Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Your FAQ's

(0:59) So many of you have contacted me with kind words about the acquisition. But you've also had questions. Of course you do. Change can be unnerving. Information helps. Here are answers to some of the most common questions I've heard from you.

(0:51) 1. Will the ActiveCaptain Partner program remain in place?
Marina participation in ActiveCaptain is an important part of the community. Working with our many ActiveCaptain Partner marinas has been one of my favorite parts of ActiveCaptain. The program will be continuing and we even hope to be adding some new capabilities.

(0:41) 2. Will the price for the ActiveCaptain Partner program increase?
There are no plans to increase the annual fee for the ActiveCaptain Partner program.

(0:37) 3. Do I need to keep looking for the ActiveCaptain hat?
Yes! There is still only one way for boaters to obtain an ActiveCaptain hat. They have to earn it. If you see a boater come in wearing an ActiveCaptain hat pay attention. That is a boater who writes reviews and he may be writing one about you.

(0:29) 4. Will you and Jeff still be involved?
Look, you don't get rid of us that easy. We are here and very much involved in bringing our amazing child to the next stage. We'll be doing many of the same things we did before. And behind the scenes we will be helping to guide and shape ActiveCaptain into an exciting future.

(0:19) 5. Will you still be doing The Marina Minute?
What, and pass up my chance to give you a nag once a week? Sorry, but you are stuck with me for the foreseeable future. You'll still be receiving my Minutes every Tuesday morning.

(0:12) 6. Where do I go when I have a question or want some advice?
The same place you did before. You can still reach me at my email address or call me on the phone. Plus you'll still be seeing the Red Head crew on the waterway. I'm always up for a chat!

(0:04) The future is exciting. I look forward to taking this journey with you.

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Your Welcome Mat

(1:18) I still find that many marinas fail to provide transient boaters with a good quality Welcome Packet. A Welcome Packet that is pleasing and full of useful information does two things. It projects a positive image for your marina and it helps to ensure the boater has a pleasant stay.

(1:10) I know I have harped on this numerous times in the past but it truly is an important item. There were a series of Minutes several years ago on how to put together a good Welcome Packet. Today's Minute is just an overview. You can find links to the full series here:

(1:02) Your Welcome Packet should include a welcome letter from the owner, marina manager, or harbormaster. It needn't be long but should welcome the boater to your facility and provide a way for the boater to contact you should a problem arise or should the boater need assistance. There is no better way to fend off a negative review than to resolve an issue before the boater leaves the marina.

(0:51) Include a map of your facility showing the location of the harbormaster's office, the bathhouse, laundry, and any other amenities you offer. Don't make the boater wander around trying to find these things. Ideally, provide this dockside when the boater arrives.

(0:44) Make sure to point out services and events occurring nearby. Where are the restaurants, shops, beaches, or hiking trails? Is there a place where my dog can run? Let me know about any special events that might be happening. As I wrote a few weeks back, most boaters want more than the typical tourist traps. I'd like to know where the locals go.

(0:34) Don't forget to include information on those necessities we all need from time to time. Is there a doctor, dentist, or veterinarian nearby? What about people that can service my boat or a local diver? Remember, for many boaters their boat is their home, either full or part time. They need the same things you do.

(0:23) Finally, ensure that you consider what is realistic it terms of distance. A great restaurant or dog park that is miles away may as well be on the moon unless you have a courtesy car or other transportation is available. And of course, all transportation capabilities must be in your packet as well.

(0:12) Once you've created your Welcome Packet, don't forget it. Update the information whenever it changes. And consider putting it up on your website as a tool to attract boaters to your marina. After all, if I know what amenities and attractions are available, I'll be more likely to stay with you. That's good for business.

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ActiveCaptain joins the Garmin family

When my husband and I started ActiveCaptain about ten years ago, we did so with much passion to provide better information for our own travels. We were frustrated with the lack of current, accurate, and reliable information. Information that we needed ourselves to make our cruising decisions.

We thought, if we need this then we're pretty sure other boaters in the community need it too. It started out pretty quickly and soon took off. Almost before we knew it, we had a tiger by the tail with a community that was growing rapidly in size and depth.

Boaters, marinas, and others in the community yearned for more features and capabilities. We wanted them too.

We came to realize that there was a bottleneck that was holding ActiveCaptain back from becoming what it was meant to be. That bottleneck was us. It was time to bring in reinforcements.

We are excited to announce that Garmin has acquired ActiveCaptain.

So what does all of this mean to you? Short term, you will feel no change. I am here to answer your questions, offer guidance, and give my advice. You'll still receive the weekly Minutes and find us cruising the waterways, only now we’re a part of the Garmin team. Medium term, many more people will be getting involved and the ActiveCaptain capabilities will expand. Greatly.

The Garmin press release can be read here: http://bit.ly/2qaQKxi

Stay tuned. Exciting things are coming.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Plus, Minus, or Zero

(1:09) Every week I hear from followers thanking me for my Minutes. Aw shucks... But in reality, many of my ideas and much of my knowledge comes from interactions with many of you - the marina managers, owners, dockmasters, and others.

(1:03) This past winter we stopped in at the Riviera Beach City Marina and spent some time with the Harbormaster, Lee Beauchamp, who has had many years of experience at marina resorts and knows a thing or two about hospitality and customer service.

(0:57) He described a training session he once had that taught the concept of Plus, Minus, or Zero. The idea was that following every customer interaction you look at the customer's back as they walk away and imagine either a plus sign, a minus sign, or a zero displayed there.

(0:48) It's a plus if you made that customer happier or more satisfied by the interaction. A minus means that you made the customer less happy or satisfied. Zero means that you had no impact at all on the customer.

(0:41) I love the visualization and the notion of rating yourself right then and there. It is so easy to view our accomplishments based on the totality of the day or week or whatever timeframe. But to that customer, there is only one interaction that matters. The one they just had.

(0:32) That customer won't care if you handled 20 or 100 other situations with skill and excellence, if you handled this one poorly.

(0:28) You may be thinking this is a bit silly. There are plenty of interactions that don't require much skill. If a boater comes in asking for the WiFi password, isn't it enough to just tell them? Sure, if you're satisfied with a Zero.

(0:22) I believe you can make pretty much any interaction a Plus. When I walk in greet me with a smile. Ask me how my day is. If you remember my name, you're going for extra points. Once you've given me the password, make sure to ask if there is anything else you can help me with. Thank me for coming in and remind me you are there to help if I need anything else.

(0:10) That would make a rather mundane interaction into a definite Plus. I know you don't want a minus but don't settle for a Zero. Who remembers a Zero?

(0:05) With a just little effort, you can turn that Zero into a Plus. Now that's good for business.

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

It's Emotional

(1:03) Research shows that it is a customer's emotional response to your marina that will have the greatest impact on satisfaction and future loyalty. The bottom line is that emotions are fundamental to how customers make their buying decisions. What are some things you can do to elicit positive emotions towards your marina?

(0:54) You need to move past simply "positive" or "negative" emotions and think more specifically about the feelings you want to evoke about your marina. Make sure that you are considering the emotions that are involved at each boater interaction with your marina. They will vary based on the touchpoint.

(0:45) For example, I want the dockhands to make me feel secure and safe as I approach the dock. I want the office to make me feel welcomed and appreciated as I check in. Empathy and ownership of the problem are feelings I want if I have a problem.

(0:38) The emotions evoked can also vary based on the type of marina a boater visits. If you are a marina located in a popular tourist area, it could be the feelings of fun and safety. A resort style marina might want the boater to feel pampered. While a marina catering to transients on the move should make a boater feel stress-free and at ease.

(0:27) In the book "Sell the Feeling," Larry Pinci and Phil Glosserman state that there are three key emotions a customer needs to feel before doing business with someone:

(0:22) • Trust - People feel they can depend on you - that you mean what you say and you'll do what you say.

(0:19) • Confidence - They feel you have the goods, the know-how, the competence, and expertise to meet their needs.

(0:16) • A feeling of being taken care of - you have their interests at heart and that you'll take care of them throughout the transaction, and beyond, if necessary.

(0:12) It's important that boaters feel a connection with your marina and the staff if you wish to have long-term loyal customers, create powerful mouth-of-word, and earn positive reviews. While it's important to have the tangible features - good docks, clean restrooms, reliable WiFi - creating a solid emotional connection is often what will close the sale.

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