Get Your Days Back by Automating Everyday Marina Tasks

Work smarter, not harder, and become a 21st Century marina while optimizing revenue, meeting boater preferences, and reclaiming time and space in your marina life.

In this article: You’ll learn how Dockwa can help you reduce the amount of time spent on manual marina tasks and deliver an exceptional boater experience with Dockwa’s boater-relationship platform. Cut down on contract time, billing/invoice time, reservation management time, and more.


In 2021, more than 400,000 new boaters joined our ranks on the water; the year before, the influx was even greater, accounting for more than one million new boaters coming to our lakes, rivers, oceans, and other waterways in the past two years.


Research from Discover Boating, the joint initiative by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Marine Manufacturers Association of the Americas, shows that many of these new boaters expect to manage and pay for their recreation, travel, dining, and more digitally through the web or through apps on their smartphones. 


Actually, this is great news for marinas because it will help immensely with time management! (If you’re curious about what this wallet-less experience looks like, check out our recent blog on How Marinas Can Adopt a Wallet-less Experience.)


Digital is how business gets done and today’s boaters are accustomed to digital transactions in business and their own lives. They prefer the convenience of digital, as they experience through services such as OpenTable, Airbnb, Toast, and many other digital-first companies.


Best of all, digital transactions will save you time at your marina.


How to get back time each day at your marina

Much of the daily work of running a marina happens through repetitive tasks such as receiving requests for dockage or moorage, invoicing boaters for service and seasonal maintenance, assisting customers with ship’s store purchases, and the like.


Many of these can be handled more efficiently through digital marina-management systems right on your desktop computer or a portable tablet (which you or staff can take with you around the marina).


Automating everyday marina tasks—booking reservations and assigning slips or moorage, invoicing, sending contracts, point of sale transactions—opens up time for more engaging and necessary marina management and frees up staff for time on the docks meeting and attending to boaters.


Examine Your Time

Take a look at how much time your marina staff is spending on everyday tasks. Ask yourself: 

  • How much time are you letting slip through your fingers by booking reservations over the phone or printing and mailing seasonal contracts?
  • Are you spending countless hours on contract/Invoice management?
  • Are you working outside of business hours to keep up with reservation requests, when almost half of all dockage or moorage reservations happen outside of business hours?
  • Do you struggle to communicate with boaters, juggling email addresses and phone numbers?
  • How is your waitlist—do you have one? How do fill dockage or moorage vacancies or fill spaces after last-minute cancellations and capture that revenue?


If you’re a GM, you’re probably spending lots of time locked in your office, reviewing operational functions and marina budgets.


If you’re a dockmaster, you’re probably spending loads of time running back and forth from the fuel dock to the credit-card machine in the office.


Why not become more efficient and create a better boater experience at the same time?


What You Can Do

Anecdotally, we’ve learned that marina staff, on average, spend at least a couple hours a week taking reservations by phone, many hours on back-office work related to billing and recurring marina charges, and dozens of hours per season on prepping, mailing, and processing conventional paper contracts for seasonal storage and service.


In total, this accounts for many hours of each week that you could get back.


Take a deep breath and exhale—all of the above can be better managed digitally.


Here’s how:


For reservations, you can provide an option for boaters to request reservations (day or night, whenever it fits their schedule) and you can automatically accept, waitlist, or decline requests—from anywhere (meaning at or away from the marina)! And you can get instant payment from the boater’s verified credit card on file, when done digitally.


For long-term dockage or storage, you can automate contract creation, renewals, and signature collection; automate monthly, quarterly, or annual billing; and quickly communicate with your customers if your marina schedule changes.


When any boater services are requested, you’ll save time on fuel transactions by charging your customer’s card on file, provide “white glove” service by allowing guests to add charges directly to their existing reservation, or add basic services like detailing or a short haul to their reservation “folio.”


Also check out our on-demand webinar here on the wallet-less experience.


Real-world examples

When Zac and Stephanie Gilbert bought Georgia’s Jekyll Harbor Marina in 2020, they put Dockwa in place for all their reservations, as they had already used Dockwa in their own boating and knew how helpful the platform can be.


They soon learned that Dockwa could optimize the management side of their marina business, too.


“On Day One (of owning the marina), we started working with Dockwa. We were able to ring people up wirelessly on the fuel dock—we were no longer hand-swiping credit cards with the only terminal being in the office building, which is like 200 yards away from the dock. And again, there were no cash sales or anything. We put the marina to work for the customer. That was our goal,” Zac says. 


Similarly, Foss Harbor Marina in Tacoma, Washington, adopted Dockwa to help modernize the marina and increase revenue. Since becoming the first West Coast marina to adopt Dockwa years ago, Foss Harbor Marina has operated at 100 percent capacity and their transient slip revenue is up 50 percent.


Sam Hallowell of Midtown Race Club in Newport, Rhode Island, which uses Dockwa Manage, said: “The system is very easy use. The right things are automated and the human interaction hasn’t been compromised. It saves a lot of time and, frankly, makes life a lot easier—it’s a great tool to use.” 


One-stop shopping for saving time . . . and increasing revenue

More than marina-management software, Dockwa is a full boater relationship platform with functionality that supports the entire boater experience.


Dockwa Book will help save you time and fill dockage and moorage to bring in revenue: This is achieved through Dockwa’s automated reservation-booking system, so you’re free to field and approve digital reservation requests on your own time, not tethered to a phone.


Dockwa’s built-in network of hundreds of thousands of boaters also helps you market your marina and generate business.


How about getting marina reviews? You deliver great experiences, Dockwa celebrates them by automatically prompting your boaters to leave reviews on, the world’s largest directory and marina review site. 


Powered by Dockwa, receives millions of visits a year by boaters looking for everything from fuel to long-term storage. At the very least, you can claim your marina at and get exposure to the hundreds of thousands of boaters currently using Dockwa (and growing).


Short on staff? Then consider Dockwa Manage and put your website to work. Turn your website into another staff member, freeing up your phones by taking reservations, inquiries, and waitlist additions digitally—and processing payment wallet-lessly through the boater’s Dockwa account.


Marinas using Dockwa Manage and Dockwa Optimize get a full suite of efficient digital services. For example, you can centralize boater information and communications: Dockwa has the most comprehensive collection of tools for boater communications including 24/7 inquiries, in-app boater messaging, and automated emails. The system centralizes all boater information in the boater relationship platform so you have it at your fingertips and we keep the running history of messages in one place for seamless handoffs between staff.


You’ll also get a better contract process: Dockwa’s digital contracts are fully customized for your marina and billing goes through the boater’s Dockwa account. Dockwa also has a new system for winterization and storage seasonal contracts.


Find out more about how Dockwa can help.  

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