Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another New Year

(0:48) This week we come to the end of another year. It's been a year of many changes for us, both professionally and personally. We finally cut the last of our land ties by selling our house in Maine. We're now living onboard, full time. We experienced phenomenal growth with ActiveCaptain on all fronts. We're seeing our partner marinas increasing their business as we've helped them bring in more boaters.

(0:40) I like to pause this time of year to look back at accomplishments, setbacks, joys, and disappointments. What we experience ourselves is where many of my Minutes come from.

(0:34) As I've looked over the Minutes of the past year I selected my 3 favorites. Each one holds a lesson we all need to make sure we have learned. Now's a good time to re-read them or check them out if you missed them.

(0:26) Finding Yes, March 31, 2015
It's the foundation of good customer service to meet your customers' needs and desires whenever possible. What better way than to tell them, Yes?:

(0:18) Preparing for Luck, April 7, 2015
Many hope and wait for luck to find them. Meanwhile, opportunities pass them by. Make sure you are prepared to be lucky:

(0:11) Glitz vs Reality, June 2, 2015
Setting realistic and obtainable expectations for your customers is key to customer satisfaction. Hype may bring them in but you have to deliver to keep them coming back:

(0:04) Wishing you much success in 2016!

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Just Say No!

(1:00) OK, OK, I know I did a Minute entitled "Finding Yes" were I talked about the importance of finding ways to satisfy your customers. In a perfect world you would be able to say "Yes" to every request you received. But, alas, that is not realistic.

(0:51) There are times when you are simply unable to meet a boater's expectations no matter how hard you try. Too often I see marinas shy away from saying "No" in these situations. Often, they are reluctant to turn away the business.

(0:43) But telling a boater "Yes" when you should tell them "No" can cause you far more economic loss.

(0:39) When you tell me "Yes" you have created the expectation that my wishes will be met. While a boater might be disappointed if he is told "No," having an experience that is less than expected will make him unhappy. And that is worse.

(0:32) Negative reviews happen when a boater's experience is less than the boater's expectations. I honestly can't say this enough.

(0:28) So if my boat's draft won't let me comfortably make it to your fuel dock or my boat yard project can't be finished when I need it or some other request cannot be met by you, tell me "No."

(0:21) By realistically setting my expectations from the start I can choose to move on. Or I can choose to come in at high tide or modify my project or return at another time when you can satisfy my needs. In each of these situations you have avoided an unhappy customer and possibly a negative review.

(0:13) Be realistic about what you can do to satisfy a boater's need. And if you can't, then be forthright and explain your limitations. Invite them to come back when they can use the services you do provide or when you are better able to serve them.

(0:06) In the long run you will generate goodwill, avoid unhappy boaters, and actually receive more business.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Have Passion

(1:07) One secret to excelling is having a passion for what you do. I've recently seen two instances of this. Instances where someone felt a joy and a commitment to providing us with an extraordinary experience.

(1:01) The first involved a gift of a dinner out. My husband and I do not eat meat, so before venturing out to a new restaurant we always check out the menu online to ensure we can be accommodated. In reality it is rare that we don't find a non-meat option, so we simply went to the restaurant without a second thought.

(0:53) We found the restaurant warm and inviting. The waitress was one of the best we have seen. But of course, the menu was completely devoid of meatless alternatives. Demonstrating that rare sense of being in tune with her customers, the waitress asked if we were having a problem with the menu. When we explained our situation she smiled broadly and exclaimed, "That's no problem. Our chef loves a challenge. Let me go talk to him - he'll create something just for you."

(0:43) She later appeared with an artfully arranged plate of a variety of seasonal vegetables. Each was individually prepared to bring out the best flavor for that vegetable. It was one of the best meals I have eaten. Then to top off the experience, the chef arrived at the table to ensure we were pleased and had enough to eat. He showed impressive pride and joy in his creation. We left feeling exceedingly special and told others who rushed the next night to ask for the same special creation. This chef showed a passion for cooking.

(0:32) Our second experience was having work done at a boatyard. Let's be honest - having work done on one's boat is never the highlight of the boating experience. This time we found a mechanic that treated our precious John Deere engines like his own.

(0:25) He not only performed the work we requested with skill and speed, he looked around to ensure all was well and pointed out several small issues that should also be addressed. I know you're thinking he was simply looking to add to the bill. But it wasn't that way.

(0:17) Most were items we could easily handle ourselves with a couple that took very little time. There is no doubt he saved us larger bills down the road. What was important to him was an engine that would work near flawlessly. He felt pride in knowing he had sent us on our way safely. He showed a passion for engines.

(0:09) When you have pride, joy, and, yes, passion for what you do, it shows. Treat every boater experience like it was your experience. Give them more than they expect and they'll give you more business.

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Be Exceptional

(1:11) It is a rare 5 star review that does not mention an exceptional staff. It is no surprise to me. How can any experience be truly 5 star if it includes inattentive, incompetent, or nonexistent staff?

(1:05) The tone for every transient stay is set by those first interactions, from hailing on the radio to grabbing my lines to tying me safely to the dock. Follow that with a friendly greeting and a knowledgeable dockhand and you are well on your way to a satisfied boater.

(0:58) By contrast, I have seen many reviews that state that while the marina was lovely and the location superb, a star (or 2) was removed because the staff was unfriendly or couldn't be raised on the radio. There is simply no reason for this.

(0:51) Renovating bathrooms and upgrading docks can be costly endeavors. While a smile and a helping hand costs nothing. Make sure that every aspect of the boater's interaction with you and your staff is extraordinary.

(0:44) How? Start with your staff.

(0:42) Lead by example. Great customer service starts at the top. Treat your staff the way you want them to treat boaters. Not only will you be showing them how it is done, you will be creating a more satisfying work environment. After all, it's easy to be friendly and helpful when one is feeling happy and satisfied.

(0:34) Give them the training and support they need. Ensure everyone knows the proper way to communicate on the radio, how to tie a line, and what the issues might be when approaching the marina. Arm them with the resources required to satisfy the customers needs. Information about marina amenities, nearby attractions, emergency resources, and even local knowledge about weather and water conditions is invaluable to someone who is new to your marina.

(0:24) Make the goals clear. To perform a job exceptionally you must first understand the scope and expectations for that job. Make sure every employee knows what their job entails. Be specific. It's easy to think dockhands simply handle lines to bring a boater safely to the dock. An important job indeed but they are also greeters and ambassadors. They are that first impression your mother taught you about.

(0:15) Discuss and reward performance. Exceptional customer service is not something you setup once and forget. Use your reviews to understand where you are doing well and where you need to improve. Give that feedback to your staff so they can improve. Acknowledge instances of exceptional service and use those instances when you fall short to learn and become better.

(0:06) Work together to make every boater's experience is exceptional and you'll be rewarded with repeat business and 5 star reviews.

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