By Joe Healy, joseph.healy@dockwa.com

How Jekyll Harbor Marina Uses Dockwa to Streamline Billing and More

“We put the marina to work for the customer. That was our goal.”

When Zac and Stephanie Gilbert reached a decision in late 2019 to become marina owners, their mutual goal was to modernize the marina they purchased.  

Tech savvy owners of a 37-foot Bertram, the Gilberts knew the ease of booking marina space through an online booking platform and wanted that to be part of the modernization they’d establish for their own marina. 

Zac and Stephanie Gilbert live on Jekyll Island with their two children, Laila and Clifton.

 

Avid boaters themselves, Zac says that he and Stephanie would make reservations using the Dockwa app—”and it just simplified where we wanted to go. We didn't have to call anybody. We could wake up that morning and say, ‘Oh, let's pick a dot on the map,’ tap it, and away we’d go.”   

 

Their marina-ownership search led them to Jekyll Harbor Marina on the southern coast of Georgia. They knew the marina business from working at Stephanie’s family’s marina near Boca Raton, Florida, and Zac had previously been crew on a yacht. They eventually closed on the Georgia marina property in late 2020.   

Google map of the area for reference.

 

While they knew Dockwa made booking slips easier for boaters, they soon learned that Dockwa could really optimize the management side of their marina business, too. 

Slips at Jekyll Harbor Marina.

Using Dockwa to streamline billing, accounting, and operations 

 

“On Day One 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. 

The dock at Jekyll Harbor.

“Dockwa has been a great tool and great for us. The platform has given us so much—a lot of flexibility in how we do business and how we go about our life.”

“Dockwa has been a great tool and great for us. The platform has given us so much—a lot of flexibility in how we do business and how we go about our life. Without it, I'd be sitting there in the marina office till midnight on the phone, so we’re very thankful that I don't have to do that. Now I can do that electronically and manage our bookings. And the reports are good. My CPA puts stuff into QuickBooks and the accounting just kind of moves like clockwork, so I'm very happy with Dockwa,” he continues. 

“My CPA puts stuff into QuickBooks and the accounting just kind of moves like clockwork.”

 

In particular, Dockwa has helped with business billing, Zac says. “It automated our billing process. I was having to do everything manually and send out billing and now Dockwa does it automatically. It’s a huge time-saver. We can focus on other things.” 

The Gilberts' 56-foot Ocean Yachts Sportfish Miss Bee.

 

With time freed up by Dockwa, the Gilberts were able to take on marina improvement projects such as upgrading and modernizing amenities, updating the front office, bringing a new transformer online, installing turf around the pool/hot tub to make the area more inviting, and instituting off-property transportation for small-craft boaters and golfers.  

 

Getting time back for the things they love 

 

The Gilberts not only use the Dockwa platform to make booking more convenient for their marina customers; they continue to plan their own boat travel with Dockwa. 

 

They began their marina-ownership tenure living aboard the 37 Bertram All of Us, and in December 2020 added a 56-foot Ocean Yachts Sportfish named Miss Bee, which they temporarily moved aboard. This past spring, they bought a house on Jekyll Island.  

Aboard the 37-foot Bertram.

 

However, Zac says, “We sometimes miss living on the boat. And whenever we step aboard, it still feels like home.” 

 

They’re just back from a spring-break trip with their children to St. Augustine, Florida, and last year headed to the Bahamas, leaving Jekyll Harbor in the capable hands of office manager at the time Grace McMullan and husband Drew and marina staff Chris Fryar and Jovan Moss. (At the end of last year, Grace and Drew set a course for the Bahamas on their boat, saying farewell to Jekyll Harbor.)  

 

Zac says, “Dockwa has allowed me to simplify my operations, and it’s also allowed me to manage the business from anywhere, which is huge. We wouldn’t be able to take a vacation without a platform like this. Our employees know how to operate Dockwa; we have a great crew. And if not for them, that trip to the Bahamas would have not been possible.” 

“Dockwa has allowed me to simplify my operations, and it’s also allowed me to manage the business from anywhere, which is huge.”

 

Today Jekyll Harbor is getting help from Dockwa to set up inventory reporting and booking management/slip assignments to further automate their business.  

 

Their dedicated marina success manager, Austin Schofield, is helping them get more value out of the platform. “We at Dockwa know that every marina is unique, but we have worked well with the Gilberts to customize the software to their operational needs. They have really seen a great deal of success with the Dockwa tool set and provide us excellent feedback, which has helped us shape the tools to their business needs.” 

 

The marina has seen sustained increases in bookings over the past year and boater-sourced reservations are up, too—which shows that the Dockwa boater network is using the reservation tool. Further, Jekyll Harbor is now fully set up in the Dockwa point-of-sale platform, so boaters at the marina can charge dockage, service, and even ship’s store items such as logo shirts and bags of ice to their accounts.  

 

What the Future Holds 

Jekyll Harbor is based on the Intracoastal Waterway and is popular with transient boaters heading south in the fall and returning northward each spring. Zac and Stephanie say one marina marketing idea is to share the beauty of Jekyll Island and nearby St. Simons and Cumberland islands with local boaters, too.  

The Miss Bee at Marker 8 Marina in St. Augustine, Florida—another marina using the Dockwa platform.

“I'm trying to build the business where we get people from Savannah and Hilton Head (South Carolina) and Jacksonville (Florida). I'd like to see folks from those areas come visit us during the summer for small trips and weekend type visits. Or from St. Augustine (Florida), that’s a real easy trip,” Zac says. 

Jekyll Harbor is based on the Intracoastal Waterway and is popular with transient boaters heading south in the fall and returning northward each spring.

 

And Dockwa makes booking local marina stays as easy as making long-distance, seasonal, or transient bookings.  

 

Dockwa can help streamline entire marina operations—leaving time for other projects or simply to carve out time. A boater relationship platform that comes with hundreds of thousands of boaters built right in, Dockwa helps create stronger demand at your marina and leads to smoother marina management. 

 

Click here for a demo on Dockwa’s booking and inventory-management platforms. For more on the company’s point-of-sale software, click here.  

 

See more on Jekyll Harbor Marina by visiting the website or Marinas.com profile.

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