by Dale Wills
Whether you’re succeeding in business or putting together a heavy caliber fishing team, one common thread is this: you’re only as successful as the people you surround yourself with. The process of hiring a captain and crew can often lead to longevity of boat ownership or short term burnout. One question that’s frequently posed to me is, How can we as an industry better educate the new boat owner, so the enjoyment of their purchase leads to a long-term passion for boat ownership and sportfishing, rather than a worst case scenario of selling the boat after two years due to the unforeseen (and often arduous) task of managing a crew?
Whether you are a mate or captain, understanding what it means to be a true professional is an integral part of our sport not only for your own career but the bigger picture of a thriving industry.
Hiring the Right Person
After interviewing several brokers about their procedure for recommending a crew, most said they would rather not get directly involved with the owner’s decisions due to the repercussions if someone doesn’t work out. Dave Berard, a captain turned broker for HMY Yacht Sales, explains, It gets complicated when you are merging two personalities together that may ultimately have different philosophies on how things should be done. I want to help the client out as much as I can and so I will generally provide a few suggestions. Those recommendations come from captains that have contacted me and who are actively seeking employment.
Keeping in mind that the new owner is excited to get out on the water and live the dream of owning a sportfishing boat, finding a captain and crew to steer the ship doesn’t seem like a big deal in the beginning. A perception exists that there are plenty of experienced crews in the industry and finding one is not a big challenge. Many new owners hire the first person who interviews well and voila’, they’re off on their grand adventure. Herein lies the delicate balance where the boat owner and crew dynamic begin to take shape and the enjoyment factor meets the fork in the road: one road leads to a positive experience and the other is a negative one. To help more owners find the positive road, Da Bait owner Jeff Cohen offers this advice after several years of captain-hiring. Do your due diligence, which includes a thorough background check on any prospective captain. This means having real conversations with at least their last three employers and also drug testing, he says. Don’t just hire someone if the initial interview goes well. Be certain they are honest and have positive references. Hiring a true professional captain with honesty and integrity will lead to unbelievable enjoyment of the boat and a long-term relationship.
You have to find someone and then treat them like the expert they are–your trust in them will be developed over time. Don’t be penny-wise and dollar foolish when you make them an offer, either. A thousand dollars a foot isn’t the norm anymore. Paying a fair salary for the right captain will pay off in the end, he reports.
Times Have Changed
Captain Jim Loebsack from Stuart, Florida has been running boats since 1974 and has witnessed plenty of captain/owner relationships throughout his career. The reality is the relationship is very similar to marriage. About half don’t work out, for a lot of reasons. Many boat owners are intelligent, shrewd business owners who have managed their businesses very successfully–that’s what enables them to buy the boat in the first place. But managing a sportfishing boat operation is a completely different animal, he says. Once a boat owner steps aboard, the laws of relativity change. Refrigerators stop working, air conditioners go down, electronics lock up and just about……………………..(To continue reading this article click here) You can also subscribe to InTheBite The Magazine to enjoy more industry leading editorial.