A rapidly-expanding group of inland and coastal marinas
Founded in 2006, Castle Marinas has a portfolio of eleven marinas – two coastal marinas in Chichester and Portsmouth Harbours and nine inland marinas across the English Midlands. 2,500 berths are spread evenly across the eleven sites, which each have a distinctive and individual presence. Castle Marinas celebrate these quirky differences while delivering personal customer service, good value and great facilities.
The company is built on expansion; acquiring seven sites in its first years of operation and a further two in 2019, one in 2020 and another in 2021. Complementing the network through acquisition is a core strategy.
WE LIKE BEST
Aged debtor reporting
Online payment portal
Intuitive to use
Easy to add & edit sites
WHY HARBOUR ASSIST
As a relatively young company with a strong focus on growth, Castle Marinas had a robust spreadsheet-based management system in place. During the most recent phase of expansion, the Directors started looking for software to link the sites and provide in-depth reporting to support the acquisition process.
“Harbour Assist was far more up-to-date, for example, being cloud-based. It made the alternatives seem quite clunky” said Mike Braidley, Castle Marinas Operations Director.
“We could see that Harbour Assist were listening to the needs of their customers”
IMPLEMENTATION & SUPPORT
The decision-making process was quick; within six months of looking at software options, Harbour Assist was rolled-out across the sites. The internal Chat function was well-used by staff during implementation, helping to share knowledge and aid cohesion between marinas with different customer bases and a wide geographic spread.
Moving from spreadsheet systems wasn’t without its challenges, but the initial focus on clean data and ensuring correct income reporting coupled with streamlining procedures provides a solid base for the future.
“Now we’ve got income reporting under our belt we’re looking at expanding maintenance tasking and asset management.” Mike Braidley said.
“We’re happy with Harbour Assist, especially as we expand the group. We know we can have a new site up and running in a month or two.”
Castle Marinas use Harbour Assist for all berthing, boatyard, commercial tenant, fuel sales and even campsite invoicing, as well as most maintenance management and all customer correspondence. Having a single, user-friendly solution for all activities has its benefits: “Marina managers don’t have the time to be tech-savvy, so the system must be intuitive,” said Mike Braidley, adding: “Harbour Assist can make us look slicker.”
With varying customer demographics across the nine sites, Castle Marinas has found it essential to tailor technology to suit local markets. A fifth of customers use the online payment portal, but others prefer letter or face-to-face contact. “With customers being able to monitor and pay their accounts online, our team can spend more time face-to-face with customers in the marina office, and be more available to discuss and work on other matters.”
“Harbour Assist has definitely improved our customer service.”