Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What's a Bitter End???

(1:06) After 22 years, we're selling the house, auctioning its contents, and throwing the lines to shore for good. It's been busy. So this week's Marina Minute is a repeat of my most popular Minute to date. Enjoy!

(0:56) In my fantasy world every dockhand I encounter would know exactly how to tie up my boat in the manner I like. Well, that and fuel would be 50 cents a gallon and chocolate would have no calories. But now I'm really dreaming.

(0:50) As I've discussed in previous Minutes, the encounter between the boater and the dockhand taking the lines at the dock is critical. It is the first personal encounter and can set the stage for the entire stay. Make sure that every dockhand is well trained, knowledgeable, and listens to the boater.

(0:44) The first two are the easy ones which can be handled with good training and oversight of new dockhands. For example, ensure they know what to do with the line whether they are handed the eye or the bitter end. They should know how to secure my lines professionally. Can they secure the eye so it doesn't bounce off the cleat? Do they know how to properly cleat off the bitter end? The most common mistake we encounter is a dockhand who ties our flared bow in too tightly making it impossible to pull in the stern.

(0:32) The more difficult skill, but also the more important one, is really listening to the boater. A terrific dockhand will follow the boater's instructions, if given, as the boater will best know how their boat handles and what the issues are. If needed, the dockhand can offer advice on issues the boater may not be aware of like an unexpected eddy, for example.

(0:22) A truly skilled dockhand can gauge the confidence and experience of the crew and offer more instruction if needed. Suggest a spring line rather than the bow line, particularly if the current could swing the boat perpendicular to the dock. And if the dockhand knows whether the spring line should go forward or aft they may even receive a marriage proposal.

(0:12) Of course, in the ideal situation you would always be able to hire extremely experienced and knowledgeable dockhands to fill every position. But in the real world that isn't always possible so make sure to take the time to train them properly. After all, they are the first ambassadors the boater meets at your marina. Make sure the boater's experience starts off on the right foot.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Services - Finer Points

(0:58) It's been great to see businesses accessing their Services information. Having complete and accurate data available for boaters is important. Based on questions I've received and moderating your entries, I've realized that there is some additional information needed for you to take full advantage of the Services feature.

(0:50) There is some confusion about how a business's record is stored in the Services database. Information for a business is only entered once creating a single record that contains the business name, address, phone, website, email, description, etc. Once the record has been entered, then the business can be associated with the service categories it offers. So a single business record may very well be listed under multiple services since many businesses offer multiple services.

(0:39) This is why the first step for adding a business to a Service category is to search for the business in the Add Business page. If the business does not appear you then should click the red, "Create new business" button. If the business does appear then simply select the business and click the Submit button to add the business to the Service category.

(0:32) Correcting business data information under one Service category (changing the contact email, for example) causes the change to appear across all Service categories. Of particular importance is the description field for the business. This field should have a general description of the business and all of the services that are provided. This description will appear in each Service category the business is entered in.

(0:23) It's important that you have a good email address listed in your record. You can even enter multiple if you wish. The email listed will not only provide a way for prospective customers to contact you - the preferred method for most boaters - it will also ensure that you receive notification when a boater writes a review for your business. Knowing what boaters are saying, and quickly following up if needed, is important for your business reputation.

(0:13) Finally, make sure you are claiming your business by selecting the "Yes" radio button under "Is this your business?" at the top of the record. There are more capabilities coming that will only be available if you have claimed your listing.

(0:07) There are more capabilities coming that I will be writing about in future Minutes. Now is the time to make sure you are properly listed and ready take advantage of them.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Services - Business Entries

(1:01) Last week I wrote about how to create an account to utilize the Services feature in eBoatCards. If you missed the newsletter, you can find past Minutes on my blog - follow the link on the right.

(0:56) Once you are set up, click on Services at the top right of the page. This will display a list of all the Service categories. Active categories are shown as blue links. Those coming next are displayed in gray.

(0:51) Selecting a Service category will display businesses that provide that service using a map or list. The default display is a map with the businesses shown listed below. To obtain a full listing in alphabetical order click on List on the left side. Select About for a description of the Service category.

(0:44) To find out if a business is listed in a Service category type the business name in the search box under the service name. You can type in a partial name and it will find businesses containing that string.

(0:39) Click on a business to access the record. To make additions or corrections to the record, select Edit. There is a field near the bottom for optional notes. This is a place to provide additional information to help us in verifying your changes. Select Submit at the bottom to put the changes into the verification queue.

(0:31) If you do not find the business in the Service section you can add it by selecting Add Business located on the left.

(0:27) The first step is to search for the business in the database. Enter a string in the search box above the list. If the business appears in the list, select it, and then select Submit to place the business into the Service category.

(0:21) If the business does not appear, select Create a New Business which is highlighted in red. Fill in the record and select Submit.

(0:17) All additions and corrections to the database must be approved by an Admin before they are permanently entered. Make sure to add the business to other Service categories that are covered by the business.

(0:12) Note, the Services list was preloaded from marinas and boatyards in the ActiveCaptain database. If your business does not offer a service in a particular category, edit your record and check the "This business does not offer this service" checkbox.

(0:06) Having an accurate and complete list of marine services makes it easy for boaters to find you when they are looking for a specific service. That's good for business.

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

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Services - How-To

(0:57) Last week we released 19 categories under the new Services feature and the response has been terrific. Boaters are entering reviews for businesses they have used. Both boaters and businesses have been adding new entries. It's a huge win for the entire community.

(0:49) As I promised last week, I'm going to be writing about this new capability over the summer. I wanted to start with some basic how-to's. This information applies whether you offer the services yourself or whether you have third party businesses nearby that can provide the services. For many of you, these first instructions may be too basic, but my goal is to get everyone to the same place.

(0:41) If there are businesses nearby that offer these services, please pass this information along. It is a win for both of you.

(0:37) Businesses entered into the Services database must directly offer the service. You can enter the business record yourself or you can encourage the business to create their own listing. It's best if the business becomes involved since they should Claim their listing for added capabilities.

(0:31) The first step in the business listing process is to make sure you are signed up for ActiveCaptain and eBoatCards accounts. If you do not have an ActiveCaptain account, go to the website (www.activecaptain.com) and click Register in the upper right.

(0:25) Fill in your email address, password, and other items. Your captain name should be the name of your business. You will receive a confirmation email in your inbox. It should appear almost immediately. If you do not see it, check spam folders and add us to your safe senders or contacts. Click on the confirmation link and then select Login in the upper right of the website. Make sure to select Remember me on the login page and you will not need to do this step in the future.

(0:16) Now go to the eBoatCards website (www.eboatcards.com) and enter your ActiveCaptain account information in the upper right to log in. The first time you log into eBoatCards, it'll walk you through creating an electronic boat card. Make sure to set yourself up as a Business, Marina, or Boatyard account based on your business and use the name of your business as the name. If you are an ActiveCaptain Sponsor, email me with your account name so I can enable your electronic boat card as a Sponsor.

(0:08) You can now explore the services feature by selecting Services at the top of the page. If you are anxious to do more, there is some very basic help at the link below. I'll write about creating and editing business listings in next week's Minute:

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