Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On the Front Lines

(1:04) I know that many of you pass along some Minutes to your staff. I love when that happens because most of my Minutes are as relevant to them as they are to management. Maybe even more relevant. After all, they are the ones on the front lines interacting with the boaters every day in real and meaningful ways. This is a valuable asset I fear many marinas are overlooking.

(0:55) Yes, I know that a good manager will get out of the office, walk the docks, and meet and greet the boaters. But unless you are a very small, maybe family run facility, you are spending much of your time doing, well, management things.

(0:49) So your staff becomes valuable ears and eyes letting you know what your customers are thinking. Not only are they typically the first encounter a boater will have with your facility, but they can fend off problems before they turn into a negative review and let you know what is being chatted about among boaters. They know what is working and where the problems lie.

(0:41) I have been to marinas where the staff was actually discouraged from interacting with boaters. One employee told me, "We've been told not to talk to the boaters who come here." I was stunned. I can only assume that management was afraid an employee would say the wrong thing. That's a training and leadership issue.

(0:33) Of course, there is a balance. Few boaters would want someone hanging around their boat just shooting the breeze. But everyone should greet boaters cordially, making them feel welcome. Dockhands should make sure I am comfortably settled and have the information I need to have a pleasant stay. If I'm standing on the dock with a trash bag in hand looking confused, offer to help. If you're working on my boat and I question something, check it out.

(0:21) I know that each of us has different interpersonal skills and styles, but any employee can be trained to listen and follow through. No employee should be discouraged from approaching management when they find something that isn't right. After all, they are most likely to see the minor problem before it becomes a major issue.

(0:13) Finally, the employees are the ones who will likely hear any discourse happening among boaters. Are they talking about the dirty heads? Your employees should alert you.

(0:08) Empower every employee to take ownership in the success of your marina. Listen and communicate from management and owners to staff through to boaters. We all want the boating experience to be positive and enjoyable. That's good for everyone.

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