Boat rental management service helps operators track fleets

The boat rental business is booming. As marinas continue to search for alternative methods to increase their profits, adding a boat rental segment has become a lucrative way to bring more customers to their docks. Additionally, yacht clubs like Freedom and Carefree are growing rapidly as they cater to the boating population that enjoys spending time on the water, but doesn’t necessarily have the time to maintain their own boat. But as yacht clubs and boat rental companies continue to grow, this added layer of business means owners and operators need to be able to monitor their fleet at all times.

Boat Fix, a telematics company that provides systems such as remote monitoring, GPS tracking and geolocation for the boating industry, has developed a management program called Fleet Manager Pro to help boat rental companies to monitor and protect their fleet. Abel’s Marine in Port Charlotte, Florida began using Fleet Manager Pro to monitor its boat rental fleet in November 2021. “We have installed the system on each of our 14 rental boats,” said Katrina Towns, co-owner of Abel’s Marine. “It was easy to set up and became a great tool for us to track every rental boat.”

Simplified monitoring
The monitoring service allows operators of boat sharing programs and rental programs to track the rental fleet, which protects the company and the renter. The service offers several unique benefits:

  • GPS tracking with playback functionality can be used in the event of an incident or dispute
  • Sophisticated, multiple, time-based geofencing to prevent unauthorized use, theft, and entry into prohibited areas
  • Live, immediate sales support is available 24 hours a day
  • Custom fleet management reports are available monthly, weekly or daily
  • An onboard strobe light is triggered to alert the user when a boat enters a prohibited area or misses its scheduled return time to the marina

Katrina and her husband Tony Towns have been running their boat rental business since 2015 with great success. The couple said their decision to install the service on their charter fleet was not due to safety concerns, but rather the ability to protect their investment as well as the charterers using their boats. “During a busy day on the water, we are able to track the location of every boat in our fleet,” she said. “We can now know when a tenant is moving out of the areas and we can work with them to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.”

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The device that operates the Fleet Manager Pro system includes an integrated GPS and a SIM card that communicates via a 4G network. The system will transmit from any cell tower in the world, typically up to 20 miles offshore. If a boat is out of range, the device will store up to 10,000 GPS locations every 60 seconds, which equates to about a week’s worth of data. All saved data is automatically uploaded when the system is back in the cell range. The service will also store all tracking and monitoring data for seven years. This information is valuable for boat rental companies who must protect their business in the event of a dispute with a customer.

Fleet Manager Pro requires the purchase of the Boat Fix telematics device and a stroboscope for each boat. The device can be easily transferred to a new ship, as old ships are retired. Similar to other online management programs, there are annual fees for SIM card data storage, sales support, and reporting. The owner, yacht club or charter operator can then access the service via a web portal on a computer or via a mobile phone application. Boat Fix trains the customer on how to access and monitor each boat and offers 24/7 customer support for any questions that arise.

Protection and peace of mind
As more and more marinas look to open their own boat rental services to generate additional revenue, having a way to track the movements of each rental boat should be considered a must. Alastair Crawford, Founder of Boat Fix, said Fleet Manager Pro allows the rental or charter operator to know every movement of every boat. “Management is able to know how often the boat is used, where it has been, how fast it has gone, how many days it has been idle, engine hours etc.,” he said. declared. “Even dockworkers can access information on their cellphones, so if a boat is late returning, they can easily pinpoint its location.”

Crawford said the strobe alarm is an added layer of protection for the operator and tenant. The strobe is installed at the helm, and if a geofence is broken, the light flashes brightly within seconds. “If the rental customer heads into a prohibited area like a sandbar or an unauthorized area, the strobe will turn on immediately,” Crawford said. He also added that the fleet manager can turn on the strobe if a boat is late to return to the dock.

Boat Fix currently works with several Freedom and Carefree yacht club franchises, as well as independent boat rental and charter companies in the United States. . “We have rental or charter companies that only have a handful of boats they want to monitor, while some have hundreds in their fleet, located in different areas,” he added. “Our goal is to provide them with a system that makes their lives more efficient.”

Customer service
Boat Fix works to improve this efficiency by listening to its customers. Crawford mentioned a recent update to the surveillance system’s strobe light. “We had a client who complained about how he was writing thousands of dollars in fines to a harbor master because his boat hirers entered the no-wake zone at 15 knots, instead of 5 knots,” he said. “Now the strobe will go off, warning the operator to reduce throttle when entering the no-wake zone.”

The customer service associated with the Fleet Manager Pro has also proven to be an asset at Abel’s Marine. “Boat Fix customer service is able to help boaters with any small issues they might have on the water, which makes us look better to the customer,” Katrina said.

While it’s only been a few months since Abel’s Marine began using the management service, Katrina said they believe it has been a beneficial addition to their business. “We have already seen huge improvements from the monitoring service,” she added. “He provided extra security and service to our customers and protected our boats from unnecessary damage.”