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How to Start a Jet Ski Rental Business: 101 Guide

Right – so you’re ready to quit working for the man and start your own business either leasing jet skis or running tours.

A wise choice.

A Jet ski rental business can be very profitable if you have more than 7 jet skis in your fleet. Owners can yield up to $1,000 per day in profit on weekdays, and those profit margins increase significantly on weekends with prior bookings. However, jet ski tours can reduce profit margins considerably when compared with self-tours.

Essentially, there are a lot of things to consider before launching everything. In this guide, I’m going to discuss how you can get started in running your own jet ski business.

I should know as I happen to run my own business serving the interests of PWC riders globally. I feel that I’m much more qualified to advise you on starting a jet ski business than just about any other website on the internet because of my background and knowledge shared among the many pages on this site about jet skis.

Guide to Starting a Jet Ski Business

I’ve written this guide as no one else was out there trying to help me when I got started. I’ve literally thought of as much as I can so you can get my insights to take them and apply it to your business.

Of course with anything, speak to your own CPA/accountant/lawyer/attorney before committing to any new venture. The advice I’m providing here is based on experience but is still general in nature for jet ski enthusiasts.

Let’s begin.

1. Think Of A Business Name

Firstly, you’re going to want to think of a name. I like the idea of naming your jet ski hire business after the particular region that you’re in. This makes it so much easier to rank up high in the search engines. For instance, if someone types in ‘Great Lakes Jet Ski Hire’, then you’ll rank #1 if that’s your brand name.

Pro-tip: Avoid naming your business after yourself. This is to make it easier to sell in the future. For example, “Jacob’s Jet Ski Hire” is going to be hard to sell unless you come across another dude called Jacob who just happens to want to buy your business in the future. It can also reduce business liability if you name it generically or something appropriate to your region, state, city or suburb.

2. Consider the Business Structure

Once you’ve got a name in mind, it’s time to book an appointment with a professional. In some countries, you’ll simply speak to your accountant to discuss a business structure and in other countries, you’ll need to speak to a lawyer as well. It really depends on a myriad of factors.

I went with a company structure to reduce my liability if someone gets hurt, but then again I know some people simply go with an S-corp or sole trader type of arrangement or even try a family trust structure. It’s all situation-dependent so best to get independent advice on this one. Expect to pay upwards of $1,000 to get this setup + monthly retainers for bookkeeping/accounting.

3. What Will You Offer Customers?

Now we get into the actual drawing up of the business. You need to think about what you can offer your customers. You really do have some options here:

  • You could offer tours only. You lead and the rest follow. This can reduce your insurance premiums.
  • You could offer tours + self ride options. Some people want freedom and others want guidance, so you’ll appeal to both types.
  • You could offer self ride only. This is generally on an approved route that you’ve already marked out. This is where you’ll want GPS trackers on each jet ski.
  • You could even offer a multi-day trailer package. This is where customers could come to your house, pick up the ski on a trailer and get to use it for as long as they want. Yes, they will need their own licence for this purpose.

Another option is rent to own jet skis or jet ski share/syndicates but generally speaking, these aren’t as popular as yachts in the marine world. Most people can afford to buy a jet ski or at the very least, they can afford the monthly repayments.

Related: 5 Best Jet Ski Models for a Rental Business

The notion of hiring/leasing appeals to those who are mostly time-poor or resource-poor or are visiting the area on holidays. The reasons holidaymakers hire a jet ski are obvious, but as for locals, they don’t want to deal with the challenges of storage, maintenance, launching, retrieval and potentially upgrading their car. Taking your ski out for a few hours should be a quick and easy solution.

4. Get Government/Council Approval

One of the biggest deciding factors as to whether you’ll be successful or not in getting this new venture off the ground is getting local approval. Depending on your country, it could take several months to get approval by local authorities.

The police to closely monitor jet ski hire businesses for compliance.

They’re going to want to know a ton of details:

  • Where you plan to operate your hires/tours
  • What are your operating hours and days
  • The insurances that you have in place
  • If you’ll be taking up space at the boat ramp
  • Risk assessments and policies/procedures you have in place to protect customers and other waterway users

Generally speaking, you’ll get less red tape if you choose to store a couple of skis at home and hire them out to those with tow bars. But then again, you may not make as much income.

This is also a good time to write up all your documentation such as orientation materials for customers and how you’re going to manage everything.

5. Start The Jet Ski Website

The biggest and best marketing tool that you’ll have at your disposal is a website. Think of it like a business card that is being handed out 24/7 to locals and visitors alike. Getting a website made these days is pretty straight forward and most people can do it themselves with popular platforms like SquareSpace.

Of course, there are agencies that will charge you $10k + $2k/month to build your website and keep it ranked high. Honestly, I find these prices to be BS because they’re often sending the work off to India/Philippines for $750 and pocketing the difference, so watch out for this scam.

Sure, you might feel a bit tech challenged in setting up a site but they’re not all that hard nowadays. I’ve setup about 30 sites now including this one and it’s mostly clicking some buttons to make the magic happen.

But what if you’re still lost? Well, a good tip that I can give you is to find the other jet ski hire companies in your local area and then scroll to the bottom of their websites. You’ll find the contact details of the companies that built their websites. If they’ve built theirs, then they can build yours too! (Of course with a different color scheme, pricing and branding)

6. Sort Out Insurances

I like to say that if the government red tape doesn’t make you want to rip your hair out, then the business insurance will. It’s quite difficult to get an insurance policy for a jet ski hire business. If you do find a company then I’d recommend sticking to them for multiple years.

Try and avoid the PWC insurance companies that do insurance for owners. It’s these underwriters that aren’t experienced with actual businesses as they are serving users. You’ll need to find a business insurance underwriter that doesn’t charge you a fortune (hard to find).

7. Buy Your Jet Ski Fleet

Now that you’ve started moving through this entire process, it’s time to buy your jet ski fleet. This is where the rubber finally meets the road and where you can feel like a kid in a candy store. You may get a discount on a fleet purchase especially if you’re using the same dealership for routine maintenance/servicing.

Don’t forget that it isn’t just a few skis but a rescue board too that needs to be bought. Most people buy a basic fleet plus a more powerful jet ski for rescue purposes because yes, customers will run into some problems from time to time.

The best jet skis for rental businesses include:

  • Sea-Doo GTI90 and GTI130
  • Sea-Doo Spark
  • Yamaha Ex Series
  • Yamaha VX Deluxe and VX Limited

I’ve created a full guide on this here: Best PWC Models For a Jet Ski Rental Fleet.

You might also want to consider the Fish Pro jet ski by Sea-Doo in case you have customers who want to go jet ski fishing. These customers are the best because you know that they aren’t going to flog the machine compared to that 19-year old kid showing off to his buddies on the dock.

I’d steer right away from anything supercharged. It’s just too much maintenance and expenses for a rental business to incur and 95% of customers won’t even need that extra power. The other 5% can save up to buy one themselves and deal with the issues.

As for Kawasaki, well they don’t have anything ideal for first-time owners as their models start at 1600cc.

8. Launch and Get Your First Customers

Now that you’ve come home with a few trailers of shiny new jet skis, it’s time to launch and get this operation to start spitting out some cash! I’m serious – this venture needs to make some money now otherwise you’ll literally go under without the safety switch.

Facebook and Instagram is where a lot of potential customers are hanging out nowadays. You might want to use deal sites as well that have existing customer pools. This way, you can get some quick momentum and start building out a list of returning customers.

Essentially, once you get your name out there then things start moving along. Another tip I can give you is to annouce your new business in the local jet ski groups. There are always people looking to buy a new ski but haven’t gotten around to it yet, and your business could be the perfect medium for them to get some practice and confidence before going out on their own.

9. Ongoing Marketing

A business is like a young child – it needs constant attention and development. Soon this business will encapsulate your life so you’ll need to have your finger on the pulse.

Ongoing marketing is necessary to capture new customers before your competition does. You’ll need to keep investing in Facebook Ads, Google PPC and the like. Continually updating your website and its blog is necessary to show current customer photos and tours that customers can take. This is why building the site yourself is a great idea as you won’t be dependent on tech support guys to make changes.

My Recommendation

Building a business is hard work. Go ask any business owner and they’ll certainly let you know about that. For instance, building my business to where it is today took several years of blood, sweat and tears. It wasn’t easy – but I’ll tell you – it’s absolutely worth it. I’ve found that if you can do things online then it’s 10x better, especially with the launch of Jet Ski Advice.

Side note: I’m actually considering selling JetSkiAdvice.com at the moment as I’m tied up with several other projects. The site has a lot of interest and has become very profitable since I launched it, and would lend itself to someone wanting to add additional revenue through YouTube content. If you’re interested – reach out. Price guide: $100k to $120k paired with 3 years of support (I’ve been creating content for 10 years now, hence how you found this site and this page.). No tire kickers – serious folks only especially as I’m happy to keep the site and enjoy the mostly passive income.

I’d say that you should start planting the seeds today because you won’t want to look back in 3 years and wonder ‘what if’? If you already love jet riding so much, then you may as well make it a business where you can introduce others to this fantastic sport.

Now – over to you. Is there something in this guide that I could have added? Let me know.

Catch you out there!

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Joshua Smith - Editor of JetSkiAdvice.com

As the editor, I started this resource to share my knowledge of jet ski ownership globally. When I’m not out there riding, I’m engaging with industry trends and eagerly awaiting the development of electric jet skis.

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