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Old 21-12-2015, 10:28   #1
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Boat provisioning business

Just looking for some insight on the possibility of a boat provisioning business in South Florida. Most of my boating experience is of the local variety, not the long term cruising that many of you do. I know there are a few high end companies that provide this type of service but for those who aren't on a chartered yacht with a large crew, how do you get provisions for your boat. Google hasn't turned up much information. Thanks for any feedback.

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Old 21-12-2015, 11:13   #2
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Re: Boat provisioning business

Most cruisers rely on other cruisers to find the best prices and places. Especially in FL. Before setting off, when we still have a car, we go to Costco and Walmart, Publix and Winn-Dixie, Total Wines, ABC. On the way we will top up at grocery stores near the water. After a few trips you learn where the best access and deals are. I doubt if there's a viable business provisioning for the run-of-the-mill cruiser. Most of us can't afford to pay a premium on provisions.

In South Florida we top up everything in South Beach. Lots of grocery stores all within a 25 cent bus ride or a short walk.
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Old 24-12-2015, 09:08   #3
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Re: Boat provisioning business

Costco, Walmart, etc are very accessible in Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas from the anchorages/docks. In this screenshot of a Miami area the anchorages are very close to a Costco (I circled the Costco and you can see the anchorages marked by the typical anchorage symbol).




The reason the "high end" provisioning companies are successful but no "lower end" provisioning companies exist is that if you're the typical cruiser you're living on a budget and prefer to save some money and just go to the easily accessible Costco and Walmart while in mainland FL. At least, that's how it is for us and our cruising friends.

I wonder what everyone else thinks about this.
Good topic.
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Old 24-12-2015, 09:11   #4
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Re: Boat provisioning business

UBER...
It already exists....
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Old 25-12-2015, 11:45   #5
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Re: Boat provisioning business

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Old 25-12-2015, 13:12   #6
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Re: Boat provisioning business

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, SFLC.
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Old 25-12-2015, 13:54   #7

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Re: Boat provisioning business

I would hardly mention big box retailer stores in the same breath as "Boat Provisioning Business".


Any sailor can walk into a store and buy groceries. A Boat Provisioning Business is a place where you make a phone call, send a fax, email a list, and after you've made landfall, someone comes out and says "Here's you case of cyrovac'd prime fillets and lobster tails, Mister Captain Sir."


In the least, they'll specially FILL YOUR ORDER without you having to waste your time being there, and then pack it properly for shipboard storage, according to your criteria, and if you need ten cases of a particular champagne along with a couple of pounds of Beluga Caviar, the only question will be whether you need anything to serve the caviar on.


There are a small and select number of businesses that have worked hard to earn reputations at doing this type of job, both with provisions, liquor, and mechanical equipment, and some will arrange for ANYTHING the yacht needs, not just foodstuffs. But first you need to convince people to try you, which means stiffing their regular provider, unless you're aiming at a smaller more transient market, who might rather walk to the supermart than pay for someone else to do it.
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Old 27-12-2015, 09:12   #8
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Re: Boat provisioning business

I like shopping in new strange places, trying out stuff you've never eaten, meeting people etc.
I only buy the basics at big stores, much prefer hitting the small mom and pop ethnic type places.
I'm sure you could make some money at this, not sure it would be enough to live off unless you go big. Meal planning for offshore racing teams, people doing extreme solo round the world stuff etc.
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Old 27-12-2015, 09:17   #9
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Re: Boat provisioning business

Yes, the market you need to look at is in serving the customers who are willing to pay for this sort of thing. Think high-end. Is the market big enough?

The typical cruiser has the time to do this and not the money or inclination to pay a premium for the service.

If Amazon starts delivering by drone, your business is over.
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Old 27-12-2015, 20:54   #10
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Re: Boat provisioning business

We love coming up with business ideas, especially in our highly evolving world (thanks to the net). I thought about doing this, making it a combo, A/B type. Between the both it could work with little startup capital too. A more margin, B less, more volume. Honestly, this is a good thing, the biggest hurdle will be others doing it for free! It's a great community, so many will to help. However, maybe still a viable business.

A: cruiser clients (mid-high end types, obviously no $500/month types - ha!) passing through and offering of my own boat meals (pre prepped: frozen, dried or refer meals) along w/a list of provisions from the owner/crew. Perhaps taxi service as well (join uber, get on their insurance etc). If you live in a tourist area, and are outgoing and knowledgeable, you may over as a tour guide.

B: Personal shopper and chef for liveaboards or weekenders. From catering apps and drinks for those busy weekend warrior boats to providing meals, provisions and errands for liveaboards (especially the ones who are older or recently injured/recouping).


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Old 27-12-2015, 21:06   #11

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Re: Boat provisioning business

"offering of my own boat meals "
Just be very careful about that. There are multiple very demanding regulators involved in the food prep and serving business. You'd need to start with a commercial kitchen, have or take food handling certifications, prove all your storage and handling were in full compliance...and if you want to have "concierges" recommending you, usually they are invited to try the product, free, and given regular payments or meals to keep you on the top of their list.
You might do better rowing around at dawn with fresh croissants and coffee, honest! Or a launch equipped with a short-order grill. (And of course, all those certifications.(G)
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Old 27-12-2015, 21:42   #12
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Re: Boat provisioning business

In most places a $5-10 taxi ride can get you back to the boat with a big grocery run.

Do you really think you can pay yourself to do the shopping and then cover the delivery cost all while leaving a decent profit from that $5-10?

If you are looking at the high end yacht market there is a chance (of course, they can send out the crew, who they already paid, to do the shopping).

Honestly, I don't think there is a market in S. Florida. It's just too easy for cruisers to do the shopping themselves.

Charter companies will often offer a provisioning option but they typically do it themselves and pocket the profits.
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Old 27-12-2015, 23:24   #13
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Re: Boat provisioning business

Quote:
Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
In most places a $5-10 taxi ride can get you back to the boat with a big grocery run.

Do you really think you can pay yourself to do the shopping and then cover the delivery cost all while leaving a decent profit from that $5-10?

If you are looking at the high end yacht market there is a chance (of course, they can send out the crew, who they already paid, to do the shopping).

Honestly, I don't think there is a market in S. Florida. It's just too easy for cruisers to do the shopping themselves.

Charter companies will often offer a provisioning option but they typically do it themselves and pocket the profits.
Agreed. He would be better off just offering an Uber service.
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Old 27-01-2016, 22:03   #14
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Re: Boat provisioning business

I considered trying to make a go of this type of business myself before I left Florida. (Bradenton/Sarasota area) Cruisers aren't your target market, it's the doctors, dentists, drug dealers and business guys who keep a boat docked, don't have crew, and don't want to spent their precious time off in the grocery store when they step off the plane. They just want to get on a freshly fueled and provisoned boat, call the wife back home to tell them they made it there, and take off into the deep blue sea with their secretary.

There are quite a few small businesses that offer these types of services, you just have to know where to look.

I had envisoned a turnkey service so the arriving boat owner stepped onto a boat that was ready for sea, fueled, provisioned, torpedoes loaded, etc. All they would need to do is close the hatch and take 'er down.

You could offer standard packages with three meals and snacks, good/better/best $/per person/per day. Add your specified alcohol at cost + %

Send a list of groceries down, set "shopping fee", groceries at cost + %

Boat washed, fueled, ready for sea, dock it upon return and walk off - set monthly fee, % of fuel cost if not on the monthly program.

Ideally, you could get folks to subscribe to a monthly maintance program (hull scraping, routine maintainance, etc. in addition to the provisoning business.

I would have loved to have started a business like that, and there are far more folks that would pay for it than you think, once you start looking at it not like a cruiser on a budget and more like someone with a half million dollar boat docked in FL and limited time to enjoy it. They don't mind paying a premium for groceries if they can step off the dock onto a boat that is ready to get underway.
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Old 28-01-2016, 00:18   #15
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Re: Boat provisioning business

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Strangelove View Post
I considered trying to make a go of this type of business myself before I left Florida. (Bradenton/Sarasota area) Cruisers aren't your target market, it's the doctors, dentists, drug dealers and business guys who keep a boat docked, don't have crew, and don't want to spent their precious time off in the grocery store when they step off the plane. They just want to get on a freshly fueled and provisoned boat, call the wife back home to tell them they made it there, and take off into the deep blue sea with their secretary.

There are quite a few small businesses that offer these types of services, you just have to know where to look.

I had envisoned a turnkey service so the arriving boat owner stepped onto a boat that was ready for sea, fueled, provisioned, torpedoes loaded, etc. All they would need to do is close the hatch and take 'er down.

You could offer standard packages with three meals and snacks, good/better/best $/per person/per day. Add your specified alcohol at cost + %

Send a list of groceries down, set "shopping fee", groceries at cost + %

Boat washed, fueled, ready for sea, dock it upon return and walk off - set monthly fee, % of fuel cost if not on the monthly program.

Ideally, you could get folks to subscribe to a monthly maintance program (hull scraping, routine maintainance, etc. in addition to the provisoning business.

I would have loved to have started a business like that, and there are far more folks that would pay for it than you think, once you start looking at it not like a cruiser on a budget and more like someone with a half million dollar boat docked in FL and limited time to enjoy it. They don't mind paying a premium for groceries if they can step off the dock onto a boat that is ready to get underway.
Sounds like a "boat-sitting" of sorts. May definitely work if you live (aboard or not) nearby and not too busy anyway. Also as a component of such a business model would be a good and trusted repair team (but good luck finding those guys) on standby or at least ready to come out on a Friday night because you just found out something is broke and the owner is showing up at 10AM Sat. That could mean big bucks profit (or long term commitment) with the right clientele.
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