Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bring 'Em Back

(1:07) Last week I discussed an exceptional experience we had with a boat detailer at a yard. This experience had us already planning how we can come back in the future. It reminded me that there are many things a marina or boatyard can do to bring customers back again and again. It would be wise to find your exceptional service. What can you offer that will make boaters include you as a regular in their cruising itinerary?

(0:57) It could simply be a great fuel price. For boatyards it might be some of the routine maintenance we all need to do again and again. Waxing, detailing, paint/gelcoat repair, and bottom painting quickly come to mind. The beauty there is if you make the experience exceptional, you can bring them back for those bigger jobs as well.

(0:50) That doesn't mean you have to be a boatyard to take advantage of this type of repeat business. I know boaters who return to a marina year after year for mobile work including engine maintenance, detailing, and canvas work. So if you are a marina, consider cultivating a list of quality contractors that can help draw boaters in for these repetitive tasks if you don't perform them in-house. The key is providing an exceptional experience to the boater.

(0:40) Don't forget annual events. What cruiser on the US east coast doesn't know about the Thanksgiving dinner event at St. Marys, Georgia or the Spoleto Festival in Charleston? Are you aware of all of the events going on near your marina?

(0:34) It could be something of a more permanent nature, like a theater or arena. Some places have a restaurant or park or simply the town or city where the marina is located to create an attraction. Don't forget the natural beauty and opportunities available to explore that may be nearby.

(0:27) It's easy to have tunnel vision and only focus on what is available within your property and sometimes that is terrific enough. We've been to marinas with spas and gourmet restaurants which make them a destination in themselves. But more typically, what a marina itself can offer is good docks and boater amenities. Important, yes, but not necessarily enough to ensure I'll be a regular.

(0:17) If you honestly can't find anything then consider doing what Dowry Creek Marina does. Make boaters feel so welcome that they feel sorry if they can't make the stop. The boater's lounge turns a modest facility into a must stop location. Every night boaters gather for docktails, or a potluck, or a party. Mary, the owner and facilitator, lets you know when you check in what is happening and invites you to join in. It feels like home.

(0:07) Figure out how to make your facility a place I think about every time I plan my stops and you'll be rewarded with more business.

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