Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Finding Yes

(1:01) A few weeks ago I wrote about Meco, a dockhand here at Great Harbour Cay Marina who exemplifies how to make boaters feel happy. We've been here for over a month now and have gotten to know the staff pretty well. I've come to see that the commitment to customer service runs deep at this marina. It's a testament to management, keeping and motivating truly good people.

(0:53) To me, Meco, Ramon, and Kimberly define great customer service. Ramon sees us on our cockpit and tells us our bread order arrived at the office. Before I can say I'll go get it, he smiles and says, "I'll go get it for you."

(0:46) Kimberly in the office greets us like an old friend. She'll call BTC to check on hours, a restaurant to arrange a dinner, or whatever we need while never making us feel like it's an intrusion.

(0:40) Last week I experienced the quintessential example of over-the-top customer service when Kimberly wouldn't stop until she was able to tell us, "Yes!"

(0:35) The mail boat from Nassau did not make its scheduled trip leaving transient boaters looking for alternatives to satisfying their culinary needs. I had heard about a restaurant that had a Pizza and Beer night on Wednesday, so I went to the office to check it out. I confirmed the event but wanted to check with friends about coming along. A bit later I was back talking to Kimberly who called but found they weren't accepting any more reservations.

(0:24) Devastated I went back to break the news to the other boaters. Within 30 minutes Kimberly came down the dock to tell us she had tracked down a local chef who was willing to make and deliver pizzas to our boat.

(0:19) A little after seven we sat on the cockpit with friends as two pizzas were delivered. It was fabulous pizza and a wonderful evening. We were left satisfied and feeling special.

(0:14) It would have been easy for Kimberly to give a sincere "I'm sorry" and move along. That would have met my expectations. But Kimberly wouldn't stop there. She worked until she found a way to tell us, "Yes!" What a rare and wonderful trait.

(0:08) Next time you are in a situation where you must tell a boater "No," stop, and consider if there is a way to say "Yes." Make it a goal to try to say "Yes" to every reasonable request and you will see more repeat business.

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Keep It Cool

(0:57) Often the most stressful part of a transient boater's day is pulling into your marina. We're making close maneuvers around lots of other boats and boaters. We know that people on the dock are watching us. Making this experience a positive one can easily set the tone for the boater's entire stay.

(0:48) While there are things you can't control, there are plenty of things you can do to help make this a no-drama event. And it starts with the boater's first call about dockage. Make sure that the person answering the phone is knowledgeable about boating and your facility. There is no such thing as simply taking a reservation. This is a time to make a good personal contact, provide confidence, and exchange information. Make it very clear to the boater that you're standing by with assistance, docking help, and expert guidance. Give them clear instructions about when to contact you by VHF as they approach.

(0:32) Don't leave anything to chance. Everyone who answers the phone or VHF must have accurate answers to questions about depths, current, shoaling, and any other issues there might be while approaching your marina from the water. You should understand where the boater might have a problem or confusion and be able to offer assistance. Don't wait for the boater to discover a shoal area or get caught in a strong current. Warn them ahead of time and if possible, offer helpful suggestions. I'd much rather wait an hour for a time when the current is reduced than lose control of my boat in a tight docking situation.

(0:19) Listen carefully to the boater's concerns and plan ahead to mitigate them if you can. For example, if the boater expresses concerns about docking in high winds, consider putting them on a face dock instead of in a slip. As you probably know, transient boaters who don't come in and out of your marina often will always prefer face docks and T-heads because they are much easier to approach and have fewer unknown issues. The first phone call is the time to evaluate potential problems and put all fears of the boater at rest.

(0:06) Make this experience great and you are well on your way to a positive review.

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

You Need To Know

(0:45) Do you know the mechanism by which each boater came into your marina? It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses have no idea what brings in customers. They allow themselves to fall victim to the lament of John Wanamaker, considered by some to be a pioneer in marketing, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."

(0:36) Stop wasting your promotional budget without knowing whether you are getting a return on those dollars. Don't throw your money at poor performing or out-of-date ideas. Instead measure your success. Take back those wasted dollars and use them more creatively to actually generate new business.

(0:30) The first step is to know what you are doing that works and what is falling short. The only sure way to discover this is to ask boaters. It's so simple but so rarely done.

(0:25) Every boater that enters your marina must be asked what brought them there. This should be a required part of every check in, phone inquiry, or request for information. Put it on the check in form with some selections and let the boater check off the one that brought them to you. Customers are happy to tell you and may even elaborate on their favorite source. Of course, sometimes it's easy, just look for their ActiveCaptain hat.

(0:15) Never stop asking. To ensure you are always making the best use of your resources you need to continue to ask the question. This is the only way you can stay on top of changes in the market. Print ads that worked 10 years ago have little impact in today's digital world. New players enter the market offering innovations that can make existing ones obsolete in a heartbeat.

(0:06) Make sure you know what sources are bringing you revenue and which ones can be let go.

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Boost Your Reviews

(0:49) Increasing the number of boater reviews for your marina is an important ingredient for success. When boaters see a large number of reviews, it tells them that you are a destination they need to explore. It gives your ratings credibility, affords a chance for your happy customers to be your sales people, and can minimize the impact of an errant negative review.

(0:41) Encourage satisfied boaters to leave positive reviews. Many marinas are hesitant or embarrassed to do this - don't be. Most people enjoy offering their opinions and are more than happy to support the businesses they like. Today's consumers know that success means you'll be there for them in the future.

(0:32) An easy and effective approach is to post positive comments in a location where boaters will see them such as a bulletin board at check in, along with a reference to the review site. This simple action is not only a good way to promote your positive points, it can inspire a satisfied boater to do the same. Post positive reviews on your website with a link back to the review site making it easy for other customers to leave reviews.

(0:22) Do not discount the simple act of asking for a review. Few businesses ask their happy customers to speak out. When a boater compliments you in person, mention how important word of mouth is to your business. Provide a link to the review site.

(0:16) If you're an ActiveCaptain Sponsor, make sure you are using your Review Reminder Card. It is an effective way to ask for reviews while acting as a reminder later. Even with the best intentions, once a boater has thrown off their lines, it's easy to forget to enter a review. Running across your card later is a good reminder. Marinas who regularly give them out report an increase in their reviews.

(0:06) You've worked hard to build a good business. Make sure you are getting all of the recognition you deserve.

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Put On A Happy Face!

(0:50) We have been in Great Harbour Cay Marina in the Bahamas for a few weeks now and as a transient, there is much to like. Of course, there are beautiful beaches and places to explore.

(0:43) However, what has really struck me is the unbelievable joy and happiness we find from everyone at the marina. Every person who works here is helpful and upbeat which makes all of the boaters feel good as well. The tone was set from the moment we came into the harbor and were greeted at the docks by four smiling dockhands.

(0:34) There is no one who epitomizes this more than Meko. Most every morning as we sit on the cockpit having breakfast Meko, comes down the dock greeting everyone he passes while recording the electric meter readings. He stops and pets our dogs, asks how we are, and has something cheerful to say. I look forward to his smile each morning.

(0:24) You don't have to have a multi-million dollar resort or be awash in high-end amenities to make boaters feel happy. We've seen too many reviews of luxurious marinas where disinterested employees made the rating far less than the 5 stars they expect. Friendly service matters all the time.

(0:15) Can a friendly staff make up for a derelict marina or unsafe docks? Probably not. But having that personal touch will certainly improve boaters' satisfaction with their stay and lead to more positive reviews.

(0:09) You may not have the money or space to build a pool or fancy restaurant, but you can make sure your staff makes every boater feel welcome and special. And the best part? That simple act doesn't cost a thing.

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