I was hanging out recently at my marina in Rhode Island, fooling with my little boat, when a friend returned to his slip fresh from a shark tournament off Montauk, N.Y. The fishing had been good, but what really impressed him had nothing to do with fins and teeth, but rather with service.
Brothers Ted and Tom were 15 miles south of Montauk fishing with business clients when their GPS/plotter went dark. They called the marina where they were staying to see about getting a tech to look at the unit, wrapped up their sharking for the day and headed back to port. To their surprise and pleasure, they were met at the dock by a service guy who diagnosed and fixed the problem.
“It wasn’t cheap,” Ted told me, puffing on a cigar, “but he met us at the dock. At the dock!” Problem solved, and the boys were back offshore the next morning.
The brothers are savvy business owners, avid fishermen and boatmen who know the value of good service in their business, but who are not, quite frankly, conditioned to finding it in the marine world. When they got a taste of it, that’s what Ted wanted to talk about back at his home marina over a cigar.
Good, timely service makes a lasting impression. It’s powerful stuff — and a recommendation from a smart guy on the dock, from the front lines, so to speak, is business gold.
To give lip service to professional service, which we all do, is one thing; to see it in action, spontaneous and unsolicited, is quite another. In this slow-growth environment, it remains mother’s milk for our industry.