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Old 28 March 2017, 18:21   #1
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Southampton Tractor Launch

This isn't an advert yet ! Im after some market research and suggestions as to what Trailer Ribbers would want from a launch service and what would be felt as a fair price.

The service we have in mind would be inclusive of the following:
Secure parking for your car and trailer (no extra charge for up to 2 days);
Your Boat launched by us with our tractor;
Trailer delivered to water with yourselves on board the boat;
In water launching person to expedite launch;
Trailer flushed after launch;
Recover at a time suitable to you;
Washdown facilities for you to clean your boat, flush engine and trailer;
optional nearby Marina berth available;

I will get a video and pictures taken to give an idea of what we want to do. but in the meantime your comments are extremely welcome
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Old 28 March 2017, 18:50   #2
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sounds good, especially if the council still haven't cleaned the slip, last time l launched there the whole rig slid down the slip ! I may be interested depending on the cost
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Old 29 March 2017, 06:30   #3
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Hi,

Sounds like a good idea and I'm sure it will appeal to a lot of people. I think the problem will come with what you can charge.

From 15 years experience of running a launch and recovery service, I can tell you the following: -
1. Most leisure users will want to be out on the water between 10am and 12. At our Dry Stack, we are usually launching from 8am and leaving the boats on our holding pontoons ready for the client. Your problem is, the boat won't be there until someone requires a launch.
2. People will return and want recovering when it suits them (not when it suits you). So if they want to be in the water at 10am and want to recover the boat and take it home at 8pm, how would that work? They won't want to leave it on a marina berth, drive home to Oxford and then come back the next day and get the boat. I don't think you could get away with telling people they must be back by 5pm.
3. You will know your costs and obviously that will dictate what you need to charge. However, if you think what you would charge today for someone who turned up and asked you to get your tractor hitch up their trailer and use your staff (under your insurance policy) to launch them, then flush their trailer and store it and their car for the day and then use your tractor and staff to recoevr them and then ask you to wait on while they unload their boat wash it strap it down and leave? I can't think you'ld want to do that for peanuts.

However, if you can adress all that, I still think it's a service people would want and I wish you luck

Steve
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Old 29 March 2017, 16:13   #4
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Do any of the dry berthing yards around offer one off launch/recovery like this? Or are they all contract only? I guess that would give some idea of what the going rate might be.

There's a guy up Anglesea way who does a tractor launching service that seems to work OK. It coped very well when a load of us did a cruise [1] up there a few years ago. Locals would probably know more about it, but a cost comparison probably wouldn't be much use due to the different locations.

[1] Or tried to. The weather had other ideas though...
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Old 29 March 2017, 16:28   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Kennett View Post
[1] Or tried to. The weather had other ideas though...
IMHO Boss, yer a Jonah.

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Old 29 March 2017, 16:34   #6
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There are two operating this method in Brightlingsea where I am. Park and Ride, and Morgan Marine. I've used both and currently use Morgan because they have their own concrete slip.

Annual cost is about 1500, open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Unlike the comments about users only wanting midday access we find that fisherman want to leave first thing and come back last thing. Boats are coming and going all day.

If you turn up needing launch and recovery Park and Ride will do it for 20 each way off the public hard. They run three or four tractors on a busy day as they launch fishing boats, rescue boats, local racing class BODs, as well as all the leisure boats.

The only downside is that it pays to have a trolley not a road legal trailer because it is difficult to rinse them properly day in day out.

PM me if you want to pick up any tips. There's loads of stuff I wouldn't want to say in public, and I've been using these services for seven years or so.
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Old 29 March 2017, 17:00   #7
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Yeah I can't quite figure out how the business model works!

At a guess - it must take 5 minutes to hook up a trailer, push it down the slip, drop the boat, reverse backup and drop the trailer. That assumes the trailer park is close to the top of the slip.

So you could get through 12 launches an hour. But I bet with issues - boats not starting etc its more like 8.

It sounds like you have a driver, and a man in the water. Who backs up the tractor etc is there a third man to stop people being run over?

Minimum wage is 7.50, but by the time you've paid NI etc you will be at 10/hour.

So 30 in staff for 8 launches. Thats 3.75 per launch, 3.75 per recovery for your maximum efficiency... before you pay rates, fuel, water, insurance, (do you need to pay slip charges?).

BUT very rarely will you be operating at full efficiency.

If you are open 7 days there will be days the weather is rubbish, when no-one wants launched. But you have brought 3 staff in....

I'd have thought the opening hours is your big issue. On the busy busy days you can justify it. On the "dead days" you need something else to be making money and the 1 guy who needs launched can be done by someone who also does something else doing it...

40 for a day sounds pricey to me as a customer. I know for some that would be nothing, as they are spending >100 a day on fuel.
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Old 29 March 2017, 21:33   #8
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thanks

Interesting replies so far. We will see if there is any more input and then reply fully. But to clarify this is something we think we could offer and make a contribution to our business and not run this service only.
We already offer something like this this service free of charge for people who want to bring their boats to us for servicing by water
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Old 30 March 2017, 03:16   #9
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ShinyShoe. That's fundamentally why I'd only post some comments by PM. I have some insight to your first comment
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Old 30 March 2017, 03:35   #10
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Originally Posted by ShinyShoe View Post
40 for a day sounds pricey to me as a customer. I know for some that would be nothing, as they are spending >100 a day on fuel.
Don't worry about Shiny, he's from the wastelands of the North, and has no appreciation for how willing Mr south coast will be to keep his company BMW away from the sea.

I wonder if you becoming a regular attraction might become problematic with the slip owner? If they think you are profiting more than them from the facility; if insurers or land owners like the idea of essentially paying passengers being onboard the trailer during transfer; if you are perceived to be clogging the slip for other customers; or if you will get frustrated when shiny brings his dinghy and rigs it at the bottom of the slip forgetting that it doesn't only take one minute to raise the mast etc...

Now, if you had storage too (perhaps even a mile or two away) that might change the value discussion, but as drystack says a pontoon is key for customer convenience (and Mrs BMW to walk aboard).

I wonder how many rib owners have boats that are too big for their car's or their personal launch capabilities but still able to tow them on the road, yet don't have the budget for dry stack convenience?
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