Author Topic: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions  (Read 3626 times)

SmokyMtnSUP

  • Waikiki Status
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« on: January 10, 2013, 06:34:46 PM »
My backstory is that I am a lifelong (35+ years) prone surfer who who has lived in FL, CA and HI, but recently found himself landlocked in East TN.  I turned to flatwater SUP about 1.5 years ago as a way to connect with the water on a daily basis (I still make 2-3 surf trips a year), and became hooked.  I noticed SUP just starting to catch on around here (Knoxville area) with almost no one servicing the market (a major local outdoor outfitter store, and that's about it).  So, I have decided to give a part-time rental business a go.

I'm waist deep into getting a mobile SUP rental business started.  I have boards, a truck and a trailer, am working on my website, etc.  Of course, at every turn there are new questions, obstacles, etc.

So, I thought I'd turn to this message board to find a few successfull SUP Rental entreprenuers who might be willing to provide some advice, perhaps by email, private message, etc., or open forum would be fine, so that I don't have to "Recreate the Wheel" and learn everything the hard way.

Anyone out there willing to help a business minded "grom"?  ;D

Thanks in advance!

SmokyMtnSUP

  • Waikiki Status
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 06:55:18 PM »
I realize I didn't actually post any questions, so...the questions I have surround the "nuts and bolts" of running a mobile SUP business, like:

- How you developed your waiver/legal consultation
- How you handle security deposits in the field
- How to set up sales/wholesale arrangements with SUP Board manufacturers without a "brick and mortar" store
- Permits
- Pitfalls I'm likely to fall into, etc., etc.

hbsteve

  • Teahupoo Status
  • ******
  • Posts: 1231
    • View Profile
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 07:12:29 PM »
Make sure all your boards have pfd's.  It may sound stupid, but from some of the problems that have been shared here:  ASK PEOPLE IF THEY CAN SWIM.  For security deposits, one place I know keeps your vehicle keys while you paddle.

surfcowboy

  • Teahupoo Status
  • ******
  • Posts: 1457
    • View Profile
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 09:02:47 PM »
With square and gopay and the other mobile cell credit card services you should have no problem with security deposits.

Stealthyc

  • Waikiki Status
  • *
  • Posts: 17
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2013, 04:59:29 AM »
Security deposits
When we were renters we had our card authorized for the price of the board at one place where we rented the boards and took them off site.  You can authorize a credit card for some amount less than that.  And when we rented from a kiosk right where we were going to paddle there was no deposit.

When we opened our shop, our attorney told us that deposits are a tough thing because they are really hard to ever collect on.  If something does happen, or a person takes off with a board, it will almost certainly end up in dispute with the credit card company and they usually side with the customer.  That being said, for many people, just having a deposit out there might be enough of an incentive to be careful and responsible.

Waiver
I highly recommend having an attorney develop your waiver if you hope for it to have any validity.  In response to the suggestion about asking people if they can swim...make sure that is in the waiver.  Again, it may or may not hold up in court, but if someone realizes they have signed their life away, they might think twice about suing. 

PFDs
Some states require PFD's on boards...you should check with your state to see if it is a legal requirement.  We always offer them to people, but leave it up to them because no one bothers us where we do our lessons and most of our rentals...but I know in some parts of New England even if you are on a lake, you can get hassled if you don't at least have a PFD on the board.

Wholesale
Some SUP companies have deals available for strictly rental operations.  You would have to ask specific companies.  It is not always necessary to have a storefront to get some kind of a deal on purchasing a number of boards. Most of the vendors that we have dealt with have been amazing. It's a very supportive industry so just start talking to people.

Permits
As for permits, that will be specific to your state and town.  We talked with people in our town and the DEM to see if there were any restrictions on the lake that we wanted to use.  Also you will need to check with your town and state to see what permits are required to conduct business in general and if there is anything specific required for a rental type operation.  Not sure if you are looking to set up at one specific place or move around to a variety of locations.  In RI I think you need permits for each town you set up in.

Don't forget insurance!


Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Bean

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 900
    • View Profile
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2013, 06:04:49 AM »
If you are thinking of adding instruction to the mix, check out the WPA (World Paddle Association) for certification programs.  This could pay dividends in terms of insurance costs, marketing and promo and maybe even equipment purchases.

Good luck with your endeavor!

gorgebob

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 587
    • View Profile
    • Gorgeperformance.com
    • Email
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2013, 07:58:57 AM »
Check out other rental local operations, Kayak, Bicycle , Ski, you'll find out what system might work for you. The Insurance is a big issue. I don't know that the WPA can help with the insurance they have been pretty useless other wise, but that's another issue. The SUP instructors clinics are just being formulated. We wasted good time and money to be certified. But more info is good for thought. Red cross however in lifesaving and CPR is a must and well done.
Founder: Gorge Performance Surf  Shop Portland
Fabricator: RNR Engineering

SmokyMtnSUP

  • Waikiki Status
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2013, 05:24:04 PM »
Thanks for all the tips.  I am still looking for someone willing to have direct contact (somewhat of a "mentor") as I work through start up.  That said, feel free to comment on the following data points:

- I will be using Paypal with the mobile card reader.  I'll contact them about how to "hold" a deposit and then credit it back.
- I have collected several waivers from non-local SUP companies and local canoe/kayak.  I plan to customize the local one with some SUP terminology and then approach an attorney to review.
- I am a little stymied by the permit process, as I have 5-6 counties and several cities in/around Knoxville that I plan to operate in.  Right now, it appears each governmental entity has its own requirements.  For example, Knox county already has a contract with the big outfitter company.  They will let me launch from any park, but I can't "set up" and do rentals at their parks.  Another town has turned down a verbal request for a permit.  Another county is treating it on a park-by-park basis.  It's byzantine, at best.  So, just working through each one...most seem like it's a "start from scratch" kind of thing.  I hope I'm not over-thinking this one.
- As far as wholesale boards are concerned, I'm not trying to buy any, really (I already have my rental fleet).  I'd just like to offer my rental customers access to purchase from a few different brands, using "click through" type of service from my website, perhaps for a modest commission.  But, the two major SUP retailers I've contacted didn't want to set up an arrangement...they only offered discounts for me to buy boards and resell.  I don't intend to maintain product inventory...looking to stay light and agile.  Once I get my website up, so I have something to "show", I plan to get on the phones and start looking for partners/relationships.
- I am Red Cross CPR/First Aid qualified and will make sure anyone renting boards is.  Not sure about going as far as Water Safety yet.
- Pricing: The only other major SUP rental is doing $15/hr.  So, I'm looking at that as my price point, with $20/hr for I-come-to-you service, more for guided tours.  How has pricing vs. competition gone for you?
- Part time:  I have a full time job where I work rotating shifts.  So, sometimes I have alot of availability, other times not.  I have one partner and plan to have one 1099 employee.  We'll cover some "base" hours (weekends/holidays) between the three of us and offer other times/locations by appointment.  For those of you doing the mobile rentals, does this sound realistic or is there alot more than meets the eye, in terms of time requirements?

Anyway, this is just a sample of the details involved...

Thanks again!

Easy Rider

  • Site Sponsor
  • Cortez Bank Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 2212
    • View Profile
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2013, 09:27:12 AM »
For the wholesale / retail end of things - I don't know of any company that is going to set you up so that they are your "warehouse".  They are in business just like a shop - to sell stuff. 
Easy Rider is the name of my store in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
My name is Warren Currie . . . and we SUP Surf indoors . . . in a shopping mall!

NoSaltSuper

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 571
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2013, 11:08:33 AM »
Hey Smoky,
How is the business going, is it?

I'm interested in doing the same thing in my town and like you, have a full time job. But I'm really tiring of the corporate world after 20+ years of it.

So, starting something on the side that "could" turn into a bigger deal, has great appeal.
Semper Fi!

It's simple, either you get the wave or the wave gets you.

robcasey

  • Sunset Status
  • ****
  • Posts: 441
    • View Profile
    • Salmon Bay Paddle
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2013, 01:45:53 PM »
How about marketing? 
-FB biz page is good. Set so every post gets sent to twitter. 
-Blog of your weekly happenings, include pics and tags so people can find you.
-Twitter - headlines.
-Website - hire a professional; spellcheck; link to fb, twitter, blog. 
-Biz card / rack cards / brochure.  Cheap on vistaprint; overnight printing.
-Groupon - some love it some hate it. limit # of vouchers sold so you don't get overwhelmed or shove out regular customers. Do once to get rolling then rely on repeat business and regular customers.
-Meet Ups - do weekly meetups to get stoke built, build community.  free or paid.
-Races - many have started weekly races to build community. keep short and easy to manage so you don't get overhwelmed.  also gets folks into racing, then they want to purchase boards, etc. 

-be a good SUP Ambassador - dont' be a kook by having poor instruction, no permits, not teaching boating right of way, etc.  SUPs have been banned from marinas, some beaches, etc due to poor behavior.  do it right and success and good will, will follow. 

Insurance: We use Dana Cagan of Sport Insurance Hawaii. 

retail: i don't do it, so great posts above to assist there.  but i am an ambassardor for a few companies which helps promote them using their gear for my lessons and gets me more affordable gear as well. 


Rob Casey
Salmon Bay Paddle
Seattle

PaddleAnything

  • Rincon Status
  • ***
  • Posts: 241
    • View Profile
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2013, 02:58:56 AM »
Have you thought out your business plan? 

Equipment start up cost
insurance
permits

I once thought about doing something similar, but the break even point required so many hours of work and cost, I decided to just go paddle.  Many years ago, a lady I know owned a whitewater shop in a dream location.  Once while talking with her, I expressed how she was living the dream.  Then, she told me the reality of running the business and waiting around for customers to return product kept her off the river.  I decided that paddling for myself during my off hours was more satisfying than turning my downtime into a job.  Good luck with your project.  Please share your experience as you get deeper into the project. 


river

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 757
  • STOKED
    • View Profile
    • SUP Instruction
    • Email
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2013, 06:54:00 PM »
Insurance, Certification, Permits, good equipment, Meetup Groups and Facebook, and a local retail biz to refer people to go buy from and to get referrals from.  I would be happy to help shoot me a PM anytime.  I dont check SUP Zone that much so be patient for a reply. 
Liquid Lifestyles Productions & supinstruction.com owner/operator
-"Ultimate Guide to SUP" DVD
Professional SUP Athlete
Most Inspired Paddler Award Day 1 2012 Battle of the Paddle

paddlestandingup

  • Rincon Status
  • ***
  • Posts: 158
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2013, 12:53:07 PM »
The American Canoe Association (ACA) has a very good instructor program.  Mine lasted for three very long back-to-back days but was well worth it.  I learned a LOT.  The problem is that there just aren't that many Instructor Trainers out there.  The IT will sign off on your certification.  SUP instructors are certified at level 1-4.  As an instructor, you can also get insurance per event/student at a reasonable cost.

The big thing around here are permits to operate.  My favorite spot is a county park area and they require a form be completed well in advance of the date and submit the form along with a fee ($30 here).  So, with insurance and permits, it starts to get expensive.

NoSaltSuper

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 571
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Flatwater SUP Rental Startup questions
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2013, 06:57:12 PM »
Yeah, I supposed it's utopian at times to pursue this but damn, it's so tempting.

Every time I paddle here in the Midwest, I get so many questions and interest. Like snowboarding in the early 90's, or earlier.

Reminds me of a quote I heard when I was actively flying hanggliders:
"Know how to make a little money in the hanggliding business? Start with a lot".

Semper Fi!

It's simple, either you get the wave or the wave gets you.

F-One 9'0" Manawa....Like New! Orange County, Calif.

Price: $975.00
Date: 10/16/2014 12:01 pm
Time Left: 5d 3h 46m
Comments (0)
Fanatic Allwave 8'6"

Price: $800.00
Date: 10/14/2014 09:32 am
Time Left: 3d 1h 17m
Comments (0)


 


* Recent Posts