Typical Roles at a Canoe and Kayak Rental Business

A canoe rental business will have different employees depending on the specific services it offers. Waterfront businesses rent canoes out to customers, and many drive customers and their canoes to a launching point upriver. Canoe rentals will need receptionists to check in customers, take equipment reservations, and handle paperwork like waivers and security deposits. Drivers for shuttles and tour guides for the river/lake may also be required depending on your business model.

General Manager

A general manager runs the daily operations of the business and may also engage in marketing work. This role can be filled by the owner.

Typical Salary: $40,000

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Hiring/scheduling staff
  • Ordering supplies
  • Serving as the point of contact for the company

What to look for:

  • Experience hiring/managing people
  • Prior management experience


A receptionist will manage paperwork and guest relations, ensuring the administrative aspects of the business run smoothly.

Salary: $12/hr

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Answering phones
  • Greeting guests and taking information

Who to Look For:

  • Flexible schedules (particularly weekends)
  • Prior retail experience a plus


A driver will transport customers and their guests upriver to the launching point, saving them the trouble of paddling upriver.

Salary: $12/hr

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Driving a van and trailer
  • Helping load and unload canoes

Who to Look For:

  • Clean driving record
  • Drivers license
  • Flexible schedule (particularly weekends)

Tour Guide

A tour guide accompanies a group downriver, providing guidance and assistance as necessary.

Salary: $15/hr

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Canoeing along with groups of customers
  • Helping with overturned canoes as needed
  • Guiding canoers downriver

Who to Look For:

  • Experience with canoes and rivers
  • First aid skills
  • Flexible schedule (particularly weekends)

Canoe and Kayak Rental Business Hiring Tips

Hiring employees can seem like a nerve-wracking process, but it doesn't have to be. We break the process down into four basic steps: (1) Planning; (2) Recruiting; (3) Interviewing; and (4) Completing the Hire. Here are some tips for each phase of the process

Plan to Staff Your Business

At a minimum, you’ll need to hire administrative staff to greet customers, handle paperwork and reservations, and ensure equipment is checked out and returned properly. Some companies will also hire drivers for a shuttle service, and tour guides to accompany groups downriver. All of the roles are generally scalable with the size of the business, employing more administrative staff and drivers as customer volume increases.

A canoe rental is an extremely seasonal business: most shut down completely during the winter months. As such, expect to hire employees during the spring through fall months. Ensure your employees are aware of this so they can plan accordingly. The volume of customers coming to your business will vary with the season: plan staffing for a slow start in the spring as it gradually gets warmer, and a peak during the height of summer.

Develop a Recruiting Strategy

Recruiting can be done through traditional channels such as online job boards or community flyers. Consider also advertising at local colleges or universities to give you access to young workers able to work part time during the weekday and weekends.

Interview with Confidence

If you take your time during the planning and recruiting phases of the process, you will likely end up with many qualified candidates.

Nonetheless, it is natural for a new business owner to be a bit anxious the first time hiring employees. Don’t forget that the interview is just a chance to get to know an applicant and to give them an opportunity to learn more about the role and the business. Also, it might help to remember that they are probably even more nervous than you are!

Throughout the interview process, it may help to keep in mind that most cafe owners look for employees who are:

  • Customer-oriented
  • Flexible
  • Good multi-taskers

Here are some sample interview questions that will help you learn more about the character of your interviewees:

  • Talk about how you handle working under stress.
  • Do you have reliable transportation?

Be Familiar with Hiring Laws

After selecting a job candidate, there are certain steps you will need to follow to complete the hiring process. Check out our Hiring Compliance Checklist for a step-by-step guide to the legal aspects of hiring employees.

One of the most important steps is to classify your new hire as an employee or an independent contractor. Become familiar with IRS guidelines on this matter, as there are serious consequences for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor.

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For more details, please refer to our guide on the topic, Contractors vs. Employees: What You Need to Know. We also provide templates for the essential hiring forms you will need.

Set Up Payroll

Once you have a growing team of employees, it's time to set up your payroll. Using a payroll service provider saves you time for running your business, and also helps ensure that you comply with important federal requirements such as employee tax withholding.

To help our readers save money and grow their business, we negotiated a 20% discount for you with payroll provider ADP, the most popular small business provider in the country.

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Try ADP and get 20% off payroll services for your business.

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