Into the Yard
Better Communication Improves the Experience
by Gary Caputi
Taking your pride and joy to the boatyard for service, repairs or upgrades doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience, especially with the high quality yards that have been setting the standard in recent years. Top boatyards like American Custom Yachts, Viking Service Center, Bayliss, Jarrett Bay and A&J Boat Works are dedicated to helping you keep your boat in top condition whether its warranty work, general maintenance or something considerably more involved. Each is staffed with dedicated customer service representatives and technicians who pride themselves on providing quality service and total customer satisfaction. However, reaching those goals depends on good communications with the vessel’s owner and captain prior to bringing the boat into the yard and staying in close contact while it’s there.
“Captains and owners need to have realistic expectations about turnaround times for yard work,” said Mike Samuels, general manager at Viking Service Center in Riviera Beach, Florida. “And the only way we can make reasonable estimates is if the captain provides us with a complete list of items that require our attention well in advance of scheduling. As the boat is being worked on, we have to maintain communication with the captain or owner should we encounter additional items that require attention so they can be prioritized to stay on schedule. When we work closely together, the overall experience is a positive one for them and us. When expectations are unreasonable then it’s our job to find a solution.”
Mike provided a recent example. He had a captain come in with a 52-item punch list of work to be done on his owner’s vessel and then told the Viking customer rep he need the boat back in two weeks because the boss was flying in with family and friends for a fishing trip to the Bahamas.
“The captain’s expectations were simply unrealistic,” Mike said, “and he was not pleased when he was told it was impossible to do everything in the time allotted. Once he saw the reality of the situation, we got down to working out a solution. We worked with him to prioritize the list, eventually getting it down to the 12 most important service items that could be completed in time for the owner’s trip. We still had to find a slot to get the boat into the yard, which we did, and complete the priority items while hoping we didn’t run into any additional hidden problems. The captain then scheduled a second yard visit after the trip to finish the rest of the items on the list. By working together he was pleased with the outcome and a stronger working relationship was established for future visits. Managing customer expectations is an important part of reaching the goal of total customer satisfaction and in the end that is the most important part of our job.”
Modern sportfishing vessels are complex pieces of equipment that include systems from numerous vendors who might not always have what you need in stock. Mike recounted a recent problem with several older boats that were equipped with 50-amp power transformers. Charles Marine manufactured them, but more recent boats use 100-amp transformers so they don’t build and stock as many of the older units as the probably should. They had several boats over the span of a year that needed replacements that were back-ordered for extended periods of time while they actually built them. The yard now keeps several in stock, but at the time there was nothing they could do to expedite the process.
“A delay like that never makes a captain or owner happy and it doesn’t make us happy either,” Samuels said, “but it happens and has to be dealt with from time to time. If we’re working on a………Click Here to continue reading this article.