Building and converting enquiries

Most marinas want to sell more and increase turnover. So how do you create enquiries and then convert them to paying customers?

The key to success is being systematic. A robust lead management system combines human interaction with automated data handling to deliver timely, consistent and friendly customer service that converts into contracts and income.

What marinas need:

  • Increased number of enquiries
  • Enquiry delivered direct to the right member of staff
  • Automatic logging of the lead and communications
  • Customisable templates for a speedy response
  • Simple lead reporting by source, date, site or status
  • Seamless conversion into contracts

Step 1: Fill the funnel

To get more mooring or boatyard leads and fill the sales funnel, you need to do two things:

  1. Tell potential customers about your offering
  2. Make it quick and easy for them to register their interest

The first part is all about marketing – how and where you promote your services is an art in itself, but a good place to start is with your website. You can drive traffic to your website from social media, online and print advertising or by adding content that keeps contacts coming back.

But if you don’t encourage your viewers to do something when they land on your site, you’re missing a big trick. Harbour Assist customers can link and embed a variety of tools on any page of their website – just like the ‘Demo Marina’ example below:

Marina website action buttons

On this website there are two clear calls to action on the header of every page:

  • Book Now links to an embedded sales lead enquiry form
  • My Account links to the customer Portal, where your customers can pay bills and view their account

The 4 minute video below shows how links from your website can deliver data straight into Harbour Assist, and help you provide seamless customer service.

Watch the video showing the Portal and Booking Request

Step 2: Easy enquiry handling

Someone loves your content and they’ve made an enquiry – now it’s a time game.

Boat owners aren’t willing to wait a week or even a couple of days to get a reply – if you want to book a hotel room you’d expect an answer by return, and marina customers are no different.

If your system relies on sticky notes, forwarded email chains and voicemail, you will struggle to deliver the standard of service that customers expect. And if your enquiry team are working from home, there’s even more opportunity for the message to be mislaid.

Tardy, inconsistent responses reflect poorly on your brand

Harbour Assist removes the ambiguity and alerts the enquiry team every time a request is submitted online.

Leads are automatically created as Tasks, visible to the user and their manager in the Tasks menu. Email or SMS alerts can also be sent to the user – there are no excuses for a sluggish response!

Step 3: Keep it together

The key benefit of embedding the Harbour Assist form into your website is the seamless transfer of data into the main customer database and the Tasks function.

Alongside the automatic logging of contact form submissions, enquiries via phone, email and face-to-face can be entered as a lead, with the source and interest selected from drop-down options. All correspondence generated through the system is automatically attached to the customer record, creating one unified source of information for all users. 

Some larger organisations may want to invest in a stand-alone system that tracks leads from online advertising and social media. Rather than duplicate data on two systems, use our API to seamlessly transfer data.

Step 4: Make it personal

Every customer is an individual and should receive a tailored reply – no-one wants to get a ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ type email. That doesn’t mean that every communication has to be written from scratch. In fact, having a standard response that can be customised with free text and merge fields is more likely to be consistently successful.

Before sending any type of communication, it is best practice to check the customer database to for the previous history. A regular visitor will need a different response to someone who has just bought a boat or just moved to the area. Why not create more than one enquiry response template?

What you include in your response and the style of writing will be specific to your organisation, but we recommend:

  • An acknowledgement of the customer’s specific questions or boat particulars
  • Details about the marina facilities
  • Background information on the local area
  • Particulars of available berths
  • Pricing and payment options
  • Benefits or discounts for residents
  • A call to action

Step 5: Follow-up and recycle

Maybe you get lucky and the customer signs-up after your first email. But it’s more likely that they’re not quite ready to commit – they’re researching.

This means you need to be proactive and follow-up. Send a friendly email or pick-up the phone and see if they’ve got any questions or they want a site visit. What’s their timetable for a decision?

Ask permission to add them to your newsletter list and update their marketing preferences in Harbour Assist. Use Smart Lists to send newsletters and special offers that are relevant to their type of enquiry, boating and timetable.

Send personalised, informative communications to create a desire for your site and services – demonstrate that you’re the experts or the perfect destination. Make your comms an extension of your customer service and brand.

Don’t forget to make it easy to buy – add a call to action button or a click to email or call link in every newsletter you send.

Step 6: Lead reporting

Understanding the source of your leads, how the volume changes over the year, the services people are interested in and the success rate of conversions will help marina managers to deploy money and people more efficiently. Having this data will influence your marketing spend and strategy, staffing levels and resource allocation.

Multisite marinas can track the interest levels across their estate, shifting promotional spend and resources between sites to maximise occupancy.

Step 7: Convert the lead

Once you’ve convinced the customer that your marina is the perfect home for their boat, you want to be able to raise contracts and invoices straight away. Simply click the ‘Convert to Account’ button on the Account page, and you’re good to go.

We know that the lead process is a vital part of building and maintaining occupancy, and our aim is to provide a comprehensive solution. It is easy to be seduced by stand-alone products, but the central principle of a single database accessible to all staff will always deliver higher quality customer service.

How can we help your business?

If you’d like to talk about how Harbour Assist can help your business to connect with your customers and convert more sales,  drop us an email.