Boating Industry

February 2014

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Building a better marina Diversify Marina Dock Age surveys its readers annually, and an item of note each year is how many profit centers marinas have. From small marinas to larger operations, offering a variety of places for customers to spend their money allows marinas to profit in more areas and to deliver a slew of services, Townshend said. Added profit centers could include a ship's store, a pump out, a restaurant or a bar. Offer access to modern amenities Master customer service/hospitality Customer service is huge for businesses like marinas that exist to deliver experiences to customers that they wouldn't get elsewhere. RCR Yachts, with 125 deep-water slips and more than 150 moorings in New York, goes the extra mile to treat its customers like family. "In our case we do not have fancy amenities, and we are surrounded by low-cost alternative marinas," CEO Don Finkle said. "What we have found to work for us is treating our customers like part of the family. They are always stopping by to chat with our staff, drop off goodies for them and sometimes just to say hello. We also provide repair services that the others do not wish to deal with, and that has made permanent customers out of those who first came to us for work to be done." Anna Townshend, editor of Marina Dock Age magazine, added, "You can have the best marina and the best docks, but if you aren't catering to your boaters in that way, you're not going to succeed." She compared a marina to a hotel in terms of services rendered, and the hotel industry overall is known for their above-and-beyond customer service. To get boaters to stick around long-term, she says, marinas have to treat them right and go further than just meeting needs. Value-added amenities, along with great customer service, can differentiate one marina from the next. Oak Hill Marina, with 80 slips combined on Lake Minnewashta and East Okoboji Lake in Iowa, provides a gas grill for use and leaves its bathroom and shower house open 24 hours a day to customers with a key code. "If you're coming to the lake and you choose to go out for supper afterwards and want to rinse off and go out to dinner afterwards, it's a huge convenience for them," president and owner Phil Miklo said. Roxie Comstock of Bellingham Marine, has found a number of amenities are in demand from marina customers. "Among the top amenities most important to boaters aside from ample power and water are access to Internet and cable TV at the slip and convenient sewage pump out also preferably at the slip," she said. Determine your mission and vision A few years ago, the staff at Herrington Harbour Marinas, with two locations in Maryland, decided it needed to redefine its mission and vision. Despite being in business for more than three decades, the marina knew it was time for a change and for the business to be redefined. "You have to understand who you are, what you want to provide for people," owner Steuart Chaney said. The marina's new vision is to become the best eco-lifestyle marina on the East Coast, and its mission is to treat every visitor as a personal guest. 22 | Boating Industry | February 2014 P20x25-BI14FEB-MarinaSecrets.indd 22 1/8/14 1:09 PM

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