Your guide to effective yacht management
Last updated: 19/07/2017
In recent times, increased workloads and a plethora of regulations occupy much of a captain’s time making it increasingly common that a yacht management company is hired to provide service and support the captain and crew in the day-to-day running and overall management of the yacht.
However, understanding what a management company can do, and how they can help is paramount, as you’ll need to make sure you choose the right company for your needs. Yachting Pages presents a guide to effective yacht management.
What services can a yacht management company provide?
Let’s start with the basics; some of the main services yacht management companies can provide include:
- Safety management (ISM and ISPS)
- Crew management and recruitment
- Operational support
- Technical management and support
- Financial control and services
- Logistical support
- Certification and compliance
- Project management (including new construction and refits)
However the list really is endless as Franc Jansen, director of global yacht management company Hill Robinson explained, “If I have to describe all the services we provide the answer will be far too long.... In a nutshell you could say that as a management company we are selling our expertise, time, systems and also the responsibility that we take on our shoulders. As a management company we provide services that help both the crew and the owner in the running of the yacht; whether this is financial, operational, crewing, technical or flag and class compliance.”
Crew management services – a best kept secret
Hill Robinson explained how a yacht management company can also provide high-quality crew services, including recruitment and training.
Franc explained, “This is one of the best kept secrets in the industry; we have a large fleet and we always have over 30 vacancies in all ranks and on all types and sizes of yachts. We are constantly searching for good crew. Because we are a management company our focus is completely different from ordinary crewing agencies. Our crewing department is mainly focussed on finding crew for our managed fleet. Therefore the placement fee is not the most important, it is actually getting the right crew for that particular yacht.”
What makes a good yacht management company?
According to Gibraltar based management company Sea-Alliance,a good yacht management company should “find the fine line between managing the vessel according to the safety, class and fiscal regulations and bringing all components together to enable the vessel to be seaworthy and operative at all times for the benefit of the owner and charterers from one side and the crew and captains on the other.”
Which yacht management company should I choose?
Below Hill Robinson recommended some important factors to bear in mind when choosing a management company for a superyacht.
1. Experience and expertise
“A good management company will have a wide range of experienced staff on hand to help. This means master mariners, naval architects, marine engineers, accountants, administrators, recruitment and human resources specialists, as well as in-house IT staff. The company needs to have sufficient people in place to deal with the day-to-day operation of their fleet so having a look at the available resources wouldn’t hurt.”
2. Efficient management systems
“When hiring a management company you should ensure that it has high-quality management systems that the captain is happy with. A quality system which is easy to use can improve the smooth running of the yacht.”
3. The contracts and the cost
“A good yacht management company should offer a wide range of packages and contracts to suit the needs of each yacht, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Many companies will have existing procedures for all services provided, but they still need to be made yacht specific.”Franc said, “The number of management packages really is endless. Any combination of services is possible. The length of the contract varies. We have loyal clients that have been with the company since its conception. The cost of yacht management depends on the amount of expert time needed, the systems that are selected and the liability that we need to carry for the owner.”
Considerations for your yacht management company
Is a larger company better?
Hill Robinson explained how a larger yacht management company has more resources. According to Franc, if there are more people in the company there’s a better chance that you’ll get the assistance you require when you need it; “Bigger companies have a wider range of specialists available. Since yachts are travelling over the world a wider geographical spread of offices is handy.”
However, Sea-Alliance explained how a yacht management company can in fact provide a top quality service even if they are smaller. Ella Wigelman of Sea-Alliance said, “We believe the best is to be big enough to deliver and small enough to care”.
Is the location of the company important?
This can make a difference, however it’s not a major problem and management services can be carried out just as well from afar. When posed the question is it important, Franc commented, “Yes and no. No because there are planes and you can get anywhere in the world in a reasonably short time.
“Communication by email and phone is also very easy, so it’s possible to maintain communications. Having said that, popping over to the boat to have a face-to-face chat with the captain, engineer or chief stew is much better than an email and a formal report. Although I’m available 24/7 on my phone, and so are the captains, communication is much easier if you are in a similar time zone.”
How much control does the captain have?
According to Sea-Alliance the captain and the management company should work together very closely as a team. The captain has a lot of say regarding what happens on the vessel including maintenance and daily aspects, whereas the management company deals with the bigger picture of the accounts and budgeting, owning company, registration and relationship with the owner.
Franc explained how everybody, whether they work on board or ashore, has a job to do. Each position comes with its own responsibilities and authority. Good management companies have defined the responsibilities and authority of everybody involved both ashore and afloat. The captain, because of his position, will always have extensive authority to make decisions with regards to the running of the yacht.
The captain and the management company should therefore maintain regular communication in order to ensure that all parties are working toward the same goals; the safe operation of the yacht to the complete satisfaction of owners and guests. Franc said, “Of course everybody needs to work closely together. That is the only way to make it work. The most productive relationship is friendly, professional and respectful. And that needs to come from all parties.”
Finding tools to help manage a superyacht
The right tools can greatly aid the relationship between boat owners, yacht managers and captains, by aiding communication, keeping control of processes and enabling the sharing of valuable information.
ENJOY Yacht Management explained how technology can assist in effective management; “With the spread of smart phones, anyone can turn any smartphone device into a portable, electronic filing cabinet that contains all the information needed for secure and efficient yacht maintenance.”
ENJOY Yacht Management has developed its own app to help boat owners, yacht managers and freelance captains to keep track of the upkeep of their yachts, by scheduling tasks, creating custom reports of tasks performed, and easily accessing trip and maintenance logs.
ENJOY Yacht Management explained how the right tech can help with communication and control; “Thanks to technology, even when yachtsmen are not aboard their vessels they can be always ‘connected’ to her. For example, the ENJOY App gives full control to owners or Captains who wish to embrace technology and get information that can help limit dry-dock time and maximize their time on the water.”