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How To Become A Yacht Broker

I consider becoming a yacht broker one of the best decisions I have ever made.

In 2016 I jumped feet first into the yacht, boat, and ship brokerage industry with little experience but with incredible passion. Selling yachts was my first job out of college and is still my only post graduation job, aside from working on this website and building other websites.

I even turned down a job offer from Google to work in the yacht industry!

One of the many benefits, in my opinion, of being a yacht broker is that the job is semi seasonal. While the definition of seasonal will change depending on where you work, not being busy for the full 12 months allows me time to offshore fish, build websites, travel, and much more.

Zach Zorn Yacht Broker

How I Became A Yacht Broker

While in college I started a drone photography and videography business as drones, at the time, were still new to market and the barrier to entry was high.

I started by filming short video clips for car dealerships and real estate agents, but I wanted to incorporate my passions of saltwater fishing and yachts with photography.

How To Become A Yacht Broker Aerial Photography

One day I cold emailed the most reputable “fishing centric” yacht brokerage in San Diego, California and offered my drone services free of charge. Fast forwarding, this free video offer lead to monthly paid work for over a year. During this year period I was becoming more immersed in saltwater fishing and built up a small following on social media.

Upon graduating from college, I approached the owner and asked for a sales position at the brokerage, to which I was added to the team immediately. Over the last 5 years, I have been responsible for the sale of nearly $33 million in yachts and boats.

How Much Does A Yacht Broker Make?

Researching the compensation for a particular industry or position is important before making a career move.

In most cases, a yacht broker is not paid a salary, rather paid solely on commission. The standard industry commission is 10% based on the selling price of the vessel. This means compensation can range from $100,000 to over $1 million per year.

In my experience, the harder you work the more you will earn as the job is purely commission. There will be months, or several months, where you don’t bring home any income, but when the season is in full swing you will be glad you’re paid on commission and not salary.

Yacht Broker License Information

It’s fairly easy to become a yacht broker or a yacht salesperson. These terms often get lumped together as the same, however a broker owns the company where the salesperson “hangs” their license under.

Only two states in the United States required a license to sell yachts and boats. Florida requires a license for those selling vessels over 32’ that are not their own, and California requires a license for those selling vessel over 16’ that are not their own. The other 48 states are more lax, so I would suggest speaking to a local brokerage in your state about their rules.

Custom Yacht In Mexico

How You Can Become A Yacht Broker

Nearly anyone can become a yacht broker or a yacht salesperson, but not everyone will succeed at the job. Below is a list of traits and actions that can help you get into the category of yacht brokers who earn a substantial living.

1. Be Driven 

As mentioned earlier, this job is purely commission based so you need an excellent work ethic and a “go getter” attitude in order to generate income. Yes you can sit back and not do much work, but when starting out and building your client base, this will lead to lackluster results. Be willing to walk the docks, advertise, leverage social media, and look for opportunities to spread your name and services.

There will be some months where you don’t earn any money, just know that this will happen and be prepared. Have some money set aside to get through the slow times, but on the contrary, when the market is on fire, the sales come quick and steady. 

In any business, honesty is vital for longterm success. Boats and yachts have countless systems and nuances, so when asked a question you don’t have the answer to, simply say you do not know but will find out. Follow up with your client the same day with the answer.

When it comes to negotiations, stick to your guns and don’t become intimidated. There is a time and place to offer a reduced commission or to help bridge a survey allowance gap, but don’t make this your automatic go to.

2. Have A Passion For Boats and Yachts

Your body language and attitude, whether intentful or not, will be analyzed by prospective buyers and sellers, and if you don’t show passion for what you’re talking about, then this will be apparent.

Zach Zorn Yacht Broker

Many buyers and sellers have chosen to work with me because they could sense my drive and passion for their needs. I highly encourage you to be genuinely excited to show or preview a vessel because you can always learn something new, plus the water is your office…it doesn’t get much better than that.

Having prior sales experience will be helpful in making a seamless transition into the yacht sales industry, but I’ve found it’s not a requirement. As your deal flow increases, transactions will become easier but for the first year or two there will be a lot of learning moments throughout the sales cycle.

When starting out, take as many listing as you can to get experience learning about different boat platforms and brands, as well as work out all the kinks that can arise during negotiations, paperwork and closing.

3. Excellent Communication and Follow Up

This section separates excellent brokers from mediocre brokers. While this may be the most important aspects of the job, I think it requires the least amount of text.

  • Always tell the truth and be honest…if an unpleasant conversation needs to be had, do it quickly and with a phone call opposed to sending an email
  • Always stay in contact with your clients…whether they are a prospect, in contract on a boat, or a past client, maintain contact often
  • Follow up early and often…be preemptive in your communication, pre addressing and questions before they become questions…a simple text message or two sentence email with an update is often all that is needed for your client to instill additional trust in you

Hatteras Sportfishing Yacht In Cabo San Lucas Mexico

4. Contact Local Yacht Brokerages For An Open Position

Once you have a good understanding of what you’re entering in to, it’s time to start looking for a brokerage to work under.

If you’re totally new to the industry, I recommend using Google to find reputable brokerages in your area, or you can see which brokerages advertise in the back of Yachting Magazine or Marlin Magazine for example.

For those with some experience within the boating industry, you should have somewhat of an idea of which brokerage houses are the most reputable in your area.

There is no better way to land a job than walking in and asking to speak to the owner or manager. Bring a resume and be prepared if the decision maker wants to talk right then. Even if a position isn’t available today, stay in contact via email so that when an opening does occur your name comes to mind.

Selling yachts for a living has offered me many opportunities that I could have never had without this employment. If you’re ready to work hard, then I encourage you to take the plunge immediately. The first 12 months will be difficult, but after that the learning curve begins to flatten.

Zach Zorn

Zach Zorn is the owner of Money Nomad and an enthusiast of all things tech. Zach has extensive experience creating and managing niche review websites. In 2018 one of his websites was acquired by a private equity firm, igniting his passion even more. Zach also runs an Amazon FBA business that has given him experience with customer service, product manufacturing and design. While in high school Zach helped design several successful apps for Disney. When not on the computer, Zach is most likely off the coast of San Diego or Baja fishing for saltwater game fish.

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