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Experience with Successful
Business Through The Eyes of
Julia Skoptsova

Being successful today doesn't just mean making a lot of money, it's a combination of many factors that lead you to success. We had the honor of interviewing one of our members, who was so kind and shared her experience
of a successful business. Her name is Julia Skoptsova, an expert in the yacht sector. 

Question: Beautiful and luxurious yachts are essential in your life. We wonder, how you got to this job? How did you start your career? 

It seems to be an interesting story. So I’ve sold my first boat when I was 17 y.o. during the Moscow Boat Show. I was invited there as a stand girl, to work at the reception and to take care of clients coffee. But I’ve learned how to show boats and started my tours when I was free from coffee cups. One day later the client returned to the Boat Show and told to the Boss that the girl sold him a boat, and he is here to sign the contract. It was a Canadian 33 feet Doral Intrigue boat for 254k USD, not a mega yacht yet 

Question: You are the founder of Smart Yachts company, what led you to found it? 

So I’ve started to work as the assistant of the sales manager, and step by step grow up to a Sales Director. Sold some boats, launched a new brand in Russia, and graduated from my university at the same time. And in 2012 I’ve founded my own company SMART YACHTS, my best friend presented me the nautilus-logo as a Bday present, and we were working from my kitchen in the first months.  
Then, several months later I’ve met my current business partner, the same age, same attitude, and taste of life & service. She joined the team and we’ve got our first and the most successful Distributor Agreement with GALEON YACHTS. One year later we became the Best International Distributor for GALEON, having also 12 other brands in our portfolio. In 2017 we’ve launched our first international business project GALEON UK. Basically, it’s the same business model, replicated in another country. But it’s really exciting to introduce your service & product on the new market.  

Question: Describe your business model?  

All the yacht sales market might be divided into 2 business models: distribution & brokerage. Distribution means that you’re representing the shipyard officially, with the marketing, stock & warranty obligations. As an exclusive distributor, you have a wholesale discount and might appoint local dealers, build up your own sales network. It seems to be more expensive at the beginning, but as a business, it’s stable & predictable. You can build up the financial model based on the number of sales and capacity of the local market.   

Brokerage is always about to become the sales agent of the particular yacht. So, as soon as you’ve signed the Central Agency agreement, you’re starting to promote the yacht to other brokers & direct clients. Easy to understand that if you’re not a major player as Burgess or Edminston, and your sales portfolio is limited in a number of yachts, your business is partly based on lucky chance and it’s difficult to predict the result. And yes, you might sell one huge yacht one day and the deal will cover all your expenses, but no one knows when it’ll happen 

Our business model combines the Distribution of various brands & Brokerage. We have stability with a number of sales of 40 units per year in size from 12 and up to 40 meters, and we are working with some contracts for 50 meter plus as a broker.  So we’re searching at the market for the best product to be represented to our clients, and that’s the most difficult issue. To catch the best value for money, in a matter of design, tech specification & the re-sale value.  From 2018 SMART YACHTS is based in Monaco as well.  

Question: We know you are a sought-after expert in this field and your customers remain loyal to you. Why do you think people keep coming back to you? What makes you different from the others? 

That’s the question which I’m asking to myself on a daily basis. What we can do for our clients, why as a client I would prefer to work with SMART YACHTS? For sure we’re providing the full service, including sales & charter, management, registration, survey, warranty, and even trade-in. But there are two more points, personal and market.  

In personal, for me the long-term relations are the key point, I would even call it life-time relations as it’s my main target. Look I’m working on the market from 2006, my first clients met me when I was 17 years old, and we’re still working together. So, it means trust & reliability, for sure, for such a long time we have had some easy deals and some conflicts. And it’s not possible to keep all the clients loyal, and you even shouldn’t try to keep all the clients with you. As soon as your business is based on personal relations, and I would tell that all the luxury business is based on personal relations, it’s the same as in normal life you’re growing up and staying with the people who are at the same page with you. You need to do your best for your clients, with the same attitude as you would do it for yourself if would be at the client’s place.  

And the market indicator for me is the best value for money, might be not the cheapest option but the smartest one at the end. That’s why our company name is SMART YACHTS. It would be easy to say that you’re providing the best prices for your clients, but that’s only the top of the iceberg. As we’re calculating the purchasing price, annual expenses, annual income in case of a charter, and the re-sale value at different points, to find out when is the most reasonable time to upgrade your yacht. So, our clients have the whole ownership picture from the beginning and it makes sense. My favorite joke regarding the yacht industry is: There are two happiest days in a lifetime of the yacht owner: the day to buy the yacht and the day to sell her… & both days we’ll spend together

QuestionHow does a normal day of yacht broker look like?

I’m not sure how does the normal day looks like, but my own I’m starting with social media.  Sharing some news regarding the special offers & the yachting industry. Nowadays social media is the best way for communication with clients and friends, as you can share the lifestyle and experience on a daily bases. And that’s the place where you might get some un-official, inside information, personally. Sometimes it might help you to find the best offer for your client.  

One of the most important parts of my job is yacht viewing. And  I’m trying to visit as many yachts personally as it’s possible, making full reports and video reviews for my clients. So again, before coming on board my client has all the information regarding the current yacht condition, and it saved time for everyone.  

And another part is a paper-work, that one is a massive part. As we are checking survey reports, contracts, insurance, crew cv, and working with the lawyers. To close one yacht sale, you need to sign 5-10 contracts & addendums (purchase contract itself, survey, insurance, escrow &, etc.). And the Yacht Broker is a person who is managing the deal, so we need to be aware of any document connected to the purchasing process.  

QuestionYou work with a lot of celebrity clients. Are there client requests that are beyond your capabilities?

Yes, sure. There are often some difficult requests but not only from celebrities. We’re trying to avoid any requirements which might be dangerous for our clients physically or legally.  I’m not sure if you need any examples, but just in case. The most common request is to get somewhere while the weather is really bad. The worst stories in a yachting industry started like this, and the end is like at The Wolf of Wall Street movie 

Also very often clients want to make the tour of Monaco – Portofino – Monaco in just 2 days or Monaco - St Tropez – Sardinia – Capri and come back to Monaco in one week, not understanding the distances and time underway that will “eat” all the charter. Or when the captain does not allow the charter guests the drunk swimming, it is not about jumping to the sea after the glass of champagne, but the real drunk swimming. The crew is doing their best to satisfy the clients, but if the Captain forbids something it means that it is really dangerous for the clients.  

Legally there is some common request to help with fake documents, which we’re not supporting as well. As the final risk for the client is the arrested yacht. The luxury network connection is a really important part of our business. Sometimes clients are looking for special alcohol (like Korean Soju or rare wine), sometimes we’re booking the private jet through our partners, and sometimes the mission might be impossible like to book the mooring place in St. Tropez in front of L’Opera in the middle of the season.  

QuestionCompetition is healthy, people and companies are always forced to be a little better, and that pushes them forward, what motivates you to be better?

I’m in love with the world of yachting, boats, and yachts and all the lifestyle around. I like to participate in the boat shows, to visit the shipyards, to get new information about the new products and technologies, the most efficient one.  The idea to provide the best deal for my clients makes me really excited. All this working process and the results are so interesting that it motivates me to be better and to develop. In a short word, my motivation is to celebrate the life onboard the beautiful yacht together with great people! That’s only one sentence, but it includes everything, the ambiance, attitude, and relations.  

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