Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Another New Year!

(0:30) It has become my habit to pause this time of year to look back at accomplishments, setbacks, joys, and disappointments. It's often my own experiences that inspire and shape my Minutes.

(0:25) This year I've picked out 4 Minutes as my favorites from 2017. If you're a faithful follower I hope you enjoy revisiting them. If you missed them, now's a good time check them out. I hope they will inspire you in the new year.

(0:19) All's Well That Ends Well, February 28, 2017
Not all moments are the same. Research from a
Nobel-prize winning psychologist offers insight into which ones are the most important.

(0:14) A WOW Fund, March 28, 2017
Wowing boaters is a surefire way to increase positive reviews. A WOW Fund will make sure you don't leave it to chance.

(0:10) Plus, Minus, or Zero, May 9, 2017
Improve your customer service by using this simple exercise to evaluation each experience as it happens.

(0:07) A Review or Feedback, September 26, 2016
Sometimes all it takes is a simple shift in your thinking to impact results.

(0:04) Wishing you much success in 2018!

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Be Inspired

(0:57) Over the years, many of you have inspired me through your wisdom, hard work, and dedication. As another year draws to a close, I'd like to offer you some inspiration by dipping into my file of inspirational quotes.

(0:50) "Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." Les Brown

(0:48) "Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

(0:45) "It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure." Bill Gates

(0:43) "My powers are ordinary. Only my application brings me success." Isaac Newton

(0:41) "A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him." David Brinkley

(0:38) "It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things." Leonardo da Vinci

(0:33) "If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission." Anonymous

(0:31) "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." Vidal Sassoon

(0:29) "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Albert Einstein

(0:27) "Trust because you are willing to accept the risk, not because it’s safe or certain." Anonymous

(0:25) "If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it!" Jonathan Winters

(0:23) "Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it." Henry David Thoreau

(0:21) "If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary." Jim Rohn

(0:19) "Be content to act, and leave the talking to others." Baltasar Gracian

(0:17) "Just remember, you can't climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets." Arnold Schwarzenegger

(0:14) "Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning." Robert Kiyosaki

(0:12) "If you have no critics, you'll likely have no success." Malcolm X

(0:10) "Some of the best lessons we ever learn are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future." Dale Turner

(0:06) "When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure you’ve got plenty to watch." Anonymous

(0:04) Be inspired, become better, and find more success.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Just Don't Do It

(1:03) We've all heard the adage about working hard vs working smart. I've always struggled with that one a bit because I fear some will approach it too simplistically – I don't have to work hard, just smart. It's not an either-or proposition.

(0:55) I know how important it is to work hard for success. I also greatly appreciate the idea of focusing that hard work on what's most important to your success and not allowing distractions to intervene.

(0:49) Recently, I ran across a quote that got me thinking. It's from the French author Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

(0:42) Finding success in business, and our personal lives, is as much about what we choose not to do, as it is about what we choose to do. It's easy as a business owner to say "yes" to new commitments. I know this only too well. Those first glimmers of success are quickly followed by ever increasing opportunities. It's hard to say "no", especially on the heels of the struggles and sacrifice involved in starting a new business.

(0:27) Every business has limits. The key is knowing the best way to focus your resources whether great or small. There are trade-offs in every decision you make. Do you know when to turn down something good so that you can focus on something great?

(0:18) Steve Jobs said it best, in one of my favorite quotes:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
(0:05) It's the combination of hard work and saying "no" that will bring you success. Choose "no" wisely.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to Recover

(1:05) We've all been in that position when things go wrong. It might have been as a consumer or as a business or, most likely, you've been in both situations. My most recent one was with Subaru.

(0:59) A brand new car with an electric window stuck in the down position and the nearest service center an hour and a half away. We ultimately worked it out, but my initial interaction with customer service was beyond disappointing.

(0:53) It is never about something going wrong, we all know that will eventually happen. It is how you recover and even win a customer for life.

(0:49) I ran across an article in Forbes by Micah Solomon, who stated, "Every company needs a customer service recovery framework, a sequence of best practices for interacting with, and turning around, upset customers. ... in the heat of the moment, with so much emotion flying around, it’s hard for even the most seasoned and even-tempered customer service professionals to do their best–unless preparations have been made and a structure put in place ahead of time."

(0:36) I couldn't agree more. My Subaru customer service rep became flustered when I refused to accept the response, "There's nothing more I can do." The rest of the call went poorly.

(0:31) What can you do to prepare your staff to handle that inevitable unhappy customer?

(0:29) Micah Solomon suggests the acronym AWARE:

Acknowledge: Acknowledge the situation and apologize sincerely.
Widen: Learn more about the situation by probing for what the customer is specifically upset about; encourage and assist the customer in explaining what’s gone wrong from the customer’s point.
Agree: Spell out the agreed-upon solution to your customer, as you understand it. Commit to exactly what you will do to resolve the issue, and by when.
Resolve: Take care of the issue as promised. Follow up with the customer to ensure all is well.
Evaluate: Examine the error with an eye toward identifying systemic issues and chokepoints. Strive to learn from the error and, where appropriate, make it a part of staff training and systems.
(0:08) You can read Micah's full article on the Forbes website here: 
Thanks A Latte: How To Fix A Customer Service Failure, Per Starbucks, Marriott And Me

(0:06) Having a plan in place, along with staff training can turn a customer disaster into a success story. Don't leave your success to chance.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Suprise Me

(0:54) There is no better way to procure a positive review than to do something totally unexpected. Surprise me, in a positive way, and I will reward you with invaluable word-of-mouth marketing.

(0:49) The Red Head crew has moved on land for a few months while Red Head receives a makeover. Our biggest challenge was finding a place to live that would allow two dogs. We were lucky to find a house through Airbnb, blocks from the beach and near a dog park. As so often happens with a boat, we were delayed and arrived at the house a few days late.

(0:40) According to the Airbnb rules, we were not entitled to a refund. That was fine. It was what we agreed to. So I was most surprised when the owner of the house emailed me offering to let us stay several days beyond our checkout date to make up for it.

(0:33) I was surprised. And very pleased. The understanding of our situation and the generous offer will most definitely impact the review I will write.

(0:29) How can you surprise boaters?

(0:27) It's often the little things that can have the biggest impact - small touches that are out-of-the-ordinary, special, or memorable. They don't have to cost much. I imagine the house we are renting was free for the days offered and therefore, the cost to the owner was minimal. However, it is not the price that impresses me, it's the thoughtfulness.

(0:17) Take a moment to think about what you might be able to offer boaters that they will remember in a special way. We've had morning muffins delivered to the boat, a clubhouse or outdoor area made available for a transient potluck or docktails, and found complimentary shampoo in the showers. Once, we had a marina owner make an appointment and loan a car for an emergency vet visit.

(0:05) Be considerate of my needs and go beyond the expected and you will be rewarded with positive reviews.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

More Marina Reviews

(0:55) It's not possible to overestimate the importance of boater reviews. Study after study shows that unbiased, honest reviews from consumers have a huge impact on the products and services that are selected.

(0:47) I have frequently addressed how to increase the number of boater reviews you receive. It is critical to your success that you not only have positive reviews. You need lots of positive reviews. A large number of boater reviews will provide credibility to your ratings, will offer a way that your happy customers can be your best sales people, and will help to minimize the impact of an occasional negative review.

(0:35) Never hesitate to ask boaters to leave you a review. If you have followed the advice from previous Minutes on how to prepare your marina to ensure positive reviews, you can do this with confidence.

(0:27) Now it is even easier for boaters to leave you reviews. The new ActiveCaptain website allows boaters to access the Live Map from any platform that can connect to the internet - Mac's, PC's, Smartphones, Tablets. The boater chooses.

(0:19) By eliminating the requirement for Flash, we have eliminated the restriction that only permitted Live Map access on Mac's and PC's. Of course, boaters can still write reviews using the many apps that support the ActiveCaptain data. The choices are almost endless.

(0:11) There has never been a better time to boost boater reviews for your marina. Take time now to polish your offerings, train your staff, and ask boaters to write a review. The boating community wants a good marina to be successful. Remind them that the best way they can ensure your success is to write an honest review.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Listing Page

(1:01) One of the biggest changes on the new website is the new Listing Pages for markers. A common request, especially from marinas and boatyards, was to provide an easier way to update marker data and to make it available on mobile devices. Entering new fields one at a time quickly becomes tedious when you were trying to bring all of your data up to date. I get it, I've been there many times.

(0:49) Now there's a simple way to update your data with one fell swoop. If you accessed your Marina Listing page, which I discussed in the Minute for October 17th, then you're already familiar with this new resource.

(0:42) This same page is accessed when you select "Details" from a marker in the new Live Map. You can now quickly and easily check your data and make changes or additions.

(0:38) But that's not all. These new pages do not require Flash to open. That means they can be accessed from a smartphone or tablet. That also means that boaters can write reviews for your business from any device that has internet access.

(0:31) Moving away from Flash has not only allowed the full ActiveCaptain website to be accessed from mobile devices, it also is making it more secure. However, if you are an ActiveCaptain power user, you may notice some things missing.

(0:26) The new live map will continue to add features to completely replace the old Flash Live Map. Currently, it is great for looking at ActiveCaptain markers, making changes to details, and writing reviews. If you need some of the other features like routes and measure path, the original live map is still on the website. Click the More menu and select Live Map (Flash version).

(0:13) Make sure you have created your electronic boat card. Instructions can be found at the link below. I am available to answer any questions you might have. Contact me if you have a problem or need me to turn on your Partner status for your electronic boat card.


(0:04) There are some cool things coming. Stay tuned.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The New Dashboard

(0:56) The new website has been released and is continuing to be tweaked. One change that affects Partner marinas is a new Partner Dashboard. While it looks and acts like the old Partner Page, you now access it in a different way.

(0:48) First, you will not be able to login to your Partner Dashboard unless you have created your electronic boat card. You need to set up your account now if you haven't already. The steps are listed below:

1. Go to https://activecaptain.com and click the LOGIN button. Log in with your normal ActiveCaptain account email and password. You don't have to register a new account - you already have an account. Make sure to use your ActiveCaptain admin account.

2. Select the type that best fits your business: marina, boatyard, or business. Contact me to add a Partner designation to your card. You will not be able to access your Dashboard until I have done this step.

3. Fill in the information, read and agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, and upload a profile image. I suggest your image be your logo or some other image that will indicate your business. You can always upload or change your image at a later time. Then select Create New Card.

(0:23) Once I have received your email that your account has been set up, I will turn on your Partner status and send you an email. You are now ready to access your Partner Dashboard.

(0:17) Return to https://activecaptain.com and login using the admin account. Click on the "More" tab in the upper right and a drop-down menu will appear. Select "Partner Dashboard." If you do not see this option, make sure you are logged in as the admin and that your Partner status has been turned on. You must see "Partner Marina" or "Partner Boatyard" displayed to the left of your name.

(0:05) The new Dashboard functions just like your old Partner Page. Contact me if you have any questions.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Marina Lists

(1:02) Last week we combined the websites into a single new portal. The transition went well. Thank you for your patience.

(0:58) This week I want to begin going over some of the new features. The first are new and improved marina listing pages.

(0:54) Marina Lists were created to provide a way for Google to access the marina content for searching and star ratings. They turned into a popular way for boaters to quickly access information about marinas within a certain geography.

(0:48) Then boaters began asking for a way to edit data and write reviews from the Marina List page. We thought that was a great idea. That feature is now available on the new website.

(0:43) To access your page follow these steps after logging in:

1.  Select the More/Marina Lists near the top right and you'll be taken to a list of countries/states that have marina listings in ActiveCaptain.

2.  Clicking on the state or province will display a list of cities where a marina is located. Clicking on a city will display a list of marinas located in that city in alphabetical order.

3. Clicking on a country will display a list of marinas located in that country in alphabetical order.

(0:30) Find your marina and click on it. A page will display the information contained in ActiveCaptain. Notice the 6 tabs across the top.

(0:26) To add to or change the information, click the Edit listing link in the upper right. Notice that you can edit more than one field at a time. Click on the tabs to edit data under that tab. When you are finished with your edits, select the "Submit changes" button located at the top and bottom of the page. Clicking on "Cancel" will cancel all of the updates.

(0:14) Boaters can also enter a review for your marina by clicking on the "Write Review" button located at the top of every screen.

(0:10) The new marina listing pages provide a quick and easy way to update multiple fields and for boaters to write reviews. Access to them along with all anchorages, hazards, and local knowledge is also available on the new Live Map.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Attention, Attention!!

(0:54) Last week's Minute introduced you to changes that are coming with the ActiveCaptain website. The first big change is the combination of the ActiveCaptain and eBoatCards websites. eBoatCards.com is disappearing. ActiveCaptain.com is becoming the combined website. It has the user interface of eBoatCards but combines all of ActiveCaptain inside. This combined website will be known as the ActiveCaptain Community.

(0:44) We had originally planned to go live this week but are doing just a touch more tweaking. Fortunately, that gives me one last chance to nag, I mean, remind you to setup your eBoatCards account.

(0:39) While I've heard from some of you, there's still many who have not contacted me about assigning "Partner" status to your account.

(0:35) This is critical.

(0:33) When the sites have combined, you will not be able to login to your Partner page unless you have created your eBoatCard. You need to setup your account today. Just follow these steps:

  • Go to http://www.eboatcards.com and click the LOGIN button. Log in with your normal ActiveCaptain account email and password. You don't have to register a new account - you already have an account
  • Select the type that best fits your business: marina, boatyard, or business. If you are a Partner, contact me to add a Partner designation to your card.
  • Fill in the information, read and agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, and upload a profile image. I suggest your image be your logo or some other image that will indicate your business. You can always upload or change your image at a later time. Then select Create New Card.
(0:08) The goal is that you won't notice any changes as all the servers are updated. But with so many apps, versions, and technologies running on these servers, there may be unexpected issues that arise. Please contact me with any questions or problems.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

ActiveCaptain Community

(1:03) I know that some of you also receive the weekly ActiveCaptain newsletter which comes out Wednesday morning. The message from last week is important, so I am repeating it with some modifications specific to marinas. My goal is to get you ready for the changes that are happening.

(0:55) The Garmin acquisition of ActiveCaptain was the beginning of many new capabilities that will be rolling out in the next couple of months. Behind the scenes there are new servers, new configurations, and updated systems. There are new people in place who are handling the flow of data received from the community.

(0:47) The first big change is the combination of the ActiveCaptain and eBoatCards websites. eBoatCards.com is disappearing. ActiveCaptain.com is becoming the combined website. It has the user interface of eBoatCards but combines all of ActiveCaptain inside. This combined website will be known as the ActiveCaptain Community.

(0:38) We're doing this because the ActiveCaptain Community website has the expansion possibilities for adding features that we all want from this crowd-sourced, community data.

(0:26) The new website goes live this week. One critical thing you need to do is to make sure you have setup your eBoatCards account. By logging into eBoatCards, your account will be preset for working with the new website. Just follow these steps:

  • Go to http://www.eboatcards.com and click the LOGIN button. Log in with your normal ActiveCaptain account email and password. You don't have to register a new account - you already have an account
  • Select the type that best fits your business: marina, boatyard, or business. If you are a Partner, contact me to add a Partner designation to your card.
  • Fill in the information, read and agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, and upload a profile image. I suggest your image be your logo or some other image that will indicate your business. You can always upload or change your image at a later time. Then select Create New Card.
(0:08) Our goal is that you won't notice any changes as all the servers are updated. But with so many apps, versions, and technologies running on these servers, there may be unexpected issues that arise. Please contact me with any questions or problems.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Review or Feedback

(0:57) I recently had an exchange with a marina concerning boater reviews. I suggested that maybe it is better to think of a review as feedback rather than a critique. It got me thinking.

(0:51) It may sound like simple semantics but often a subtle shift in your thought process can make a big difference. Changing the way you think about boater reviews can make the experience better.

(0:44) The Merriam Webster Dictionary defined "review" as "a critical evaluation." While it defines "feedback" as "the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source."

(0:37) The key words to me are "critical" vs "evaluative or corrective," I especially like "corrective." The former, "evaluative", having a more negative connotation.

(0:28) I don't wish to downplay the importance of reviews for boaters. In fact, I believe that the term "review" is very accurate from a boater's perspective. Boaters are looking for the positive and negative aspect of your marina to determine whether or not they will become your customer. Positive reviews are critical for your success.

(0:18) However, a marina approaching a boater review as feedback moves the experience from one of judgment - good or bad, positive or negative - to one of action. How will you improve based on the boater feedback?

(0:11) For the moment, forget about how many stars you've received. Instead, focus on the boater's comments, looking for what you are doing well and where you can improve. Use the feedback to become better.

(0:04) Do this well and you will see more business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Responding to a Negative Review

(0:54) Criticism is tough whether it is directed at you personally or at your business. A common reaction is to rigorously defend yourself publicly, explaining why the reviewer is wrong. This is rarely a good idea. With tens of thousands of boater reviews in ActiveCaptain we have worked with numerous marinas to help them learn from and respond to negative boater reviews.

(0:45) Whether you decide to respond publicly or privately to a negative review you should always remain upbeat and positive. A good response will have the following components in order:

(0:40) 1. A thank you. Start out by thanking the boater for taking the time to comment on their experience. Any boater feedback, bad or good, is an opportunity for you to improve your business.

(0:35) 2. List the positives. Few reviews are all negative, most will mention some positive aspects of the experience as well. Mention that you are pleased they enjoyed aspects of their stay. This is particularly important if you decide to respond publicly as you will want to ensure that others note these points. But it is also important in a private communication as you want to remind the boater what was positive about their experience.

(0:26) 3. An apology. Sincerely apologize that their experience was less than perfect. Even if you feel the review was unfair or inaccurate. Remember, your apology is about what they feel they experienced.

(0:21) 4. Statement of your actions. Tell them what you have done to remedy the issue, if possible, so that future experiences will be better. If, for example, the review complains about a poor docking experience or lacking facilities, explain what you are doing to make things better.

(0:13) 5. Reach out. Give them a way to communicate with you directly to resolve their issues by providing them with a phone number or email address to contact you. By doing this you can avoid an ongoing public debate and make them feel that you truly care about them.

(0:06) By properly handling a negative review you can readily turn it into a positive for you and your business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

After the Storms

(1:02) The US was hit by two devastating hurricanes. Events of this magnitude lead to much uncertainty and concern on the part of boaters beginning their winter migration. Immediately, we began receiving communications from boaters wanting to know the state of the waterway, marinas, and anchorages to the south.

(0:53) It reminded me of the increased importance of communicating with the boating community following a major event of this nature. There are few things that are worse for a business than uncertainty on the part of their customers. In the face of uncertainty many boaters will become paralyzed and not move.

(0:45) That is why it is imperative that every marina and boatyard impacted, even tangentially, by a major weather event must come out quickly to inform boaters about the state of their facility and the waters nearby. What was the impact to you and the surrounding waterway? Which services are available and which are not? If there was no impact, make sure you let boaters know that as well. Silence only feeds uncertainty.

(0:35) This is a time to use every available outlet to get the message out. ActiveCaptain Partners can use their Pro-Op message to update boaters about your status and to keep them updated as repairs are made. (0:31) ActiveCaptain offers the networks, apps, and infrastructure to capture the changes to the waterways. We have a team at Garmin in place, ready to handle new data that arrives. We'll combine community updates with information received from marinas and boatyards about their conditions. All of this will be kept together within the normal ActiveCaptain database.

(0:20) We're adding new hurricane related data as new hazard markers. The name should begin with the storm name. For example, an inlet damaged by Irma will be a hazard named, "IRMA: Inlet Damaged." If a marina was heavily damaged in Texas, name it, "HARVEY: Marina Damaged." Describe the changes in the hazard. We'll adjust the position and fix up the text. Your job is to collect the information and create the new marker.

(0:05) I am available to answer your questions. We can work together to come back stronger.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

When a Negative Reviews Happens

(1:15) You work hard to maintain your facility, train employees, add amenities, and offer first rate service. Then a customer complains to the world with a negative review. Now what? Handle it properly and you can turn it into a positive. Follow these steps:

(1:06) 1. Take a deep breath. It's easy to feel defensive, even angry, when your reputation is challenged. Resist the impulse to threaten the review site or attack the reviewer. It will only create bad will, waste time, and have a negative result in the long run. If the review was incorrectly written about your marina, contact the review site. Any reputable site will fix that.

(0:55) 2. Gather information. Critically examine the review for truth. Discover what you can about the interaction to determine what went wrong and where you can improve. Negative reviews are valuable learning tools even though it can be difficult to see when it happens.

(0:47) 3. Decide if and how to respond. Communicate with the boater. The ActiveCaptain site offers private messaging. Most customers welcome the opportunity to discuss their problem and admire a marina who is willing to work towards improvement. These interactions often lead to the customer changing their original rating.

(0:35) 4. Apologize. Write a sincere apology regardless of where the blame lies. This should be done even if you feel the review is unjustified. Let the boater know you're sorry their experience was unfavorable. But don't make an empty apology. If possible, try to make it right.

(0:25) 5. Wait for the community to respond. If you have done your work upfront there will be other positive reviews listed. If not, have faith in your happy customers. It is often the case that a negative review will prompt a marina's satisfied customers to chime in to defend the marina. This is far more powerful than any action you can take.

(0:13) 6. Don't fret. A good, honest, well-run marina will not be outdone by a single negative review. Focus on what you do well and learn as much as possible from what customers have to say to make the facility better.

(0:05) No person or business likes to hear negative feedback. But a negative review can help you improve your business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Handling a Negative Review

(1:02) Eventually every marina will experience a negative review. No matter how high your standards or how closely you adhere to them, occasional mistakes are made by every business. The issue isn't receiving a negative review; it's having a solid strategy for handling the situation when it happens.

(0:55) The first and most effective steps you can take to deflect a bad review are the ones made prior to its occurrence. Here are three steps to take now to reduce the impact of negative reviews coming in the future.

(0:50) First, make sure customer expectations are realistic. The most common reason for a negative review is not that the marina lacked a pool or a 5 star restaurant. Negative reviews happen when the customer's expectations do not match the services or quality found. Honestly present your strengths. Do not tout capabilities you cannot deliver. Price realistically. And ensure that what you do offer is clean, well-maintained, and matches the descriptions.

(0:36) Second, make sure satisfied customers speak out. There is no better way to reduce the impact of a negative review than to have it lost in a sea of positive ones. It is important that you actively encourage positive reviews from your happy customers. How? Ask. Many marinas feel funny about asking. But you shouldn't. Most people like to offer their opinions and are happy to support the businesses they like. Surrounding a lone negative review with honest positive ones makes the negative review disappear.

(0:16) Third, treat every customer well. You are in the service industry. You must provide good service if you want happy, returning customers. Be helpful and courteous. Go the extra step to make every boater feel like they are welcome. Arriving into a slip is one of the most terrifying parts of most boater's experience on the water. Make it feel safe and welcoming. It's hard to write something negative about a friend.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Zero Moment of Fuel

(1:04) These past few weeks I have been revisiting Minutes based on the ebook Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT written by Jim Lecinski of Google. The ZMOT principles cover all aspects of consumer purchases. It's important that you not overlook any area of your marina business.

(0:56) The book explores how the internet has changed the way consumers search out and purchase goods and services. It should come as no surprise that the impact has been monumental. The world has changed in ways that make the old way of doing things obsolete. ZMOT has completely changed the rules. As I stated in the series:

(0:48) "To successfully navigate your customers' ZMOT, you need to understand what information they are looking for, and where and how they will find it. You no longer have the choice of simply presenting them the message you want them to hear. Consumers want real information, in real-time, whenever they want it. Provide them that and you can win."

(0:39) The good news is that I've witnessed huge changes in the ways marinas and boatyards are communicating information to existing and new customers. They are finding success by acknowledging and accommodating their customer's wishes. However, there is one area that I sometimes find marinas falling short and that is in providing accurate and up-to-date fuel pricing.

(0:30) Boater feedback to the ActiveCaptain Fuel Lists has been very positive. I continue to hear from boaters who love how easy it is to compare pricing and other features. They want quick and easy access to fuel pricing information and will use that to make their purchasing decisions. They don't want to call by phone to get fuel prices any longer. If your price isn't available, they'll go elsewhere. But some marinas are still in the old world of "I don't want my competitors to know my price."

(0:19) If you compete on fuel, your competitors already know your price and it didn't take the internet to get it. Be honest, don't you know your competitors' prices?

(0:15) Refusing to publish your pricing where your customers want to see it doesn't hurt your competition. It's only hurting your customers. And many today, if not most, will go elsewhere.

(0:10) I think Jim Lecinski says it best: "There are two heroes: the consumer who does the research, and the marketer who is smart enough to be there at the moment the shopper is looking for them."

(0:05) Make sure you're there when boaters are looking for you.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ZMOT - An Example

(1:14) I'm willing to bet that each and every one of you have engaged in ZMOT in the recent past, if not today. It has become so commonplace that we probably don't even recognize it as a process.

(1:09) If you have read a consumer review before making a purchase, checked a review site to find a restaurant or hotel, or looked at a video while researching a workout, you have engaged in ZMOT. Rest assured that boaters are engaging in similar activities before selecting your marina. A typical scenario might go something like this.

(1:02) A boater attends a dockside party and overhears another boater talking about their recent trip to Savannah, Georgia. It sounds interesting and he's been looking for some new places to visit so he quizzes the boater a bit more, maybe even hears a few comments from others who have been there. The boater thinks maybe this would be a good destination for an upcoming cruise. Now begins his ZMOT.

(0:54) Maybe the first thing he does is a general search on Savannah. He turns up the City of Savannah home page, a Visitors Bureau site, and information on Wikipedia.

(0:49) He remembers a boater saying there are big tidal shifts there. So next he goes online to find information about the tide and current issues. He goes to the ActiveCaptain website for information. He checks out some anchorages and several marinas to see what other boaters have experienced. He also looks at any hazard markers to decide if he needs to play the tides.

(0:39) Finally he notices that one of the ActiveCaptain Partners is running a Co-Op special. He notes the marina has the amenities he's looking for and good boater ratings so he decides to call to make a reservation.

(0:33) This is the power of being available at a boater's ZMOT. By being there at the very moment the boater is thinking about buying, and also when he's thinking about thinking about buying, you can present the information he needs to make his decision at the precise moment he needs it. And with ZMOT that could be any time of the day or night. Plus research shows that the ZMOT often occurs well in advance of a purchase.

(0:21) Google and Shopper Sciences did a study looking at what they termed "dwell time," the amount of time consumers spent considering their purchase. They wanted to understand how far beforehand consumers started their ZMOT. They looked at three diverse categories. For technology and automotive purchases the biggest spike was 4-6 months before the consumer purchase. For something as simple as groceries they found a big spike 4-6 days before purchasing.

(0:07) I could only guess what this might be for boaters but it does tell me that customers are researching you well in advance of coming to your marina. Make sure you are there when they do.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

ZMOT - A Thirst for Information

(0:54) I've established that consumers are increasingly turning to online sources to make their buying decisions during ZMOT. Jim Lecinski of Google outlines five factors that make up a Zero Moment of Truth:
  • It happens online.
  • It happens in real-time.
  • The consumers are in charge, pulling the information they want rather than having it pushed on them by others.
  • It's emotional. Consumers have a need they want to satisfy and an emotional investment in finding the best solution.
  • The conversation is multi-way: marketers, friends, strangers, websites, and experts all have their say and compete for attention.
(0:39) So how can you make sure boaters have the information they need about your marina at the moment they need it?

(0:35) I know that boaters are increasingly making their destination decisions during ZMOT. I not only see it in the exponential growth of reviews and updates for ActiveCaptain but I hear it every day in emails, online comments, and personal encounters with other boaters. They are using the wealth of information provided by ActiveCaptain and other sources to make their selections.

(0:26) A key component of ZMOT is the real-time, self-pursuing nature of the boater's search. To be successful you must be where the boater is searching, when they are searching. This is why it is important that you keep your information in the ActiveCaptain database accurate, complete, and up-to-date. It's easy to do.

(0:19) You simply need a free ActiveCaptain account. Please make your captain name and home port reflect that you are with the marina. For more detailed information about doing this and to learn about all the features and capabilities we offer marinas to stand out during ZMOT, check out the Marina's Guide in the Help Center:

(0:12) In today's new marketing reality, information presented too early is forgotten and information presented too late is, well, too late. Having information readily available when a boater is at the Zero Moment of Truth will ensure they will find you at the very moment they are making their buying decision. Make sure you are there with the information boaters need and you can win more business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ZMOT - The Exception is the Rule

(1:01) Consumers have always done research on products and services, whether it was chatting over the fence, going to the library to see Consumer Reports, or using a hotel, restaurant or other consumer guidebook. Zagat even sized their guides to fit in a pocketbook possibly making them one of the first mobile apps. The problem for most purchases however was quick, easy access. Finding good, recent information was the exception. But not anymore.

(0:51) Today there are virtually no barriers to accessing information about most anything - and we carry that access in our pockets. This allows consumers to create their own consumer guides every day as they read reviews, tweets, blogs, social network posts, videos, and more about products or services they are interested in. It is often during this moment of researching that decisions are made.

(0:41) Now when a boater is interested in cruising to Savannah they will typically begin by doing their own research for information and the research will typically be done online. They are no longer passive, they are active seekers of information and they expect to be satisfied. Kim Kadlec, worldwide vice president of Global Marketing Group for Johnson & Johnson describes it this way:

(0:32) "We're entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that's useful or helpful to their lives. The consumer is looking to satisfy their needs, and we have to be there to help them with that. To put it another way: How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?"

(0:23) You need to be ready for a boater's ZMOT 24/7. You need to help the boater find the information they seek that will lead them to your marina. The days of "call us for more information" are gone. You need to provide the critical information boaters want at the moment they want it because if you don't your competition will.

(0:13) The question to ask yourself is, are you ready for a boater who is at the Zero Moment of Truth?

(0:10) Make sure you are aware of how your marina is being presented during ZMOT. What do your potential customers see when they are doing their ZMOT research? Step back and take a look. In the next installment I'll look at things you can do to ensure they see what you want when they plan their cruises.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

ZMOT - The Rules Have Changed

(1:19) Even before we had a name for it, consumers were using two moments of truth when making purchasing decisions. The first moment was when a consumer made the buying decision, selecting one product or service over another. The second was when that product or service was used and the consumer was pleased, or not. There was a time when success in these two moments meant success for your business.

(1:06) That is no longer the case. Today when a consumer hears about a product or service, their first reaction is to go online for more information.

(1:01) ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth) is that moment when you use your laptop, mobile phone, or some other device to research a product, service, or virtually anything you are considering buying or using.

(0:54) We have access to information virtually any time, virtually anywhere. Hundreds of millions of times a day consumers are using their mobile phones, laptops, and other devices to seek out information. It has created the Zero Moment of Truth where marketing, information, and consumer choices happen. These moments can mean the difference between success and failure of your business.

(0:42) According to Google, 70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase, 79% of consumers now say they use a smartphone to help with shopping, and 83% of moms say they do online research after seeing TV commercials for products that interest them. This is the new reality and it is spreading from consumer products, to services, to healthcare. It is how more and more boaters are making their own decisions too - at that Zero Moment of Truth.

(0:27) ZMOT changes the rules. Of course, consumers still need to pick your product or service and then have a good experience. However, today consumers have often formed their first impressions and even made their final purchase decisions during ZMOT and if you're not there you won't win.

(0:18) To successfully navigate your customers' ZMOT you need to understand what information they are looking for and where and how they will find it. You no longer have the choice of simply presenting them the message you want them to hear. Consumers want real information, in real-time, whenever they want it. Provide them that and you can win.

(0:08) The first step to doing this is to understand the new process consumers use to make these decisions. You will find it familiar because you likely do it everyday with your own buying decisions without evening thinking about it. More next week.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

ZMOT - Intro

(0:58) There's a concept in marketing known as the Moment of Truth, developed at Proctor & Gamble in 2005, defining two critical moments of a consumer purchase. The First Moment of Truth (FMOT) is when the consumer encounters a product on the shelf and makes the decision to purchase. The Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) is the experience the consumer has after they have bought the product. For a product to survive it must be successful in both Moments. For years the principles surrounding these Moments of Truth have been followed by successful companies.

(0:47) Google took a fresh look at this concept to determine what impact the internet has had on a consumer's Moment of Truth. They realized that with the wealth of information available to consumers today there is another Moment of Truth and called it the Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT (pronounced ZEE-mot). Jim Lecinski of Google wrote a terrific digital book, Winning The Zero Moment of Truth. Given the origin of this concept, it is steeped in consumer products. However, there are many examples of its use across markets. I believe the applications to the marina market are many.

(0:34) I'd like to take the next few weeks to introduce you to some of the concepts because I believe they are critical to success in the new information age that we all live and work in. Here are his major conclusions:

* The buying decision journey has changed. ZMOT is a vital new addition to the classic three-step process of stimulus, shelf (FMOT), experience (SMOT).

* What was once a message is now a conversation. Shoppers today find and share their own information about products, in their own way, on their own time.

* Word of mouth is stronger than ever. For the first time in human history, word of mouth is a digitally archived medium.

* No MOT is too small. If consumers will do research online for houses and health care, they'll also do it for Band-Aids and ballpoint pens.

* The MOTs are meeting. Our mobile devices are MOT machines. As mobile usage grows, the zero, first and second moments of truth are converging.

(0:06) I'll delve into more detail in the coming weeks and try to relate some of the concepts to the world of boating. It's a new world which means new opportunities for those willing to adapt.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Since ActiveCaptain became a part of the Garmin family, there has been much behind the scenes activity. To keep up and still find time to sleep (and play with the dogs) I am needing to take a brief hiatus from writing the weekly Minutes. So I am rerunning a popular series from 2012, ZMOT or Zero Moment of Truth. The points are even more relevant today than they were 5 years ago.

This doesn't mean I am not available to answer your questions or to help if you need it. Working with our Partner marinas is one of my favorite activities!

Have a great summer!

Karen Siegel

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Anchoring Zen

(1:12) In the early days of ActiveCaptain, marinas sometimes complained about nearby anchorage markers and wanted them removed. That was something we wouldn't do.

(1:08) Anchorages are a key part of the cruising experience. They've always been a major part on the ActiveCaptain data. Understanding how and where they fit can help you use them to your advantage.

(1:03) While there are boaters who never drop the hook and ones that never tie up, the majority fall somewhere in the middle. We estimate that we're split about half and half, and love doing both.

(0:58) If we're on the move, nothing is simpler than anchoring after a long day and leaving at daybreak the next morning. And there are many wonderful places that can only be accessed by anchoring, most of the 1,800 islands of the Penobscot Bay in Maine, for example.

(0:51) When we do pull into a marina, it is typically for a few days, a week, or even a month. It's a time to provision, visit with friends, and explore the sites. The convenience of marina amenities, easy on/off the boat, and a courtesy car or other transportation features are always appreciated.

(0:43) So what does this mean to you?

(0:41) If you are a municipality, consider making dinghy access at the town dock a free service. There is no better way to bring in customers for the businesses in town and to encourage tourism. There are many times we have anchored and used a free dinghy dock and decided to return for a longer stay at a marina in the future. Municipalities charging or otherwise making it difficult for transient boaters to visit are losing sight of the economic impact of cruising boaters.

(0:28) But it's different for commercial marinas. Here you need to consider the needs of paying boaters and how their experience is affected. In this case, fees are reasonable, especially if you are providing access to your amenities.

(0:23) Offering a free or low cost option can be a good marketing tool and build goodwill with boaters. Maybe a dinghy dock for restaurant patrons or a limited tie up to visit the grocery or hardware store.

(0:18) For some marinas even this is not practical - for example, when security on the docks is key. In this case, know the options available to bring a dinghy to shore and tell them to boaters. They'll remember your kindness in the future.

(0:12) In all cases, transparency is key. Make your policies concerning dinghy access clear, easy to find, and consistent. Make sure they are included under the Dockage/Dinghy Dock item. State if you do not offer access and list any nearby options.

(0:06) The typical cruising boater spends time at the dock and time on the hook. Make me feel welcome in both cases and I'll reward you with my business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Your Hours

(1:02) A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how boaters make their marina selection decisions. I touched on the importance of transparency and accuracy in your pricing. There's another area where you need to be precise - your business hours. This has actually been a pet peeve of mine from way back.

(0:54) In all aspects of your marina, the simpler you make it for me to do business with you, the more likely I am to do just that. Finding out what hours you are open should be trivial and obvious. List your hours under the "Year round or seasonal" item in your ActiveCaptain marker. Have them on your website - I'd suggest putting them on the bottom of every page. Why not include them with your address and phone number?

(0:42) And always include them in your voicemail message for your phone. It never ceases to amaze me when businesses fail to take advantage of their telephone as a sales tool. If I've called, I'm interested. Make it easy for me to know when to call back or come in.

(0:35) Then make every effort possible to keep to your hours. This Minute actually came out of several reviews I saw recently that complained about marinas not being available during their advertised open hours.

(0:30) Put yourself in the boater's shoes. It's 7:40 am, the fuel dock's hours are listed as opening at 7:30 am. I pull up my anchor or leave the slip, maneuver to the dock only to find no one there. The chances are that you have now lost a customer that you had previously won.

(0:22) I am likely to move on to another fuel dock. But even if I have no choice but to wait for you, I will be far less likely to return. The message that you have sent is one of disregard for me, your customer.

(0:16) I know that some of you are highly seasonal. It's fine to indicate that in the off-season hours are limited or variable and to call. Just ensure you check calls and return them.

(0:10) It's the old adage to treat others as you would wish to be treated. Imagine how you would feel waiting outside your local grocery store or gas station after opening hours with no one to serve you. You would probably move on. And that's not good for business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Accentuate the Positive

(1:00) Positive reviews are what you strive for. Honest assessments by happy boaters are worth more than pages of glossy pictures and professionally written prose. To make the most out of these marketing gems, you need a plan. Here are five things you can do to maximize your positive reviews.

(0:52) 1. Say thank you. Thank the boater for taking the time to write a review. This simple act not only reinforces good feelings, it will make them more likely to visit again and to tell others. Use ActiveCaptain's messaging feature to send a personal message. Don't forget your Partner Management Response but make sure you respond to both positive and negative reviews.

(0:41) 2. Involve your employees. Share positive reviews with your staff. A 4 or 5 star review is not possible without them. If you are part of a large organization make sure management knows, especially if a staff member is called out in the review.

(0:35) 3. Show boaters. Don't hesitate to let boaters know what other boaters are saying. Display reviews on your website. Reviews from the ActiveCaptain site can be displayed on other sites as long as the source is acknowledged to fulfill copyright requirements and a link is provided back to the site. It is best to provide a link directly back to your marker. There's no easier way to encourage additional reviews.

(0:23) 4. Consider how you can improve. While compliments certainly make everyone feel good, this is not the time to rest on your laurels. Even 5 star reviews can mention an area that needs improvement. Sometimes a boater compliment can reveal a needed service. Was there an effort mentioned that was out of the ordinary? Consider making it part of your offerings.

(0:13) 5. Keep asking for reviews. Use your ActiveCaptain Partner review card to remind boaters how important reviews are to your business. Shying away from new reviews should be a red flag. Do your best, always improve, and ask with confidence.

(0:06) Good reviews are good for business. Make sure you are making the best of them.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.