Which boat charter company to use

Start your own business with a boat rental company

Water has a magical attraction to children and adults who long for relaxation in a stressful everyday life. A boat trip is therefore an ideal way for quite a few people to relax in their free time. Peace and a feeling of freedom explain why many Germans buy a boat or rent one on a regular basis. If you want to live out this hobby spontaneously and without obligation, you can hire a boat or even rent out your own boat at a profit.

From the attraction of the element water A promising business idea is to be derived from this article: Become self-employed with boat rental. The prerequisites and environment variables that have to be taken into account are highlighted below with a compact practical orientation.

As a founder, 'built close enough to the water'?

Before starting the concrete planning, entrepreneurs should honestly ask themselves: Do you have the necessary specialist knowledge to be able to open a boat rental? A good location and passion are important prerequisites, a sound knowledge of the market and various types of boats are ultimately indispensable. In addition, the concept Boat rental be concretized right at the beginning, because everything from a kayak, pedal boat to a large yacht could be rented. It is clear that the larger the boat, the higher the cost, as do the tenants' demands. With the size of the boats, the formal requirements also increase, especially since in the case of motorization from a certain size, a boat license is a mandatory requirement. This applies to all German inland and sea waters. Without a driver's license, only boats with an output of less than 15 hp may be driven. whereby regional and especially local regulations must always be observed. There may be exceptions in some areas with a so-called chart certificate.

Business start-up with boat rental: start your own business in profitable waters

  • Analysis of the initial situation

  • The importance of the location

  • Boat rental: topics for the business plan

  • Requirements to start your own boat rental business

  • Earning with your own boat rental?

Analysis of the initial situation

In general, the Water tourism in Germany is growing in popularity. By a attractive variety of areas and quite short journeys, entrepreneurs with a view to renting a boat can use an appealing infrastructure. Apart from the North Sea and the Baltic Sea as the largest areas, there are countless rivers and lakes throughout Germany where there is a supply or a supply gap can be used. The Mecklenburg Lake District is also a paradise for this target market, whereby the chances are always to be discussed directly on site depending on the competitive situation. Anyone who chooses Lake Constance as a major location will be able to address a target audience not only in Germany.

A compact look at the target market

In general, it will be necessary for commercial boat rental to be able to use jetties and berths as well as a boathouse. It should be checked whether the boats, depending on their size, can stay there all year round or have to be stored elsewhere in winter (keyword frozen water). The terms and conditions of the rental are to be designed as advantageous as possible for both sides, whereby the main goals are high profit margins and the highest possible utilization. Depending on the scope and type of boat, a written contract may even be necessary in order to be able to act safely in the event of damage.

If you want to rent a boat, you have to meet the requirements or be able to prove it, depending on the type / size (keyword boat license). It should be noted that the offer of a boat rental can vary from region to region: Pedal boats are high around the lake, as are rowing boats and canoes. Motorboats and sailing boats are more the rule on the North and Baltic Seas, although these types of boats can also be found in small inland waters.

According to statista.com, the number of motorboat owners in Germany is declining: In 2007, 220,000 men between the ages of 45 and 59 owned a motorboat, in 2017 it was only 110,000. A value of 80,000 is forecast for 2027. Ownership is also declining in all other age groups (30 to 44 and 60 to 74 years of age). This can be an indication that owning your own boat is no longer perceived as really attractive or generally worth striving for. A boat rental company could use the resources that are 'freed up', because certainly not everyone will want to end their hobby by selling a boat. So there seems to be strong demand in the market for rental options. This can also be linked to the general flexibility of modern working life, because only very few people want or can commit themselves to one location on a permanent basis.

There are currently estimates in Germany more than 300,000 water berths, so that a new boat rental would have to be strategically placed in this range of offers. The figures show that this is a very popular leisure activity, although regional differences must of course be taken into account. Most of these places, with well over 33,000, are in boat length group 7, which corresponds to a length between 6.50 and 7.49 meters. For the business plan, official figures from relevant professional associations should be used as far as possible in order to be able to place your own offer wisely.

The importance of the location

A boat rental naturally has to be built close to the water. Therefore, in addition to the areas mentioned, local recreation areas with (reservoir) lakes, which have a large catchment area, also come into consideration. If you do not live directly on the water as a founder yourself, you may have to realign your place of residence after setting up your business. Because it cannot be a desirable option to take long car journeys every day, not to mention the high costs.

It goes without saying that enormous competition can already be expected at many locations. Your own offer would then have to stand out clearly, by using a different type of boat or more flexible rental models. A differentiation based only on costs would be difficult, because in this way founders would cut their own profit margins from the start. Apart from analyzes and research, it is advisable to get an exact picture on site. Discussions with other operators can be helpful in order to be able to realistically assess your own initial situation. This may also give you the option of joining an existing business model or taking it over completely. This option should be interesting for founders who want to get started right away without a long planning phase. In order for the whole thing to be an economic success, it must be a well-running operation. A look at the books is therefore essential.

Business plan: topics and perspectives

As already indicated above, the 'boat rental' business model must be specified in the business plan. The type of boats and the associated price structure must be addressed in particular. It must also be clear to what extent the location and infrastructure fit the developed concept for boat rental. The focus will be on finances, because an appealing boat fleet will have high costs. It is therefore necessary to check whether boats should really be bought. Apart from the option to buy used boats in good condition, leasing options from manufacturers should be calculated with a view to long-term benefits. Perhaps the founders already have some boats in their possession. These could then be enough for the beginning. New investments for expanding the fleet can be made from initial profits.

Charter yourself instead of buying!

An intelligent and very cost-conscious business strategy could be not to buy larger boats, but to charter them yourself. If it is contractually possible and successful to sublet it profitably, then nothing stands in the way of a profitable business model.

Costs for setting up a boat rental company

Anyone who wants to set up a boat rental company will be confronted with numerous costs and thus also financial risks. One should think of the costs for maintenance, repairs, the berth, a necessary liability insurance as well as costs for the statutory inspections or licenses. In order to put the financing on a secure footing, the business plan will have to be convincing. Because this is the only way banks or other financiers can literally be brought on board.

Make consistent use of all funding options

Here at Selbststaendig.de, founders can find out more about the topic Financing options deal in order to plan this vital aspect holistically from the beginning. One possibility is the ERP start-up loan, with which sums of up to 100,000 euros can be obtained. Independent specialist or start-up advice can literally pay off in this context.

Overview: This must contain a financial part in the business plan

  • Capital requirement planning: What resources are necessary at what time?

  • Sales planning: What are the plans for the first 3 years?

  • Financing planning: What resources should be used to finance what and when?

  • Cost planning: Are all costs firmly under control?

  • Profitability planning: When can you expect what amount of profits with the boat rental?

  • Liquidity planning: How much financial resources are available for what period of time (important for entrepreneurial ability to act)?

Seasonal business challenges

A boat rental will be subject to strong seasonal fluctuations which, depending on the type of boat, will be more or less strategically important. While pedal boats are usually not in use in the winter months, larger sailing and motor boats can very well generate sales in winter. However, these are likely to be much lower. In the business plan it must therefore be clear to what extent the sales from the high season are sufficient for the whole year or which other sources of income are provided.

Marketing for boat rentals: ensure utilization

If you want to assert yourself against other providers on site, you should attach great importance to the external appearance and condition of the boats. Clear information on prices and boat types can also be an effective means of attracting customers. If it is an area developed for tourism, the boat rental should be present on all relevant websites and in brochures. In this sense, a search engine optimized homepage is to be viewed as a marketing obligation. Anyone looking for a boat rental in XX online should land on the homepage of the new rental company. In addition to opening times and conditions, you will ideally also find meaningful information on the boat types and any requirements for rental.

In order to be able to grow with the opportunities offered by digitization, it should also be possible to rent boats online or, if necessary, with an app, in advance for a certain period of time. In this way, there is a higher degree of planning security for both sides. Nevertheless, the boat rental for many spontaneous customers should always have a certain minimum in the bag, so that it does not come to alienated customers. Their negative reviews on numerous Internet portals or in the Google My Business profile itself can, in the worst case, lead to interested parties preferring to fall back on another offer.

Setting up a boat rental: Requirements

Before operations can officially begin, a trade must be registered. Whether certain requirements or authorization requirements have to be met depends on the location, the boat class and the specific range of services. In view of the large number of conceivable concepts, it makes little sense to want to reduce the requirements to certain minimum requirements. With a view to renting a boat, entrepreneurs are well advised to find out the requirements at the respective location as early as possible, so that they can be fulfilled.

Your own boat license and in-depth technical knowledge are important prerequisites for being able to run a boat rental professionally. In addition to the trade office, the contact person will usually be the municipality to which the lake or the landing stage belongs.

If you do a little research on the requirements for a boat rental, in many places there are no significant hurdles to be expected for the business idea. Safety vests for children and a short professional briefing should be part of the professional tone. Good organization with an overview will also be important on site. It must be possible to quickly inform those interested in lending when the next free boat will come in.

Boat rental: Further formal framework conditions

As far as the safety and roadworthiness of the boats are concerned, TÜV regulations and other legal requirements must be strictly observed. It goes without saying that the boats have to be serviced regularly in order to implement the high quality standards of your own business model with all consistency. The safety of the boats must be guaranteed at all times, poor quality will very quickly cast a bad light on the entire operation. Depending on the pier, there may be restrictions that boats are not allowed to go everywhere (for safety or environmental reasons). However, such aspects must be clarified in advance when finding a suitable location.

Take out public liability insurance for boat rentals

In order to protect yourself against financial risks in business operations, it is advisable to take out public liability insurance. This applies, for example, if customers fall on the company premises and then make legitimate claims for pain and suffering. Or if a dispensing system for motor boats on the premises is defective and the soil is contaminated by leaking gasoline.

Regardless of this, it is important to think about how damage from vandalism can be effectively protected. At night, some boats will be unattended and willful damage cannot be ruled out during the day. Since claims cannot always be made directly to the polluter because of later knowledge, high-performance insurance solutions must be checked.

Earning from a boat rental?

In order to achieve the highest possible income with a boat rental, A well thought-out pricing policy, advantageous loan models and high profit margins are necessary. Basically, a high utilization of the existing fleet will be the basis for attractive profits with a boat rental. It will be a challenge to find out how much customers are willing to pay for an hour or some other period of time. In the case of a concept that works on the market, founders should be able to make a living from this business idea. In principle, of course, there is also the possibility that it should only be a 'seasonal' sideline (e.g. a small pedal boat rental).

Revenues can vary greatly depending on the location, size of the fleet and type of boat. Ultimately, a lean cost structure will be crucial for high profits. Due to the seasonal fluctuations, it is possible that months with very high sales are put into perspective for the entire year.

Summary for the business idea 'start your own business with boat rental'

  1. The location plays a key role in this water-dependent business idea. In addition to known areas, lakes / inland waters in local recreation areas should also be considered as an option for setting up a business with a boat rental company

  2. Rent instead of ownership? According to official figures, the number of motorboat owners has decreased significantly in recent years

  3. The main thing to do with the business plan is to secure the financing, because the purchase of boats involves immense costs.

  4. Leasing or the profit-oriented charter of boats can be a contemporary strategic alternative in view of the high costs

  5. Before starting official business operations, a trade must be registered. The municipality or the owner of the landing stage is the first point of contact with a view to the general conditions to be observed

  6. The earnings with a boat rental will primarily depend on the occupancy and the cost structure of the company, which is essentially determined by the type of boat.