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Old 05-08-2008, 02:43   #1
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Do you think my business idea would work?

Hello Folks - and thanks for this great forum!

I am thinking about starting a boat-related business at my home town, and I would like to hear opinions and comments.

My idea is that I would be a "contact person" or a "local coordinator" for cruisers in my home town. I would offer e.g cleaning services, reparation/fixing services, i could make the shopping, be a local tourist guide, fix bicycles/a car for you etc. I would myself take care some assignments but I would also co-operate with local specialists (e.g. repairing a motor would be such a job).

1. Do you think the cruisers would buy these services?
2. Would you buy these kind of services?

Any other comments or ideas?

I wouldn´t try to make a living doing this job, and I am not dreaming of making big money. This would rather be an enjoyable secondary job during the summer season (which is only about 2-3 months long) where I could combine my hobby and job.

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Old 05-08-2008, 03:51   #2
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While cruisers might be slow to pay for referrals, maybe some of the local businesses or services would be willing to pay a finders fee for work you bring in.

Having said that, I usually get good contacts for services through the local dock master or another cruiser who is familiar with the area.

It would be a fun way to be involved in the cruising and marine communities.


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Old 05-08-2008, 12:57   #3
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I see 3 questions:-

1) Would Cruisers like someone to provide services? - Yes.

2) Would Cruisers pay someone to provide services? -

3) Would it be financially worthwhile for you to provide services? - probably not initially, but maybe........

On the basis that you do have a throughput of cruisers in your area and have access to them then might be worthwhile "giving it a go" on a low (or zero!) capital investment basis. Time isn't free of course, but nonetheless a useful commodity to invest in a venture before writing too many cheques.

Maybe start off with a list of suppliers and don't worry too much about a mark up - no point making yourself uncompetetive to start with. First step is to get the punters and to learn first hand what they tend to want. and then fair enuf to approach some vendors for some commission sharing / intro fee / kick backs when you are up and running and can show an ability to bring business through the door. and an ability to move the business next door. But still do not get too greedy on this.

IMO the key to being profitable would be to provide some services yourself rather than through an existing business. Some things you will never be able (or even want) to provide, like rebuilding an Engine (and a million others) but somethings you later start to provide once you know their is a demand. Say, like hiring your own pushbikes - don't have to start off with a full fleet of course, just rent yours out first! But wait until you know their is a demand as no point buying 20 bikes up front and then finding out everyone wants Scooters or cars. Or Laundry. Could do it yourself and then subcontract to someone else once your average volumes are known. Something like Laundry would probably suit "cash in hand" business.

Don't restrict your outlook to only boats. If a service you are providing (especially one you are doing yourself and is a good earner) could be attractive to others, then target them. If you pick up some cheap s/h kayaks or windsurfers and you know that tourists on Harley Davidsons are a big thing in your area then also target them. Remember, the wider the potential market place the better, so don't restrict yourself.

I would suggest that a good draw would be providing services that involved transportation. One thing Cruisers usually do not bring with themselves is a car or a Motorbike and quite often useful (and cheaper) stuff and places are found beyond easy walking distance. Obviously their are taxis and buses, but not always so conveniant or cheap. How about every Wednesday you provide a Minibus to a supermarket / mall or similar that is beyond easy walking or biking distance, at least not after having bought a weeks worth of groceries. Because you are taking folk somewhere they know will be cheaper probably willing to pay some petrol money (if licencing is an "issue") for door to door service from someone reliable. Of course Home Delivery (to boat) is an option. And initially do not buy your own minibus! Beg, borrow or......hire . But do so later if it pays to do so, not just for the Wednesday trips but any other stuff you decide works for your business.

How about letting Cruisers use your home address for internet deliveries or spare parts or whatever? For a small handling fee of course. Maybe offer to order for them / let them use your internet or wifi if they lack internet access, especially if it involves boat repairs could be really useful in saved time and wasted money.

Some Cruisers often seem to want money (rather than spend it!) and do have skills to trade. Maybe get known as a "co-ordination centre" and take a cut. Not just boat to boat stuff, but onshore as well - where Cruisers do not have the same reach / contacts you may have. Probably not a lot of tax form filling in going on for this, but.........

Folk with no money? Maybe be willing to trade? and build up your own s/h chandelry. Maybe Supplement it from scrap yard bits, a small bit of "this and that" is usually worthless unless it is exactly what is needed. Don't want 12 foot of steel pipe - just want an offcut to modify into a bracket for the Toilet - ideally on a "see if it will fit first basis"..........

All just ideas, but IMO (hey, and it is only my opinion!) start small without much (or any) cash spent, and don't be afraid to stop. It's not personal failure, it's just a business decision. In any event, success or not lessons learnt will be valuable in the next venture.......

Probably find a website useful - not just offering your services, but also providing useful (and free!) info about your area for visitors.....even if largely links to the really useful websites in your area.

Website??? That reminds me..............
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Old 05-08-2008, 13:07   #4
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Old 05-08-2008, 14:30   #5
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It would be difficult I think. With WiFi internet access being so common now in developed ports and semi-developed ports, I think most cruisers would prefer to get on the internet to look up what they need for free as opposed to paying someone for such a service. I'm not saying it would be impossible, its just that the internet would be your toughest competitor.

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Old 05-08-2008, 15:36   #6
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My information is dated because I've been on land for the last 7 years, David M may be right that the internet is taking over, but my experience in the past is that there was almost always somebody doing what you discuss in most of the popular ports. Usually somebody with a small shore based business who would use the VHF to gather folks in the morning. They'd give a weather report for those without SSB, plug their business, mention any local happenings, share cruiser news, etc. Places like Marsh Harbor and Georgetown in the Bahamas, Luperon in the DR, etc. come to mind.

David Old Jersey, you seem to have given this a lot of thought
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Old 05-08-2008, 16:30   #7
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This is a big business in the islands of the Caribbean but primarily for mega-yachts. Services provide everything from provisioning to Customs check in. Regular cruisers would probably not be anxious to pay for this service.
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Old 06-08-2008, 11:58   #8
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Originally Posted by Fishspearit View Post
David Old Jersey, you seem to have given this a lot of thought
That was the OCD kicking in
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Old 06-08-2008, 20:15   #9
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I think it is worth a shot. If you have enough transient boats to keep you busy.

Many cruisers are "stuck" with the stores that are close to the moorings and that may not be the lower prices. Restocking the boat could use local knowledge of where to buy in bulk cheaply.

Also there is the problem of the "treasure hunt." That is a peice of hardware is needed and someone knows someone who might have access to it. This leads to searching, by public transportation and not finding the item. The hunter then goes from stor to store and chandlery to hardware store on a treasure hunt. Someone with local knowledge would be invaluable in this regard.

Knowing who can do cheap canvass work, cheap electrical work etc. is also valuable.

I don't think you get rich, but I think you provide a service, maybe charge hourly (I don't know) but you have to be able to convince people that you will save them money by using your service.
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Old 06-08-2008, 21:13   #10
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Sell yourself to the Marina operators.......Don't get hung up on any advertising...the returns aren't too good. Maybe a three wheeled bike with a small sign on the back. Hang out at marinas.......

The idea of transportation is good. Bike rental...with baskets....
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Old 06-08-2008, 23:59   #11
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i like the idea but fixing cars ; of course the number of boats in your area is important and also if u have competition is important
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:20   #12
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What you might want to do is start a marine expediter service which obtains all sorts of supplies, stores, repairs, chauffeuring, tours and so forth. If it was a franchise operation you could provide these menu of services at heavily trafficked locations, Newport, Edgertown, Block Island, for example.

There could be a membership fee and then a small fee for services

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Old 31-12-2008, 00:08   #13
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Making money from boating.

I have just started another boating site where I hope to make some money. Any thing you try to make money from you will need to know something about what you are selling. What kind of boat do you have? It is hard to make money from boating if are not a boating person your self.
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Old 31-12-2008, 06:52   #14
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Where is Hometown?

I agree with David M. cruising guides, internet, marinas, local boaters, provide an abundance of information to transients regarding available services.

Folks have already mentioned transportation service...

DOJ mentioned.....Laundry drop off service.... even better, pick up and drop off....if I have only a limited time to visit a new port, I might not want to spend it in a laundrymat.....

I think you'd want take a good look at your town, to see what service is not there already...or is difficult to access...and try to fill the gap.

As has been said...why limit it to boaters? Does your local liquor store deliver? Beer, ice, water, soda etc. ? If the liquor store is near the docks...probably not a good service to offer. If the liquor store is a few miles away, offer delivery service!
Pizza delivery??

Block island has a guy who comes around in a launch in the mornings ..with fresh baked bread's very popular........... hook up with a local bakery?
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Old 31-12-2008, 07:06   #15
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All that advice and he never came back

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