Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Your Electronic Card Rack

(1:06) It's not uncommon to see one of those racks of business cards for marine services in a marina's lobby. Some marinas have them stacked around the check-in area. Others have folders or notebooks of contact information.

(1:00) I've written numerous times about the importance of letting boaters know about the services available nearby - grocery, medical, hair cutting, and of course, any marine services. Gaining access to a service I need can often be what decides which marina I choose.

(0:54) Last week's minute said that we'd be expanding the categories for our new Services feature. eBoatCard Services allows boaters to search for marine services including things like boat brokers, engine repair, bottom painting, and more. They can find contact information and a description of the service provided. But the most popular feature is that boaters can write reviews about the specific services they've used.

(0:45) The advantages of this new capability may seem obvious to a boatyard or marina that also offers marine services. But what about the business that is a marina only? How can this help you?

(0:40) It can provide you with an electronic card rack of marine services. But this card rack has some important advantages.

(0:36) The most significant advantage is timing. Let's face it, if I am standing in your marina office, looking through the card rack, then that card rack did not bring me into your marina.

(0:31) But if you have an electronic card rack that I can examine when I'm seeking a marina, now you'll have a real marketing tool that can give me a reason to choose you.

(0:27) I know and understand that many marinas are hesitant to recommend a nearby service. What if things go wrong? So as a boater I am left to stare at the cards and guess which one is right for me. With the electronic version, I can read reviews from fellow cruisers and make a more informed decision.

(0:21) Over the summer I will be writing more about this new feature including basic how-to's and some ideas about how you can utilize the capability to bring in more business.

(0:15) Last week we released the category for Canvas, Upholstery. We are releasing 19 boatyard service categories this week. Make sure you're familiar with the categories that will be covered. You can check out the service categories here: 


(0:08) Start to think about the services you can offer either directly or through other businesses in the area. Give boaters every reason possible to visit your marina and you'll be rewarded with more visitors.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Handling Negative Reviews

(0:57) Over the next couple of weeks we will be releasing new Services categories. The Services capability allows boaters to share their experiences in a much wider arena. In addition, it lets them share information with finer detail. I will be providing more details next week.

(0:50) In light of what is coming, I felt it was a good time to revisit the topic of negative reviews. No one wants them but everyone will eventually receive one. Remember, handled properly a negative review can be turned to a plus for you and your marina.

(0:44) Several years back I wrote an article about how to handle negative reviews. You can find it on the website at the link below. The points remain very relevant today.

(0:39) Here are the points I think are the most critical. First, try not to fret over the occasional negative review. Instead, use them to learn and become better.

(0:34) Never argue with the boater, they will usually win. When you become defensive and argue with the reviewer other boaters will tend to sympathize with the boater and may view your defense as an attack.

(0:28) Keep your ego out of it. As a small business owner I know how hard it is to do this. But it is important not to take the criticism personally. Rather view it objectively, using it to improve, if possible.

(0:23) Always apologize. Even if you don't agree with their assessment, you should still be sorry that their experience was not positive. And if you actually did blow it, then apologize, make it right, and let boaters know what you are doing to stop it from happening again.

(0:16) Most importantly do not agonize about an occasional negative review. If you've kept your standards high and worked to consistently provide exceptional service the occasional mishap or disgruntled customer will not have a lasting impact.

(0:10) Finally, remember the adage, "The best defense is a good offense." Make sure you have a strategy for encouraging boater reviews. I have written about this topic in past Minutes. A quality marina will overwhelmingly generate highly rated reviews. Having a large number of positive reviews will quickly negate a lone negative one.

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Words of Wisdom

(1:08) I have a file where I save quotes that I think might be useful for a future Minute. As I was putting one in this week I noticed the list was getting long. So I thought it was time to spill some of my favorite gems. Words of wisdom from some of the legends in business.

(1:00) It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. - Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon.com.

(0:56) Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it. - Peter Drucker, renown consultant, author, and scholar.

(0:51) Your customers don't care about you. They don't care about your product or service. They care about themselves, their dreams, their goals. Now, they will care much more if you help them reach their goals, and to do that, you must understand their goals, as well as their needs and deepest desires. - Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder.

(0:42) What gets measured, gets done. And what gets recognized, gets done again - and even better. - Robert Crawford, Institute of Customer Service.

(0:36) Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. - Bill Gates, Microsoft founder.

(0:32) Customer service training must be seen, not as a one hour seminar event, but as a process that continues daily. - Bill Quiseng, author.

(0:27) The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary. - Sam Walton, Walmart Founder

(0:23) The customer's perception is your reality. - Kate Zabriskie, author.

(0:20) Always give people more than what they expect to get. - Nelson Boswell, author.

(0:16) Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends. - Walt Disney.

(0:12) Well done is better than well said. - Benjamin Franklin.

(0:09) It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. - Charles Darwin.

(0:04) Be inspired, become better, and find more success.

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

ActiveCaptain Locations

(0:50) Last week we announced the release of the new Locations app for iOS, Android, Windows, and Macintosh OSX to boaters. It marked an important step forward for ActiveCaptain.

(0:44) While thousands of boaters agree that the new app is fun to use and gives boaters a view that isn't available by any other means, the true value of Locations is the new platform being released. This platform of capabilities and technology will be the basis for a tremendous number of additional enhancements moving forward. These new enhancements will create better ways for you to reach out to new and existing customers; ways that have never been available to you before.

(0:31) Locations provides a canvas for displaying overlay information on charts and maps. The first release transmits GPS data to our servers where it is stored and shared among boaters based on their privacy settings. Later this summer, there will be a way for boaters to automatically share their location with ActiveCaptain Sponsors as well.

(0:20) Check out the information page on Locations at the link below. I'll be exploring more about the technology as well as the roadmap for where this is all going in future Minutes. Because the app was designed to add more overlays, new capabilities will come out quicker for it than anything else we've ever done.

(0:12) For more info on the Locations app, check out:

(0:08) I'll be sharing my ideas about how to utilize these new functions to better serve boaters as we progress on this journey together. I'll also be looking forward to hearing your ideas as well. Starting now, "the future ain't what it used to be."

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

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Glitz vs Reality

(0:54) I did a Minute about the importance of knowing your customers and using that knowledge to meet their needs. No sooner had I scheduled the Minute for distribution than a 2-star review appeared in my inbox. It was quite long and detailed the issues the boater had with the marina.

(0:46) The second paragraph caught my eye: "If they did not try to pretend to be something they are not, I would grant more stars. But anyone falling prey to the glitzy advertising for this place will be sorely disappointed in the reality."

(0:40) It was such a graphic example of what I have written about on several occasions. I couldn't get it out of my head. It wasn't so much that the facility was lacking in certain amenities. It was that this boater had felt misled, deceived, and even tricked. I couldn't help but wonder what would have transpired if the marina had presented a more realistic view of themselves.

(0:32) Poor reviews happen when a boater's expectations are not met. I know, I've said it before but I believe it can't be said enough.

(0:28) Expectations can mean something as simple as a bathroom not being clean to something as far reaching as presenting a false view of your facility. Remember, you don't have to be the most glamorous or offer the best amenities. But you do have to deliver what you promise and only promise what you can deliver.

(0:20) Make sure to check in with boaters to ensure you are meeting the expectations you have set. Seek honest feedback. And when you fall short, apologize, and work to make it right.

(0:15) To succeed in today's highly connected world, you need to recognize that your customers are communicating in a big way. It is more important than ever to have a realistic understanding of what you can offer the boaters and what you cannot offer. Honesty is always the best policy.

(0:08) If you fail to follow this tenet, you will fall victim to dissatisfied customers and poor reviews. Treat your potential customers with the candor you would wish to be treated with and you will have more business.

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