I enjoyed getting to meet many of you at the show up in Cedar Key.   I was asked to summarize some of the ideas again for you (and also give others who weren’t able to attend, or “new” employees that you may want to “train”) to use to sell more fishing kayaks.   A lot of what I had to say should lead to more sales of fishing kayaks.   It is the most rapid growing segment of the fishing community.   A big reason is that kayak fishing opens up opportunities to remote areas power boats can’t get to.   It is also the quietest way to approach gamefish.   Comparatively: Choosing kayak fishing over other options has a huge economic benefit.   The only maintenance/repair I do on my Native Watercraft is on a 50 cent piece of bungee that wears out about once a year.   No gasoline, no batteries to charge, no electronic malfunctions!

For those who already have a store or for those considering opening a store, these are my recommendations.  

 For anyone who really wants to read about my business and kayak fishing, send me an email to livelybaits@aol.com.   I’ll send you a multitude of links to articles on kayak fishing that will enlighten you on the craft of fishing from a kayak.

From the distant past:   Native has put together the very best boats as far as the comfort and layout for fishing kayaks in the entire industry.  The Ultimate is what I call the “Cadillac of the fishing kayak.”   If you can get someone to try one out, your odds at Closing a sale will go way up.   Challenge them to try one.   The comfort of the Native Watercraft seats have no competition.   But also “sell” them the idea by learning the benefits of a kayak for fishing.   Read on to get the feel for what I’m talking about.

My goal is to be closely reconnected to Native and have an impact again.  

I’m on the Pinellas side of the Tampa Bay area.    There are other options but the two best are listed here.   

The stores:

Bill Jackson’s in Pinellas Park

My relationship with this store is versatile for someone who doesn’t actually work under the roof.   My boats are shipped directly to the store and rigged there.   As part of the relationship, my clients are all sent directly to the store.   Many of the clients will spend several thousand dollars getting “equipped for kayak fishing.”  Bill Jackson’s is a complete outdoors operation.

Osprey Bay Outdoors, Clearwater

A great kayak store.    Very complete services and product.    Owned by very nice people.    This is a place to go if you are interested in buying a kayak.    They offer paddle tours.    They will really help get you into the boat you should have.  

If Hobie is your choice, Tackle Shack is the Hobie dealer.

This is the sale you should regularly make if you train your sales staff to “sell a fishing kayak.”   As a way to reduce the odds of someone “talking themselves out of buying one” have all your staff read this article:

http://proanglersjournal.com/2009/11/02/myths-about-kayaks/

What should you sell?  

These the “essentials” –

  • The kayak/watercraft
  • Roof Rack and rack pads
  • Paddle, PFD, whistle, rod holders, anchor trolley rigging, dry bags

Other items that you could consider as well if you wanted to be a store that caters “full service” to the kayak angler: 

  • Fishing rods, reels, lures, line
  • Accessories Waders, hats, lights, shoes, leader line, flares, Night fishing accessories, sunglasses, cameras

Having a guide or “expert” affiliated with your store:

As someone who has achieved a visible stature in the fishing scene, there are many people I never meet who go out and buy the things I talk about.   This is another reason to find a very good person who is either a guide or an avid kayak angler in your area.   Your kayak fishing expert should take you and your employees out to give everyone the experience.   Everyone gets a fun day on the water but they also now have the insight to “sell” the sport to potential customers and also make recommendations on the “rigging”, safety and what I call “fishing from a seated position.” 

I do a lot to promote my kayak fishing charters.   You want someone who has a “voice” in the community.    I do the biggest feature seminars, monthly seminars at the store (which is mentioned in my “email reports” and the SP Times), write for several magazines and the SP Times, attend the various fishing shows doing on-stage seminars about kayak fishing.  

Also from the past:   I hold monthly seminars at the store.   I call it Kayak Fishing School.   About twice a year I’ll have the topic be “Are you interested in fishing from a kayak?” and try to have it run in the St Pete Times.    Usually five to seven people come in for this one and I’ll talk about the advantages of fishing from a kayak and give a summary of the sport in about an hour and a half.    Odds are high that six of the seven will buy boats right there from the store and many will get their friends to also join in on the fun.   There will be some of those people who hire me to give them the “hands on” training.  In addition to the fishing aspects, people who attend these seminars are also going to have the instruction on how to handle the emergencies that can arise while on the water and how to avoid bad situations during their outings.    I’ll get feedback on how my instruction saved someone from getting into serious trouble out there.   This is something you want your “expert” to work in to their seminar itinerary.

There are other things I do that I call “indirect referrals” that benefit Native Watercraft, Osprey Bay and Bill Jackson’s.

Public launches:  My affiliation with Bill Jackson’s and Osprey Bay leads to sales for the store by contact with miscellaneous people around town.   While starting or finishing trips, the number of people who just walk up and start asking questions is very high.   Some are interested in taking a trip with me, others are “do it yourself” types.   I send them all to the stores with the names of the people to ask for and the things to look at while in the store.

Decals:   I promote the companies I am affiliated with.  Everything that I use is sold at Jackson’s.       I have Jackson’s decals on my boats and the roof rack pads they sell in the store also have the store name on them.   If you don’t have items like that, you should consider it.  

The Aforementioned “rigging”

1)   The bare basics:   Lures, boat rigging and “hot” accessories.   You can easily “kit” the things to stock, train your salespeople and almost Cookie Cutter your sales to the kayak buyer who is using the boat for fishing.    A tackle section can be set up the same way.   If you have local lure suppliers who will be perfect for this, that’s great.   Otherwise I am affiliated with 12 Fathom Lures/Producto.   That’s salt and fresh water lures.   I’m not here to sell lures.  I offer this as an option for you to consider.  Contact me if you’d like to put up a tackle section for your store and I can consult with you on what would be good inventory for your tackle section.

A great example of why you need to have your “expert” take you out kayak fishing is the anchor trolley system.   Aside from the rod holder, this is the most important feature someone will add to a fishing kayak.   In the beginning of December there will be a piece in the St Pete Times on why this is such a useful tool.   The bottom line, you will create those lifelong customers if you get them to rig their boat in the most efficient manner so that they enjoy the kayak fishing experience to the highest extent.  The anchor trolley makes comfortable fishing a breeze if the user is taught the functionality.

2) Guide services and advice.   Guides in other areas have talked to me about affiliation with Native watercraft and building their own businesses.   I’ve given them the ideas that have worked for me and see them emulating what I do.   There are details I won’t go in to but I try to work “Bill Jackson’s” in to every time I’m on stage, on the air or otherwise.   I tout the advantages of the Native watercraft and sell the sport as a whole (“making the best experience”, trip planning/tides/weather/winds, catching more fish; involving spouses and kids etc).    Your customers who visit the store who are not having the best fishing results should be handed your guide’s business card and told all the benefits they will garner from the hands on instruction and evaluation of their technique.

The “Experience” and creating “customers for life”

 Many of my clients get such good care at Jackson’s, they do all their shopping there.   They decide on getting a new or “extra” boat, they head to the store.   They have someone else who is interested in joining them fishing, they bring that person to the store.   Create your own “customers for life” and harvest all that repeat business.    ASK for email addresses and send out newsletters with store announcements, other events you may be putting together, seminars on fishing etc.   People react to this form of contact: With my own email database I get a lot of repeat business from the regular articles and reports I send out.  

Feel free to contact me with any questions about kayak fishing or anything else I can help you with!  I do hope to hear that my input leads to a lot more sales in your stores.

Neil Taylor

Neil Taylor

Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding.Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed www.capmel.com and eventually became that web site’s owner.
Neil Taylor

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