How to Get Return Customers: It’s Service, Stupid

Most fishing charter captains think catching fish is the most important part of a fishing trip. That’s wrong – great service is the #1 way to get return customers.

From our reviews, we see time and again that service is even more important than fishing. Of course people want to catch fish, but for the vast majority of people the atmosphere during the trip is what really makes the difference.

While this is especially valid for families and less experienced anglers, pro anglers want to have a great time as well. It’s not just about being nice and attentive to your guests, but also about planning your trip carefully and introducing them to the specifics of your boat.

Safety and particulars of the boat

The first thing you should do when people set foot on your boat is to show them all the safety features, especially when children are coming along. The kids probably don’t care too much, but their parents will feel like you take their child’s safety seriously. So when they step aboard, show people where the life jackets, fire extinguishers, and first aid box are.

Then, make sure they are aware of the particularities of your boat. Some boats can have a pretty low side, for instance. If you make people aware of this, and show them where and how to stand when they’re reeling in a fish, it can really make a big difference to their experience. Also be aware of their height and physique.

For example, a tall and heavy person needs a different stance and position, depending on the boat. Showing each party member how they can fight fish most successfully and most comfortably on your boat can make them instantly at ease.

Planning your trip is half the work

Having a great time on a fishing trip is usually not about how much people really catch, but more about their perception. You have to make people happy from the beginning. A great way to make sure they are is to first go to a place where you know you’re going to catch fish. Every captain knows a spot where they always catch something.

Most people will be overjoyed to catch a couple of easier fish first, and it will keep them happy for the entire trip. Once they caught a few fish each, you can move on to something harder. Make sure to ask them what they would like to target, but also make them aware of what’s biting.

Example: if you’re fishing in San Francisco in the fall, you can catch some flounder and sharks first. You’re sure to catch some of those, and then you can move on to salmon. Salmon is much more unpredictable, but even if your customers don’t catch a single salmon, they will usually be okay with that if they already caught a couple of fish each.

How to get return customers by knowing how to handle families

Families are the motor of most successful fishing charter businesses. They’re usually not very demanding when it comes to what they want to catch, and are just looking for a great couple of hours on the water.

It’s very important to make sure the kids have a great time. That doesn’t mean you have to be amazing with kids; it’s already great if you just involve them. For instance, you can teach them to tie a few different knots, or show them how the fish finder works. (Adults usually love that too, to be honest.) One of our captains has an old-style wooden steering wheel, so kids can pretend to steer the boat. It’s simple but effective. And of course, happy kids equals happy parents, because they’ll be able to relax and focus on fishing instead of babysitting.

Finally, have some drinks and snacks available for all members of the family, if you can. Kids need to eat more often than adults, but you can also just use a snack to distract them and make them happy. Another tip is to have some beers available for the dads. Dads don’t necessarily feel comfortable bringing a six pack aboard when they’re with their family. But when the captain offers them a beer, that’s usually fine for their wives and makes the father happy!

Photos are memories for a lifetime

Many customers can be afraid to bring their good cameras onboard, so always bring at least a good phone camera on your trips. Know when and how to take photos – this will make families remember their trip and come back next year, because they’ll see the photo a few months later and remember their great fishing trip with you.

The best pictures will include customers holding their catch with a highlight of the local scenery in the background. So if you run fishing charters in a bigger city, like New York, San Diego, or Miami, you should photograph your clients holding the fish they caught in front of the city’s skyline.

If you’re in a less urban setting, a unique natural feature of the area will work well. Examples of that are mangroves in the Everglades or the mighty volcano in Madeira. In any case, make sure the background instantly reminds your guests of where they fished and with whom, while the foreground shows them smiling and holding fish.

Bingo – they’re in the bag

If you apply all of these tips, you will definitely make your customers as happy as they can be. Even just using a few of these tactics will help improve anglers’ experience tremendously. When they step off the boat, they will be likely to give you a nice tip. And finally, they will cherish their memories and come fish with you again the next time they are in town, as well as tell everyone they know that they should go fish with you when they visit your area

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