You like boats, being on the water, the nautical world is a passion that you want to transmit? Do you have a boat and wish to rent it?

Creating a boat rental company needs to be both: a good salesperson, a good manager, and possibly a good manager if you employ staff.

To help you in your approach, we review here the main stages of the creation of a company: from the market study to the business plan, through the evaluation of human and material needs, not forgetting the search for financing and the marketing plan.

Market research to create a boat rental company

Doing a market study for your boat rental company will allow you first of all to verify the existence of a commercial opportunity in the area of implantation.
It will also serve you to gauge consumer expectations, the level of competition, and gather the information needed to estimate your potential revenue.

To carry out your market research, you will first have to take a look at the significant characteristics of the sector (analysis of turnover and its evolution, study of the actors involved, the regulations in force, etc.), as well as its peculiarities of the area where you wish to establish itself (vitality of the structures located nearby, commercial positioning of the competitors, profile of the customers).

Sector analysis to take the temperature

The market study of a boat rental business must begin with thorough research of consumption habits and current trends in the sector.

The purpose of this section is to help you understand what issues you will face and to identify the most promising market segments.

In particular, you will need to ask yourself:
• What is the situation in the sector: growing or falling? For what reasons?
• What difficulties are often encountered by boat rental companies?
• What are the most popular types of boats?
• Are they rented with or without skippers?
• What is the typical profile of the client?
• How many times a year do people rent boats on average?
• On which occasions? For how long?
• What are the full periods and the slack periods?
• What is the average budget per customer?

Evaluate the demand at the implantation area

After refining your knowledge of the sector, it will be necessary to interest you in the commercial potential of the zone of implantation.
The goal here is to assess the size of the local market and identify the right place to set up your business.
Depending on the target audience, you will need to ask yourself the following questions:
• What is the best time to go boating in the area?
• How many boaters frequent the area?
• Will it be possible to interest companies in boat rental at company seminars or team-building exercises?
• What are the attractive places for the type of boat that you want to rent (harbor, lakeside or river, or beach)?

Analysis of competition at the level of the implantation area

You will then have to familiarize yourself with the offer already on the market you want to invest:
• How are many boat rental companies already present?
• Where are they located?
• What kind of boats do they offer (canoe, sailboat, fishing boat, kayak, barge ...)?
• Do they offer additional services (skipper, deep-sea fishing, boat trips, canoeing, rafting,)?
• What is their pricing policy?
• How many boats do they have?
• How many employees do they employ?
• What turnover do they make?
Once these elements are analyzed, you can assess whether the market is large enough to support the arrival of a new entrant (i.e., your boat rental company).

The USA boat rental market: barometer and trends

According to Tour mag, the first report on the boat rental market in the USA, which was published by Nautal, reveals that this market weighs between 1.5 and 2 billion dollars. The USA market accounts for just over 22% of the USA market, i.e., around 440 million dollars.
The USA market is a market of about 4 million boaters and 9 million occasional practitioners.
According to Business coot, the new home market is losing growth. The costs of buying and maintaining boats are getting higher and harder to find. In this context, more and more homeowners are resorting to renting, which allows the costs to be amortized. Renting your boat allows the 800,000 USA owners to cover up to 50% of their expenses. Thus, these, who are only 500 000 to navigate, profit and finance their property using the rental.

Collaborative economy and boat rental

At a time when the collaborative economy is booming, private hire of boats is enjoying significant success, with the growth of 25 to 30% over the last few years in the USA.
Boat rental companies are also benefiting from this trend, notably through the emergence of online rental platforms that act as intermediaries between rental companies, private owners, and boaters.
Jeremy Bismuth, the co-founder of Click & Boat, confirms this intermediary role: "We are not boating rental companies; we simply give access to the rental companies more easily" (Le Figaro).
We can also mention SamBoat, which, after focusing on leasing between individuals, is now trying to connect individuals with professional boat charter. "With these new customers we will exceed the 20,000 boats available," says Laurent Calando, co-founder of the rental site.
For Clement Douet, the president of Hey Captain, who has, from the beginning, started his business with professionals, no question of looking for the private side. "We help the pros to digitize, Google puts more and more local boxes, this type of SEO can attract people," he says.

Boat rental company: choose your positioning

Several concepts are possible for a boat rental company. You can rent your boats with skippers, or without; for a one-hour trip to the port of Collioure, or a week in Corsica.
You can also play on the services by proposing: a chef on board, various activities (diving, fishing, etc.), the cleaning: Or to submit the rent of a boat to quay for the organization of evenings, or to offer an original place to sleep.
To distinguish yourself from the competitors, it may be interesting to specialize: whatever the type of clientele, individual or professional, we will always prefer a specialist in the field rather than a generalist.
You can choose to specialize in very long-term rental or, conversely, in very short-term rentals while keeping in mind that the client is king and that it is better to comply with his wishes. , even if it's a bit more flexible.
In the USA, it is the sailboats that are the most requested boats. We observe that rental times are shortening, that rented boats are getting smaller and that privileged destinations remain local destinations.
You will also need to think about how you will build your fleet. Will you buy your boats, or will you choose to run as an intermediary by renting other people's boats?
To benefit from a concept that has already been proven, you can also choose the franchise, for example by joining Nautica (All Franchise), or take over an existing boat rental company.

Create a boat rental company: regulation

Getting into boat rental requires a good knowledge of the regulations in force, even if there is no specific training for this profession.
Also, know that boat rentals can be quite restrictive in terms of rules. These depend mainly on: the size of the boat rented, the type of boat, and the size of the engine.
If you want to rent your pleasure boat, while remaining serene, several rules must be respected:
• Your boat must have, according to the navigation practiced, a certain amount of obligatory equipment
• You must also have completed the annual special audit
• You must have insurance
• As with any merchant transaction, the professional is required to prepare an estimate that the customer can accept or not. In case of acceptance, a rental agreement between the renter and his client is mandatory
• Have a safety plan posted, with all the devices that can save valuable time in case of emergency, fire or necessary evacuation of the boat and present this plan (and the corresponding elements) to your tenants during the handling of the ship
Be especially careful about the quality and safety of the equipment you offer.

What legal structure to create your boat rental business?

The creation of a boat rental company implies the creation of a company and therefore, to choose an appropriate legal status.
The choice is wide. You can start as a micro-enterprise (former self-entrepreneur status), this status is relevant if you are an individual who only wants to rent his boat.
For a more massive fleet, the turnover limitations of the microenterprise will probably push you to choose another type of legal form.
In this case, you can consider: the sole proprietorship, the (SAS) or the (SARL), to cite the most popular legal forms.
What counts above all is the consistency between the status features and how you envision the development of your boat rental business.
A statute affects, in particular, how decisions are made in society, the mode of taxation (corporation tax or income tax), or the social system of the executive (self-employed General Social Security).

The human and material needs to create a boat rental company

Setting up a boat rental company requires you to think carefully about the expenses incurred by the activity. This step is essential to prepare your projected budget.

The material investments needed to open a boat rental business

Creating a boat rental company requires first to have a fleet. You will have to buy one or more boats. You can also look for individuals who wish to entrust you with the management of the rental of their boat, which is an excellent way to reduce the initial investment.
The maintenance costs of the boat fleet are one of the main expense items to be taken into account. Depending on the type of boat, it will also provide for the rental or purchase of premises, or locations at the port. You should select the top quality materials/accessories like the best outboard motors, fuel, propeller, cleat, gunwale etc for your boats. So you should use the outboard motors, fuel, propellers, cleats, gunwales etc for your boats to get a longer time service.
You may also need to purchase one or more professional vehicles to transport customers or tow your boats, especially if you rent canoes.

The recruitment needs of a boat rental company

Recruitment needs will depend on the concept chosen and the size of your fleet.
If you only have one boat, of course, you can start your solo activity. In the case of the healthy development of the business, you will probably need a person at the reception or a team of monitors.
You may also need to surround yourself with technicians, able to check the excellent condition of the rented boats and make repairs if necessary. It is also possible to outsource maintenance to a service provider.

Ancillary services needed to launch a boat rental company

Finally, to open your boat rental business, you will need to use several ancillary services.
First, you will need to purchase professional insurance for your business. Other services, such as bookkeeping and administrative management of your business, maybe entrusted to a public accounting firm, for example. If it has a cost, it also saves valuable time and protects you from delicate mistakes, especially if you are not comfortable with it.
You can also use the services of a communication and marketing agency to help you promote your business.
Always think about asking for quotes from several professionals to compare offers between them and to play the competition.

Create a marketing plan for a boat rental company

Setting up the marketing plan for an independent boat rental agency is not easy.
You can rely on several levers. First, communication near the point of sale to help you capture some of the local demand and last-minute bookings. For this, you can mobilize: showcase and sign in front of the local, a partnership with the tourist office, the distribution of flyers in hotels and lodges in the area ...
To reach the heart of the market, it is essential that you refer your company to the big names of boat booking on the Internet, in directories (yellow pages, the portal of your city), in tourist guides (Routard Guide, Lonely Planet ), not to mention the traditional advertising sites.
You can also set up partnerships: with travel agencies, and booking centers used by large companies.
You can also consider setting up advertisements on the Internet (searches related to boat rentals on Google and Bing, for example), and price comparison website solicitations.
To maximize your profitability, it is essential to build customer loyalty. For that, bet on the quality of the service: advice on places to visit, small bottles of water and snacks, anecdotes during sea trips ...

Write the business plan for your boat rental business

The next step is to make a business plan for your boat rental company. An obligatory passage for who wants to launch in this sector.
This document plays a central role; it allows you to both verify that the company will be profitable, and to convince financial partners to follow you in the adventure.
In a simplified way, a boat rental business plan has two parts:
• A written part presenting the project and highlighting its assets
• A financial forecast to highlight the need for financing and the potential for profitability of your company
If you have never done this type of exercise and do not know how to do it, you may want to use an online business plan software, as proposed by The Business Plan Shop.
Using specialized software to realize the business plan of your boat rental business has several advantages:
• The software handles the calculations and creates for you the projected financial statements (income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, break-even calculation, etc.)
• You are guided in writing with instructions for each part and templates of business plans already written
• You get a professional document, formatted, and ready to be sent to your banker

How to finance a boat rental business

As we have seen previously, launching your own boat rental company requires a substantial initial investment. This investment is relative to the size of the fleet that you want.
To collect the sum, several financing solutions exist and can be accumulated between them.
First, consider how much of your savings you can allocate to your boat rental business. Do not neglect this lever of financing; a consequent personal contribution will be an appreciated sign of your implication for your financial partners.
To strengthen the equity of your company, it is also possible to appeal to particular investors such as business angels in your area, or passionate people wishing to join you in the adventure.
Then you can apply for professional credits from different banks. By contacting several banks, you can compare their offers and compete to get the loan at the best rate.
Finally, aid for business creators and buyers can be invaluable. They can be of a financial nature (loan with zero rates, exemption of charge) but also more strategic (mentoring, legal consultation).

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