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Charter business full time

Old 04-13-2019, 06:54 AM
  #21  
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Not a charter captain, but know a ton and have seen them succeed and fail as well. I would also suggest looking into being an inshore charter. You'll have fewer cancellations due to weather and season yet a bigger percentage of anglers that inshore fish
and that can afford your charter. Also cheaper boat, slip, gear, gas, etc. Bass is even better if you are into that. Best of luck either way.
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Old 04-13-2019, 02:29 PM
  #22  
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Hell I would rather buy a boat then get somebody to run it for ya. Go fishing yourself on some off days I give charter captains credit. That’s a tough way to make a living
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Old 04-13-2019, 02:36 PM
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Do you have a boat? Do you have a license? Can you find and catch fish? Can you put up with people abusing you tackle and boat? If so, go for it! Good luck!
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Old 04-13-2019, 03:00 PM
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If people are abusing you or the boat then you aren't doing it right. And if they do, trip is over and they are going home. It isn't a common issue here at least, especially if you manage any drinking properly. Tackle abuse is harder to manage, especially for male novices who sometimes just don't get it and try to muscle everything. The ladies are usually better listeners. But when they sign up for the trip - "you break it, you own it" is in the deal. I probably get one or two broken rods in a season and maybe 1 dropped overboard. You buy your tackle though with dumb customers in mind so the latest super fine high tech stuff only comes out under certain conditions, and with a very clear warning - "That's $2000 in your hand now, and that is what it could cost you if you break or lose it. Do you want to use this rod?". I think of losses and breakages as free updates on my tackle.
You will always get some customers with a chip on their shoulder or a bad attitude. Usually someone who has been invited along by the person who has booked your boat. The pre-trip safety briefing should include all the key rules again and we put a full set of rules up in a couple of prominent places. At the end of the safety briefing they are instructed to please all read the rules as we head out and ask any questions if you don't understand them. This is the stuff that can bite you if you get lazy on it. One of my projects soon is to record a full safety and rules briefing as a video a bit like the airlines use, but with a bit of fun in it. There is a screen onboard so I can leave that running on a loop as we cruise out. It will also have a demonstration of the fishing gear and techniques that we will be using. Customers get told that they must have watched the video before they can fish. You still do the manual briefing and set their expectations for the day, but the better informed/instructed they are, the less room for any problems. The video can also be emailed out pre-trip and may help with your sales even.
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Old 04-13-2019, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Aliboy View Post
If people are abusing you or the boat then you aren't doing it right. And if they do, trip is over and they are going home. It isn't a common issue here at least, especially if you manage any drinking properly. Tackle abuse is harder to manage, especially for male novices who sometimes just don't get it and try to muscle everything. The ladies are usually better listeners. But when they sign up for the trip - "you break it, you own it" is in the deal. I probably get one or two broken rods in a season and maybe 1 dropped overboard. You buy your tackle though with dumb customers in mind so the latest super fine high tech stuff only comes out under certain conditions, and with a very clear warning - "That's $2000 in your hand now, and that is what it could cost you if you break or lose it. Do you want to use this rod?". I think of losses and breakages as free updates on my tackle.
You will always get some customers with a chip on their shoulder or a bad attitude. Usually someone who has been invited along by the person who has booked your boat. The pre-trip safety briefing should include all the key rules again and we put a full set of rules up in a couple of prominent places. At the end of the safety briefing they are instructed to please all read the rules as we head out and ask any questions if you don't understand them. This is the stuff that can bite you if you get lazy on it. One of my projects soon is to record a full safety and rules briefing as a video a bit like the airlines use, but with a bit of fun in it. There is a screen onboard so I can leave that running on a loop as we cruise out. It will also have a demonstration of the fishing gear and techniques that we will be using. Customers get told that they must have watched the video before they can fish. You still do the manual briefing and set their expectations for the day, but the better informed/instructed they are, the less room for any problems. The video can also be emailed out pre-trip and may help with your sales even.
Your in a very unique market and good for you. This ain't gonna happen around these parts. Most folks in the good ole USA won't listen to directions to get to the marina these days. They forgot I told them the f'n bridge was out on the common route.

The have a phone that gets them all the info they need. F the video for safety running on a loop, make an app for it and they may look at it cause they can put their phone down long enough to be bothered with conversation.

I may as well put the exit row instructions in the seat back pocket on the boat right next to the barf bag and flotation devices.

As to the OP, you best do a lot of research. It's a great lifestyle and you can make money at it, everyone I know would rather have their days spent on the water if it was that easy. It is financially very difficult to get into to any business. But, the charter business is relying on a very strong economy. My biggest customers were entertaining clients back before the crash. Big bucks to throw around. The first thing that gets cut is entertainment when things get tough. To include personal and corporate expenses for entertainment.

The charter business relies on wants and not needs. No one I know needs to go fishing when money gets tough.

But they damn sure will call the A/C repair man. "hint"
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Old 04-13-2019, 05:41 PM
  #26  
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I think aliboy nailed it very well,
I would add:
Get a old commercial fishing boat, they are sturdy, basic and economic to run, ​​sportfish (express or convertible) type boats are the opposite of them.
Bottom fishing for 10-30 anglers makes all happy as all clients fish and catch, more happy then chasing marlin, tuna and don't catch anything or just a few.
You have probably already a huge knowledge about not too deep fishing spots, use it, making your clients happy as they fish well is the biggest part of your success
Check local laws if you could do fishtourism, basically you fish as you did before but can take people to show them the art of commercial fishing.
That's a big deal in Italy and fisherman make extra money with that.
Have a great cook aboard to cook their catch on the fly, they will love it
Be different of the other charters, this may be the key to your success, top notch customer service is the other key!
Chris




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Old 04-13-2019, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by 20biminitwist View Post
Your in a very unique market and good for you. This ain't gonna happen around these parts. Most folks in the good ole USA won't listen to directions to get to the marina these days. They forgot I told them the f'n bridge was out on the common route.

The have a phone that gets them all the info they need. F the video for safety running on a loop, make an app for it and they may look at it cause they can put their phone down long enough to be bothered with conversation.

I may as well put the exit row instructions in the seat back pocket on the boat right next to the barf bag and flotation devices.

As to the OP, you best do a lot of research. It's a great lifestyle and you can make money at it, everyone I know would rather have their days spent on the water if it was that easy. It is financially very difficult to get into to any business. But, the charter business is relying on a very strong economy. My biggest customers were entertaining clients back before the crash. Big bucks to throw around. The first thing that gets cut is entertainment when things get tough. To include personal and corporate expenses for entertainment.

The charter business relies on wants and not needs. No one I know needs to go fishing when money gets tough.

But they damn sure will call the A/C repair man. "hint"
Covering off the safety stuff for us is a huge liability issue so I try to do that and then use the same opportunity to educate the customers. People here have short attention spans as well, but sounds like not as badly as you experience. We normally have an hour or more's run before we fish and on a 44ft sporty there is room for everyone to sit around and check out the video as long as it has been made interesting. If nothing else though, it sorts out any arguments about the rules and liabilities if that is ever a question.
Chuckled about your comment re putting down the phones. Spent a lot of my life designing and project managing cell phone network builds. Used to carry 2 or 3 phones all the time. Nowadays I hate the one phone I have and hate even more how they have taken over peoples lives. Funny thing was that 20 years ago I was one of the guys crystal ball gazing to contribute to the plans for what we are getting today. Just didn't know any better!
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Old 04-13-2019, 06:44 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by ChrigelKarrer View Post
I think aliboy nailed it very well,
I would add:
Get a old commercial fishing boat, they are sturdy, basic and economic to run, ​​sportfish (express or convertible) type boats are the opposite of them.
Bottom fishing for 10-30 anglers makes all happy as all clients fish and catch, more happy then chasing marlin, tuna and don't catch anything or just a few.
You have probably already a huge knowledge about not too deep fishing spots, use it, making your clients happy as they fish well is the biggest part of your success
Check local laws if you could do fishtourism, basically you fish as you did before but can take people to show them the art of commercial fishing.
That's a big deal in Italy and fisherman make extra money with that.
Have a great cook aboard to cook their catch on the fly, they will love it
Be different of the other charters, this may be the key to your success, top notch customer service is the other key!
Chris
me and my dad did the bottom fishing and also some commercial on top back before the crash. We had a 36 foot chesapeake deadrise. Thing was a beast and reliable. the market was ok for that type of fishing, but with the big head boats we have in the area taking 40-50 people at a time at a affordable price, it wasnt much worth it for us. As for the economy, i understand thats a huge deal when it comes to making money. I have been trying to think of other ways to make money while chartering but nothing has clicked so far. I wouldnt want to go into something like this soley depending on taking care of the family. Does anyone have a general number of charters they do in a month during the busy season?
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Old 04-14-2019, 04:54 AM
  #29  
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Man to be a solid full time charter in are area you need to be running 220-240 trips a year with a 6 pack offshore boat.
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:25 AM
  #30  
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I watch the charter guys here in NW Florida.

The really good inshore guys book between 200 and 300 trips a year, satisfy their clients with personality and skills, and have substantial margins.

The offshore guys, except for those who are running boats for an owner seeking to defray costs or running a tax loss business, are in a different game, dictated by distance, cost, and time. Their costs (capital, fixed, and variable), even with older boats, are so high that individual charters are scarce and the bulk of their business is in groups, often strangers assembled for the charter. It's tough work.

I look at the costs of running my own two sportfishers in tournaments and shudder. The number of people able and willing to pay better than $2,000 an hour is few.

It looks like the future for captains may be those inshore guys crossing over into more capable, larger center consoles with outboards.
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Old 04-14-2019, 01:23 PM
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Sit down with a spreadsheet and do a bit of calculating. Start by working out all your expected annual costs. Couple of ways to look at it, but I calculate this way -

Annual depreciation on boat
Annual depreciation on other equipment (rods, reels etc)
Annual interest payments on boat loan or 5% of what you have invested as your required return on capital (whichever is larger)
Annual cost of boat storage
Annual cost of any licences or any other annual fees
Annual cost of insurances
Annual marketing spend (incl website, advertising etc)
Any other annual costs
Add all that up and you have your Annual Fixed Costs

Next work out your Gross Margin from an average trip
Competitor analysis to get a target sale price for a trip. Work that out on a per head basis to see if you are competitive with operations that fish more or less anglers per trip
Trip fuel costs
Trip maintenance costs (if say 100hr services and an average trip uses 4 engine hours, divide the cost of a service by 100/4). That is a cost per trip
Trip engine costs. Divide the expected engine life expectancy (hours) and the longer term maintenance budget by the trip hours. This is the cost/depreciation on your engines so seperate that from your fixed cost depreciation.Not an exact science but you can get it closer this way. Otherwise put those costs into the fixed costs depreciation allowance.
Allow for tackle losses & bait/ice etc costs
Allow for any other parking, ramp etc fees + any other costs like travel to and from the boat
Add in commission payments on a % of trips if you are advertising via a commission site like FishingBooker or similar
Take the costs from the sale to get an average Gross Margin

You know your fixed costs from the first lot of calcs so divide that number by your average trip gross margin to get your 'breakeven' number of trips.
You haven't taken a wage yet so divide your required minimum income from the charters by the per trip Gross margin. That gives the number of trips you need to do in excess of the breakeven number. Trips after that are your cream.

I do a more detailed version of the above so that I can get a better understanding of the costs and margins on the different options we offer. Only takes an evening or two on the computer to get a basic understanding and then you can feed back the actuals after a season into the model and
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Old 04-14-2019, 02:44 PM
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Thanks again aliboy! Full of good info. I will be doing just that sometime this week in my free time. That will also give my wife some solid numbers to look at. One thing about my area is that we are farther from the gulf and from the canyons than most areas. And average offshore trip just to get into some mahi or YFT is 60 miles one way. So fuel cost is much more per trip which raises your price per trip. More hours on motors, use on hull, everything.
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Old 04-14-2019, 04:28 PM
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Work it out without being over optimistic. Needs realism. If big runs are required to go offshore you need to think about why a customer would choose to come to you. Do you focus on speed or on cost. Big engines burning a lot of fuel going fast at a higher trip price, or smaller engines and run slower with less fuel at a lower trip price? Need to look at what people will pay for the different experiences. Is there a near shore fishery that can be your bread & butter while the offshore stuff is your cream? A 36ft sporty might burn 30+gals/hour doing mid 20's but only 10gals doing 9knts. Can you use that lower cost, slower speed to your advantage somehow? You do need to work out why people will choose you, and whilst great service and good fishing will hold customers with you in the long term, it doesn't bring new customers to you in the early days.

Last edited by Aliboy; 04-14-2019 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Capnwill1968 View Post
People doing it for a “ side hustle” or “ few days a week durning peek season” are going to make it harder
This has turned into such an issue in my area. Several times a year a "friend" or acquaintance with a bit of extra spending money will come up to me and ask me how to get into the business. They want to have a tax write off or cover the expense of their boat and not worry about making a living. I tell them straight up, you wont make any friends with full time Capts coming in with that business plan and how much it hurts people like me. These guys and the retired guys that just want to get out of the house will undercut you big time as they arent actually worried about making a living.

How are you going to get clients? Ive been doing this for going on 8 years and my monthly advertising expenses are higher than my truck and boat payments combined and Im still not meeting my goals. This is my worse year yet. So many new fly by night guides in my area. Ive found that the busiest charters are internet/marketing gurus first and fisherman second. Unfortunately for me, my internet and marketing skills are not on par with my fishing abilities so Im getting left behind and really starting to have to rethink what Im going to do. Its a shame because I see these businesses hiring 19 year old kids, stuffing 6 tourists who have no idea what they are getting into in a 24' bay boat, charging them $150 an hour, catch next to nothing and still are running 2 trips a day all because they are the first hit on Google.
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:45 PM
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The 'cowboy' charters are a problem in many places. If they are operating illegally you should let the relevant authorities know. They are stealing from you. If it is the 'legal' tax dodgers there isn't too much you can do.
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Old 04-15-2019, 04:30 AM
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Take a computer class if you don’t already have a working knowledge of square space or other formats for your website, learn and understand google add words, trip advisor, yelp, and any other online booking system or trip review site. This is what it’s come too
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Old 04-15-2019, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Capnwill1968 View Post
Take a computer class if you don’t already have a working knowledge of square space or other formats for your website, learn and understand google add words, trip advisor, yelp, and any other online booking system or trip review site. This is what it’s come too
This is great advice. Either do this or hire a company that does digital media marketing and on line bookings for vacation rentals and entertainment.



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Old 04-15-2019, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Aliboy View Post
The 'cowboy' charters are a problem in many places. If they are operating illegally you should let the relevant authorities know. They are stealing from you. If it is the 'legal' tax dodgers there isn't too much you can do.
It is terrible around me. It cost a lot more money to be professional than these fly by night cowboys. The problem is they are legal but not ethical. Insurance is not required and many don't have it. Crap tackle, boats and poor skills. The only skills they have are to market themselves as something their not.

They usually don't last as they get little repeat business. What sucks is they put a bad taste in many about using a fishing guide service. I wonder how many first time charter customers get turned off from their first bad trip and say never again.

I have heard the horror stories more than once.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Timex View Post
at one point in time in my life it was my dream to either run a charter or comerccial hook & line. but in my older age I'm definitely not a people person enough to charter & fishing and weather is just not consistent enough anymore to consider full time hook & line for a living. but most of all I came to the realization that all I want to do is ride around in my boat relax have a few cold beers & some laugh's with my friends & we usually luck into a few fish ...if you turn your passion into a job at some point it may no longer be your passion
well said that's exactly what happened to me. " the mailman dosnt take a walk on his day off"

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Old 04-15-2019, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by finman View Post
well said that's exactly what happened to me. " the mailman dosnt take a walk on his day off"
Yep. This is why I hunt in my free time.
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