Dockwa’s 2023 Year in Review

Join us as we reflect on the challenges the marine industry faced in 2023 and the tools Dockwa developed to combat them.

For marinas across the country, 2023 was a year of continued focus on refining business efforts and maximizing potential. The industry has had time to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and regain its footing. Slips, docks, and moorings are filling up faster, and summer 2023 was as busy as ever for many marinas nationwide within the Dockwa network. 

Here at Dockwa, we spent 2023 focused on expanding the potential of our marina management software. As boaters and former marina operators ourselves, we stayed in touch with challenges and opportunities facing marinas, and used that insight to develop powerful new tools and features. 

As we stand in the wake of 2023, we're reflecting on the past year while anticipating what’s ahead. Let’s take a moment to look back on the challenges posed by 2023 and how Dockwa has taken action to combat them.

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Industry challenge #1: Clunky accounting processes

Accounting tools and reports are arguably one of the most important aspects of your marina management software. If you use separate systems to oversee your daily operations and your accounting, you might be dealing with tedious manual processes to carry information between each system.

Dockwa’s solution: QuickBooks Online integration & detailed accounting reports

Dockwa’s reporting tools have long since been a feature of our marina management software. But in 2023, we introduced some important updates that have leveled up those tools.

  • Integration with QuickBooks Online. Eliminate the need to manually enter financial data from Dockwa into your accounting system by connecting your QuickBooks Online account with Dockwa. This integration saves you time by streamlining your financial reporting.
  • Cash revenue report. This is an all-in-one accounting report for cash-basis marinas. It includes revenue totals by category, revenue totals by payment method, inventory adjustments, and payment details.
  • Accrual accounting report. This is an all-in-one report for accrual marinas. It includes a summary journal entry, revenue recognition, unearned revenue (advanced deposit) balance, inventory adjustments, line item details, and payment details.

Industry challenge #2: Maximizing occupancy when assigning boats to spaces

Marina staff start each morning by assessing occupancy for the day ahead: which boats are in which slips, and which spaces are available? 

For some, that has meant printing out a paper map of the marina and writing in every vessel in pencil. For others, that has meant erasing a whiteboard and filling in spaces with dry erase markers. 

Both of these methods create a lot of work for marina staff. Plus, it’s difficult to quickly determine whether you have space for a certain vessel, which means you might mistakenly turn away a boater and lose out on that revenue. 

Dockwa’s solution: Marina map & space assignments

Over the years, we noticed that marinas nationwide have been relying on dock office whiteboards and sticky notes to organize their inventory. But we knew there was a more efficient way to keep track of marina availability and which boats are where. 

So, in January 2023, we introduced our marina map and space assignment tools. 

Dockwa’s marina map is a virtual representation of your unique marina, allowing you to see each marina guest’s location in real-time. This empowers you to strategically assign vessels to spaces and maximize occupancy. 

Benefits of Dockwa’s marina map:

  • See real-time visibility of boats in and out of your marina.
  • View boater, vessel, and registration information at a glance.
  • Customize the map with color coding for reservation types, landmarks (like power pedestals), and various levels of access for staff.

Industry challenge #3: Optimizing dry stack operations

Marinas with dry racks know how difficult it can be to streamline the process of launching boats at the right time. 

Coordinating with boaters creates a huge headache — sometimes boaters ask for last-minute launches, and others want to schedule launches days in advance. 

Determining when a boat needs to be put back in dry storage can also pose challenges. How do you know when a boat is going to return? And how can you ensure that a staff member will be available to put the boat back in storage?

Dockwa’s solution: Dry stack launch scheduling tool

The Dockwa team knew there had to be a better way to coordinate dry stack launches. That’s why we released our dry stack launch scheduling tool in August 2023. 

Dockwa’s dry stack launch tool allows boaters to digitally request launches on certain days and times, and empowers marina staff to review and approve those requests. Each morning, marina staff check Dockwa to see the day’s schedule and know exactly which boats need to be launched and when.

What’s more, boaters can indicate digitally through Dockwa when they’ve arrived at the marina and when they plan to return their boat. That way, marina staff can plan accordingly and ensure a smooth, seamless process for their guests.

Benefits of Dockwa’s dry stack launch scheduling tool:

  • Maintain control of your operations with clear visibility into scheduled, launched, and returned vessels. 
  • Easily edit or schedule a launch on behalf of the boater, or allow boaters to schedule their own launches.
  • Set the days and times that you accept launch requests, and adjust that schedule any time.
  • Download launch reports to optimize scheduling and rates.

Industry challenge #4: Sending contracts efficiently

Contract season always seems to be a hassle for marinas. Preparing, sending, and receiving signed contracts — and collecting payment — is an arduous process.

Marinas with virtually any type of contract process face these challenges, whether they offer long-term seasonal contracts or month-to-month contracts.

Not only is sending and managing contracts time-consuming, but it can also be expensive. Printing and postage fees add up quickly for marinas who send contracts by snail mail. Even sending contracts by email can be expensive when you factor in the costs for a digital document platform like Docusign and the manual labor of sending all those emails.

Dockwa’s solution: Digital contracts

Once again, the Dockwa team knew there had to be a better way to manage this process.

Our digital contract tool allows you to automate your contract process and send everything digitally with just a few clicks. You can personalize contracts with custom rates, time frames, and billing frequency to best fit your needs.

The most notable updates to our digital contract tool are:

  • Accommodate flexible billing schedules, so you can streamline the process whether your customers pay monthly, semi-annually, or on any other cadence. 
  • Accept ACH (bank account payments), giving boaters more payment options and saving you money on processing fees.

What’s more, Dockwa’s digital contract tool accommodates customers who prefer to sign contracts in person. You can simply upload offline contracts and insurance details to Dockwa to maintain complete digital records.

Industry challenge #5: Billing for metered electric

Ask any marina operator whose property uses metered electric and they’ll tell you it’s a pain. Reading meters and then properly billing guests has historically been a disjointed and painstaking process.

Dockwa’s solution: Metered electric tool

By the end of 2023, we’ll introduce our metered electric tool to help marina staff effortlessly collect meter reading data and ensure accurate billing for boaters — all while saving time with mobile tools.

This tool will streamline operations, empowering marinas to manage metered electric charges for short- and long-term guests from one convenient platform. With just a few clicks, you can enter your meter data and bill each guest according to their usage.

Industry challenge #6: Boater engagement

An ongoing challenge for some marinas is keeping boaters engaged. Even marinas that have dozens or hundreds of loyal repeat customers may still fall short of achieving truly engaged guests.

Dockwa’s solution: Homeport marinas

Dockwa’s simple but effective homeport feature allows boaters using Dockwa to choose a marina as their “homeport” — meaning the marina that they associate as their boat’s “home.”

Claiming a homeport is a way for boaters to proudly associate themselves with a marina and stay engaged with that location. And marinas can use these insights for marketing, encouraging reviews, and enhancing their online presence.

In Dockwa, you can see which boaters have chosen you as their homeport in the Customers tab. You also receive instant email notifications when a new boater designates your marina as their homeport.

Looking ahead to 2024

As we welcome the year ahead, the Dockwa team is eager to continue advancing our products and developing new tools that will help marinas save more time, cut more costs, and unlock their potential even further. 

Our team of more than 40 best-in-the-business engineers and dedicated, US-based customer support specialists is ready to help you implement the tools your marina needs to thrive.

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