Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Keeping Up Appearances

(1:03) Do you know how you appear to boaters coming to your marina for the first time? I mean, do you really know? Often it is the little things that can send the biggest message. I've seen marinas go to great lengths to provide a welcoming, positive impression only to tarnish it with some small detail.

(0:56) Last winter we spent time at Titusville Municipal Marina and found it to be one of the most dog friendly marinas on the US east coast with a large dog park adjacent to the marina, lots of walking paths, and staff that were as nice to our canine crew as to us. Unfortunately, that was not our first impression.

(0:49) As we came down the dock with our four-legged crew members we were greeted by an ominous sign directing us across the street to a scruffy looking piece of grass and threatening us should we not pick up after our pets. All the while the dog park was just a short walk down the sidewalk.

(0:42) The message sent was that our pets were not welcome. Perhaps they would be tolerated.

(0:38) But I knew the Marina Manger and didn't believe that was the image he wished to project. I pointed out the sign and within a month he had sent me a picture of a new sign with a welcoming message, directions to the dog park, and clean-up bags provided. A perfect solution that provided the information and made pet owners feel wanted.

(0:29) This week I saw a picture of another sign at a different marina. It was posted on a boater's eBoatCard blog and has generated quite a discussion. It involves a sign about usage fees for anchored boats and boats at the boatyard. You can see it here:

(0:22) I am not interested in addressing the issue of fees. Rather, I wonder if a different, more upbeat and positive sign might have led to a different result. This sign is loud and unwelcoming. Why is "Attention" all in caps, "pay" is bolded, and "fees" bolded and underlined? What is the real message? This is not informational; it's confrontational. I feel unwelcome by that sign.

(0:15) Maybe the marina wishes to discourage some visiting boaters. If so, they're being successful but are missing a golden opportunity to win new customers by presenting their marina in a positive light. Even as a transient at that marina, I'd find that sign to be too aggressive.

(0:08) So take some time and stroll the grounds of your marina. Try to see things through fresh eyes and consider the messages you are giving. Do they give the appearance you want or are there unintended messages coming through?

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