bout an hour and a half south of downtown Washington, DC, sits Lake Anna, a quickly growing hotspot for watersports enthusiasts. But “hot spot” doesn’t just refer to its popularity—the waters of Lake Anna are pumped to cool the reactors at a nearby power plant, creating hot-tub-like temperatures for swimmers once the “waste water” (don’t worry, it’s clean!) is returned to the lake. Kyle Barmoy, business manager of boatsales and rental company Mid-Atlantic Water Sports, has been enjoying Lake Anna since he was a kid. Here’s how he helped make MAWS what he calls “the best boat rental business” on the lake.
Q: Tell us about when you first started going to Lake Anna. It wasn’t quite what it is today, was it?
Kyle Barmoy: Not at all. At the time, no one really knew about Lake Anna. There was only a gas station to get your groceries and everything—that’s all that was here. My parents bought a 10-acre piece of waterfront property and my dad built a house with some of his contractor buddies. These days, finding waterfront property for the price they paid would be unheard of!
Q: So you pretty much grew up on this lake, right?
Kyle: Yes, I've been on the water since I was 11 or 12. For a couple summers as a child, I had a wakeboard coach living at my parent's lake house and I would assist him with lessons. I competed regularly and worked my way up to the professional level, but eventually realized I get more satisfaction out of sharing my passions with others and redirected my energy towards instructing watersports and snowboarding. After I graduated from college, I quickly realized how difficult it is to get a job in the watersports or snowsports industries, so I began a career in the car and truck rental industry. At the time I felt like I had taken a detour from my dream job, but it turns out that rental experience set me up perfectly for where I am today.
Q: Tell us more about that. What do you do for Mid-Atlantic Water Sports?
Kyle: I came on board in 2022 to be a righthand man to Steve, the owner. I wasn’t even supposed to be focused on the rentals since the core part of the business is sales, but I immediately saw that the rentals were being underutilized. Boat rentals are very lucrative here. So I thought, I've got a background in car and truck rentals, I can do a lot with this.
Q: How large is the operation now?
Kyle: We’ve got about 20 boats and we do about 1000 rentals a year between the boats and the supplemental products we offer like tubes and wakeboards.
Q: What do you like best about BookingCentral?
Kyle: Automation is what you need when you’re running this kind of business. So I like that people can go to tourlakeanna.com and book a boat—it all goes through BookingCentral. That means I don’t need as many employees to man the phones taking reservations. I also really like how user-friendly the platform is for me on the backend. You know how it can be intimidating anytime you're learning something new? Even if you’re tech savvy, and I am, there’s still that worry. But the first time I got in there, I just figured it out.
"I really like how user-friendly the platform is on the backend... the first time I got in there, I just figured it out."
Q: Talk more about the versatility of the platform—are you able to customize it for the needs of the company as it grows?
Kyle: 100 percent. It’s easy for me to go in and make changes anytime. For instance, we bought a bunch of new Jet Skis and I was able to add them to our website in a matter of two hours without even having to reach out to BookingCentral.
Q: We’re hearing that lots of companies are adding the damage coverage option. Do you have that activated?
Kyle: Yes, for sure. The boat propeller is the most commonly damaged part of the boat, so I decided to add prop coverage for our rental boats. I made that active in an afternoon, and we made about six grand off of it last summer. It's the little things like that, that let me make money without having to bother a web developer. And it’s part of our customer service, really. By offering the damage coverage option when they book, it can help the customer in the long run. For example, I had one guy rent a boat but he declined the prop coverage. He came back with a damaged propeller. If he had purchased the coverage, he would have owed us $80 for the 2-day rental. But he was on the hook for a $250 propeller. I recommend taking that coverage when you have the chance!
Q: Are there other BookingCentral features you've used, such as broadcast text messaging?
Kyle: Definitely. I use the text messaging feature a lot. There are times when we have storms coming in and I can broadcast a message to say, “Make sure you’re docked, make sure your Bimini sunshades are secure.” I also like the automated messages—I've got it set up so that when a rental is complete, the renter gets a text that asks them about their experience. If they leave us a five-star review, it prompts them to add it to our Google page. That’s why I love this feature, because it's hard to get reviews and this helps me make it as easy for customers to do it. If they rate us four stars or less, it gives them my email so they can reach out to me and I can try to address any issue there might have been.
"There are times when we have storms coming in and I can broadcast a message to say, “Make sure you’re docked, make sure your Bimini sunshades are secure.”
Q: What’s your favorite part of what you do?
Kyle: I would say at the end of the day, when I've got a group of people coming back and there's a bunch of kids on the boat and they're all energized, and I'm like, Hey guys, who had the most fun today? And the kids tell me how much fun they had on the boat, how awesome it was when they fell off the tube. When that happens, I know those kids are going to love being on boats for the rest of their lives. Thinking back to when I was a kid and my first time going out on a boat, and all the good memories I have—that's what it's about. Getting to spread the love every day for being on the lake is very, very rewarding.
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