Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Negative Reviews - Have a Good Offense

(1:10) 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. It's also true that some customers just can't be satisfied. The issue isn't receiving the negative review, it's having a solid strategy for handling them.

(0:58) 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, February 21, 2012

Listening on the Internet

(0:55) Manage your Internet presence well and you can gain new customers; do it poorly and you will fall behind. Success requires an understanding of how potential customers are using the Internet to make their purchase decisions. A lack of understanding will lead to a marketing message that is ineffective at best, detrimental at worst.

(0:42) The Internet gives you access to potential customers on an order that no other communications medium has ever done before. You can reach far more boaters for far less money. But it also allows your customers to broadcast their own messages about the businesses they frequent. You need to know how to manage the conservation.

(0:32) If you are new to tracking your presence on the Internet, you should take some time and just listen. Listen and understand how you are perceived, what boaters view as your strengths, and where things could be improved. You need to listen objectively to really understand how your marina is perceived. Is it what you expected, or want? It's not always an easy thing to do especially if the messages are not all positive. But not knowing is far worse.

(0:14) Google has a great tool for following what others are saying about you on the Internet. Google Alerts allows you to track the places you are mentioned on a website, in a news story, on a blog, or in a forum. It lets you stay on top of what is being said by others right now. This is an invaluable tool for managing your Internet presence. It is one that you should start using today.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Website Waste

(0:58) If you're paying more than about $20 a month for your website you're paying too much.

(0:54) Having a website is critical to success today but make sure you are putting your dollars where they can have the greatest impact. The first step is to stop paying big bucks to host your website. Instead signup with one of the many low-cost hosting sites such as Network Solutions.

(0:46) Next take the hundreds (thousands?) you are saving and find a good graphic designer in your area who has experience creating websites. Nowadays it's an easy search. Have them look over your site to ensure it is pleasing and accomplishes what you want.

(0:38) Today there is no need to have a "computer guru" do your website. There are a wide variety of tools that make it trivial to do, once you have a good design. So spend your money on the website design, not the implementation and hosting.

(0:30) Have them create the site ensuring that you can easily edit the content. Yes, you can do it. There are tools that make this easy and you can readily learn how. Your website is part of the changing digital world, not a stagnant print piece, so it is important that you update it frequently.

(0:20) I'm always amazed when I go to a marina website and see pricing that is years old, announcements for events long past, or even copyrights from 5+ years ago. The impression it gives is worse than not having a website at all. Make sure you or someone on your staff can update your website content without going to someone else. Then make sure that it is someone's job to keep your website content up-to-date.

(0:04) Take control of this valuable tool today.

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Work the VHF

(1:13) The VHF radio can be one of your best marketing tools. No, I'm not saying that you should send ads out on the radio - that would be against the law and would probably just irritate boaters. But that doesn't mean that lawful, helpful, and professional use of the VHF radio can't enhance your reputation, get your marina in front of boaters, and help bring you more business.

(0:59) Every marina that accepts transients on their docks must ensure that someone is always available to promptly, courteously, and professionally answer the radio. Every boater who hails your marina must receive an immediate response. Remember, often this is the first interaction the boater has with your marina. Don't leave boaters with the feeling you don't want them because you're not responding to their call.

(0:44) I have often heard a boater who repeatedly hails a marina with no reply and then hails a competitor's marina. If you are unable to have someone stationed in the office at all times, then invest in some handheld VHF radios (with belt straps).

(0:34) But the usefulness goes beyond responding to a boater's call. Every time your marina's name is broadcast on the VHF most boaters within a 5 to 20 mile range hear the call. Make sure everyone who uses the radio knows the protocols and projects a professional and friendly image.

(0:22) Consider responding to the calls for a radio check with, "Your call was heard by My Marina in My Town." Not only is your marina name heard by all boaters but you appear engaged and ready to help.

(0:14) Every interaction with a boater has an impact on their impression of your marina and therefore on the review they may write. Make sure that every one is projecting the image you want, including the ones on the VHF radio.

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