usiness was booming back in 2020 and 2021 for Pleasant Water Sports, a jet ski and paddle board rental company located in Lake Pleasant Regional Park in Peoria, AZ. But Lindsey Wilkins, owner, and Cheyenne Domsher, dock manager, weren’t having much fun, despite their success. The problem was the business had grown so quickly during the pandemic that their software couldn’t keep up. They were forced to create workarounds, which meant a lot of busywork. It was exhausting. Here’s what they did to solve their most frustrating problems and get back to doing what they love most—helping people have the time of their lives out on Lake Pleasant, or as Lindsey and Cheyenne call it: “An oasis in the desert!”
Q: Lindsey, let’s start with the back story. How did you get started as a jet ski rental operator?
Lindsey: There was a company that ran both jet ski rentals at the lake where we now operate and off-road rentals. Back in 2016 they wanted to sell the jet ski side of the business, but because the lake is within a county park, the county required whoever bought the business to have jet ski experience in order to transfer the concessionaire agreement. I have two business partners—one of them has run tow-and-go jet ski rentals for years, and I was helping him run that rental business. My other partner is a jet ski mechanic in addition to doing rentals. Among the three of us, we had years of experience, so the county allowed the transfer of the concessionaire agreement and we started Pleasant Water Sports in 2017 with 8 jet skis. Now we have 18, as well as 6 paddle boards.
Q: That’s some solid growth! How’d you do that?
Lindsey: During the pandemic, we saw a huge increase in customers because they could be socially distanced on jet skis. We sold out every weekend and a lot of weekdays too. It was great because it exposed people to the marina—there are also boat rentals, kayak rentals, a restaurant, and a convenience store that a lot of people didn’t even realize were here. In 2021 we added an inflatable water park, which can accommodate over 100 people at a time for 45-minute sessions. People will often come from the water park overto the jet ski area, so the rental business has definitely gotten a boost from the water park.
Q: When you first launched in 2017, did you have an online booking platform?
Lindsey: A friend of ours is a computer engineer, and we were using a system he developed at first. But as the business grew and became more complicated, with multiple resources being rented out for different time frames, we found we were pushing the limits of the system he built. We started using a Google doc to track everything, but it didn’t speak to our payment system. So every night I was manually reconciling every transaction between the two systems! After the 2021 season, we decided it was time to look for something that could work better for us.
"We always ask ourselves, what can we tweak and change? Where are the learning opportunities?"
Q: What was your approach to finding a software platform that solved your pain points?
Cheyenne: I did a lot of research and screened a bunch of systems in advance. I had Lindsey join the demo for the ones I thought were promising.
Lindsey: As I saw a bunch of demos, I realized there are some unique things about our business that meant most of the software out there was not going to work for us.
Cheyenne: When I checked out BookingCentral, it was the calendar that caught my eye. It lets you see what you have going on on any given day, and you can move things around to utilize different time slots.The maneuverability lets me use every inventory item to the fullest. When I think about that Google doc we used to use, where I’d have 5 tabs open at once—holy cow! It’s been great having everything in one place. That’s why I pushed for BookingCentral.
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Q: What other problems has the system solved for you?
Lindsey: Not having to answer the phone to book a rental! Customers used to call us, and we’d have to spend a lot of time explaining what was available and the pricing. With BookingCentral, people can just go to our website to book what works for them.
Cheyenne: Also, the ability to send detailed information through the confirmation email and text messages. There are two marinas here and three separate entrances to the lake. And there’s a pay gate, where there’s usually a line. All of this meant people would often show up late for their rental session. Now, we can text people the specific directions for how to find us and tell them to be sure to build in time to get through the gate. Overall, the platform has really helped us bridge the gaps in terms of customer service.
Q: What would you say is key to running your business smoothly?
Lindsey: It’s the culture of our team. Cheyenne and I interview prospective employees together and then we confer to see who we think will be the best fit. Once new employees start, it’s clear pretty quickly whether or not they fit our culture of jumping in and being proactive. Recently we had someone who interviewed well but as soon as they started we could tell the person’s energy could affect the rest of the team, and not in a good way. So we got ahead of that issue—if someone is not as good of a fit as we thought, we try to correct it quickly.
Q: Looking back on the beginning: Did you make any mistakes that you wished you could have avoided?
Lindsey: It’s all been such a learning process. So it’s not really about mistakes as much as it’s just knowing, we tried it that way and learned it didn’t work. We always ask ourselves, what can we tweak and change? Where are the learning opportunities? One thing I’ll admit I learned the hard way is that 17- and 18-year-old boys are a little young to handle jet ski rentals!
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