Despite the financial difficulties beset by a leading boat share membership company, as announce in the press yesterday, Richard Pierpoint of FlexiSail confirms that the scheme is fundamentally sound.
Shared membership boating sees real growth
Richard Pierpoint is the leading expert in shared boat membership having been involved at the forefront of the industry since 2004. Since then he has developed the business model and built the most successful boating membership company in the UK. Membership sailing is a sound business model, and becoming increasingly so, he writes.
Membership sailing, as some now call it, is a growing sector within the marine industry and a number of manufacturers are starting to sit up and take note. More and more people are becoming aware of the real benefits above the traditional route to accessing the water. This is reflected by FlexiSail’s own strong growth of over 20% in the last 9 months alone.
“The future is bright for well run and focused membership sailing companies that put their members first and can set the standards in customer care.”
By ‘sharing’ your boat through a sailing or motor cruiser membership programme you can enjoy the benefits and lifestyle whilst neatly side stepping the need for a large financial outlay, time, energy and money required to manage your boat. Most importantly you avoid the cost and headache of disposing of your boat and funding the capital depreciation shortfall.
“Expensive depreciating assets are best leased not purchased”
Financially, people are getting much more savvy. For many, money is not so free flowing as it was and the importance of ‘protecting’ your capital is coming to the fore. With this shift in thinking there is a fast growing appreciation that expensive depreciating assets are best leased not purchased.
Shared membership on yachts and motor cruisers builds on the ‘sharing’ concept by creating a viable financial vehicle that enables a small group of people to ‘share’ a professionally managed boat. All that the members pay is a monthly membership fee giving them exclusive access to their boat with everything taken care of so that they can spend their leisure time sailing and not dealing with all the issues and costs of private ownership. Typically a membership costs less than the marina berthing fees! Best of all there is no financial risk.
At FlexiSail we realized that this was not enough, as reflected by the financial difficulties that recently beset one of our competitors. We have therefore created a supported environment incorporating in-house RYA training and an active social programme. In so doing we have created enormous ‘added value’ to our proposition. Meanwhile for those that want to own their own boat, the membership programme is a dream come true.
“If you put your own boat into a membership boat share programme this is by far the most economical way to sail.”
The owner will receive all the benefits of a member but with free sailing, boat running costs paid and an income to offset depreciation. If you have the capital this is by far the most economical way to sail and you are able to own your own boat at the same time. The only word of caution is that you want to be satisfied that the company that you place your boat with has a good track record of maintaining their owners boats to the highest level. That is best ascertained by seeing older boats in the programme and speaking to existing owners.
At FlexiSail, despite having launched three new boats this year we are actively looking for new owners to meet our growing membership, demonstrating that the interest is still very much there.