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Saunders Yachtworks

Saunders Yachtworks _ dock management software

After years trying to manage his company’s complex business processes with business management software designed for the trucking industry, Saunders Yachtworks Vice President and General Manager Michael Dunlavy, decided the yard needed a more marine-specific solution.

“Boats are much more complex than motor homes or trucks, or most anything else that’s out there,” Dunlavy said. “If you’re serious about the marine business, you need serious software.”And make no mistake about it; this is a serious marine business. Based in Orange Beach, Ala., this 40-year old company is focused on boat and engine repair. “We’re a full service boatyard,” Dunlavy said. “We don’t have sales, dry-stack storage or a marina.” That need for a boatyard software offering focus on a boatyard’s operations made a big difference when Dunlavy started shopping for a marine business software solution. “We looked at all the big names in the business,” he said. “A lot of software we looked at seemed to be focused more on the marina and sales side of it.”

In the end, Dunlavy said it was DockMaster’s reputation, not just for developing a quality, marine-specific solution, but also for offering excellent support service that made the biggest difference. “We just felt like DockMaster had been doing it longer, had the most experience and the most complete package for our needs,” he said. He also liked the fact that Dockmaster would allow the company to better manage and track performance in all areas. “We felt like DockMaster just had the strongest service focus,” he said.

That also is what led Jim Bronstien, owner of Marine Business Advisors, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a Saunders Yachtworks partner and shareholder, to DockMaster. “They have a great training program; it’s pretty user friendly and it’s certainly very oriented to boatyards and marinas,” he said. The fact that DockMaster was designed by people who understand the ins and outs of the marine business for the specific needs of people in the industry also was important to Bronstien. “It wasn’t based on some other application that they adapted for the marina and boatyard industries,” he said. “It was designed specifically for marine businesses.”

Bronstien has long been aware of DockMaster, and said he’s impressed with how the company has revised its business software solutions software to the ever-changing needs of dealers, boatyards and marina operators. “They’ve actually adapted to almost anything anybody can think of,” he said. Saunders implemented the DockMaster system in April and Dunlavy said his company already is seeing the benefits. “As a full-service boatyard, we are authorized to service all of the major marine engines,” he said. “We didn’t have the ability to analyze different segments of our businesses before, but DockMaster has allowed us to really look at the many areas where we actually provide service and break it down and see where we’re more and less profitable.”

Yard managers now have a better, more accurate information about all areas of the business, which helps them perform more detailed analysis of daily operations and react more quickly to issues and needs.”It allows us to focus attention on improving our profitability, which is always the bottom line,” Dunlavy said. “But it’s also allowed us to devote a lot more attention to other areas, such as customer service. The amount of information that we have from start to finish in the system helps us keep up and communicate with our customers. It’s really helped us improve our service.” Bronstien agreed.

“There is a lot of basic information that I found cumbersome to get from other systems,” he said. “DockMaster makes it easy. You can drill down into anything you want to for as much detailed information as you need. If you want to get a broad-based picture of something, you can do that as well.”Bronstien said Saunders now is generating the data they need in record time. “They’re able to get billings out to customers a lot faster than before and more accurately,” He said.And, gone are those sometimes end-of-month surprises that often pop up when a business owner isn’t able to track daily operations closely. “My big pitch to them was, your month’s end financial results should not be a surprise, and if they are, then you probably didn’t have a good handle on things,” he said. “They’re at that point where at the end of the month they aren’t surprised anymore.”

Naturally, a big concern for any marina operator, dealer or yard owner when purchasing a marine management software system is ease of use. But here again, Dunlavy said DockMaster was the clear leader. “I was very pleased with the implementation and honestly expected more of a speed bump,” he said. “When we went live, by the end of the first month we were really rolling with it.” DockMaster technicians were on site the day Saunders launched the system and came back numerous times to check on the company’s progress. “The day that we went live we felt in all areas that we were prepared and we didn’t have any hiccups to our business,” Dunlavy said.

That’s not surprising to Clark Beaty, DockMaster vice president of sales, who points to the company’s 25-year history of developing business management software tailored to the specific needs of marine businesses. “DockMaster is leading the industry by delivering the most functional, complete and usable system on the market,” said Beaty. “That’s what a singular focus on marine applications and being dedicated to providing the best possible products for our customers can do.” Just over six months after implementing, DockMaster, Dunlavy said Saunders is operating more efficiently because it has a better grasp on how it’s doing day-to-day. “The amount of information that is stored in the software, whether it be the customer’s information, information about their boats, the ability to customize information particular to how we do business and how information is stored, and the ability to go back and search and find it, is just huge for us compared to what we had before,” he said, thinking back to the trucking industry software they had been using.

Bronstien also praises the extensive after-purchase support DockMaster offers, including a week-long annual customer seminar program DockMaster hosts, where customers from across the country meet and discuss issues and exchange ideas.

“You can sit there with 150 colleagues from across the country who are using the same system and just by nature help each other out,” he said. “It’s very much like a 20-group.” Clearly, the folks at Saunders Yachtworks are very satisfied with DockMaster. In fact, both Dunlavy and Bronstien say they would, and have, recommend DockMaster’s business management solutions software to others. “It’s definitely something anyone who is serious about his or her business should consider,” Dunlavy said.