How to Start Your Own Charter Fishing Business
When planning to start your own charter fishing business, remember to follow the basics in starting one. You need to have a business plan and a good marketing strategy. Before starting a charter fishing business, you need to consider several things like licenses, boats, security, gears, and pricing.
Also remember to take into consideration the safety of your customers.
Are you thinking about starting your own charter fishing business? Remember that becoming a small business owner can be exciting and can have rewards in the future. One must follow a well-detailed business plan in order to become successful. In starting a business, you need to follow the laws and policies set up by the government. You also need to have a good marketing strategy for it. When starting your own charter fishing business, catching fish is one factor that you need to take into consideration. You also need to be a good captain of the charter boat. The truth is you need to learn more than just catching fish and being a good captain. This charter fishing business has become popular, especially for those people living along the coast. There are some things that you need to remember in order to start your own charter fishing business.
- License as a captain – You need to apply for a license if you want to become a captain of your boat. If you have a license, they would allow you to take people in your boat and set sail.
- Choosing a boat – The boat is an important element when starting a charter fishing business. It should be dependable and reliable at the same time. It would be best if your boat is over 25 feet and got a good engine. Customers would definitely want a boat that would take time to bring them to what they love to do and that is to fish. You also need to consider having a bathroom for your customer to use. A cooler is good to have especially for your clients who might want to bring food and drinks.
- Good fishing gear and equipment – As a fishing boat owner, you need to have good equipment and licenses available in your boat. Your equipment should be maintained and cleaned. You don’t want your customers to lose fish because of your equipment. You also know how to use them correctly and adequately. Practice tying and rigging. Before taking in customers, make sure that everything is set and ready.
- Pricing – Make sure that your services are priced within the range of your industry. Never sell short. The gas can be high. Also, consider the maintenance and repairs that you need to adjust to. Have a profit margin for each of your trips. It is better if you do your research first. Inquire with other charter fishing businesses before you set up your own price. It is better to know the average cost for every fishing trip.
- Create a website – One of the marketing techniques you can use is to create a website that could show clients what services you offer. Hire someone to do a website design suitable for your business. It would be better to put the latest news, reports, and pictures that are related to fishing.
- Traditional marketing – Go back to the basics by advertising in local newspapers and magazines. Partner with a fish store to maximize your promotional campaign.
- Take safety precautions – It is important that you know the safety requirement when it comes to fishing. Always have a life jacket, first aid kids, and flares. The safety of your customers relies on your hands.
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1. Enroll in an accredited Captain's School I went to Sea School in Bayou Labtre, AL but they have schools in other locations too.
2. Work hard at learning what you need to know while in Captain's school. The tests, yes, plural, are not that easy.
3. Once you pass your tests you then have to get your school transcripts sent to the USCG in order to get your license. You have to find the nearest USCG Examiners office near you. (use the internet). You will need all of your paperwork from your Captain's School, I.D., Birth Certificate etc.... It's a lot, but the folks that train you will provide you with the documents. Once you file all of your documents with the USCG, you sit back and wait for your license. It's the government, don't expect a speedy process.
4. It goes without saying that if you currently use any type of intoxicating agent no matter what it is, legal or not, with or w/o a prescription, you will have a tough time getting your license. Every license request requires you to submit to a physical and a urinalysis drug screen. A doctor known as an M.R.O.(Medical Review Officer) has to conduct the physical and the drug screen. Again, find an "M.R.O." near you. You must pass the physical and of course the drug screen. Folks with a history of heart trouble should probably try another career...
5. Now, if you managed to weave your way through all of the red-tape and have your license, it is time to get a TWIC Card! Yeap! there's more... You have to locate the nearest port or other location where you can sign up for a TWIC card(Transportation Workers Identification Credential). You have to go to the nearest location where you can sign-up, then wait for the examiner to set-up an appointment. When you get to your appointment you will be photographed, digitally fingerprinted and a criminal background check on you will ensue. If you come back clean with the background check they issue you a TWIC card. If they find cause NOT to issue you a TWIC card, you are now done. You can't be a Captain without a TWIC card in the U.S.
6. Okay, you've made it. You are now a fully licensed Charter Boat Captain. You're probably going to be an O.U.P.V. licensed Captain unless you have a lot of sea-time on large vessel at sea. OUPV = Operator of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel. This is a "Six Pack" license. That means you can take up to 6 people on your boat plus two crew members, the Captain and the Deckhand. Violate this rule and you WILL lose your license.
7. Now it's business time: You set-up a Charter Boat Service just like most other businesses. A.Put the vision you have for your business on paper. B. Refine that into an actual business plan that can be followed toward establishing your business. Study the industry as much as you can. Ask questions of others who work in the industry. Learn as much as you can, you will need the knowledge to compete.
You can be a sole proprietor, an LLC, an S Corp. or even a C corp. if you want to go that big.
The more important thing is to have solid liability insurance. Otherwise, you are a sitting duck for a lawsuit sometime in your career.
8. Build a web site where customers can actually book trips. I built mine through www.networksolutions.com
9. Market your Charter Boat Service as big as you can. You will be the new kid on the block and it is easy to be missed when you are surrounded by other charter boat Captains with bigger boats and better tackle than you have... You just roll with it.
10. Find your niche in the local fleet that you are trying to become a part of... Never try to compete with the "Party Boats." These guys make more in a day than a lot of six pack boats make in a season. BUT, they are big and therefore use a lot of diesel and they can cost millions.
11. Make sure you know how to fish if you are going to be a "Professional Charter Fishing Service." Sounds like common sense but when you get into the biz. you will see that there is a lot more to charter fishing than there is to private fishing. Your customers expect to catch fish. If you can't catch fish your business will die off.
12. The above is basically how you get started in the charter boat business. Obviously there is more to be learned and discussed. The above is just a primer on the subject.
Capt. Jon B. Ingram, jonbingram.com