Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Calming a Boater's Nerves - Part 1 of 2

(1:22) The most stressful (and even terrifying) time of a transient boater's day is the moment they arrive at your marina. Trust me, it's the truth. Remember that for many transient boaters, they'll be making close maneuvers with something more expensive than their house while in the proximity of millions of dollars of other boats. And by the way, we know that everyone already on the dock is watching how we handle our boat. Making this experience a positive one can be the difference between a happy customer willing to return and one who wants to warn other boaters to stay away.

(1:05) While you can't control a boater's experience level or the weather, there are plenty of things you can do to help make this a no-drama event. And it starts with the boater's first call about dockage. Make sure that the person answering the phone is knowledgable about boating and your facility. There is no such thing as simply taking a reservation. This is a time to make a good personal contact, provide confidence, and exchange information. Make it very clear to the boater that you're standing by with assistance, docking help, and expert guidance. Give them clear instructions about when to contact you by VHF as they approach.

(0:46) Don't leave anything to chance. Everyone who answers the phone or VHF must have accurate answers to questions about depths, current, shoaling, and any other issues there might be while approaching your marina from the boaters perspective. You should understand where the boater might have a problem or confusion and be able to offer assistance. Don't wait for the boater to discover a shoal area or get caught in a strong current. Warn them ahead of time and if possible, offer helpful suggestions. I'd much rather wait an hour for a time when the current is reduced than lose control of my boat in a tight docking situation.

(0:25) Listen carefully to the boater's concerns and plan ahead to mitigate them if you can. For example, if the boater expresses concerns about docking in high winds, consider putting them on a face dock instead of in a slip. As you probably know, transient boaters who don't come in and out of your marina often will always prefer face docks and T-heads because they are much easier to approach and have fewer unknown issues. The first phone call is the time to evaluate potential problems and put all fears of the boater at rest.

(0:06) Next I'll discuss handling the boater's VHF call and approach to your marina.

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