July and Reality

July 6th, 2021

It’s getting where I have to keep rewriting these because the first version is what I really want to say describing you and me interacting in reality. Not good for my business for the right people I want on board. I have a great boat, all of the best equipment money can buy and all of the knowledge to make almost any adventure possible. I know how to do all the activities I offer very well with success. I have made a business out of it for 13 years. Things have changed. The demand for my services is 300% greater daily than any peak holiday weekend in my career as a fishing adventure guide for over a year now. I’m a one man operation operating at everything maxed out. For me, I can do it. Not a problem if things go well. I have programs for success in place. I have policies and procedures and buffers to mitigate and manage what I do daily.

Annnnnnd then my customers come into the mix.

Let me be you in this moment for a moment. You go to my website. Some things looked exciting. You bypassed words and more words because there were nice pictures and you booked a trip of any sort for whatever reason. That is how all of my problems start. You may have just blown your entire trip. I’m 100% serious. Those words on my website were critical to your trip. Ignore those words and you become 75% of my trips that I do not care for at all. Let me describe further.

I do what I do every day. I say nearly the same things as protocol. Actually, I have engineered a very quick process to learn how my trip will go with you before I leave the dock. I know you made a booking. Some of you have left me notes about your group. Certainly we talked before hand and went over what is important. You show up for your trip and here is how it goes….

I have everything ready. I’m an hour invested into your trip before you see me for the first time at the dock. At some point we find each other. If you called me from your car in the parking lot asking where I am at, fail. I am in a boat in the water at the marina called Captain Hooks. Not in a gravel parking lot next to your parked car. Find me at my boat. When me meet, I will give pre-boarding instructions specifically about bathroom breaks and spray sunblock. That’s your time to do it. I lay out a towel for you to wipe your feet on before boarding. Either you are early or late. Add a strike for being late. I’m never late for any reason. I demonstrate how to get on the boat safely and one by one, I ask you to do the same. “Hi, my name is Kevin” I grab your hand and I ask you to wipe your feet on the towel and I grab your hand for security to help you on board safely. More than 50% of my customers will not tell me their names, they will not wipe their feet and will jump 2-3 feet into the boat without warning. Super basic un-rushed instructions. Fail, fail and fail. When everybody is aboard, I take everybody as a group and show you your storage, the drink cooler, the bathroom for girls, extra easy dry storage for high use items and where I want you to sit. This is usually an 80% fail. Most groups crowd together in the extreme front of the boat and sit on my deck, which is wet, hard, has no cushioned seating and places you in the roughest part of the boat. Many times your stuff is everywhere ready to bounce and blow out of the boat once we get going. I remind my guests as we go along. We leave the dock quickly, as it is a very busy high demand place and I do not have time to take up precious dock space for the line of boats that is waiting for my spot. Within minutes out comes the spray sun block and one by one my guests coat my boat from upwind to downwind in spray sunblock. It is like ice grease coating on my boat. It is also an acid like product that melts my wax, bonds to my soft surfaces and coats my electronics. If you are not sure what I’m talking about, take a bottle of spray sunblock and spray on the hood of your car for 15 seconds. Sit in your car and spray the dash and windshield for 10 seconds. I’ll save you the time, it will take an hour of cleaning on the interior and your paint on your car won’t be happy. This represents 1 person on my boat that didn’t follow instructions multiplied by how many times it actually happens. It’s an ugly reality for me and a constantly losing battle. We are not even 3 minutes from the dock yet and things are not going good.

Within 4 minutes we get up to the planing (aka fast zone) area and I ask everybody if they are ready, to secure their hats and not sit in the front. The kids almost always sit in the front because the bumps are fun. We get up to speed, shit goes flying, hats go overboard, I deal with that step and move on. A couple minutes further, I shut down, come to a stop and move everybody because nobody listened to what I said.

Next, we get to the spot. X amount of drama along the way, we laugh a little bit about whatever the journey was. I find my fish, anchor and start my process. I get the fish up, adjust my tackle for conditions and get started in the educational process. This is where the road splits in 2 directions. I become deeply invested and involved in teaching the first 2 people how to do what it takes to catch fish. That’s an ordeal in itself, but as this is happening, the people that DID NOT PREPARE are busy getting seasick. At this point, your group has been on my boat for almost an hour. I’m getting into my program and my attention is about to go a different direction. So is your trip. I’ll skip the details, but the next step is to take the puking human to less of a place of ocean like conditions. Plan A and B just evaporated. Your weakest link just became the focus of your trip and my plans are derailed. Whatever you want to do does not matter anymore. I’m trying to save the trip. Typically we go to a more comfortable place that generally also fails and then you are back at the dock early. I 50/50 the loss with you and we both end up with a loss. Your people are sick, we failed our mission completely and I made less money than I planned for my business. I need the new outcome to be you eating the cost of “this has never happened before, this is the first time…., we didn’t think this would happen, this is this person’s first time out…….whatever. It’s time for you to be 100% invested into your trip like I am. In reasonable conditions, you will be responsible for your trips in full if we come back early because your guest crumbled. That’s how everybody else does it. That’s my new policy going forward. Daily, my guests are failing me out of business if I do not make this change. 70% of my trips can not be a human disaster, like they currently are. That’s not how I can make a business. Not at all how this is supposed to work.

My website has complete and detailed instructions of what trip to choose, give you the opportunity to tell me about you, we work with our weather window for what we intend to do and so on. It’s a plan and a process. It is a process that has always worked for me…………except for 2021. My 2021 customers are the most sustained destructive groups I have ever had on my boat day to day. It does not matter what I do or how I adjust, I can not manage my 2021 groups. You tell me why that is. I know I am prepared and doing the best I know how to do it. You tell me what I am doing wrong. From my perspective, I am seeing the most unprepared, unrealistic, least outdoors capable and most reckless and destructive humans that lack common sense or situational awareness as my normal. That just makes you a giant liability from start to finish.

Liability management is a huge part of my business. I do it with ease. It’s how I don’t get sued into oblivion from any situation that goes wrong. I don’t have accidents on my boat……until a few weeks ago. Fist one in 13 years. In the time it took me to walk from my steering wheel to get a bottle of water, my customer set (hook set) a 6 ounce jig that should have been 300 feet below the boat into his friends face 30 miles offshore. That was nearly the dumbest thing I have ever seen. It lacked 100% situational awareness. I thought we established a pattern that would have made this impossible. Not true according to reality. Pure luck made this nightmare a good outcome given how bad it was. What has become commonly impossible is me being able to turn my back without a complete disaster from my customers doing something incomprehensibly stupid. I am so stressed out. I have so much unnecessary anxiety on my trips. Well, how is that possible in the context of a fishing trip? Nearly every trip I am deep into trench warfare of my guests that have zero clue what they are doing, what is going on, what we are doing and how anything can hurt me, yourself or break anything and everything on my boat. This is my daily reality. I do not want this to be my reality at all. My whole business is I know my stuff and I am good at it. I invite you on my boat to do what I know how to do. My program and equipment is top of the line. I’ve been here long enough to know how to make it work in 99.5% of every situation. You are the variable that makes or break what I do.

I have approximately 2,000 guests on my boat each year. I run every aspect of my business personally A-Z. I have a well established unmanipulated reputation of my business by me being me. I am human, not a robot. I operate my trips on sleepless nights, broken body parts, illnesses, problems in my personal life, exhaustion beyond description, every circumstance without excuse. I gave up on encouraging social media reviews because there was zero return in my investment in my customers. I don’t look anymore what’s going on on any platform, but I saw earlier this year I got 2 bad reviews. Ok. Here is what did NOT happen. Those people did not have bad trips. They likely caught a pile of fish despite anything. They did not post pictures of their catch for perspective. They did not communicate ANY LEVEL OF DISAPPROVAL OR DISAPPOINTMENT WITH ME. They probably tipped me. I take responsibility for my actions on my trips. Certainly some could be better than others. There are lots of variables in every trip. I deal with a ton of people. My entire life is running my business and serving you and making quality trips. My business life ruins my personal life many, many times. I’m very invested in you. What is costs me is my problem that I manage

For 2021, I am the person behind the counter at the DMV or Tax Collector. I’m dealing with volume and a lot of people that have lots of wishes and needs, but have not prepared for any of that to be possible. I can only do so much for the people that show up completely unprepared. Most of my customers are completely unprepared. That makes most trips work and fewer trips fun.

My very best tip for you. Read ALL OF THE INFORMATION ON MY WEBSITE. Pick a trip that is appropriate for your group. All of your group. Absolutely LEAVE THE “COME ALONGS” AT HOME. They do not belong on a boat if they are not invested in being there. All of your group that step foot on my boat must be 100% invested and prepared. Understand what you are doing, learn along the way and make it fun for me. When you make my boat a floating prison that I am stuck on with your group every day trudging through insanity, eventually, somebody will find a reason to be disappointed and complain about something online. It’s not me, it’s all you and your group. My hearing sucks, but what I HEAR REALLY, REALLY BOTHERS ME. I know how to make adjustments based on your conversations I hear. You bring or destroy the energy on the boat. I get paid to do fun things. Let’s get back to that concept. I’m in the fun business. I can crank out a volume of fun trips that each is special. That’s what I do. I don’t have a volume of fun and prepared customers make me daily trips everything that I expect them to be based on how i present my trips to you. You have to get on my program to make this work. That’s why people hire me. My regular repeat customers have little to no access to hire me because I’m drowning in customers that don’t know shit from shit and make my day impossible to survive. My regulars treat me like royalty and you generally treat me like a cheap prostitute. I have a new folder this year of naughty never again customers that will never be on my boat again. First time ever in all my years of business. That slightly describes my 2021 difficulties. To be very clear. I don’t want everybody’s business. I am not the DMV. I want customers that are on board with being 100% on my program. Dumb below common sense will put me out of business in a year or so. I am prepared to not leave the dock on a trip if you fail everything before we leave the dock. That’s about to be a real thing.

Fishing is great. I’m crushing it. Offshore, reef, it’s all good. Snorkeling is going to be day to day following Elsa. Rain makes green water. Wind makes dirty water. Lobster season is coming up soon. Every year the lobster population declines a little bit. We have not had one year better than the last in 20 years, so it will be tougher. This year we have 200-300% more people than I have ever seen here. Do the math. Not going to be easier this year in any way, shape or form. Especially if you have no idea of what you are doing. I wish it did, but that just does not work anymore. If that’s how it worked, this post would be more like a Disney commercial. I’m on the reality side of things, so prepare for reality. Prepare for nothing and your reality will meet you before I do. Just know, I will know you before we leave the dock because you look like the last time it went right or wrong multiplied by 1000. If you show up with nothing in your hands, no hats, no sunglasses…….you are the foundation of this post and my next failure. Until the next post, here is a few people that did it right. Note the details in the pics and then correlate with my Trip Tips info. Imagine that. My investment in you is huge. Don’t take that granted for a second. I can only afford to live here by working at full cost nearly every day. Pay to adventure or pay to fail. The price is now the same. Please don’t be you and kill your trip by being an ignorant person from wherever you come from and expecting to succeed in my environment without knowing or doing anything helpful. It will never work, despite my best efforts.

Here are some pretty pictures of what went right this past month……

Many people pictured have little to no fishing experience. Certainly, it is helpful, but not a deal breaker. The deal breaker is knowing how to learn new information and apply action to create success. Doing it wrong the entire trip produces a different result. My post is geared towards fixing that. Sometime really soon I would like to find harmony where you are meeting me in the middle. We can both be happy when the boat pulls up to the dock and the trip is finished. I know how it goes, but you could even spend a few minutes writing a review while I spend an hour cleaning your catch. Super small trade off that makes me look like I know what I’m doing compared to the businesses that pay for their reviews and to remove them. The reality of charters is as fake as can be.

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