example, an accident in the water can cause injuries to your customers, employees, or other third parties and watercraft.
As a result, you need a comprehensive insurance policy that covers your business for any event on land or in water. The best way to do this is to shop around and compare policies offered by various maritime insurance providers.
10. Develop a Maintenance Plan For Your Boats
Your boats are the backbone of your business. Therefore, you will need to develop a maintenance plan to ensure they are running in top shape. For this part, you can hire in-house boat mechanics who will maintain or repair your boats whenever necessary.
Alternatively, you can outsource the boat maintenance and repairs to contractors. You can also consider partnering with businesses offering services related to the boating industry. For example, you can look for a company near you offering truck oil changes, which you can use when you need your boat engine oil changed.
11. Hire Staff for Your Business
If your boat rental operation is small, you can handle it on your own or with the help of one of two employees. However, if you are running a large operation, you will need to hire more employees.
Some of the employees you might need before you start a boat rental business include the front office staff, who will handle bookings and customer care. You will also need boat operators, docking staff, and tour guides on the water.
You will also need maintenance workers for your boats for cleaning, engine maintenance, and repairs. Additionally, you need specialized staff to help run the business side of things. These include accountants and bookkeeping experts, marketers, lawyers, etc.
12. Come Up With an Advertising Plan
Lastly, before you start a boat rental business, you will need to develop a plan to promote your venture. Promotion is the only way to reach clients and start bringing in revenue for your business.
You can use various marketing and advertising techniques to promote your boat rental business. To start with, you can list your business in newspapers, tourism magazines, online business platforms (Yelp, Google), tourism organizations, etc.
An online presence – through social media and a website – is another top tip for promoting your business. Of course, with these platforms, you will need to regularly produce and post content to increase your business’ visibility.
Lastly, you can collaborate with other businesses and individuals. For example, you can partner with local ventures (hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc.) that can refer customers to your business. You can also partner with influencers, such as travel writers and social media stars, increasing your business’ brand visibility.
Being a boat rental business owner is an exciting opportunity. You can make extra income – whether you are doing it part-time or full-time. You can also spend your work days near the water. However, there are several things you need to consider before you start a boat rental business, which can be the difference between success and failure. Fortunately, the tips above can help you to launch your business and build it to success.