Marine fabricators always know that Spring is in the air as boatyards emit the droning hum of sanders. It is almost hypnotic that hummmm and it signals the promise that the boating season is to start soon! So start your season right with these Marine Contractor Survival Tips...
- Check the weather before you go.
Mother nature can be fickle in the Spring—bringing colder temps in the morning, and then wind and rain showers in the afternoon. Pick the optimum time to install during each day when possible. Remember that there is probably an App for that on your phone!
- Be prepared when you go into the boatyard.
This means have your current insurance up to date and a copy in the truck so there is no “funny business” when you check into the yards.
- Try to be as punctual as possible.
This can be hard this time of year as everyone is pulling you in different directions but do your best to keep your appointments at the designated time. It just looks better for you and your customer and keeps everyone happy.
- Have a good sturdy ladder handy.
Some people will offer you their ladder to use at the boat…have you seen some of these ladders?!?!?! Nobody wants to fall on the job—bring your own reliable ladder, and make sure that you have a string to tie it off with. If the yard is a stickler with OSHA rules, the ladder must end 3 feet above the stepping surface…seriously this is the requirement for sail and power boats in some yards!
- Be realistic with customers.
Some people wait until the last minute to do everything on their boat. It is your job to be realistic with what can get accomplished with the weather, other contractors working on the boat, and the boatyards launch schedule. Usually I confirm things with the boatyard on the launch date—sometimes what the customer says is not what really is going on with the launch schedule. The yard has the last say in this. Customer’s hear and retain what they want to hear. This is not reality. Make sure everyone is on the same page!
- Write down important deadlines.
I ask all my customers when they would like it to be finished—even before I quote a job! I am not going to take on work that I cannot meet their deadline. Sometimes you can prioritize what items in the project can go first, second and third if the Spring schedule is too tight.
- Beware of time suckers.
I am always polite, but when I get interrupted by someone new in the yard while I am working with an existing customer I ask them to wait and we can set up an appointment to take a look at their boat…It is not fair to your existing customer for you to drop everything to take a look at the other new customer’s boat! If I have time after I am finished with the existing customer, I get a quick look. And forget trying to do actual Dockwork on the Saturday after 10 AM…this time of year you will not get much done. People will be interrupting you left and right!
- Have your business cards and samples handy.
I always carry business cards and brochures in the van –I actually have a separate measuring bag complete with all these items, measuring tape, and customer info. forms with pens ready to go. This way none of that stuff gets lost and I can just grab the bag and go.
- Finally –take some time for yourself.
This is busy time of year, and we all need time to clear our heads. Schedule your appointments when you can to have enough time to drive to the yard, see the boat, talk with the customer, and have a break in between the next job ...if you can! Sometimes this might be me grabbing a quick bite (Hotdog from 7 /11) in the van looking out at the water (Oakland Beach!) somewhere, but I try to find some sanity in between jobs!