Here’s a piece of a business model that’s not working

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Business models.

Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. You probably don’t realize it, but you interact with business models of all shapes and sizes every day. You probably don’t think of them as business models, but that’s what they are. In layman’s terms a business model is simply “the way things are done.”

When you walk into a grocery store you’ll typically find coolers at the front of several checkout stands, stocked with cold sodas, energy drinks and bottled water. Why? Because the supermarket chain knows that many of the shoppers who come in will probably want something cold to drink on the way home. This also falls under the category of impulse buys.

You might not be thinking of grabbing that ice-cold Pepsi on your way out. But when you happen to see a cooler full of em’ … hey, we’re only human, right?

Supermarket chains get this and that’s why they have them at the checkout counters. It’s part of their business model.

And it works.

Now I want to talk about one that’s not working. Actually, it’s a piece of a business model that’s not working. But first I need to provide some context.

My wife and I recently camped at Castaic Lake and brought our kayak along. We knew going in that all of the boats that enter Castaic Lake — whether on the upper or lower lake — are inspected before they’re allowed to be taken out on the water.

Boats have to be completely dry inside and out. That’s because they want to prevent the spread of quagga mussels. These non-native, freshwater mollusks aren’t wanted because they can clog water intake structures like pipelines and screens, resulting in reduced pumping capabilities for power and water treatment. They can also increase the drag of boats and clog engines, causing overheating.

So every boat that arrives at Castaic Lake must be completely dry — and free of the critters.

I get that and I have no problem with it. Our kayak didn’t pass the inspection because there was a tiny amount of water in the hull. That was frustrating, but I still understand why they’re so picky about it.

But here’s the part of Castaic Lake’s business model that’s not working.

We decided to rent a motorboat on the upper lake, so we drove from the campground on the lower lake and headed toward the launch area on the upper lake.

We got as far as the turnoff road heading down to the launch when we hit a brick wall — figuratively speaking, that is.

At the top of the road we encountered a backup of people with boats of all kinds, interspersed with other motorists — people like us — who simply wanted to get to the launch area to rent a boat or do something else. Problem was, all of those people with boats were waiting in line to have each and every one inspected. And the line? Well, it was moving at glacial speed.


My wife wisely decided to get out and walk down to reserve our boat. That turned out to be a good decision because I ended up waiting in line for more than an hour to travel a few hundred yards.

This is the part of their business model that’s clearly not working.

I realize it’s only a two-lane road going in and out. But why couldn’t they periodically allow people to drive in through the exit lane while someone below kept outgoing traffic from leaving just long enough for these people to get in?

Seems like an easy fix to me.

The thing is, I really like Castaic Lake. I think it’s great place to camp, take your boat our or rent a boat. But this part of their business model? It’s got to go.

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