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How to Handle the High Season: Captains' Top Tips

Apr 26, 2022 | 5 minute read Comments
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Managing and running fishing trips is no easy task, especially during the high season. Back-to-back trips, 7-day work weeks, and a full inbox are the reality for many captains at this time of year. 

So, how do you make sure your operation handles the heat without sacrificing customers or quality service? To find out, we spoke with three of FishingBooker’s top captains to get their insight.

With stellar track records, an army of satisfied customers, and over 80 years of combined experience, Captains Brian Garris, Jay Mccorry, and Brian David are walking treasure troves of guiding expertise. We caught a moment with them to learn all about their high season hacks, including everything from setting customer expectations, to smart business decisions, to making the most out of their FishingBooker presence.

How do you manage multiple trips in a single day?

We first sat down with Captain Brain Garris to find out how he manages an influx of trips during the high season. He emphasized the importance of preparation, especially when you have multiple bookings in one day. 

Captain Brian Garris standing on a boat while holding a fish in one hand, and a fishing rod in the other
For Captain Brian Garris, preparation is key

As a customer, you should never get on a boat with a captain who doesn’t already have bait. The captain should always be prepared for the trip. So, the day before, the captain should already have everything he needs for when the clients show up.

And it’s not just about keeping the boat stocked. Captain Brian went on to tell us how important it is to make sure your calendar is up to date. When lots of bookings start to come in during the high season, it’s easy to lose track of things. That’s why managing your calendar is key to running a successful charter business. 

I think a lot of people make mistakes because they don’t keep up with the calendar. It goes back to organization – you’ve got to be on top of your game. 

I’ve had other captains ask me, “Man, how do you do that?” Well, when somebody texts when they schedule, and they Instant Book, I immediately open my calendar and write it in because if you don’t, you’re going to forget it, or you’re going to miss it. And then you’re gonna be in big trouble.

How do you manage customer expectations on a busy schedule?

We then spoke to Captain Jay Mccorry who said that he always makes sure he’s doing everything he can to properly manage his customers’ expectations.

When somebody sends a booking request, I answer it as quickly as possible. Before I answer it, I read the special requests, and that gives me a better idea of what they’re looking for. That way, I can acclimate whether it’s going to be a family trip or a couple of guys looking to specialize in catching, say Snook.

And when I have people who specifically want to go for Snook, I can explain to them how their trip depends on things like the winds and tide. 

Rather than spending the whole day trying to catch Snook, Captain Jay suggests mixing it up and targeting Snook exactly when they’re most likely to bite.

On top of tracking customers’ needs, keeping up with expectations is also about communication. That’s why Captain Brian David always reaches out to the customer a day or two before the trip. He says that that way, all the details are fresh in both of their minds.

Captain Brian David holding a fish next to a smiling client
Captain Brian David (right) with a customer

I call everybody a day or two before the trip. That way, nobody’s getting confused. When you’re running two trips a day, seven days a week, you don’t know who you talked to and who you didn’t talk to. You have no idea. 

If you keep it simple, and everybody gets a call, you make sure your customers know where they’re going. You tell them then about what to bring, boom, it’s fresh in their mind. If you talk to somebody a month prior to your trip, let me tell you something, on the day of the trip, they’re going to forget everything you talked about. So, the biggest thing is to stay diligent about calling all customers a day or two ahead of time.

Which FishingBooker feature makes your high-season life easier?

When you’re juggling multiple incoming trips a day, you need all the help you can get. Since helping you manage your trips is exactly what we’re about, we asked Captain Jay what his favorite FishingBooker feature is.

I love Instant Book. The feature is very good because it’s not pressurized. 

As he explains it:

Let’s say you want to go fishing tomorrow. I need to call you back right away, confirm the schedule, and go through everything. But when the booking is a week out, and I have 10, 15, or 20 people calling, having the booking instantly confirmed is big.

I can call you right away and say, “Hey, Sean, I see that you booked a week ahead. I’m going to give you a call in a couple of days and go over the trip with you.” Being able to do that just gives me a little breathing room.

And what about after the trip?

As you know, communication with the customer doesn’t stop when they leave your boat.  Reaching out to customers after your trip increases the chances of you getting a nice review, which makes it a lot easier to get even more customers. Don’t believe us? Just ask Captain Jay – he has over 350 5-star reviews!

Captain Jay Mccorry holding a small Redfish next to a smiling angler
It’s all smiles on Captain Jay’s boat

How does he do it?

After the trip, I ask my customers, “Do you remember how you found me?” And they’ll say “Yeah, from the reviews.”

So I’ll say, “You had a great fishing day because other people left these reviews. Later today, FishingBooker’s going to ask you to write your own review. I’d appreciate it if you’d spend just three minutes and share your experience. And you know, a lot of people do.

Money Time

The high season is a hectic period, but it’s also a time when your business can grow the most. No matter how busy you are, we hope that these captains’ tips will help you make the best of it. So stay on top of your customers’ expectations and your calendar, enable Instant Book, and watch your business grow like never before! 

Those were some of our captains top tips, but what are yours? How do you keep things running smoothly during the high season? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments (2)
  • Garrett Robinson

    Aug 4, 2021

    I keep ahead of the game with my “war board”. I have a 8’x4’ dry erase board that has date contact info booking # which lake what species # of persons and special notes. I update it every day and there are spots for me to check off initial call and final call the day before the trip. The call the day before the trip I agree is crucial. The customer always has questions you’ve already answered. I would forget as well but my war board allows me to always know what’s upcoming and not get blind sided by special requests or circumstances.

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      Aug 4, 2021

      Hi Garrett,

      Thanks for sharing, and what a great tool!

      Having all the important info in a visible spot sounds like just the thing to keep you on track. I’m guessing that it’s even easier to visualize and recall the trip details when you’ve written them on a 8’x4’ board like that.

      Thanks again, and tight lines!

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