Be it property, fine wine, champagne or superyacht charters, Josh Francis is a born salesman. Before joining TJB Super Yachts as Sales & Charter Broker Manager, his passion for the sea led him to work on board where he gained valuable insight for his subsequent career ashore.
Having cruised the Mediterranean extensively, Josh knows all the best anchorages, coves and hotspots from the Balearic Islands to Croatia and Montenegro - his own favourite cruising grounds - enabling him to create one-of-a-kind itineraries for clients which never fail to impress.
Here Josh talks us through life as a sales and charter broker for TJB Super Yachts, his favourite yachts, and his predictions on the future of the luxury charter market.
What was your first job after you finished your education?
I had always worked in some sort of sales capacity before I found yachting. I was selling property in my hometown while at college (before I could actually drive, which made viewings a nightmare!), and then moved to selling fine wine and champagne after leaving education.
How did superyachts get onto your radar?
I grew up pretty much as far away from the yachting lifestyle as possible, however, I knew some ex-military guys who worked as security on some of the world’s largest vessels. After hearing their stories about the industry I quickly became obsessed with the idea of getting involved, so not long after I took my STCW and powerboat courses and booked a one-way flight to the South of France.
You spent two years on board as a deckhand before becoming a charter broker – why did you decide to move ashore?
Although I loved being on yachts as a deckie, I quickly realised that a shoreside position was more the career path I wanted to take. My skills and past experiences are well-suited to charter brokerage and still to this day it’s a job that excites me greatly! Plus, I was never too good at tender driving…
When did you become a broker and how did it come about?
I worked in finance in Central London for around 18 months while searching for a broker position. I was looking for a company which trusted new recruits with client contact and also had good growth opportunities across both sales and charter. I met with Tim Johnson, the founder and CEO of TJB Super Yachts, after hassling him over email for some time. The company matched my goals and ambitions perfectly, and I’d like to think that feeling was reciprocated by Tim!
How do you think your time spent on board helps you in your career as a broker?
I think the experience is invaluable and feel it gives me a real competitive edge over brokers who haven’t spent time on board as crew. It’s difficult to describe the team dynamic and how this translates to the client experience without having worked on board firsthand. I was lucky to have cruised the Mediterranean extensively and my clients now benefit from this knowledge - I would recommend any budding brokers to spend some time as crew, without doubt.
What are your favourite cruising grounds?
It changes all the time and I genuinely feel that most famed cruising areas are unbelievable. For general scenery I would probably say the Amalfi Coast but for the overall experience I’d say Montenegro and Croatia are edging it! The food, people and water are all just top draw and I’m loving seeing it become a more popular destination each season.
If you were booking a charter this summer, where would you go and why?
I think after two years of the pandemic, I would dust off my dancing shoes and charter in the Balearics - enjoying the crowds and lively atmosphere of the biggest party capital of Europe, Ibiza.
What’s your favourite yacht and why?
Again, my answer changes all the time, but I would say the 2021 Feadship Zen is right up there; her exterior design is about as flawless as it comes. On the charter market I have many – I love the interior refit of 85m Aquila carried out at Pendennis here in the UK, the 74m Amels Synthesis is a near perfect yacht, and I’m also a huge fan of the 66m Isa Okto whose crew are top class.
What do you love most about working at TJB Super Yachts?
As clichéd as it sounds, two days are truly never the same. You could be flying out to an embarkation in Naples one day and then trying to source a jet ski the next; the variety of the job keeps you constantly engaged. I also love working with some of the most interesting and successful people on earth, it is always as equally inspiring as entertaining.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The only real difficulty of the job is dealing with the ever-changing landscape. The superyacht industry is completely fluid, with plans from both clients and yachts changing by the hour which can make some aspects around planning difficult, however this is something you get used to and accommodate accordingly.
What changes do you foresee in the yachting industry over the next five to ten years?
Traditionally I think the yachting industry has been quite slow to adopt technology and platforms which increase transparency for the client. Over the next decade I think there will be a big shift in how clients book yachts with speed and convenience of transaction becoming increasingly important. Brokerage houses are going to have to adapt in order to service the next generation of clients who are more fast-paced than in the past.
What’s next on your personal bucket list?
I’ve been wanting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for a few years but the pandemic had other ideas. I am turning 30 later this year so have told myself I will reach the summit before then!
You’re a keen sportsman – what do you like to do to keep fit?
We are lucky enough to have a gym at the office so you can find me in there every morning, mostly WhatsApping clients or scrolling Instagram but it all counts! I also try to play golf as often as I can and am on a fine losing streak against some TJB colleagues which is not great for the morale!
What would you be doing if you weren’t working in yachting?
It would have to be something that gave me the same ability to travel and deal with similar clientele – possibly luxury property or jet sales. But the thought of doing anything else is redundant as yachting is such a great industry to work in!