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How to Start a Kayak Rental Business

Kayak Rental Business

Do you want to start a Kayak rental company? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a Kayak rental business with NO money and no experience plus a sample Kayak rental business plan template.

All over the world there are people who like to go out on the water for the basic reason of recreation or exercise, amongst these are Kayak enthusiasts.

Whether these folks are out on a vacation, or just to enjoy the regular comfort that comes with being on the smooth and clear waters, it pays if they have a place where they can quickly rent a Kayak, because most don’t have one of their own.

This gives the basis for entrepreneurs to start a Kayak Rental business, this way those who enjoy this pastime can get to explore the joys of this physical activity anytime they need to without worrying about the cost of buying or transporting a Kayak.

If one intends to start a Kayak rental business, it is important that he or she be knowledgeable in the waterways. This will ensure that should anything happen to clients, or if for some reason clients are lost, they can easily be found, or better yet, knowledge of the waterways will enable supervisors to be able to advise customers on where to stay clear of as they kayak.

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Of course knowledge of how to swim and give basic CPR should also be a must for the supervisors or staff that are directly involved with the day to day running of the business.

For safety purposes, quick training should be given to those who come to hire these kayaks, even if they are experienced at this.

This training will further emphasize most of the safety procedures that makes the activity fun and safe. This is much like the flight safety tips air hostesses and hosts are obligated to give every time a flight is about to take off.

No business wants the stigma of having any lives lost while enjoying a service or product they offer, so this must be a precaution that should be taken.

Apart from this, people looking to start this type of business must look into the various licenses, permits and legal documentation that must be in place before a business like this is legally permitted to operate.

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They must cross their tee’s and dot their “I’s”, when it comes to proper licenses because of the dangers that may surround this type of business.

Other preliminary work to do before starting off is to ensure that the business is registered, that all applications have gone through for the business to be tax compliant and that a checking account has been opened for the business.

In addition to this, proper feasibility studies should have been done to ascertain if this is the best type of business for the owners or investors seeing that this business depends on location and seasons.

Steps to Starting a Kayak Rental Business

Kayak Rental Business


1. Understand the Industry

The first thing one needs to understand about this business is that it is a seasonal business, so basically from a certain time of the year “Labor Day” to be exact, to “Memorial Day”, one in this type of business may need to seek out other sources of income. The trends that affect this type of business apart from being highly seasonal, is that it is a lifestyle type of business.

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So if profits are the main reasons for starting it, then you have some serious work to do to get it there, it is advisable that the passion for the sport be the major focus of starting this business rather than profit, as profitability is challenging to come by in this business.

On a normal successful run, business owners can make enough money to pay up operational costs. Achieving this may even require the owners to work with the municipalities in other to build profitable partnerships either public or private within the community.

This would mean partnering with key organizations for certain things like parking space, restrooms and even securing contracts for paid Kayaking lessons, events or competitions that can both generate money for the business and increase awareness for the business.

Location is also a major factor for this kind of business; it would not make sense to start this type of business where there are no safe lakes or rivers. One of the major trends that have been seen to influence this market is fitness trends that have to do with kayaking.

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If business owners seek to generate more business, it would be advisable to bring the fitness benefits of kayaking to the public. If this goes well with the community, the business can begin to see more regular customers even when the season is over.

In as much as there is an increase in water sporting activities, most kayak enthusiasts or even newbies will prefer to hire rather than buy, this serves as one of the major market drivers.

Due to the slow rate of growing the business to profitability, owners are advised to operate by a cash only process so that immediate bills can be taken care of immediately.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

Apart from the obvious kayaking enthusiasts, business owners can focus on weekend thrill seekers; those who are looking for a way to make their weekends or special days more memorable.

When it comes to these types of days, it would be advisable for the business to have some other kind of attraction that puts both packages in one, maybe something like a diner, where demographics like these can have a bite after a nice session of kayaking.

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Another set of people this kind of business can target are those on holiday or vacation. It would be a very lively activity to do when one is on holiday, the business can make an event out of it, by offering holiday courses in Kayaking.

In addition to this, business owners can also focus on school field trips. Schools around the area can organize a day to go Kayaking as part of their Physical Educational programs, or even organize Kayaking competitions as part of the school extracurricular activities.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

One of the major niches one can specialize in when going into this kind of business is teaching people how to Kayak. Emphasizing training as a major source of income for this kind of business can go a long way to create regular cash flow for the business seeing as it is seasonal.

If those who love Kayaking usually flood the business at certain seasons, then one can have constant ongoing courses in Kayaking and its related features, like swimming, river safety, CPR or even offering training for Kayak instructors that may want to get into the trade.

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Finding one’s niche is so important as it helps the business create its very own presence in the market. If ones niche is something others cannot copy maybe due to the unique way the niche is executed, then ones niche can serve as a source of competitive advantage in itself.

So it is safe to say that one of the major reasons for seeking out a personal niche is to use it as a competitive edge within the industry.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

The level of competition is not as high as one would expect, except in cities where some of the major pastime is kayaking. Then there is competition to deal with but even at that, the level of struggle between competing brands is moderate compared to other businesses.

The reason for this is because it is quite easy to provide varieties that make one’s own business unique. Plus different types of people enjoy different things, so there are a great variety of options customers can choose from.

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4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

Well-known brands can serve as models for your own business. One can learn a lot from them, also they can give insight into market information that otherwise could be lost to a new entrant. Some of these well-known brands could be great industry influencers as they could set the pace in market trends. Below are therefore some of the leading Kayak Rental businesses or brands in the united states;

  • Diamond Brand Outdoors
  • Ecomarine paddlesports centre
Economic Analysis

Starting a business like would require a moderate to sizable initial capital, especially if one is intending to start from scratch.

One can save cost by buying used kayaks, which are still in good condition so as to save money for other items. Another set of activities that can eat deep into your finances is getting all the permits, licenses, insurance and certifications required to make the kayak rental business standard.

Owners may also have to look into the purchase of vehicles, leasing of the building or office space, not to mention the search for long term storage space for off seasons. This is why it is advisable to do a proper feasibility study in order to know if investing in such a business is worth it, especially as profits most times may be challenging to realize.

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5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

If there are franchise opportunities available it would be advisable to explore this option as it affords you the advantages that come with having an already structured Business model that works. In this type of setting, most of the learning curves have already been experienced, so all one has to do is navigate through the day to day activities and maintain the business success level.

If one can, they can improve on the model in order to make more progress, that is if the original franchise accepts changes by franchisees. One important advantage of buying a franchise is the kind of mentor mentee relationship fostered by the franchise and the buyer. This is best way to start if the buyer has never done this kind of business before.

On the other hand, if one decides to start this kind of business from scratch, they stand a chance of doing things their way, however much time may be lost due to a lack of experience. There could be a stage of trial and error, not to mention the stage of building the new customer base and other structures that a franchise would already have on ground.

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6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

The weather is one of the major challenges to expect when thinking about going into this type of business. There could be unexpected whether changes, even if there are exclusive seasons when it should be anticipated that kayaking is best.

The weather is still unpredictable, this can be a challenge in places where there are heavy rains, storms and hurricanes. If one sets up this type of business in a place with harsh weather conditions, then it is safe to say that much revenue may not be generated as most would find it dangerous to go kayaking in such places.

Another challenge that can be associated with this kind business is governmental policies. From time to time the government can change conditions that may affect all those in the boating industry; these policies may have to do with certain new conditions that must be met before a business of this type is certified operational. Yet another challenge can be out right direct competition.

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7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

The legal entity through which one chooses to operate this service depends on the prospects foreseen by the owners. If proper feasibility studies are done, and it has been understood that this business can expand into a nationwide business, then a Limited Liability Company is best to use.

This gives the business the chance to receive large amounts of financing and hence increase their possibility to grow and expand as far as their endeavors can lead. This business entity also protects business owners from lawsuits should there be any problems that may demand such actions.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

What’s in a name? Well, a lot, especially for a business like this. Apart from the name, the general design of the logo or trade mark should give the prospect not just a strong idea of what to expect but also entice them to do business with the brand. This is a lifestyle business, so the name should reflect the leisure, fun or thrill that comes with kayaking. It is also fitness centered, so a name that sounds sporty will also be very ear catchy.

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Also, it would be safe point out that it is important to pick a unique name that has not been taken by any other company, except in a creative twist, in order to make the business name sound like another popular business. This may serve as some type of marketing strategy that quickly makes new comers remember the business name because it sounds like something already popular.

In any case, when picking a business name, be sure to make it unique enough to arouse interest. If you are therefore considering what names to use when starting your own Kayak Rental business, here are some names you should try;

  • Splash Outdoors
  • Kayak Ville
  • Water Weave Centre
  • Sploosh Splash Kayaks
  • Paddleit Outdoors

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

Insurance policies can act as both security from regulatory bodies and a safety net in case unpleasant events take place in the course of running a business. Kayaking is risky, even for professionals, so proper insurances must be taken by the business owner to protect the business from unexpected occurrences.

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Some of the basic insurance policies that you should therefore consider purchasing if you intend starting your Kayak Rental business in the United States of America are;

  • General Insurance
  • Instructor Insurance
  • Hull Property Insurance
  • Outfitter Insurance
  • Payment protection Insurance
  • Overhead expense disability Insurance
  • Credit  Insurance
  • Deposit Insurance
  • Risk insurance
  • Liability Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Workers Compensation
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

There is no need for Intellectual property protection in this kind of business. However trademark protection can be taken to protect the business logo from being infringed upon.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

In as much as there may not be any need for a professional certificate before one can own and run a business like this, it is required that the business operators must understand CPR and how to use a first aid kit. There are certain training that an operator of this business may or may not take, but if they do, it will better prepare them for the various challenges of the business.

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Some of these certifications are the Water Rescue Certification and Boater Safety Course. Again these are not requirements especially as the water rescue certification is for firefighters and the boater safety course is for those who intend to go fishing, but information gotten from these two training courses can help tremendously in times of emergency.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

Some of the basic legal documents that you should have in place if you intend running your own kayak rental business in the US include;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • PA Launch Permit
  • Operating Agreements
  • Business License and Certification
  • Business Plan
  • Insurance Policy
  • Employment Agreement
  • Non-disclosure Agreement
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Online Privacy Policy Documents
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Almost everything in this world runs on money, so one of the major things to think about is how to raise the finances for your new venture. For most business heads, the challenge of raising capital is great. Even before one looks for who to invest in their business idea, much home work must already have been done, to convince the investor that their money is going into the right place and that there would be returns on the investment.

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The same goes if loans are applied for, the loaning institutions would seek proper collateral before releasing the loan. Before such loans can be approved, the applicant must have passed other background checks done by the loaning institution. In any case, there is always a way around these financing related challenges.

Some of the financing options you can explore when seeking for start-up capital for your Kayak Rental business include;

  • If you have shares or money market securities you can sell, to raise the money, this would be a good idea.
  • Take money from the one you have saved up.
  • Sell other assets or properties you may own, or simply lease them out if that is a better option.
  • You can sell shares of your company to investors.
  • You can collect soft loans from family and friends.
  • Get a loan from a bank.
  • You can make your business a partnership or joint venture.
  • angel investors
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14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

There are specific things to consider when picking a location for this type of business. Normally, this type of business will be set up close to a river or a lake where customers can simply hire the kayak and begin their use of it. In this case, an owner would have to consider storage space for the kayaks. Of course it is possible for the kayaks to stay in the open when it is peak season, however owners may need to lease or rent a storage space for when it is down season.

If the owner is the one who also owns the land where the facility is built, then there is no need to worry about rent or lease. On the other hand if this is not the case, then rent must be considered. Another thing to take note of is that many clients are going to need a place to change up after hire.

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So restrooms that are conducive would have to be built or be part of the administrative building itself.These are some other key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your Kayak Rental business;

  • The regulations of the State.
  • Location demographics
  • The proximity between the location and the lakes or rivers
  • Accessibility
  •  Security
  • Parking Space

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

This cannot be a one man business; owners would need to hire some type of support staff if they hope it run this business at its best. These staff can be part-time or full-time. This is because of the seasonal nature of this type of business.

These staff would help to carry out maintenance work on the kayaks, become trip guides and adhoc instructors. There would also be need for vehicle drivers, for those special customers who may require the kayaks to be delivered and picked up. On the administrative side, there would be need to hire a bookkeeper/accountant, business manager, facility cleaner, lawyer, marketers  and so on.

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Some equipment owners may need to get are Paddles, Personal Floatation devices, Paddling jackets for cold and normal days, vehicles, trucks, kayaks. Office appliances like tables, clipboards, desks, phones, computers and so on, are also items to make up your list.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

This kind of business runs rental of anything from 30mins to weeks, depending on the customer’s needs and the way the business is structured. When customers want to hire a kayak, they show up at the business administrative office, fill the necessary forms and present various documents of identification. Once the duration of the hire is agreed upon and payment is made, preferably cash, the client can either pick up the kayak immediately or come back at an appointed to time to pick it up.

If the location of the client’s use is far from the designated lake or river where the business is located, then the kayak can be transported to the client’s designated location. If this is the option taken, extra charges would have to be paid for the transportation. After the client is done with the kayak, they return it at the proposed date and time.

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16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

Without a proper budget for marketing, a business may not generate much revenue to meet up the cost of running its operations. Based on this, business owners, managers, marketing personnel and business development managers need to brainstorm on how exactly to bring the brand to the intended public in a way that inspires them to do business with the company.

A business like this can actually organize kayaking tournaments or general sports tournaments which will involve kayaking. This will definitely be in partnership with the various organizations in the community and it will give the company a chance to market their brand. There are other ideas on how to market this kind of business, some of which are listed below;

  • Advertise on radio, TV, the local newspapers and magazines.
  • Have a placement in Local directories.
  • Yellow pages, would also serve the intended purpose as well.
  • Attend seminars and expos, especially those that have to do with water sports, fitness or other kinds of sports theme. Or focus on these that have the majority of your target market.
  • Employ business developers that would engage direct marketing
  • Promote your business on the internet
  • Run discounts and promos.
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17. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

Customer retention is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business, even if a company’s offering is not pricey, they stand to make profits on repeat buys much more than from the initial purchase. A business owner needs to factor out creative ways to retain their existing customers.

One of such ways is by offering discounts to regular customers or clients. Another way you can retain your customers is by making sure your customer service is topnotch as customers usually run away from a business with a rude customer service.

18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

Due to the above stated challenges of this business, it is important to use the loudness of your brand campaign to emphasis the importance of your business to the people in the community.

Now normally these brand awareness strategies may not produce immediate results, but in a short time many will begin to get the message, and when the time comes or the season shows up, they can get multiple times more customers than if they never engaged awareness campaigns.

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Also, this awareness campaign can be used to communicate the various benefits of customers patronizing this business. Below are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and advertise your business.

  • Online is the new frontier, make Digital Marketing one of your major strategic operations.
  • Advertise on billboards around the city.
  • Brand all official vehicles with your logo’s and other advertisement.
  • Have your staff wear business branded clothes most times, instructors and technicians must wear these all the time.
  • Make a mobile app available
  • Word of mouth is still very potent, encourage it.