Surfboard Rental Business??

Anyone in this area? What kind of boards do you use (rent). I would think epoxy would stand up better. Want to stay away from 100% soft boards, although the softtop on poly sounds good…

Your take?


Hi Bill,

I do quite a lot of rentals. It’s a beautiful thing. See, when somebody buys a board, they give you money and go away. When they rent something for three days, they give you pretty much the same money as your profit on a new board and then they bring it back and you can do the whole thing over again.

Now, what boards to rent? That depends… you got three basic types want to rent a board. Beginners, those who think they know something and those who do surf well and just didn’t bring their board(s) .

If you’re dealing with beginners, it’s softies, definitely. Figure they cost you ~$300 each, they last a few years and you most definitely make your money back on 'em. Beginners are better off with softies, they can’t easily hurt themselves with them ( which is a psychological issue of importance) and more important, they can’t destroy the boards through ignorance. Not soft-tops, which are expensive surftech crap, but all-soft all the time. An absolute beginner won’t know or be able to use the difference anyways. When I have a good day, the softies go first, then everything else.

Those who think they know something - look, they are gonna come in and want the latest Kelly Whatsisface model with nine fins, 47 channels and nothing on. For five bucks a day 'cos they saw it in a magazine. And they will destroy anything you rent 'em after their first 12-pack at the beach, dump the thrashed board on your doorstep after hours and split. Send them to your competition or rent 'em a bic. If they don’t like it, screw 'em. Rule 1 of retail, you can’t please everybody. Especially know-it-alls.

Those who didn’t bring their boards? Generally a good bunch, I keep some good used conventional boards for them, which go for about twice the price I rent a softie for on account of they do get dinged and I have to fix them. Try to send them out by the week or longer - I generally have my weekly rate equivalent to five days rental and I don’t have 3 day deals or something like that. I am kinda careful about who I rent them to. If somebody rents a glass board from me for a week or longer, they can come in and switch boards, noproblem. I call it a ‘virtual quiver’. Very few actually do that, but it’s a selling point. I cut a nice deal for 2 weeks or longer. Generally, that pays for the board.

Other rental stuff- you need either prohibitively expensive liability insurance or a layer or two of incorporation to cover your tail - it’s a litigious society we live in. Wetsuit rentals are a win, but don’t even think about renting fins, gloves or boots. Bodyboard rentals used to be a good thing, but now all the major bodyboard makers have cheap supermarket lines that have killed that business and my new bodyboard business besides.

You’ll need roof racks - the soft ones are fine. Make sure the morons know how to use 'em, lest your rental board come back with tire marks on it.

Fine print in the rental agreements that make the renter liable for all damage to themselves and to the gear and for your lost rentals on damaged gear - keeps the frivolously litigious at bay and gives you a good position to be in when they bring a board back busted or stupidly dinged.

There is normal wear and tear on boards and suits. It happens, dings and so on. Accept it and be cool about it. Don’t break customer’s cookies if they are back 10 minutes late. Don’t give half-day rates either. Like I said, my weekly rate is the same as five days regular rental - keeps the whiners ( OOoooo, whatis it for six days) quiet.

You’re not renting boards like you’d use, you’re renting boards for ( 80% + of the time) absolute beginners. That’s why I rent what I rent. 100% softies, one or two Bic/Aitkens and a few good used boards. How many boards do you have to rent? It’s a function of how expensive they are.

Offering surf lessons…well, debatable. You have to have somebody to either do them or watch the store while you do 'em. If you schedule a time, you’re depending on the tide being right and some sort of beginner waves and if there ain’t any you have a problem. I don’t need the hassle, instead I give a five-minute dry land Surfing 101 at the shop to any renter who asks. That costs me nothing and the customers like it.

Don’t be afraid to have some days when you don’t rent boards 'cos it’s too big - that happens and you don’t need the worries. Somebody tries to tell you they can handle it, good for them, but they don’t need to handle it on your rental board.

If it’s really, really small, tell 'em if they ask. That way you’re ok if they go and are disappointed. Don’t volunteer that information, though.

I usually don’t do deposits on boards, for damage and such… but I do make exceptions to that. Somebody seems like a jerk, okay, deposit time. Get a picture ID and copy the info onto the form. No ID, no rental. Oddly enough, a library card is good backup ID in case you have any doubts. Nobody counterfeits library cards.

Shop around for credit card services. That percentage difference between services can be a nice week’s pay at the end of the year. Don’t take Discover or AMEX- they pay slow and by the time they do pay your season is about over.

That help any?



I used to manage La Jolla Surf Systems back in the early 80’s. What you said pretty much sums it up. This year I came up with a way to make softboards surf a whole lot more like a real board. If you are interested in expanding the users of your soft boards to people who have a clue, but, would still feel more comfortable on a soft board, you may want to give these a try. They are urethane fins with a contemporary thruster fin foil and a rigid backbone. These things are amazing at the difference you feel when riding a softie. But, they are not fins that will standup to being ridden into the sand (for safety reasons we left the backbone such that it will break).

Hi Tom,

First, thanks for the kind words. Those fins work with the more-or-less standard soft board screw system as a direct replacement? Sold in sets of 3? Let me get open and check my stock and see what’s what, I’m interested. Also, can you do them with a tab system, for those people I get who have conventional boards with FCS or other fin boxes and are paranoid about getting hit with their own fins?

And as an aside on that, it’s nice that somebody has thought about making fins that’ll break away when ya hit something rather than thrashing the attachment system. The jokers I have come in who need FCS plugs replaced after their kevlar FCS fins hit something…yeesh. I generally suggest that anybody using FCS use the plastic fins weakened with a saw cut so they will break off before they pull a plug out of the board.



We’ve made the original urethane keel fins that came on the first Doyle’s 20+ years ago, since the beginning. So, yes, they fit the same holes as our other fins (4" on center) with a sligh cut to allow for reinforcing gussets and can be install with our original screws. But, we have also made a plastic bushing that a 5/16-8 Flat head stainless steel screw fits into. These allow you to get whatever appropriate length screw for thinner or thicker tails. And, they can be pulled down much harder than the original nylon screws.

When these break they will stay in the board. They just won’t be as rigid as new fins. The screws thread into the urethane that encapsulates the glass filled nylon skeleton.

They are sold in sets of three or can be purchsed individually. I’ve offered them to the manufacturers first. I’m also getting the various surf schools samples to review. We have not gone to the retailers yet. I don’t have any packaging or marketing at this point. They are twice as difficult to make. So, they are more expensive than our original fins. But, less expensive than Protecks.

We have not made these available with FCS tabs yet. We would probably do Red X first. I’m waiting on how our patent is approved to decide whether I’ll go there or not. Dave at Surf Co./Proteck already has that market pretty well covered.

Hey Bill !!

Softboards are perfect to learn and Hire outlets. But none of Cheap,you must use a good softboard, like Szabad, Pipeline and schreder.

Please check

See you in the waves !!!

doc…you should write a book man…

nevermind, just keep your posts coming…

theyre educational and friggin hilarious…

thanks for the laugh…

Most local surf shops everywhere rent surfboards. Unless the shop is into the whole surf fashion soft good thing, board rentals are what keeps them in business since profits on board sales are so low.

Are you a shop owner or are you thinking of starting just a rental business? If the latter, it won’t go over too well with the local shop owners (and their loyal customers). In fact, the three local shops here in my area approached the city to make sure that new comers wouldn’t be running rental businesses out of the state beach parking lot, and that no more new surf schools could operate either. Enough is enough and I’m totally behind them on both of these issues.


Best thing you could do is contact Global Surf Industries.

Their NSP boards or Sunset Softboards would be sensational for a rental program. A fair few stores I know of use them with no problems.

Also AMEX pay us 2 days. They are OK just take a bit more than MC or VISA.


More on this -

Surf lessons. Somebody is doing rather well - around here group lessons are going for $70 a head , groups of 10, hour and a half including a foamie and a short/spring suit.

You’d think they are cleaning up, but…

Insurance - 2 grand or more per season.

Bribery/licenses - about the same

and that’s up front. Four grand you have to lay out before penny one comes in.

Now, I had a guy stop buy. We’ll call him Dude McDude. Dude, he sez 'hey, bro, can you guys sponsor me, I wanna do surf lessons and make some big bread, but I ain’t got the cash to lay out for insurance and such - "

Wayull, Dude ol’ dude, it’s like this - you wanna get minimum wage? As in I have four thousand to recover, and then make money on it. Plus the cost of the boards ( 10 foamies at $300 each) and wetsuits ( 30 spring suits at $55 each, assorted sizes ) Like another eight grand So, twelve thousand in before I think it’s worthwhile.

Plus my overhead - call it fifteen grand total. Suddenly, it’s not such a winning proposition.

Liability stuff with an ‘instructor’ is a whole different game from just renting boards and letting 'em loose on an unsuspecting ocean. The rates go up. Naturally. These are, after all, insurance companies.

Such that these jokers giving lessons with no backup are, basicly, about one accident away from the eciting world of ‘garnishee’- having every paycheck reduced by two thirds for the rest of your days…

so, we don’t do surf lessons. We do dry land ‘surfboard 101’ with every rental. Listen or don’t, learn or don’t. And if they do, they do well.

And then there are the moms…but we won’t go into that


laughter is the best medicine they say…

awesome stuff doc…keep’m…