Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Are You Out Of Date?

(1:30) As we make our way north this spring, we have been stopping in to chat with quite a few marinas. It's important to me to understand how we are helping our Sponsor marinas succeed and where we can do better. In the course of doing this I found several things that I could be doing better. My discovery leads to a lesson for you on two levels - one theoretical and one practical.

(1:21) First, it's dangerous to assume that your customers know and understand all you have to offer. It's important to never stop promoting your strengths, particularly ones that set you apart from your competition. I discovered that I was falling short in getting the message out about updating fuel prices in the ActiveCaptain database. We have some simple yet powerful ways of doing this.

(1:13) I found that most marinas either didn't know or didn't fully understand the several options they have for keeping their fuel pricing up-to-date. There is no other piece of data in ActiveCaptain that changes more frequently than the price of fuel. If you compete based on your fuel price then it is imperative that you make sure your price is current and accurate. We offer a variety of ways to do this which brings up the second lesson.

(1:05) Every marina was familiar with our Monday morning fuel update emails and happily informed me that they get them each week. However, when I pointed out that their fuel price was X weeks old in the ActiveCaptain data, I usually heard, "Well, that's because the price hasn't changed." And that's a problem - a price has little meaning unless your customer knows how current it is. If you carry fuel, look at your marker. Notice that the price is always associated with a date - the date it was updated. So even if you haven't changed the price, it's just as important that you change the date. Fortunately, we've made this trivial.

(0:55) If you look closely at the fuel update email, you'll see that there are two links. It's important that you select one of them every week. The one on the right is familiar to everyone. Clicking this takes you to your fuel update page where you can modify your fuel price and even update your slip pricing. But the link on the right is equally important. (0:47) Notice it says "Prices Correct." If your fuel price has not changed, click this link and we will automatically change the date associated with your fuel price to the current date. There's nothing more to do. This tells boaters that the price is still good. Making sure you select one or the other will keep your fuel price current on a weekly basis.

(0:40) But what if updating your price once a week isn't enough? If fuel is a truly important part of your business, you may want to update your pricing more often. I've seen some marinas that update it daily. Keeping your fuel pricing fresh tells boaters that this is important business for you and that you are staying competitive.

(0:33) Of course, you can always go to your marker on the website, select the Fuel tab and enter a new price and date, but there are some better ways. ActiveCaptain Sponsors can quickly and easily update their fuel and slip price anytime by going to their Sponsor page. On the righthand side, we show the current fuel and slip pricing listed in the database along with each price's date. If your pricing is old we even issue you a warning in red - think of it as a gentle nag from me. You can easily update your prices by selecting "Update Prices" to go to your fuel update page, or you can select "Update Dates to Today" if your pricing hasn't changed but you want to quickly change the date.

(0:16) An alternative method is to keep a copy of the fuel update email so you can open and access it at any time. Those links don't only work on Monday mornings! I've even had marinas who have created a shortcut or bookmark to their fuel update page so they can go to it whenever they want.

(0:09) If fuel is an important part of your business, make sure boaters always have your most current pricing and the only way I will know it is current is from the listed date. It's quick, it's simple, and it will bring you more business.

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