How do I start and maintain a successful Boat Rental Business? That is a common question we hear at DirectBoats.com. This may not be a complete how to guide because each location is so different, but this is an attempt to cover the basics.
Location, Location, Location... the first three words in any business. First find the perfect location for your boat rental business. If you think you have the perfect location to have a successful boat rental business then your on your way. The next problem to solve is renting the right boat at your location. This is a short list of some popular locations and what is the typical rental boats offered.
Hunting/Fishing Clubs; offer jon boats and or row boats
Yacht clubs; small sail boats, rowing boats, kayaks
Home owners associations; pedal boats, row boats, mini pontoon boats
Condominiums/Beach Properties; SUP boards, Clear bottom Kayaks, sit on top kayaks
Beach Front RentalsJet Skis with inflatable towables, sup boards, double sit on top kayaks, para-sail boats, water toys
Marinas;power/mini power boats, Pontoon boats, Jet ski's, bow riders, ski boats, kayaks
Malls, Resorts Venetian Gondola's, Electric mini pontoon boats, pedal boats, mini power boats
Amusement parks Bumper Battle Boats, Animal Pedal Boats, passenger attraction boats
Theme Parks Customized boats to fit ride theme, example Universal Hollywood Water world show (basic Jon boats and jet ski's with apocalyptic theme), Venetian Gondola's in front of Venice Disney world, Lego style two passenger electric boats Lego Land Florida,
City, State, Federal Parks Commercial Pedal Boats, Sit on Top Kayaks, canoes
River's Tubes, Kayaks, Canoes, Trailers to haul back upstream
Summer Camps Bumper Battle Boats, Pedal Boats, Canoes, Kayaks, Stand up Paddle Boards, water toys, row boats
Second, study your demographics, who comes there already and for what reasons. Is it a tourist location, or a local hangout. If local hang out, a yacht club design might be best. For example signing up people on an annual basis vs per use basis offering traditional boats such as fishing or hunting boats, where the boat combines with another activity.
If tourist area find out old or young customers, take your time make notes and interview people. This is probably the most critical issue is knowing your customer. Are there other things around that draw the potential customers, such as a zoo or children's museum? If so we have proven boats such as animal pedal boats that rent very well in that situation.
Next think about the entire cost of the business vs the potential income. If for example your thinking of renting jet ski's but spend all your income on the high insurance cost associated with PWC's... then you may just be selling a lot with little income yourself. A better choice to make money may be a mini power boat, less exciting but for sure more profitable, just look what Disney does. Or if you think that buying those cheap pedal boats you see don't cost constant money in parts, think again. Not only do you loose money on replacement parts but also factor in down time and labor to replace the parts.
Limited start up capital is a common issue. We know budget is a constraint on any start up. So if out of necessity you have to start with the above mentioned cheap pedal boats it's O.K. We have had many start ups use those boats to determine if there is a demand in your area. If you can personally work on the boats yourself etc...
Remember if you can entertain someone for just 15 seconds you made the customer happy, simply look at an amusement park.