Without knowledge and a great idea to
coordinate it with your regular advertising campaign, using the Internet for
social marketing is like herding cats.
their oil once a year. Well, perhaps increasing the fixed operations side of the business (service and aftermarket) is good
insulation in times of fluctuation of new boat sales, but still,
how do you keep the stream of customers that are needed to
justify the service side investment?
In talking to people in the field, it’s apparent that the CRM
system is a good place to start. Having communication and
consistency inside the company and in the attitudes of people
who meet the public (most everybody at a marina) is just common sense. Once that is happening, as it is today at most establishments, how can you build the relationship?
One obvious occasion is the catastrophe. When a boat gets
broken, most marinas understand that the customer really
appreciates prompt repairs. It’s reasonably obvious that the service they get at this time can well make or break a relationship.
Some stores even go as far as offering loaner boats to customers
when their own is in the shop. That’s got to be a way to keep
friends. But what about creating reasons for customers to be in
touch when their boat is doing fine?
Education is a good hook. Boating operator cards are a
must; safe boating is a dull but worthwhile topic that perhaps
you can breathe life into. Take the high road by selling sexy life
vests to kids – parents will thank you. Accessories are a profit
centre and a great means for an owner to add zing if they cannot trade in. There are also good prop clinic programs available. Be aware of the service needs of brands beyond what you
sell – glasswork is universal and engines are mostly engines. A
big hello for a visiting boater that your team has never met
seems like an obvious place to develop a relationship, but
apparently not every marina welcomes folks with boats they
Basically, it all comes down to the Canadian weather that
dictates, or tries to dictate our customer relationships. After the
boat show, nothing happens until spring when everyone wants
service on the same day. Then, basically nothing happens until
fall when everyone wants service on the same day again. Then
the customers vanish.
Unlike other businesses that have a
year-long business cycle or even marinas
in Florida, the Canadian operator has to
be incredibly creative to attract and keep
customers. Yes, a CRM system and the
CRM philosophy help, but creative marketing and a lot of attention to the concerns of the local marketplace are even
The next steps are a judgment call
and we can only hope your inspiration is
divine. Start by making sure your systems, vision and internal communica-
tions are ready to provide the ingredients for strong customer
relations – that could include a CRM system but certainly
entails more than that. Confident the structure is in place, you
can take initiatives that will bring increased traffic from existing customers and provide a launch pad for attracting new
ones. Not simple, but a road to success no matter what the
economy is doing! ;