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Old 04-12-2008, 08:27   #1
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What do you want at a marina?

If you are pulling into a marina what do you look for? Clean bathrooms? Showers? A store? What products do you find you need in a store? I am taking over management of a small marina and we are looking into fixing up the store and any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-12-2008, 08:34   #2
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In addition to the things you mentioned, adequate free guest dock space. Start charging for guest dock space and it really irks people. It's not just the money, its also the nuisance of having to go to the Harbormasters office to pay. Paying is sort of an unfriendly welcome to the marina. Its no problem if you don't want people docked there all day, start charging after 4 hours or whatever. People will still spend money there. Just don't discourage them from coming there in the first place by wanting their money up front.

Don't gate off your guest dock either (another unfriendly gesture)...nobody wants to have to hassle with paying a $20 deposit to get a gate key or sneaking back to their boat by waiting for someone else on the other side of the gate to open it for you. Maybe close the dock gate at night for the protection of your overnight guests?..but then, why not put them in an empty slip if they are going to stay overnight?

Maybe a sandwich shop that is quick and perhaps a restaurant where you can get a nice meal. Perhaps a West Marine nearby. If there are other entertaining things in the area, like shops that are within walking distance then that is always a bonus.

I hope that helps. I wish you the best with your new venture!

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Old 04-12-2008, 09:07   #3
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Now you get a 180 from David. Go ahead, and charge me the $20.00. It's pretty much the norm to put out a deposit for a key. The key should also be to the heads. I don't like leaving my boat in a marina where strangers from the nice restaraunt can walk the docks. Things disappear that way. Also I don't know what it is about these strangers. They will walk up, and ask for a tour of the boat as if it's public property.

There you are sitting in the cockpit enjoying the evening, and some drunk wants a tour. When you don't give it to them they get a bit mouthy. I lived in a marina where the docks, and heads were open to the public. It was living hell!

If you can't have a store, or chandlery near by. Public transportation would be great, or maybe a discount with a cab company. If it's not too far a couple of used bikes with baskets on the front that comes with a lock. Like those beater cruisers you see at the beaches, nothing fancy.

I am sure I will think of more, and return....lololololol....i2f......BEST WISHES in making it a success!
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Old 04-12-2008, 09:10   #4
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A courtesy car, or rides to a grocery store.

Really, who stays one night at a marina? Spending the price of a hotel room to stay on my boat tied up to a stick of wood is ridiculous. We only consider longer term stays for that reason, and let things build up until we have a week's(or month's) worth of provisioning and parts searching and mail delivery and boat projects. I know of a few marinas that have cheap little courtesy cars that you can use for an hour to run your errands, and those are the places that we plan return visits to.

edit: I2F beat me to the point. Transportation. It's what cruisers lack the most when we pull in somewhere.
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Old 04-12-2008, 10:00   #5
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Add dockside pumpout, WiFi, Floating docks, pool, free haul-outs (got this last year in Baltimore), night time security, discount on fuel, free parking, Caribbean location.

I'm in a marina in Palmas Del Mar, Puerto Rico right now. Its about $1.20/ ft / night as a transient.

Concrete docks, dockside fuel and pump-out. Diesel was $2.30/gallon 2 days ago. Other amenties include free golf cart, pool, 24 hr security, golf course available, WiFi, trash collection.
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Old 04-12-2008, 10:54   #6
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great thread, my wife is extremely picky for live-aboard marinas and I'll give you the short list of what impresses her after spending years looking around at different marinas and coming back to the same one and living aboard now for 10 years or so.

1) Esthetically appealing, if the docks are falling apart its a no from the start, doesn't matter what the amenities are. Doesn't have to be the taj mahal, but replacing rotting wood docks and painting buildings and keeping things clean is a must. Paint, lumber, wall paper are such easy low cost improvements that many ignore.

2) Laundry room. Every sailor needs a laundry room and almost none have them onboard. It will pay for itself in a year. Make sure it's nice and clean, counters for folding clothes.

3) Showers. Also need to be clean and well kept. Many people after sailing and are docking are tired of their own 2 sq ft of shower space and want a nice heated room.

4) Pool. It's sort of ubiquitous, but a pool is a must. Most people keep their boats in a marina because they want to be by the water but then end up in places where they can't be "in" the water. Without a pool any boater at your dock on a hot summer day either has to be away from your marina or cooped up in his boat with the A/C on, neither of which is really desired.

OK, your marina up to this point if it has everything above would be competitive, but not outstanding. Want to make your marina outstanding you need:

5) Green space. Boy is this one over looked. Most marinas are simply simply parking lots with slips and a pool attached. Do you want to spend your time in a parking lot with a pool attached? A nice yard for people to gather and their kids to play. Way over looked. Always over looked. Do this and suddenly my wife would consider going there. Flowers, trees, gardens make a huge difference.

6) Play ground. Again this doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Simply a tree house slide thing with a few swings over some chipped rubber will do. For families though they will take note and you'll go way up in their estimation. To a lot of families this is very much a must have that many overlook.

7) outdoor grills. I don't think people really notice this but they are going to be grilling and you might as well take 2 sq ft of your space to confine this activity.

Do this and my wife who is the pickiest person in the world will seriously consider you. You'll also attract nice, quiet, fun family types to your place rather than antisocial miscreants or alcoholic partiers. In other words your amenities dictate your customers.

If you've got the money and want to make other options that won't sacrifice the quality of the above some other good things are:

7) A small sandwhich shop. It's a minor plus, but definitely not needed. It also brings up problems because now it's difficult to ensure that predators or homeless or people looking to empty out their portapoties don't ruin your bathrooms. I'd definitely agree with imagine on this one, you don't want people just coming off the streets and dumping stuff in the bathrooms and showers. When our showers were open to the public someone emptied out a portapotty into the shower and the marina manager had to clean up a pile of human waste about a foot deep. Then we got cipher locks and it's been 100% cleaner.

8) A small pavillion in which slip owners can gather and talk. It's a very nice touch like a screen enclosed room with a grill outside.

9) A common room, or clubhouse with a row of shelves for a library for exchanging books, or work out room. Nice touches that will add a definite bargaining point. If you put a common room with a fireplace for those who visit their boats in the winter time you will have NO competition. Remember, profile the people you want to be there and then cater to them.

OK, now these are the mistakes that people put in their marinas:

1) A bar. You want people drinking beers and throwing up in the bathrooms at 2am, go for it. But the family types with the kids will leave.

2) A marine shop. Typically people would rather drive an extra 5 minutes and have a selection than go to a small onsite marine shop, use that precious space for something that people would want to use every single day like a common room, gazebo....

3) A marine business (like a dealor for inflatables, or yanmar repair, etc). If you want a working yard, you're going to need to have a lot of room for this and keep it seperate for all of the nice green space above. And their 20 delivery trucks etc will be taking all the parking away from your marina tenants. Marine businesses tend to expand and slew stuff all around them.

4) Allowing a charter group to come in. Nothing trashes a marina faster than a bunch of charter people getting off a large boat. Again, pick in your mind what you want your marina to be, a place where slip owners have birthday parties or where a constant stream of unconcerned strangers pop in and out of the place.
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Old 04-12-2008, 11:18   #7
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Originally Posted by lorrainehug View Post
If you are pulling into a marina what do you look for? Clean bathrooms? Showers? A store? What products do you find you need in a store? I am taking over management of a small marina and we are looking into fixing up the store and any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Laundry facilities would be nice; coin operated is fine as long as they work. I don't feel I need a large ships store. Most of the items I tend to need have to ordered in or gotten from a larger marine supply (e.g. West Marine or a local vendor). But the basics are good like soap, deodorant, boat detergent, paper charts of local waterways (ask Sully about that one), or cruising books depending on where you'll be (this might be a good time to say). Consider also things might work out best if to rent or lease the store space to another firm.

There are a number of amenities which tend to be pretty much standard now. Wi-Fi is good example. I don't mind if you have it throttled down so that everyone can check their email rather than let that 'one guy' download everything under the sun at peak hours. There is a marina I know of that has a 'captain's lounge' with a TV. A rarely used TV. Sort of a waste of space in my opinion.

The main thing I would like is the staff to be friendly -- it is a service business, after all. It's a tough business though and I don't envy you. People tend to want something for nothing. And they tend to complain about everything from fuel costs to quality of the amenities.


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Old 04-12-2008, 11:36   #8
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You can eliminate the "key fee" by having a coded keypad on the gate.

Simple things like plenty of trash receptacles that are convenient-IOW it's not a mile walk to empty your trash.

REASONABLY priced items in the ship's store-yes, you must charge a bit more since the volume isn't there, but keep the price to where the buyer doesn't feel they are having unwanted sex.

General maintenance of the docks and facilities, especially keeping the place clean and any grass, etc mowed and trimmed, and my #1 pet peeve is the shower and rest room facilities-keep them spotless!
I know many people are pigs but this is a must. The "Admirals" won't go to a place that has dirty rest room facilities.
I'm the same way, I used to maintain an Interstate rest area and when traveling I always take note of the cleanliness-and return to the clean ones.

these are very simple and inexpensive things that will enhance the boater's experience at your facility.
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Old 04-12-2008, 11:58   #9
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Additional items which people will notice:

1) cable hookups at the marina. Work a deal with the local cable company and they'll probably hookup your marina for free if you ensure them constant business. Cable modems beat wifi any day.

2) 50amp power pedastles. A lot of boaters need a 30 amp connection for A/C and one for the house.

3) Be diligent in your parking enforcement. Some people will crowd in lot's a stationary vans, etc into your parking spaces if you allow it. Limit the number of registered vehicles to two. This will allow you the flexibility of having both parking and green space.
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Old 04-12-2008, 11:59   #10
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The marina I was at had an attached restaurant. They had great food and drew a crowd. But the dock had no gate and a lot of strangers walking around. They dont need to be there and for their safety you should gate the dock and lock the restrooms, Washer and dryer a real plus and a small work bench with a vice would be so handy. Every day I would go to the ship store vary rarely did he have anything I could use But he would sit there on the Internet. I would ask him to make the wifi public, He would just say NO, it was to expensive. I sure wish he would as I had to then go to McDonald's or the library. I dont need to get it from the boat, I dont mind bringing my laptop to a bench closer to the building. That's the ONE thing I would like, WIFI, I can order parts, talk to family, watch net flicks. It really depends on what and how far things are from you. So if I can sit on your porch and send email and you have very cold soda and some fresh snaks, I'm there. I am going to find a connection some where, so If I have to leave I will buy my stuff were ever I find a connection.
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:30   #11
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I can't believe how quickly this thread has obtained responses. Don't any of you guys work? Nobody said anything about escort services. Not for me but for my guests.
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Old 04-12-2008, 13:11   #12
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This one is gonna be big... it hits at where most of us have strong opinions.

For me, there's a difference between my home marina and one I'm dropping into while on a cruise.

At home I want electricity and water at the slip, maybe room for a dock box (not me personally, but many of the boaters I know do.) A lot of people want cable and phone at the slip, especially if they spend a lot of time sleeping aboard. Liveaboards would like a sewage hook up, not a portable pumpout, and it might just pay for itself by reducing wear and tear on your shoreside facilities though I have no idea what the numbers would be. Good laundry facilities, or better yet - *free* laundry facilities for your permanent moorage clients. Good parking that does not require an additional fee - I don't care if it's part of my annual lease but getting a parking pass every day or paying for long-term when I go off for a couple weeks ticks me off. (Yah, that's what I have at my current place.) I'd bet you'll find there's a direct relationship between how nice the shoreside showers/bathrooms are and the rent; if you want more margin have good, clean heads. For me personally, a secure place to put my bicycle out of the rain. Everything else - shopping, transportation, restaurant - is far less important in my home port, because I know where to go and I have a car/bicycle/bus to get there.

Off on a trip I'm much more limited in my options. I want as much stuff near the marina as possible, while hoping it's going to be quiet and private. Dockside diesel, and hopefully dock carts. Transportation options are very important, bus/cab/bike/rental car/scooter/something. Nice people to work with, and who really want to help me if I have a problem. A super nice thing is dock kids who are there to handle lines when I pull in, who don't get insulted when I insist on retying everything to suit my personal paranoias. Explain to them that some of us do give tips, but it's not expected. (Explain that to some of the boaters, too...) Whatever desk there is should have a list of nearby restaurants, and any pizza place that delivers to the docks; it seems obvious, but I've been to a few places that didn't.

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Old 04-12-2008, 13:31   #13
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Thanks for all the quick responses!!!! There are some very useful suggestions here. I'll keep you all up to date on the "location" soon and if you are ever by you will see that your suggestions/opinions are used. Thanks again....and keep them coming if you have more.
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Old 04-12-2008, 14:00   #14
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Yeah, I feel a long thread coming on

Originally Posted by lorrainehug View Post
If you are pulling into a marina what do you look for? Clean bathrooms? Showers? A store? What products do you find you need in a store? I am taking over management of a small marina and we are looking into fixing up the store and any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Clean toilets and showers. Blokes will maybe put up with less than perfect, but Women will not be so forgiving and have a large (the?!) input on Marina good or bad. The key is to design both so they are easy to clean / power hose down regularly. And in the Showers have somewhere that clothes can be kept away from the water.

Shop? Will never be able to compete with a regular store on price and selection but IMO gotta have some "basics" (over here that would include Tea and milk ).....and not at double the price, IMO nothing is better than folk perceiving being ripped off as it destroys any other good customer relations efforts you may be doing.

In Summer, ice and cold drinks (including beer!) by the slab and half slab .

Agree on the parking, offer the option (at a discount?) of parking being paid for with the mooring fees.

Security. Restricted access to the pontoons, decent lighting and cameras. And preferably also a human presence. Good to have someone always manning reception / the store, but also good to have identifiable staff wandering around periodically, even if only for 10 minutes and a simple "Good Morning" (rather than a corporate "have a nice day") works well.

Obviously information available of attractions and services in the locale, including numbers of Taxi's and Marine Engineers. I would also have the ability to order takeaways delivered to the Marina office and the numbers and menus of a few curry houses Maybe get something going with a local restaurant / deli for folk pre-ordering packed lunch hampers in the summer?

Staff - try and keep 1 or 2 long term So that they get to know the area, the customers and likely needs / know where to point folk with problems. Freindly would be nice as well.

Well maintained would be nice, but at the minimum not dangerous or unclean. Tidy works well as well. For that you may need decent bins (dumpsters?) and staff to not simply walk past litter. Call it the marine version of the broken windows policy

If looking for visiting yachts then coin op laundery facilities (chance for staff to make some tips?) or at least offering a pick up from a local launderette via the Marina office.

WIFI. Obviously.

Local Navigation info.

The ability for customers to have items delivered direct from the internet (for a small handling / storage fee of course).

I would make the Marina Office big enough to have a sofa or two, somewhere folk would feel comfortable (and warm and dry!) sitting / hanging out - but not good enough to want to spend all day!.....especially crew / visitors who cannot access pontoons or folk simply waiting for a taxi.....or crew wanting somewhere to read a book - away from the Captain!..........folk hanging around outside simply make a place look untidy and inside helps makes them feel "part" of the Marina.

Weather (and tide?) info displayed at the Marina Officeboth inside (more freindly / sociable) and outside (24/7 access). In English

Oh, and IMO any business idea can always be improved with........Strippers
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Old 04-12-2008, 14:00   #15
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From my point of view:
1. Available drinking water, preferably free, but certainly not expensive
2. Available diesel, at not more than 10% above the nearest service station's price (otherwise I will jug my jerry cans there and back, just out of spite)
3. Reasonable security
4. A reasonably clean toilet, preferably a shower too
5. A pub within walking distance
6. If at all possible, a place nearby where gas cylinders can be refilled
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