As I work while social distancing from my apartment in New York City in mid-April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and from it’s very epicenter, the leaders and health officials are announcing that we may be at the top of ‘the curve’. Whether they are right or not at this moment, I am certain that we will get through this, get healthy, get back to work and rebuild our economy. I am also certain that the new normal will not be what it was back when Corona was a beer.
Below are some thoughts and predictions of what we may have to do to keep our customers, employees, and communities safe in the upcoming months, and likely in the years to come:
Minimize human interaction
Because the vaccine is not going to be available for some time, the rules around social distancing are likely to stay even after we reopen the country. Thankfully, boating provides a fun and relatively safe way to be outdoors without too much human interaction. As an additional precaution, the customers will expect marinas to eliminate even those few potential touch points.
This means check ins, check outs and payments should not be handled in person. If in the past you had your boaters come by the office at the beginning of the season, or as they arrive for their transient stay, now you’ll need to find a different way to collect those signatures, payments, insurance documents, and share important information about the marina rules, amenities, and other details. Molo offers a set of solutions to help with this. If you haven't already, you should start implementing this process now.
Place disinfectants around the marina
Purell and other disinfectants should be made available to your guests and staff at every likely location. This should include the guest docks, fuel dock, in and around the marina office. Make it a part of your staff’s daily routine to check that dispensers continue to be functional and are filled up. For the FDA approved list of products, click here. Make sure you keep enough of a stockpile, as the use will likely be very high.
Make your cleaning routine robust and public
Common areas will require much more regular cleaning and disinfecting - ideally after each use. In addition to doing the work, you should also make the disinfection information public. Sharing your cleaning practices can build trust with your customers and build lasting confidence in your business. A white board or another form of a log with date, time, and name of the employee who performed the task may suffice here.
Adopt contactless technology
Wherever possible, your customers and employees should aim to avoid all contact including taking in-person payments. If practical, put all charges on house accounts with securely-stored customers' payment methods. With their permission charge them once per month for their dockage, utilities, fuel, and anything else they may consume. However, if this is not possible, make sure that the in-person credit card transactions are done using a contactless method by having the customer tap their contactless-enabled credit card, smartphone, or smartwatch on the credit card reader. In order to support this, you have to make sure your credit card reader is able to accept contactless methods and that your hardware setup is conducive to customers performing thesethis actions. For example, your card reader should be facing the customer so they can easily access it while maintaining a safe distance from the marina employee. Your credit card reader should also be interfaced with your point of sale system, so that your employees don’t have to touch the reader at all to enter the balance.
Revamp employee training
Whether your employees have been with you for years, or are just coming on as a part of the new batch of seasonal employees, this post-COVID-19 environment is new to everyone. Make sure that you as the marina operator and a leader understand all processes you’re starting to implement and provide sufficient training to all employees. In-person training generally works best, but you should also have a clearly written operational procedures to back this up. Also, make sure that each employee is empowered to speak up and provide suggestions regarding any flaws or holes in the system they see. Your employees will appreciate the culture and environment where their opinion matters and be much more likely to adhere to the new rules if they have some opportunity to contribute to drafting them.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
In the time of uncertainty no news makes people assume the worst possible news. Your employees and customers should be hearing from you regularly and you should openly share what you are doing to keep them, the community, and the business safe. There are many free online newsletter platforms which make electronic type of communication very easy and your marina management software may be able to help with this as well.