Cam Collins and Kevin Hutchinson say they’re not reinventing the wheel. They say My-Villages Inc.’s acquisition of Exuma Technologies and its DockMaster software will simply bring the same level of connectivity experienced in other industries to the marine environment.
The integration of DockMaster information management software, which is being used by more than 600 marinas, and The Boat Village, My‐Villages’ consumer and professional application, will create the largest and most integrated software solution in the marine industry, the companies say.
“The biggest thing I hear from boatyards is that they wish there was a way to connect all that data that is collected by DockMaster, and My-Villages provides that,” says Collins, who was president and CEO of Exuma before the merger. He will become president and chief operating officer of My-Villages.
“This is kind of an end-to-end solution,” says Hutchinson, founder and CEO of the mobile technology company My-Villages. “The more we talked about the common vision we had, the more we realized it would be great to pull this under one roof.”
The partnership allows the marine industry to transact business at any time and across time zones. “It’s similar to what we see in the retail industry and financial industry,” Hutchinson says.
The combination of DockMaster and The Boat Village will bridge the information and coordination gap among boaters, marine retailers and service centers and transform the way they communicate and transact business.
Collins is continuing to roll out DockMaster 8.0, which will take the program to the cloud. “We’re focused on integration of that 8.0 cloud into our cloud-based Village,” Hutchinson says. “Up to this transaction, our ability to integrate into the work-flow level, if you will, stopped at the service manager level. Now we can take that all the way through the work order and parts pull, and because of the integration with DockMaster we can do that in more than 600 locations around the world.”
For example, The Boat Village has 25,000 manuals to help remind boaters when to do regularly scheduled maintenance. “It’s nice to get reminders and send a request to the service manager, but if the manager has to turn around and enter it into the computer, that’s the same way they’re doing it today. By integrating these two systems you no longer have any of that entry. It automatically turns into a work order.”
Hutchinson says the partnership will allow everything to be done remotely, ranging from the service technician getting a reminder of scheduled maintenance for customers based on the 15,000 manufacturer recommendations that already exist in My-Villages to notifying boat owners or captains, ordering parts, invoicing and so on. Service requests can be customized to individual boats or they can follow standard manufacturer guidelines or be a mix.
Consumers don’t realize how much is involved in transactions that involve integrated systems, but they have come to expect a certain ease of use from sites such as Amazon and Zappos. “It’s light and easy to use at the front end,” Hutchinson says. “It’s almost as if I walked in and created a work order for Amazon. There are steps along the way that businesses can choose. The customer has a request, which turns it into a work order, which turns it into a parts order, and turns it over to accounting, and invoices the customer electronically.”
The next evolution of that is e-commerce, Collins says. DockMaster has vessel service histories and can make purchase recommendations based on prior data that are relevant to what a boat owner needs, based on how he uses his boat.
“This is like watching two great tools merge into one,” says Whiticar Boat Works president Jim Dragseth. “The integration of these two products will allow us to further streamline and simplify communication with our boat owners, coordinate service more efficiently and improve customer satisfaction.”
When a customer sends a service request electronically, a service manager reviews it and, if necessary, can ask questions or for clarification electronically and turn it automatically into a work order in the DockMaster system.
“The beauty of The Boat Village is the highly detailed information about how consumers use their vessels, Collins says. DockMaster tracks the service history of the vessels.
“All of that can get pushed down to DockMaster so we can track service of that boat,” Collins says. “Galati Yachts, they will resell a boat possibly five times over the life of a particular boat. Now they can show the customer the service history on the boat for the past 15 years.”
Since 1983, Exuma’s DockMaster suite of software tools has helped marine companies of all sizes manage their business, improving productivity, financial controls and customer service. It is used by successful marine companies such as SkipperBud’s, one of the nation’s largest boat dealerships and marine service companies, with 22 locations in eight states, and Saunders Yachtworks, a premier multi-location boatyard on the Gulf Coast and ABBRA’s Boatyard of the Year in 2009.
The Boat Village works on any computer, smartphone or tablet and allows boat owners and marine professionals to communicate, coordinate service and share information. Service requests can be documented and exchanged, including the use of photos and video. Maintenance reminders can be automated and questions can be answered, all in one place. The boat’s equipment inventory, service history, manuals, usage trends and other useful information are also readily available, giving technicians and service managers operational efficiencies and increasing consumer loyalty, vastly improving customer service and coordination and allowing businesses to better track trends.
The Boat Village is completing a 12-month, invitation-only beta program, with rigorous testing by some of the industry’s well known boatbuilders, equipment manufacturers, service yards and marine businesses. My-Villages has a growing network of Innovation Partners, including companies such as Hinckley Yachts, Regal Boats, Whiticar Boat Works, Saunders Yachtworks, Yacht Tech, North Atlantic Marine, MPI, Yacht Concierge and Boat Yard Services, that are committed to using and promoting the service.
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue.