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How to Make a Kayak Rental Business Successful in 2023

Kayak Rental Business

Do you run a kayak business and need ideas to get clients or increase profit? If YES, here are 17 super tips on how to make your kayak business successful.

A lot of people enjoy kayaking, but they do not have a kayak or even when they have, the distance between their house and the water body makes it inconvenient to bring the kayak along. A kayak rental business allows people to rent kayaks which they can take to nearby waterways.

Customers can take kayaks out for as little as an hour or as long as a day or more. According to Entrepreneur magazine, starting a kayak rental business is one of the best low-cost investments you can make when it comes to opening a rental business.

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A kayak rental business can be established in a few different operating formats. You can supply kayaks to marinas and waterfront hotels and split the rental revenues that are generated. Secondly, you can operate your kayak rental business from your own shop near a waterfront location.

Last but not least, you can start your business from home, making use of print and social media to advertise and get customers who can pick up the kayak from you, or alternatively, you can deliver the kayak to the customers.

The second and third options will generate the most income for the business, as well as give you the most control over the business and rental equipment. Kayak rental business can be managed as a year-round, full-time operation or as a part-time one, depending on your climate and the interest of potential customers.

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A kayak rental business is best suited for someone who enjoys kayaking. You should also possess enough strength in order to lift and move your equipment on-shore.

A kayak rental business has two ideal customer types. Businesses near cities often cater to customers who like being on the water but don’t own their own boat. These businesses usually offer shorter rentals, such as half-day and full-day rentals.

Businesses in remote areas often offer longer rentals, including week-long rentals, and cater to canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts who are taking trips down rivers or across lakes. A kayak business makes its money by charging a rental fee for the equipment rented. The kayak can be rented for a few hours, half a day, a day or even a week.

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17 Tips to Make a Kayak Rental Business Successful

1. Promotion and marketing

Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the best forms of marketing for a kayak business. The kayak community is a small, tight-knit community, and word will spread if a place has good equipment, services and prices.

You can also make use of online marketing through the use of the various social media platforms to reach out to potential customers. This is because people often research destinations and rental companies online before signing up to rent a canoe or kayak.

2. Go for equipment that is relevant to the local waterways

If you want your kayak rental business to standout, you should try to tailor your kayaks to the local waterways. As the owner of a kayak rental business, you should have an in-depth knowledge of the kayak but you should also purchase equipment’s that are best suited for the local waterways.

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For example, a place along the coast might invest in high-grade touring kayaks that have lots of storage, while a business near small lakes may focus on fishing kayaks that have mounts for reels and depth finders.

3. Build the right team

It is possible to run your kayak rental business all by yourself, however, you can provide a lot more services if you have employees attached to your business.

Many businesses hire part-time employees for their busiest hours to help get people outfitted with kayaks, life jackets and paddles. You can also hire employees to serve as guides, if your kayak rental business involves offering a guided tour.

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You can never over-train your staff. Invest the time and money into making sure all of your team members understand their jobs and know how to perform those jobs safely and correctly. To earn your employees’ loyalty and trust, keep them up-to-date on what’s going on with your rental business.

Have regular communications about what’s going on, what’s new and what’s changing. Listen to them: Ask them for feedback and give them plenty of opportunities to share information with you. Everyone wants to be part of the process, and the more they are part of it, the more successful they (and you) will be.

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4. Liability Waiver

A liability waiver is a must have for a kayak rental business. This is because the customers that hire your equipment will be in a high risk environment and they will be operating the equipment in potentially dangerous circumstances. For this reason, it is best to acquire liability waiver.

5. Offer additional rental services

In addition to your kayak business, you can offer other additional services such as canoes, Jet Ski or standup paddle board rental. You can also rent out tents and fishing equipment.

6. Leasing storage space

You can lease storage space for people’s personal canoes and kayaks.

7. Choose the right location

Your kayaking rental business should be ideally located in an area that is close to a water body that has a mild current suitable for all ages to enjoy paddling. Check with the city about availability at local parks along the waterfront where you can rent space for a concession fee.

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Look for a small building with enough room to store paddles and adequate airflow to keep life jackets dry. You also need space to store the vessels overnight, either locked in a building or padlocked in a marina. If you choose to rent outside of a park area, provide access to bathrooms for changing clothes and cleaning up.

8. Offer tours

Kayaking tours provide outdoor enthusiasts a chance to spend the day on the water with an experienced guide. Having access to various bodies of water can help you attract many types of people.

To run a successful business, you’ll be responsible for planning fun and challenging kayak tour routes; planning transportation to and from the water, teaching basic, intermediate and advanced kayaking techniques, and managing employees.

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9. Study your market

If you should start the exact same business in two different locations a few miles apart, you can get totally different results.

So, before you get started make sure that you know exactly what your customers are looking for! The best way to know what your customers want is to simply ask them. If you want to rent out Kayaks, talk to tourists. Here are some questions you should ask them.

  • What kind of equipment are you looking for? Is it something basic that gets you from point A to B without anything special or would they like to have something more high end.
  • Which brands or specific items are most and least popular?
  • How much are they willing to pay? Don’t just guess a number and then assume that it is the ideal amount, instead, get at least a rough estimate of how much your customers are able and willing to pay.
  • Do you need more than rentals? Are there other services you can offer to become a one-stop shop for your customers?
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Instead of going for professional market research which can be quite pricy, you can do it yourself!

10. Don’t buy more, buy smarter

By knowing your customers and what they are looking for, you can make smarter decisions about the equipment that you buy. Don’t buy equipment that are rarely ever used. They will just occupy space and take up money that you could have used for better things.

When your business is just taking off, don’t overspend on buying equipment, instead you should purchase your minimum viable inventory based on your market research. As your business gets more popular, buy more equipment that has proved to be the most popular and lucrative.

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It is cheaper and easier to buy more equipment in the future than to try to get rid of unwanted equipment.

11. Find the best deal for your equipment

Your equipment is likely to be one of your biggest investments so make sure that you invest your money wisely. Instead of spending all the money you have on the latest high end gears, you should try to find alternatives. You should consider the following;

  • What are your customers looking for: will spending more on equipment really increase your customer’s satisfaction rate? Don’t buy high-end equipment if they are looking for budget rentals.
  • Can you buy used equipment: going for fairly used equipment can help to save you a lot of money which you can then use to buy more equipment or invest in order areas.
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12. Make sure that all your paperwork is in order

Besides the formalities of starting any business, a rental business has extra insurance liabilities. Your entire business depends on non-employees interacting with your equipment.

So while you want to make sure you have good insurance for your equipment, your customers are your biggest risk. Even with no-liability waivers, make sure you have the right insurance. You don’t want one big hospital bill to jeopardize your entire business!

13. Have a website and be active on social media

In this modern day and age, having a website is a must if you want your kayaking rental business to be successful. It is vital that you have an online presence and that when people visit your site you create a good impression.

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The first thing your potential customers will do is search for information online. That is why you need a professional-looking website that shows you can be trusted. You website should have relevant information about your business such as what and how they can rent from you. Make sure that your website is optimized in order to turn up easier through search engines.

It is also very important to have an active presence on the various social media platforms. If you rent to other businesses, they are less likely to check Facebook for options, but they might look on LinkedIn.

14. Create partnerships

Start by asking yourself ‘What other products or services are my customers looking for?’ in addition to your kayaks, they may also need a place to stay such as a hotel, bed and breakfast et al. They may also want to visit amusement parks, shopping malls, restaurants, etc.

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You can contact these companies and ask them if they will be interested in a referral partnership. With this type of partnership, when any of their customers is in need of kayak rental, they will refer such a customer to you and when your customers ask you about a place to stay, eat or visit, you can refer them to your partners. In this scenario, everyone gains.

You should note that the referral you make reflects directly on you, and as such, you should only make referrals that you are confident about. You don’t want a scenario where a customer complains that the place you referred them to was subpar.

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15. Take care of your equipment

Your kayak rental business depends heavily on the equipment your rent out. As such, it is very important that you make sure that all your equipment is in top shape.

From time to time, you will have to maintain all your equipment which will be geared towards spotting and fixing potential problems before your customers do! Fix any issues quickly and thoroughly so they don’t cause you more trouble in the future.

You should also carry out “regular cosmetic fixes”. It isn’t enough that your equipment work like new, they should also look new as well. Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you!

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16. Prioritize customer care

Kayak rentals business is a repeat business. You should make sure that when your customers need a kayak again, your name and brand would be what pops into their head. Make your customers feel welcome and give them relevant advice and guidance alongside friendly service.

Create a hassle-free experience and don’t overwhelm your customers with procedures and paperwork. Don’t wring out every last cent because a return customer is a lot more valuable than that $2.

17. Have an agreement with your customers

In order to avoid unnecessary argument with your customers, it is best to make sure that you are on the same page with them. You should let them know;

  • How the rental equipment should be treated
  • what constitutes acceptable wear and tear
  • When and where does the rental end and start.
  • What the customer should do if something goes wrong.
  • What the penalties for damage, loss, theft, late returns, are.
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Clearly communicate the answers to these questions up front to avoid confusion and conflict later on. You should also have these terms in writing which will be signed by you and the customer. Give the customer all the information he or she will need and don’t try to hide anything in small print. If you make something hard to read, don’t be surprised if your customers don’t read it.