Things in this country are being over-regulated and this is just one more.
As you may or may not know, I am a guide in Montana. I guide under several outfitters in the Montana Region. I have been fly fishing my whole life… (since I was 5 or so). I just starting guiding two years ago and love it. I am as busy as I want to be and the biggest reason for that is because of my followers. I am very grateful for your support and spreading my posts on social media. Getting the word out there to the masses about how I love fly fishing and how I love people, has made me the guide I am today. I have had many clients book me through my outfitter because of an article I wrote, a video I was in, or something they saw on social media about me. I have met the most amazing people because of it and continue to gain unbelievable relationships. So first off, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart!
So with me stating all of this, let me go into something a little deeper, something I need your help and/or advice on.
So recently, I found out the following… and man does it make me mad. I want to fight this for the guides out there that are working there butts off for the clients we pour into on a daily basis.
This is straight from this PDF form which you can find here: http://foam-mt.org/downloads/FOAMLINEDecember2014.pdf
“Client solicitation rules allow only outfitters to advertise to
the general public when seeking clients and require an outfitter’s
registered business or personal name and outfitter license number
in the ad. Guides may only advertise their services to outfitters, not
the general public. When advertising to outfitters in public media
(newspapers, magazines, websites, e-newsletters, Facebook,
LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), guides “shall include a clear and conspicuous
disclaimer that advises the general public that the advertisement
is for outfitters only, not the general public.” And, a guide may
only make agreements with clients concerning monetary consideration
or services offered, or collect fees from clients, with the express
consent of the supervising outfitter.” (See the following article for
updated information regarding FWP commercial rules and guide fee
Two new rules allow outfitters to “enter into an arrangement
with a person whereby the clients are referred to the outfitter,
but the outfitter is accountable to the board for the appearance and
propriety of all such advertising and for all interactions between the
other person and the clients and potential clients” and “to authorize
any person to schedule trips, provide clients with information regarding
refunds and services, receive client fees on behalf of the
outfitter, secure a guide who is employed by of with whom the
outfitter has an existing contractual relationship, and take other
steps to establish contracts for services, as long as these activities
are at the direction of the outfitter and as long as terms and
conditions of the contracts are directly between the outfitter and the
These two rules attempt to clarify long-term business
standards – third party client solicitation via advertising and socalled
“booking agent” capabilities. FOAM believes clear advertising
and client booking guidelines will encourage compliance, stop
guides advertising for – and illegally serving – clients not referred to
them by outfitters, and curtail guide “outfitter shopping” – referring
clients to the outfitter willing to pay the highest guide fee. At the
same time, outfitters can authorize “any person” to book clients and
assign guides, simplifying and streamlining good business while
establishing a direct line of control starting with the outfitter.
Re unlicensed outfitter assistants (OA’s), a new rule sets
their conduct standards equivalent to those of a licensed guide,
requires OA’s using watercraft to display boat stickers showing the
employing or contracting outfitter’s license number, charges a $25
fee for an OA application, and requires outfitters using OA’s to
include them in logs and inform clients that the OA is not licensed
and whether or not the OA has first aid certification.”
Read the whole set of rules at: http://foam-mt.org/downloads/FOAMLINEDecember2014.pdf
I love the outfitters I work for but there is a problem…
When I first started out as a guide my outfitter booked me 1 client for the whole season that came from his own efforts. The other clients I was able to guide came from social media, my blog, and videos that directed them to book me through my outfitter.
If it wasn’t for my own efforts I would have had a very slow summer and wouldn’t have been able to provide for my family. That doesn’t seem fair and is something that needs to be changed.
Once a client has a great experience with you, they want to keep booking you year after year. I hear it all the time. “Matt, who do I need to book through this year to get a trip on the river with you?” So with this rule, I will be asked this question more and more instead of them just seeing it on my blog or website. Am I even allowed to tell people where to book?? Can I hand out a business card? I am a guide but you don’t want me to tell anybody I am a guide?? Only to the outfitters? How does this even make sense?
I have never heard of any other profession where you work so hard and aren’t able to direct business your way for your efforts. The whole thing seems wrong and makes me wonder how these rules even passed.
Outfitter’s don’t pay for our license, our personal insurance, our boats, fly rods, paddles, nets, waders, etc…… but “we” can’t advertise that we are guides?? People book trips for their experience and in my opinion the guides are the biggest part of that because that is who they spend 90% of their time with.
I know as a consumer I love the states where guides don’t have these outfitting laws. It’s much easier and more fun doing research about the person you will fish with for that day. Instead of booking with an outfitter and having no idea the quality of guide you are going to get, or what kind of personality the guy/gal will have.
With all this said I want you to know I love outfitters, I think they are completely necessary and I mean no disrespect to them. I love the outfitters that I am signed with, but having so many other guides under each outfitter… it can be quite the challenge for them to keep all of our schedules full. I just don’t see why we as guides can’t advertise we are guides. It would work out for everybody.
Why be punished if you are good at marketing?
I come from a 10 year background in real estate and marketing. I’m sure other guides also come from a very successful past career as well.
The first thing they tell you when you get into any career is to network. Networking is the #1 thing that makes your business succeed. If a guide can’t network and spread his name through his own efforts. Then he is forced to depend on someone else’s effort and that is not fair.
It’s so hard not to want to promote yourself. It’s the “American Dream” to start a business and have it be successful.
I never like being a rule breaker and so when I found out this I changed everything right away. I still don’t like the rules and I think things need to be changed but I also want to be respectful of the rules.
I hope clients and also other guides read this. Please comment and let me know what you think. Your voice on this matters to me and I would love your opinion.