Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Calming a Boater's Nerves - Part 2 of 2

(1:06) If you have read the previous Minute, you have ensured that every boater calling your marina about dockage has clear accurate information from knowledgeable staff. However, you still need to assist the boater safely to the dock to ensure the experience begins on a positive note.

(1:00) The next contact will most likely be via VHF. In another Minute I discussed the impact your VHF communications can have on boater's impressions. Good VHF communications are critical to boaters coming in for transient dockage. This begins with quickly responding to the boater's VHF call. Never make them call a second time or turn to the cell phone. They'll be annoyed and anxious and will have already kicked you down a notch on the service scale.

(0:54) The radio exchange on a working channel is the time to give clear instructions about where they will be going, what type of docks you have, and what side you suggest for docking. This is the moment to give the boater confidence that someone will be waiting to help them dock. For every transient boater, this is when they start to feel nervous especially if the weather is bad or the space is tight. Assess their anxiety, answer their questions and concerns, and give them confidence that everything will be handled professionally. Know the weather/current conditions and be able to suggest line configurations and offer approach assistance.

(0:37) Have someone at the dock before the boater arrives. It is helpful if they are in a colored shirt easy to spot from a distance. They should be waving to make visual contact with the pilot.

(0:31) Listen carefully to the person handling the lines, male or female. If it is a couple it is often the female who will be at the lines. If she gives you direct instructions, follow them. If she seems uncertain, gently offer suggestions to help make the docking procedure stress free. However, even the most experienced boater can have a bad landing. If this happens, be considerate. This is the time to let the captain know that conditions were tough and he did a good job.

(0:19) Most importantly make sure your dockhands are helping in bad situations and not making them more difficult. Ensure each one is well trained in proper docking procedures. Train them about how to properly tie a line to a cleat or piling. Perfectly tied lines makes your marina look more professional.

(0:10) Docking situations are stressful. And when they turn bad it doesn't matter who was at fault - it often reflects badly on the marina. Do everything you can to make the experience positive and your marina will be the place boaters want to come back to over and over again.

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