MARINA DOCK AGE MAGAZINE September 2021 issue about MARINA MASTER IN USA, page 22
The global economy is not something often thought of in connection to the business of running a marina, but the products a marina uses, the construction materials, and even the boats that float in slips, could very well have foreign roots. With so much competition and government red tape (or even tariffs) on imports, what drives a company to bring its products to the United States? We talked to two companies in different stages of U.S. development to find out.
For the Marina Master© team, having a presence in the U.S. was prioritized from the beginning. The family-owned business has been open for 29 years providing cloud-based software solutions worldwide for both marinas and, through its second product IBI Master, to banks and financial institutions. Over the past 19 years, they saw the tremendous growth in software worldwide and in the last decade started putting together a plan to sell in North America.
Part of that plan was to look at how marinas in other parts of the world were using their software, as often users have unique approaches. As they adjusted and made improvements to satisfy clients, they looked at how each change could work in the U.S. market. In 2015, Tone Britovsek, M.Sc., Marina Master founder, attended a marina study tour in Florida where he was introduced to many marina managers and saw first-hand how they operated and learned what they needed in management software. He took his findings back to headquarters, and two years later Marina Master launched in North America.
A key milestone for the move was when Ocean Havens LLC, a group of marinas in the Boston area, were searching for a new program and system to handle their high volume of reservations. Ocean Havens became the first customer for Marina Master in the U.S. The important lesson learned was that by automating the processes and services in the Ocean Havens Marina Group, marina staff would have more time for added value activities, which improves marina-customer relationships.
Vesna Pavlovic, M.Sc., CEO, Marina Master© said the process to starting up in the U.S. was similar to expanding into other countries. She said it’s easier to have a partner in-country, but Marina Master did not and instead relied on its own team to work closely with the customers. She said offering flexibility to customers in finding unique solutions and using a consulting approach to share worldwide trends and advice has served the company well. “We always listen to each customer’s need and utilize requests in a custom-tailored solution,” Pavlovic said. In addition, information is shared with customers through the Marina Master Academy—a free webinar series on how to manage a marina through use of the software.
While Marina Master does not yet have an office stateside, it has been working with marinas in the U.S. for more than three years and the team is constantly evolving new ideas, projects, and activities. To maintain a level of expertise in as many worldwide markets as possible, the company is a member of most country trade associations and frequently participates in conferences and marina tours (Tone Britovsek will be presenting at this year’s Docks Expo).
In looking towards the future, Britovsek commented, “The marina management solution that is flexible enough to develop continuously according to marina’s needs and latest trends, will boost its competitive advantage, and improve its reputation among existing and potential customers.” In his crystal ball he sees automation of all marina processes and services, but with a balance between customer self-help and staff help where a boater can self-order assistance. He also believes customer relations management software will become the heart of marina management solutions. So as technology rapidly advances, putting the customer first is not likely to change.