YBDSA Member of the Month: Dana Stevens from RBS Marine

Published: 15 February 21

This is a new feature of our monthly newsletter which gives our members & us as an association an opportunity to delve deeper into how our members have been navigating their working life during COVID-19.  This month features Dana Stevens from RBS Marine located in Sussex. She has been a Member of ABYA for a few years now and is looking to continue her support for ABYA by being involved in upcoming Training or Marketing Committee groups. We look forward to having her enthusiasm for the association on board! In the meantime, we have asked her questions about how she has been operating her and her partner's Brokerage during the pandemic.

The past year has seen many changes to legislation and regulations across the UK on how the non-essential retail industry can and can't conduct their work, which we know has affected Brokers and Dealers around the UK as well as overseas. We asked Dana ‘How has she and her colleagues adjusted to these recent regulation changes?

“I think we’ve all adjusted quite well. Unfortunately, we’ve had quite a long time to get used to it now, and apart from the initial ‘lockdown’ in March 2020, the loosening and tightening of restrictions have been fairly incremental. It’s difficult during these full lockdowns when you have clients wanting to travel to see boats for recreational purposes and you have to tell them it’s not possible until restrictions are lifted, but having support from ABYA and British Marine with guidelines for brokers means we feel confident we are doing the right thing.”

In the face of adversity, some say the only option is to adapt, and that’s exactly what RBS Marine has done. Dana continues to note

“The use of WhatsApp has certainly increased for us as it’s a great way to send a series of short video clips of a boat to prospective clients without having to worry about the poor signal in marinas trying to do live video calls!”

Continuing to focus on the positives, we asked ‘Is there anything about trading in pandemic conditions that has resulted in a positive change to your business/professional life?

“There does seem to have been an increased interest in boating, with more members of the public thinking of getting a boat as an alternative to overseas travel or property.  The pandemic has also pushed us to increase our focus on our digital and online activities, which I think is a positive thing both for now, but also for the future when things hopefully get back to ‘normal’. We’ve been working throughout the pandemic to improve our SEO, website, image bank and digital marketing. It has however been harder to keep exciting social media content coming through with less happening!”

This pandemic has definitely accelerated the use of digital marketing for businesses, due to its ability to connect the clients to products by bypassing having to be in close contact with one another. RBS Marine shouldn’t be the only company to implement more focus on their Digital Marketing strategy as 46% of product searches begin on Google and  44% of consumers worldwide are spending more time on social networking site’s which opens them up to absorb more information.

We followed on to ask ‘Professionally, what are you most looking forward to being able to do when things return to ‘normal’, and why?’

“Getting people on boats! Although remote sales have been made during the pandemic, particularly with brokerage, it’s very difficult to close deals on new boats and new models based on digital media alone. We’ve missed taking the boats to the boat shows, and also missed taking clients to the Rodman factory in Spain where they can see new models, get out on sea trials in the fantastic Ria de Vigo, and see the attention and quality going into the manufacturing process for themselves.”

To better understand where it is that our members are facing challenges to operate this past year we wanted to ask ‘What has been your biggest challenge whilst working during a pandemic?’  

“Getting new listings - though I’m not sure it’s a pandemic specific issue as getting listings seems to be a continuing problem for brokers even before Coronavirus impacted our lives. I think that one way this could be improved is for more brokers to be open to the idea of working on a co-brokerage or introduction basis. Whilst I fully understand brokers not wanting to share their fees on popular boats when listings are few and far between, co-brokerage represents an opportunity for us to exploit our strengths to give buyers and sellers the very best service. Strengths in this context might be your knowledge on a particular type of vessel or boat brand, your office location or your relationship with a particular client.”

With another Brokers Breakfast Exchange on April 6th which is open to all ABYA Members (find this in your Members Area under ‘Courses and Events’), we wanted to take this opportunity to ask Dana ‘What would you like to ask other ABYA members about their challenges during the pandemic/Brexit etc?

“I have already asked other ABYA members for advice during the pandemic and Brexit, and have been met with very helpful responses; I’ve had advice from senior brokers when I’ve come up against a possible seller default, and helpful conversation with brokers who have been more experienced in particular areas, such as export of new boats.”

“I think if I were to put a question to all ABYA members now, I’d ask what opportunities they think a post Brexit/post-pandemic marketplace will offer to marine brokers?”

We know that many of our members are facing the same challenges due to regulation changes and restrictions so we’ve designed The Breakfast Exchange so our members can have a safe space to share and network information and advice with one another. We also understand that some challenges you face are hard to tell your competitors so we’ll raise these concerns on your behalf – just email them to Lallie@ybdsa.co.uk

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