Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The "Wow" Factor

(1:02) 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 but can still create a buzz, make your customers go "Wow!", and generate that invaluable commodity: word-of-mouth marketing.

(0:52) We've seen many examples of this in our cruising travels. The bottle of wine boaters receive at Utsch's Marina. The hot tub at the Marina at Ortega Landing. The incredible friendliness at Portside Marina. Morehead City Yacht Basin's rental car discounts. The ActiveCaptain hat...

(0:41) We've heard about marinas that deliver a morning paper or muffins to the cockpit. Dowry Creek Marina, the highest rated marina on ActiveCaptain, organizes potlucks and other cruiser events. And of course there's the 32 ounce prime rib at Coinjock Marina.

(0:32) What are you doing to make your customers go, "Wow!"?

(0:29) Consider what's available to you that can offer that little something extra a boater will remember. Make your clubhouse or meeting area available for boaters to meet for cocktails and potluck hors d'oeuvres. Keep small bottles of shampoo in the showers for those who forget. Involve nearby businesses. Offer coupons for discounts at restaurants. Convince a bakery to provide a basket of cookies at check-in.

(0:12) Not sure what you have to offer? You can start by ensuring that every boater is greeted at the dock by a helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable dockhand who ensures the boater is safely settled in, answers all the boaters questions, and even offers information about what's available in the area. Now that would make me go "Wow"!

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do You Have a Review Growth Strategy?

(1:00) Increasing the number of boater reviews for your marina is critical for success on the Internet. A large number of reviews offers recognition as a destination, gives your ratings credibility, affords a chance for your happy customers to be your sales people, and can minimize the impact of an errant negative review.

(0:48) Encourage happy boaters to leave positive reviews. Many marinas are hesitant or embarrassed to do this - you shouldn't be. Most people like to offer their opinions and are more than happy to support businesses they like.

(0:40) An easy and often effective approach is to post positive comments in a location where your customers will see them, along with a reference to the review site. This simple action is not only a good way to promote your positive points, it can inspire a happy customer to do the same. Post positive reviews on your website with a link back to the review site making it easy for other customers to leave reviews.

(0:25) Do not discount the simple idea of just asking for a review. Few businesses ask their happy customers to speak out. When a customer comes in with compliments, mention how important happy customers like them are to your business. Provide a link to a review site. Point out other positive comments you have posted up.

(0:15) The restaurant industry has been doing this for some time. Some restaurants have been known to install computers open to the most popular review sites so customers can go online before leaving the restaurant. They understand the growing importance of customer reviews for their business's success.

(0:06) You've worked hard to build a good business. Make sure you are getting all of the recognition you deserve.

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Keep Your Message Fresh

(1:00) Paper, the printing press, digital publishing, the World Wide Web: these are all advances that fundamentally changed the way we communicate and even live. It is a common mistake when faced with new and radically different technologies that we fail to take advantage of what is new and different and simply try to use the new technologies in old ways.

(0:51) So we see website content that never changes. Banner ads that mimic an outdated print ad. And other static messages appearing on a medium where the power lies in it's dynamic nature. To fully take advantage of the Web's power you need to keep your content and messages fresh and dynamic also.

(0:42) Give your customers a reason to visit your website again and again by having timely, useful content. Include upcoming events happening in your area, any news about your facility, recent photographs, and anything else that boaters will find helpful.

(0:33) Make sure that you are updating your messages to reflect changing seasons, upcoming special events, special offers, or simply to experiment with the message you give. You can modify your messages as often as you wish. This allows you to try something new, different, innovative, and measure the results. Then try something else to determine the type of messages that attract new business. You should update your messages weekly or monthly, don't let them become stagnant. This will generate interest and freshness and attract boaters to come see what's new electronically.

(0:08) Success today requires effectively using every tool at your disposal. Don't waste the power of the Web. Work its advantages and you will see more business.

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Negative Reviews - When It Happens

(1:17) 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:

(1:08) 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.

(0:57) 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.

(0:49) 3. Decide if and how to respond. Communicate with the boater. 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.

(0:37) 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.

(0:27) 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.

(0:15) 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.

(0:07) No person or business likes to hear negative feedback. But a negative review can help you improve your business and even rally the boating community behind your marina.

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