Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Change Happens

(1:04) "Everything changes and nothing stands still." - Heraclitus of Ephesus, Greek philosopher, 535 BC - 475 BC.

(1:02) We've all heard variations on that quote many times and that's because it is true. Even more true today than it was thousands of years ago.

(0:58) What it means for your marina is that it is impossible to simply stand still. You are either getting better or getting worse. It all depends on how you react to change.

(0:52) It's quite natural to shirk change. The familiar is comforting, we feel we know what to do and how to react. The problem is that the familiar is changing, without you even realizing it. Staying the same and resisting change will only make your position worse.

(0:44) I have seen enormous changes within the boating industry in the 13+ years we have been cruising liveaboards. Amenities once rare, such as great WiFi and courtesy cars, have become standard. Boaters reliance on guide books, magazines, and other forms of paper have diminished and even vanished. The role of the "expert" has declined as boaters turn to their peers for advice and information in the form of reviews, boating groups, and even places like Facebook because they find these sources more trustworthy and reliable. Handle these changes well and you are making your business better.

(0:24) "When you're finished changing, you're finished." - Benjamin Franklin

(0:22) Gone is the day when a flashy picture and pretty words are enough to win you customers. Success means understanding what today's boaters want, how they want it, and where they are finding it. Do that and you are becoming better.

(0:15) For example, today boaters depend on their smartphones more than their laptops. High quality apps that offer the features a boater needs is what they turn to. Will they find you there? And what will they find when they do?

(0:08) "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often." - Winston Churchill

(0:06) Change happens. You must anticipate it, monitor it, adapt to it quickly, learn to enjoy it, and be ready to quickly do it again and again.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

3rd Chances...

(1:12) I had a customer service experience last week that has me undecided about how I feel.

(1:09) In a few weeks we will begin our southern migration. I like to periodically provision for all of our non-perishables. It's not a fun task but when we are walking back some distance from a grocery store with just fresh items, I really appreciate not having to schlep canned goods and other heavy staples.

(1:00) If there's a courtesy car or we happen to have a rental car, I can run to a large grocery store but that is very time consuming. I've tried online services with varying success.

(0:55) So I was excited to run across a new service that seemed to offer me everything I could want - great selection, good prices, fast delivery. I thought I would give them a try.

(0:50) A couple of days later, the marina office told me that I had several large boxes waiting. When I arrived I found my boxes smashed and burst open, some with a pathetic piece of tape or two trying to seal them back up. I took some pictures and brought the boxes to the boat.

(0:43) Many cans were missing - spilled out of the open boxes I'm sure - and 2/3 were damaged. I sent the company an email with pictures.

(0:40) Over the next 24 hours I received approximately 6 email exchanges, each with a different person. Finally, I received a phone call from Ashley R. who stated she was going to take care of me. She was terrific.

(0:36) Over the next half hour she went over my order, refunded items they couldn't replace and promised to send replacements for the rest. I expressed concern about receiving them intact. She assured me they would handle things better, so I decided to give them a 2nd chance.

(0:28) Two days later as we crossed the parking lot I saw the FedEx Ground truck arrive and went to meet it. I knew there was a problem when I found the driver picking up cans off the floor and putting them into a box. I don't need to tell you the rest.

(0:21) The company did refund the full amount of my order along with a sincere apology. But will I try them again in the future? I'm not sure. While their customer service people were great, ultimately, the company failed to provide me with what I needed. Do I want to give them a third chance?

(0:13) There is much focus today on customer service and for good reason. But a lesson here is that even the most exceptional customer service will not make up for gross flaws in the service itself. Businesses are lucky when they get a second chance and unlikely to get a third chance.

(0:06) So when you're given a second chance to make up for a previous bad experience, you've got to hit the ball out of the park because you likely won't get a third chance.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Spot On

(1:06) I try to bring a unique perspective to marina marketing. I speak with boaters, dockhands, marina managers and owners. I see countless reviews and Partner Management Responses. I am also privy to many behind the scenes communications between boaters, marinas, and ActiveCaptain. And I liveaboard as a full-time cruiser.

(0:58) I'm often ask how I get my ideas for the Marina Minute. Many of them come simply from my day-to-day experiences. Sometimes they come easy, sometimes hard, and every once in a while an idea comes on a silver platter.

(0:54) We received an email from a boater who wrote a 3 star review for Brewer Oxford Boat Yard and Marina, an ActiveCaptain Partner. He was praising the Management Response to his review from the Marina Manager. The boater wrote, "I would consider Brewer's response spot on..." I heartily agree.

(0:47) The boater wrote a detailed review explaining the things that he liked about his stay and those he did not - a classic 3 star review. Brewer Oxford responded with equal detail, addressing the boater's feedback. The full exchange would take the whole Minute, so I will just highlight some points. You can read the full text at the link below under Reviews in the Brewer Oxford Boat Yard and Marina marker. It is the review from Captain Toujours405 dated August 31, 2016:

(0:33) The boater pointed out many things he liked including the great staff, nice showers, the new boater's lounge. He stated, "There’s a lot to like about the marina." But he then went on to describe where they fell short - the docks and pool which he felt were in need of upgrades.

(0:26) Graham Norbury, the Marina Manager, used the Partner Management Response to offer the perfect reply, “Thanks for the feedback! We've been pretty busy with repairs and upgrades since being acquired by Brewer in 2014.” He went to to describe what they've done. He followed up with, “There's still more to do though, and as you rightly point out the docks need replacing.” And described what projects are planned. He concluded with, “Come see us again and check on progress!”

(0:13) It was beautiful, sincere, and helpful. As a boater reading this exchange, I see that he cares about the boater experience, appreciates honest feedback, and understands what needs to be done to resolve the problems. He doesn't shirk from the problems, he owns them, and addresses them head on.

(0:05) Responding to a 3 star review is challenging. Follow Graham's lead and do it honestly and openly. You'll see more business.

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


(0:55) Last week I wrote about focusing your online reputation to gain the maximum benefit. Maintaining focus is one of the hardest tasks one faces when running a business. The distractions that crop up daily can be overwhelming. I know I too often fail on this point, rarely resulting in the outcome I want.

(0:46) As I was researching a couple of points last week, I ran across quotes on focusing. There were several I found inspiring, so I thought I would share them with you.

(0:42) You can do anything, but not everything. David Allen, Productivity Consultant

(0:41) You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks. Winston Churchill

(0:38) The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither. Confucius

(0:37) Focus is more important than intelligence. Dr Nido R Qubein, President of High Point University

(0:35) When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there. Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker, and Author

(0:31) People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. Steve Jobs

(0:26) Stop worrying about what you have to lose and start focusing on what you have to gain. Unknown

(0:23) The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates

(0:20) Focus on being productive instead of busy. Tim Ferris, Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Angel Investor

(0:18) Ask yourself if what you're doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow. Unknown

(0:15) Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear. Anthony Robbins, Businessman, Author, and Speaker

(0:13) The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus. Bruce Lee

(0:11) The main thing is to keep the main thing a main thing. Stephen R Covey, Author, Businessman, and Speaker

(0:09) There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all. Peter Drucker, Consultant, Educator, and Author

(0:05) Keeping a razor sharp focus is very challenging. Pick the right focus and do it well and you will find success.

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