Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, yacht sales soared, leading newcomers to become yacht brokers. That job title may sound glamorous initially, but success as a yacht broker requires hard work, consistency, patience and grit.
Competition is fierce. You’re pitted against thousands of other yacht brokers. If you’re located in Florida, or elsewhere along the East Coast, you are operating in an extremely saturated market. You need to work hard to differentiate yourself and your business. If you’re new, you may not yet have a network, and your network is everything. It’s critical to have a healthy database of yacht buyers and owners.
These tips will help give your new business the best opportunity to succeed.
Prioritize Your Network
According to industry veteran Steve Doyle, owner of Yachts by Steve, “Building relationships with clients is the number-one most important goal.” Successful yacht brokers feel like a trusted friend to their clients. Creating such relationships comes down to being invested not only in the sale, but also in the support and service that every client needs. Sure, a quick sale will feel great, but building and nurturing relationships guarantees a lifetime of success.
Use digital and traditional channels — social media, email, phone calls, boat shows, networking events — to connect with potential clients and get to know them on a personal level. As you collect names and contact information, stay in front of them. Consistently engage and follow up. Be meticulous about creating and updating your database of contacts so you can easily reach out.
Set Yourself Apart
What makes you different? Once you identify your value proposition, you’ll need a strategy to get your business in front of your target audience. The most effective method is to establish a digital presence. Your website is the face of your business. Your social media, email and text outreach are a driving force behind your marketing efforts. Create something you’re proud of, and consider hiring an expert to build and manage this digital presence for you.
Work Hard To Gain Listings
If you control the listings, you control the market. But when you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to persuade a yacht owner to list with you. Ken Berke, owner of Big Boat Ken and broker with Rick Obey Yacht Sales, says he sees brokers discounting their commissions to get listings in a competitive marketplace.
With fierce competition, you can win listings by maintaining your professionalism and accessibility; having a professional online presence to build trust and authority; showcasing your knowledge of the market, as well as your passion and persistence to get every listing sold; and focusing on your marketing expertise, including an understanding of current digital trends.
Your target market, especially younger boaters, are online searching for information about their next boat. If your business is not online when they are searching, you’ll miss the opportunity to work with them.
Create the framework for your online presence by establishing a professional website, a Facebook business page, a LinkedIn page and an email marketing campaign. For email marketing, I suggest using Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
You’ll need to take great care in sharing updates to each channel. This can be extremely time-consuming work, but it’s a crucial part of showing up in front of the right people at the right time. That’s what creates more leads and sales.
Share not only new listings, but also related information of value, such as news updates from your company, events you are attending, thought leadership news and market trends. At the very least, have a monthly newsletter that goes to your database, and that is broken out into two sections: value-add and new listings/updates about your business.
For social media, post at least three times per week on Facebook and LinkedIn. Instagram is starting to gain traction in the marine industry too, so be present on this channel, as well. You can share as frequently as you’d like, but consider your target audience’s online behavior when developing your strategy.
Leverage Your Brand and Colleagues
It’s wise to align yourself with industry leaders and brands that appreciate digital marketing best practices. Working with a top brokerage can provide value in many ways, including marketing resources, administrative support and networking opportunities.
As with any new opportunity, you’ll need to invest time and effort to achieve success, but for those who are motivated and entrepreneurial — and who love the boating industry — becoming a yacht broker can be an incredibly rewarding career move.
Becca Eisenberg is the founder of ex.plo.re, which helps yacht brokers with online lead generation and brand management.
This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue.