Business Overview

Many boat owners have their boat taken out of the water and put into storage at season’s end. Before a boat can safely be stored for the offseason, however, it must be winterized. Winterization is the process of cleaning a boat, servicing its engines and systems, and covering the boat.

While some boat owners winterize their vessels themselves, many hire a business to do the work. Boaters may choose to have a business service their boat because they don’t have time to do it themselves, they don’t want to do it themselves, or they want other maintenance items checked at the end of the boating season.

Who is this business right for?

Anyone who loves boating and is mechanically inclined may enjoy running a boat winterization business. Business owners get to spend their days working on boats, and they don’t have to miss many days on the water since winterization is done at the end of the season. Mechanical skills are needed because winterization includes checking the engine oil, fuel, onboard plumbing, and other fluids.

This type of business can be run on the side since the work is seasonal and can be done part-time. Business owners who have primary jobs can supplement their income by winterizing boats during their off hours in the fall.

What happens during a typical day at a boat winterization business?

Winterizing a boat typically takes a few hours. The exact work done depends on the type of boat being winterized, but it usually involves the following:

  • Pulling the boat out of the water (if not previously done)
  • Cleaning the boat (possibly power-washing or polishing it)
  • Draining some of the fluids in the engine
  • Adding stabilizers and/or antifreeze to the engine fluids that are left
  • Servicing the other fluid and electrical systems on board
  • Covering the boat in shrink wrap
  • Placing the boat in storage (either inside or outside)

This work may be performed in an indoor workspace, outside, or at a customer’s location.

What is the target market?

Boat owners are the target market for a boat winterization business. Anyone who has a boat that’s larger than a dinghy, canoe, or kayak may need their boat winterized.

How does a boat winterization business make money?

A boat winterization business makes money by charging customers for winterizing their boats. Whether boat owners do any of the above-listed work themselves can affect how much is charged.

What is the growth potential for a boat winterization business?

Most boat winterization businesses are small, local operations. For example, Mike’s Marine Service is a typical marina that offers winterization and other services.

Businesses that expand beyond a defined region usually focus on a single aspect of winterization -- shrink-wrapping -- and offer the service for more than just boats. This is what Michael Enos did with Fast Wrap, a business that grew to dozens of locations by offering shrink-wrapping service for boats, amusement park rides, and other winterized equipment.