JP Mancini II has always been attracted to luxury. He just assumed the barrier of entry was too high.
Then, last January, he decided to rent out his $400,000 boat. Upon listing the 37-foot boat, docked in Key West, Florida, on a rental platform called Boatsetter, he booked 11 trips in a month. The next month, that number doubled.
Sensing opportunity, the 32-year-old sales professional began listing his boat on other rental platforms like Get My Boat — and bought a second, smaller boat for rentals in Hampton, Virginia, where he lives. Today, Mancini’s two boats bring in an average of $38,800 in revenue per month, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.
That’s off only 30 minutes of work per day, spent managing bookings and making sure the boats’ captains — who are hired and paid by individual renters — are maintaining their watercrafts properly, Mancini says.
Over the past year, Mancini says he took home $190,000 after expenses from his boats — about $100,000 shy of what he made at the peak of his full-time sales career, but with far fewer hours worked. Instead of using the money to pay down the $550,000 in loans he took out to buy the boats, Mancini says he plans to funnel it towards more watercraft purchases and other real estate opportunities.
Here’s how Mancini used his sales experience to launch his “mostly passive” six-figure boat business, and what waters he plans to charter next.
Building a buoyant business
After leaving the US Air Force at age 25, Mancini jumped into car sales in his native Virginia. He was hired at an Audi, Mercedes and Hyundai dealership in Hampton in 2015, and climbed the ranks from salesperson to general sales manager in a year and a half, he says.
After four years, he was promoted to general manager, he says. During that stint, he developed a keen sense of how to craft the customer experience.
“I care about people, and I care about their experiences,” Mancini says. “When I started out in sales, I told myself I wanted to be the complete opposite of everything people hate about salespeople and car dealerships.”
At the same time, he wanted to build a luxury lifestyle, with more free time to spend on casual pursuits. He knew people who chartered personal boats, and decided to do some research.
As a car guy, Mancini knew he wanted something “that held good resale value, like a Toyota or Jeep, that didn’t cost an arm and a leg to run.” He says he spent 300 hours researching models until he landed on the Axopar brand.
In 2020, he bought a $170,000 Axopar boat, making a down payment of $1,700 from his savings. He set up a website to charter the boat, using Google Ads to reel in customers and cover the boat’s monthly payments.
The following year, he decided to upgrade to a bigger model. He sold the first boat and bought his $400,000 boat from Axopar, taking out a bank loan to cover the entire cost.
In November 2021, Mancini left the car dealership — a “mutual” parting of ways, he says. Two months later, he listed his boat on Boatsetter and Get My Boat. And in May, he bought his second boat, taking out a $150,000 personal loan to cover half of the vessel’s cost.
Between the two loans, Mancini says he pays $6,000 in monthly payments. He hopes that reinvesting most of his earnings can ultimately outpace the interest rates on those loans, he says.
Staying afloat long-term
The larger boat, docked in Key West, is responsible for most of Mancini’s income, he says.
He charges between $799-$1,899 for two- to eight-hour trips, not including the cost of fuel and gratuity. Renters must also book a captain, typically from lists provided by Mancini or the rental platforms.
“There’s a reason people pay for the Ritz Carlton when there’s a Motel 6 up the road for $39.99 per night,” Mancini says. “It’s about the experience.”
Captains, paid by individual customers, are responsible for boat maintenance and cleaning. The rental platforms take care of advertising and insurance for a fee. Boatsetter, for instance, takes anywhere between 15% and 35% of each trip’s revenue.
Mancini says he’s trying to secure financing for a third boat, and someone to manage bookings for him — which would turn his income stream completely passive. Eventually, he says he wants to own a fleet of four vessels, docking his two future boats in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and St. Petersburg, Florida.
“I don’t like to spend any earned income. I use it to build out other investments,” Mancini says. “That’s the whole reason I started chartering in the first place. I couldn’t subject myself to the costs of luxury [boats]so I found a way for them to pay me back.”
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