A Marina Customer & Their Long-Term Value
The work that goes into operating a marina effectively and efficiently is not always visible to the customers. A Marina Manager develops, administers, and supervises the Marina enterprise operations, including the effective and proper maintenance of all marina facilities, supervision of personnel, and meets compliance demands, rules and regulations. Unless all this happens perfectly and drives customer satisfaction, the relationships a marina shares with their customers are in jeopardy and they may not realize the long-term value that a marina needs to earn the margin and growth they set as their goals. A happy customer now, equals more than you can realize right now, it’s about the future too.
Why is Customer Lifetime Value Important?
Any marina or marine operation needs to ask themselves, “our customers become much more valuable when…?” The immediate answers tend to be predictable and obvious. For example, marina customers become much more valuable when they buy more of our stuff from the ship store, or they elect to purchase preventative boat services. According to the Harvard Business Review, customers become much more valuable when they give us good ideas, they evangelize for us on social media, they reduce our costs (not sure how customers are reducing our costs), they collaborate with us and they try our new products. Once a customer is a repeat customer (e.g. they return each season), they are more likely to purchase fuel, supplies, services from at your marina, as opposed to shopping for the lowest price elsewhere. All of this revenue combined year after year adds up and creates a better long-term customer experience.
3 Ways to Create Customer Lifetime Value
Engagement: Always be engaged, and this can mean a lot of different ways. The obvious and most simple, take the time to know who your customers are, walk the slips and start conversations, and form personal relationships. You can even publish a marina monthly newsletter that is emailed to your database. One particular engagement tool that has work beautifully in the hotel world, can easily be applied or used in the marina space as well. Guestfolio, which is a marketing engagement software enables you to better engage, gain insight and retain customers. By integrating every digital touch-point such as pre-event engagement offering specials before a holiday weekend, during a special event and after summer weekends as examples, you deliver the right message at the right time all through automation. This tool even includes easy to use templates for you to work with.
Social Media: Encourage your customers to engage with you on social media, like and follow them, and they will like and follow you. At this point, you’ve created a connection that can only be broken with intent. The power of targeted social media advertising can no longer be ignored. According to Statista in a recent study, depending on the type of boat purchased in the US the largest buyers age demographic was between the ages of 46 – 57. If you look at Facebook, you will hear many people say, “our customers aren’t on Facebook”, but the truth is they are. The Facebook demographic of the ages 46 – 57 represents approximately 33% of Facebook users. That demographic is staying in touch with their friends, and checking in on their kids and grandchildren with Facebook. That demographic could be sitting on their boat, in a slip at your marina. It only makes sense to look at very specifically targeted advertising which can be accomplished in fine detail such as age, income, geographic area and more.
Technology: Boaters today have adopted technology, most have a smartphone or tablet. What are they doing at your marina? They are likely on those devises, staying in touch with people, checking the weather and more. The consideration of how to make this easier should be looked at. Today, your local internet service providers all have outdoor WiFi solutions for businesses, and can help your marina with a WiFi solution that will add great value to the experience your customers have. If they can connect to a WiFi network at your marina, your customers reduce their data usage on the mobile devices and save money, in turn creating marina customer loyalty and having a great customer experience. Even encouraging your customers through social media or with signs around your marina about valuable apps like tides or navigation has value. There is a great app called VesselView Mobile App with Bluetooth technology that allows you to plug the module into the diagnostic port on your engine and it reads the engine status communicating via Bluetooth to your iOS or Android device.
The constant acknowledgement and engagement with your marina customers is a key part of the equation to help you create customer lifetime value. Remember, engaged customers spend money and remain loyal, and small boats become big boats! Let’s talk about this more.