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The Fall Boat Maintenance Every Marina Manager Should Offer To Increase Slow-Season Revenue

Sep 20, 2023 | Marina Management

fall boat maintenance

Here’s a post-Labor Day marina manager hypothetical: 

Summer is over. You’re allowed to exhale. What’s next? 

Boaters are putting their vessels in storage. Maybe you want to get into some landscaping renovations or a shoreline deep clean. But there’s a pocket here to bolster a seriously undervalued piece of your marina business, and the core of it is routine care: 

Your service department. 

Your boaters have just completed the equivalent of driving a 1977 Volkswagen van cross-country, through desert, up mountains, and creaking and rattling back to their peaceful slip at your marina. In the same way that some drivers let their oil go unchanged for 8,000 miles, so do some boaters let their vessels sit without the routine upkeep imperative to keeping them seaworthy. Boaters that don’t do the little things have this happen:

What kind of routine boat maintenance should my clients be doing?

Let’s rephrase that: “What kind of routine boat maintenance should my marina be doing for its clients?”

These are tasks necessary for an optimal boat life span, and tasks that many boaters may want nothing to do with once fall winterization season arrives:

  • Grease the axles of your boat trailer
  • Replace the boat’s fuel filter
  • Add a marine fuel stabilizer and run it through the vessel before winter storage
  • Change your boat’s oil
  • Change/replenish your boat’s hydraulic fluids
  • For boat owners with teak wood – oil that wood!

The benefits of expanding your service department workload.

Many marina home pages advertise themselves as a “full-service marina.” Maybe you’ve even used this terminology. A “full-service” marina is valuable for exactly that reason – the boater has to worry about nothing.

They park their boat, and you’re like the Gatorade person on the sideline squirting water in the athlete’s mouth: get that boat hydrated, well-greased, replenished, and without engine cramps. A marina with mechanical prowess in its skillset earns a greater degree of trust and brand loyalty from its clientele. Your clientele talks with their friends and family, and their friends and family ask what they do to winterize their boats. Their response:

“Oh, my marina does all that for me. They’re great with oil changes. I don’t even think about it.”

You soon see increased phone calls from boat owners who wonder what your storage situation is like and how much it costs for you to winterize their boat.

covered boats

This is a built-in seasonal excuse to advertise.

Your marina may earn the bulk of its revenue in spring from new slip reservations, or in summer from boat and paddleboard rentals. Boat maintenance is the calling card of the fall. There’s a brief “sweet spot” between the second week of September and the end of October – depending on your location – where you can increase sales conversions with posts on social media, digital advertising, and the most direct method: contacting your tenants and asking them if they’d like you to provide these necessary services.

What’s the benefit of directly reaching out?

From the boater’s perspective, completing vessel upkeep before the winter is another checkmark on a to-do list. Some boaters passionately relish these tasks, and others treat it like doing laundry. It doesn’t matter if you know which category your clients fall into, this is a quality reason to:

  • Check in with your boaters and ask them about any concerns or feedback
  • Show that you care about the customer and their vessel
  • Strengthen the probability of a renewed slip contract and the likelihood of them adding services to their bill

Smaller marinas may wish to take a hands-on approach: direct text messaging is a great low-key method to say, “Hey, how’s it going, we’re wondering if you’d like to trust us with these services for you.” Larger marinas, this is a fine time for a mass template email. Any marina can use the fall season to post about routine maintenance on social media and let folks know that you have a service department, it’s a dang good one, and you’re ready to make their boats pretty again.

Accent your strengths.

A thriving marina business capitalizes on its peaks. Managers know this from their experience with Fourth of July and Memorial Day weekends. Your clients already know it’s football season. They know it’s about to be huntin’ season.

It’s time to remind them that it’s fall boater maintenance season.

Hammer and Nail Marketing


Hammer and Nail Marketing is a boutique marketing firm that helps small to mid-sized marinas get noticed by boaters. If you’d like to focus on operating your marina without the additional responsibility of marketing, get in touch with us.

We’re boaters ourselves from a background of operating a family-run marina. From a group of experts who know the water, let Hammer and Nail Marketing help you be the waterfront your local boaters see every time they cast off.


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