For the last several years, Dillon’s business community has been implementing a variety of branding strategies and revitalization projects, and it appears they are beginning to pay off.
During Tuesday’s Dillon Town Council pre-meeting workshop, Bob Evans, manager of Dillon Marina, said so far the 2014 season has been busier than the record-setting year of 2007. Year to date, Evans said the marina is up $10,000 in sales tax revenue compared with this time last year, with the bulk of that increase coming from boat rentals.
“We have been extremely, extremely busy this year,” Evans said. “We’re estimating we’re putting about 50 hours per week on each boat.”
The marina has been so busy this year Evans said he’s had to turn customers away. On one occasion, an out-of-town customer said he wanted to bring his own boat with him on vacation to Summit County. Evans told the man there was no room at the marina for his boat.
“To which he replied, ‘You guys must be the only marina in Colorado that has a wait list,’” Evans said.
Town Councilman Erik Jacobsen asked whether the increased business traffic at the marina could be attributed to a rebounding economy or to something new the staff was doing to attract business. Evans replied that it’s a little of both.
In 2007, the town of Dillon drafted and adopted a marina master plan outlining a series of improvements focused on customer service and making the marina visually more attractive and family friendly, said Shannon Jakoby, the marina’s office manager.
In recent years, those improvements have included modernizing the marina’s old paper-based reservation system for boat rentals, tours and sailing lessons, among others, and moving it online. The new online service accounts for about 70 percent of all reservations.
This year the marina also expanded its recreational offerings to include paddleboarding through a partnership with Stand Up Paddle Colorado. Stand Up, which also provides rentals at the Frisco Bay Marina, started its first season in Dillon with five paddleboards and two kayaks. The new activity has been so popular Stand Up has expanded its fleet to 17 paddleboards and six kayaks, Evans said.
The partnership with Stand Up has changed the face of the marina, said Jakoby, who has been at the marina for 10 years and has lived in Summit County since 1999.
“Now we’re able to hit all of those genres and I think it’s going a long way in improving customer retention,” she said. “People who usually rent boats are now talking about trying paddleboarding. To me, it feels like a whole new lake.”
Most recently, the marina completed a makeover to the main office, giving it a fresh coat of paint, incorporating relevant artwork into the building’s façade, expanding and improving its merchandise and adopting a unique positioning statement highlighting the Dillon Marina as, “A destination for lovers of land and water, land-locked pirates and fun-loving people of all ages.”
Jakoby is one of six Dillon business owners and managers who attended Jon Schallert’s Destination BootCamp last year in Longmont. He said many of the ideas for marina improvements resulted from the 2.5-day business seminar.
“It was all about how to make your business a destination, how to make it stand out from other places, how to catch people’s eye and be memorable,” Jakoby said. “We also wanted to incorporate a focus on customer service, which is why we moved away from a paper-based reservation system. Now we spend a lot less time in here doing paperwork and a lot more time outside of this building helping customers.”