Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Get Out On The Water

(0:58) A common complaint we see in marina reviews concerns boaters having difficulty when approaching the marina. I've done several Minutes concerning the importance of those first boater interactions. From the initial contact via phone or radio through tying the final line are arguably the the most important interactions you will have with a boater. Make sure that everyone at your marina who may be involved is knowledgeable enough to confidently direct the boater into your marina. The best way to do that is to ensure they have actual experience.

(0:46) Every person who's job involves communicating with a boater before or during their approach to your marina should be intimately familiar with how to make that approach from any direction. They should know where the water may be skinny, what landmarks there are to assist in spotting entrances, how the current will impact the approach. These are examples of information that must be conveyed accurately, confidently, and professionally. I think there is no better way to accomplish this than to have every staff member get out on the water to experience the approach first hand.

(0:32) Things look very different from the water. Landmarks that are obvious from shore can be hard or impossible to see from the water. Not only is the perspective different but visual indicators you take for granted can get lost in a mass of objects onshore all of which are new and unfamiliar to the boater. For example, we've received instructions that provided a specific boat name to dock behind; unfortunately, the boat was positioned so that the name was not visible from the water. This causes confusion and worry to the boater - the exact things you want to avoid.

(0:18) Make it an event. Take your staff out on the water and approach your marina in the same way a transient boater will. Look for buoys that are confusing or hard to see and know what side the boater must be on. Think about the instructions that are typically given and make sure they make sense from the water side. If not, make modifications to make them easier to follow. Write down those instructions so they are consistent and clearly delivered.

(0:08) Is there a hazard such as a shoal area or obstruction? Include warnings along with instructions about how to avoid the problem. Make a boater's approach to your marina a positive experience and you will set the stage for the entire stay. That will lead to return customers and positive reviews.

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