– Day 13 – I Hate Jerks.

“I Hate Jerks”

Kenny Chesney has some pretty amazing music. But, even better is his No Shoes Radio station on Satellite Radio.  It has this total vibe of the Caribbean and boating. Not a bad vibe. 🙂

In between songs Kenny and company will relay stories from the road.  Today’s caught my interest on my way to work.  He told a story of the marina he keeps his boat at in the Keys.  He specifically mentioned the Dock Master.  This person came up to him, gave him a newspaper, and said “this is the best paper you’ll ever read” to which Kenny said, “Why?” and the Dock Master said, “because you’re not on the front page, the middle page or the back page.”

Great example of how customers at a marina can truly enjoy their time with the crew.

I’m going to let you in on the hidden life of a dock master or in my case general manager.  Our number one, I repeat, number one job is safety.  That’s it.  Everything else falls in place when safety is achieved.

Most likely the Dock Master that Kenny speaks of was on morning rounds to visually check every slip.  It’s a must do.  But checking for new hazards, like a broken line, or leaking “something” is critical to maintaining a safe environment.

Here’s a secret, if you really want to anger a good Dock Master, distract them.  Especially by getting hostile and out of control reckless.  This is why.  There is a constant focus to watch everything going on at all times.

For our marina, we have gasoline sales, a giant forklift, and boats with propellers.  There are wet docks, electricity, tripping hazards, and ropes.  Now mix into it wind, excessive heat, weather changes and alcohol.   Nothing is predictable.

My obligation is to my crew and their safety.  Sure, there’s some absent minded motivational saying that “without the customer there is no business” that was clearly written by a customer because at a point, there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of customers.  Let me prove it. There are over 300,000 registered boats in Minnesota alone.  But my dock crew is age 16+ and the last thing I want to do is have to call their mom and tell them there was an explosion on our dock. Therefore, their safety comes above all.

Did you catch what I said… about an explosion?

Yes.  This is why a Dock Master gets really angry if you distract them.  It only takes 3 things to create an explosion at a gas dock.  You need oxygen, fumes, and a spark.  We have two at all times.  Therefore, you focus on mitigating sparks.  If you distract us, it is dangerous.

Now… let’s review the biggest jerk I’ve ever had to deal with…. and I’ve dealt with several over the past 2 weeks, but this is the biggest in all time.  His boat has a problem and he brought to our dock, unannounced.

Arriving unannounced is very bad protocol.  You should do the courtesy of letting any Dock Master know you are arriving.  We need to know the nature of your boat problem so we know where to have you dock.

So this overweight, red faced, jerk is all worked up and angry that his boat is not working.  He’s yelling at me for absolutely no reason and the distraction has begun.

Let me also state that the weather today was over 90 with high humidity.  This is also a danger, not only for the health of an out of shape angry customer but also for it’s heightened danger for gasoline fumes because they do not dissipate quickly.

I asked him what was going on.  He said “Oh you know” – honestly… no clue.  I asked, “I need to you to fill out a service report” and he said, “I am not filling out anything”.  I asked, “What is the nature of the problem” and he said, “You didn’t fill it with oil.”  Now I know who he is and I’ve heard about the incident from my other crew.  I said, “You put oil in and it’s out?” and he said, “That’s it. I’m not telling you”

Now I’m distracted and pissed off.  I have no idea if I have an environmental spill in progress, or an explosion risk. I could have both if the oil is leaking in to the bilge that will discharge.  But this jerk won’t even tell me what the problem is.

His daughter happened to be coming off the dock and I could get information from her.

I took her inside and was able to get a service report filled out and then I got a call on our radio that a big red truck was blocking our warehouse door and launching ramp.

I’ll give you one guess as to who was the owner of the big red truck.  Yes, our friend the jerk.  He was standing there when the call came in on the radio, and he looked at me and said, “I’m not moving my truck”  He’s blocking the ramp for our forklift, but more important he’s blocking the access for emergency vehicles if needed, and I still haven’t determined the actual nature of the problem of the boat that is on our fuel dock.

Finally, in the course of his incomprehensible behavior he has now distracted 5 more of my crew to determine who owns the truck.

Next he started making demands that I call our owner and all sorts of other nonsense.  I said no.  Then he raised his voice and distracted the two or three members of my crew inside our store/office.  Again, when you really want to piss off a Dock Master, continue to make a scene.

But as a Dock Master you also have the responsibility to maintain control of your facility.

I told him to leave.  I said “go home”.  “Get out of my store”.  There is something to learn from the continual brutal assault of a bully that cannot even function in society as a normal human, you do not ever ever ever ever have to put up with their amazing array of bull _____.

There is an HUGE difference between “service” and “servant”.  While I will give service, I am not your servant.  Remember this distinction in your business. You provide service but you are not a servant.  Never let yourself or your crew be treated, as my crew member said, “inhumanely”.  You owe yourself and your crew better behavior.

My first and only job is to safety.  Without safety there is nothing because what you have is an accident, loss of property, damage, injury or even death.

You NEVER sacrifice anything for safety.

We have a 4 level pillar system for operations.

  1. Safety
  2. Courtesy
  3. Experience
  4. Efficiency

Here’s an example:  Our forklift must keep going, unobstructed, to maintain it’s schedule to provide a good experience for our customer.  Now… if a child runs in front of the forklift, the forklift must stop… #1 safety supersedes the #4 goal of efficiency.

If I have a jerk that comes in and will not tell me the nature of the problem with his boat and refuses to move his vehicle off the ramp impeding access for emergency vehicles and our forklift. He is violation goal #1 safety and therefore you cannot get to #2 of courtesy.

Accidents happen so quickly.  I did have the privilege of attending an amazing safety training with my husband several years ago.  He’s a retired police officer and several area law enforcement departments attended this training.  The main take-a-way was that every accident is preceded by 4 “negative” events that alone will not cause an accident.

Think back to a car accident.  You probably had speed, road conditions, balding tires, none of which would independently cause the accident.  But throw in distraction and CRASH.

Well, did I mention we had fumes, oxygen and high humidity…  and that is why you can really anger a Dock Master by creating a “me me me” scene which distracts several members of their crew.

Here’s your take-a-way for today.

Learn your operation standards in 3 or 4 quick easy words.  I learned this from Disney Institute Training.  Mine are 1-safety, 2-courtesy, 3-experience, 4-efficiency.

Next, recognize when you are on the trajectory to an accident and do what ever you need to stop that 4th ingredient.  Chances are it won’t make you popular.

But at least in my case, preventing the explosion will keep me off the front page, middle page, and back page of the newspaper!

Still on my mini break!  I hope you’re enjoying my daily life experiences… (roll eyes).

Advertisements – Day 12 – Think Positive

Life is not happening to you. Life is responding to you.

Ever felt like there’s a little black thunder cloud hovering over your head and every where you walk the cloud follows?

It’s when you open your freezer to find your ice cream melted because it quit working, so you get in your car to go to the grocery store, but you left the lights on, so you grab the battery charger, start the car… drive to the grocery store and its out of ice cream!  So you get back in your car… wait! You locked your keys in the car…

It just never ends.

Well… at moments like this you have to find the strength to say “no more” – you need to stop the black cloud and think positive.  It seems a little oversimplified, but heck… what do you have to lose?!

Ahhhhhh mini-break is going well… I hope you’re enjoying this! – Day 11

“Never pretend to be a unicorn by sticking a plunger on your head.” Martin Espada


Yesterday I told you all about my coronation… a.k.a. my trip to the dentist to get a new crown.

Today I got to go to court!  Now… last week I received Novocaine, today I only got a comfortable seat.  I sat in a nice quiet air conditioned courtroom waiting for the case.  It’s amazing to watch other people’s hearings and see their life journey completely altered.  The hearing before ours had a man sentenced to jail for 30 days.

The only thing I could think was… it must be super surreal to have a judge ask, “when shall we schedule your sentence to begin” – honestly? schedule?  Like you’re checking into a hotel… so so strange.

I sat there because last summer we had a group rent a pontoon, the driver was arrested for DUI and in the process they smashed our rental boat into a dock.  It was quite the ordeal… I received three phone calls from around the lake about our boat speeding through the channels.  Yes, by law we’re required to have our name on the side of the boat.  It’s one of those moments you’re not so happy to have your last name on a boat… roll eyes.

So I was actually on the phone with a person telling me about the erratic behavior of the driver when the boat arrived at our dock… but when I looked out the window, the boat had arrived… and oh my gosh, it was quite an eyeful!  The dude was peeing, right there, middle of marina, for all to see.

I suppose I could have posted a photo… OH YES.  I took a video of it!

Why am I sharing this crazy story… well… I sat in the court room and watched both the driver and renter change their story from their filed reports, right there on the stand.  I don’t go to court often, so I find it absolutely amazing.  Please don’t ruin my naivete, I’d rather live in a world where that’s still a shocking thing…

So… will we get paid for the damage to the boat?

Time will tell.

Here were my two thought… 1) Sometimes you need to do these type of “housekeeping” type items for your business… even though it might not be cost effective.  2) it’s awful, but I couldn’t help to think as I watched that man on the stand change his story… I give it two years and I bet he will find himself back in a hearing just like the guy from the first case, you know… scheduling his “hotel” appointment!

Yep… my life is still crazy and I’m still on a mini-break… more soooooon! – Day 10

“Opportunities are never lost; someone will take the one you miss.”


You wake up busy… you eat lunch busy… and then you go to sleep busy… have you ever wonder what opportunities you give up because you’re busy?

That was what I was thinking of today.  You see my jaw finally does not hurt.  I had to go to the dentist last week, for my coronation.  Get it?  I needed a new crown.  haha.

OK it gets funnier.

As I’m getting my tooth completely cranked on (remember six days later my jaw finally stopped hurting) – I realized, it was less painful having a new crown than it was talking to a customer I encountered the night before… why? My dentist uses Novocaine!

It’s pretty darn bad when you realize that a customer is so intensely painful that you’d rather go through a crown replacement than deal with them… but that’s what happened!

The next step then is to realize, how many other things would I rather be doing that are ENJOYABLE than deal with that customer?  Well, pretty much anything that makes money vs. costs money is the right alternative!  And that’s the equation to focus on.

When you discover you have a “coronation customer”, you’ve got to focus on two things… first, what the heck got you to the situation and second, how to prevent it.

Well, here’s my story… I got to the point that people returning our rental boats late were overwhelming!  It really sucks to have to wait 3 hours because someone simply decides to not come back.  The important thing to focus on is… what change did I make to prevent it?  HA!  I tripled our late fee!

And that’s where the coronation customer came into the picture.  She was ANGRY… spitting mad… actually furious that the late fee was tripled!  Now, she was mad at me BEFORE she started her cruise… she wasn’t late encountering the fee… this was before she ever received the key for the boat!   You know why she was so mad???  She was planning to be late!  Because when I said, “well, unless you’re planning to be late, the price of the late fee is irrelevant” oh… she was… well…

Let’s just say, she won’t be signing up for my fan club anytime soon… but it did solve my late boat problem (so far) so I won’t be needing another coronation for a while… I hope!

Yes Yes Yes… I’m still on a mini-break… more soon… – Day 9

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames ~ Rumi

Spending about 5 hours in the dark will give you perspective!  Or a little sleep… After the storm hit, I finally got the power back at about 2 AM.  You know that feeling you wake up and want to turn off the lights but have NO desire to get up to do it?  Yeah, that was me!

But it’s a little strange to sit in a quite house and not be able to do anything electronic.  I mean, your phone is there, but you kind of want to preserve the battery so if you need to check the radar in the next storm you can… but you really want to watch Netflix… and then you have a brilliant thought, well, if the battery goes dead I can just plug my phone into my car and drive around!

I’m sure this is fascinating insight… haha!

Why the fire theme for today?  We had fire training at the boat yard.  What a wonderful service that our local fire department provides to us.  They come over and teach our crew how to put real fires out with fire extinguishers.

It just makes you wonder how your business can help others.  Seek out those opportunities and make an impact!  Even if it’s a simple download “how to” guide you post on your website.  Being a resource really helps you become a leader in your industry.

In other words… be the one that fans the flames for someone else.

And remember you can use your car to recharge your phone so you can watch Netflix in a power outage! – Day 7

“Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught.”

Something very strange is going on in my world.  I want to know if others are experiencing a complete lack of truth in some of their customer interactions. Now… I’m always one to say, “find new customers” create an avatar, move on…

But this is different.  It feels like something has changed.

I received a “negative” review last week… the review is comical.  It’s so “out there” that you laugh.

The man said I “demanded” a $20,000 late fee?  What?

My Version: A renter called and lied to get me on the phone.  He said his boat died and he was floating in the middle of the lake (during a very big storm).  This call took me away from getting people to our docks safely.  I got on the phone, the renter’s boat worked fine!!!!  The customer was at a dock and he asked about getting a ride, leaving the boat or simply waiting for the storm to end… then he asked how much is the boat worth?  I answered, $20,000…  some how,  from my lips to his keyboard the fish got VERY big.

There are more stories… but I’ll save those for now.

Here’s my advice: If you’re going to write a negative review. Stick to the facts.

If someone writes a review about you and it sounds crazy… it’s actually the best gift ever. No one, I repeat, NO ONE you want to work with will believe the crazy words.

Can you see why I’m on a mini-break?  It’s not really “fun” but it’s necessary!  More info soon…