Web Enabled Organisations; Sonny Lewis is a canals enthusiast and owner of the marina and boatyard at Snakeshead Junction Research Paper

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Sonny Lewis is a canals enthusiast and owner of the marina and boatyard at Snakeshead Junction. He has contacted you for advice regarding the possibility of creating integrated computer systems across the company.

Snakeshead Junction Marina was opened by Sonny?s father, Herbert in 1979. It is a growing business or, rather it is growing at a much faster rate than ever before since Sonny took over operations four years ago. The business comprises several separate ?business units?, which operate as profit centres but interact regularly. These comprise:
? The marina with moorings for residential, non-residential and temporary berths
? A thriving chandlery which sells everything from canal guides to all types of boat fittings to chemical loo cleaner to Rosie and Jim (dolls!)
? A sales and brokerage unit which occupies some of the moorings
? Boatyard services which include repairs and maintenance as well as DIY facilities
? A small caf?

Apart from Sonny Lewis, key personnel are Marie Harris, Jon White, Cy Collins and Shakira Williams.

Marie Harris has the responsibility for keeping the accounts, for which she uses the Sage software accounts package. She also has a simple computerised mailing list of past customers which she uses whenever there are changes of which they need to be informed (moorings) or when marketing opportunities arise. She has a part-time assistant, Rob, who is responsible for making entries to the Sales Ledgers, etc. Marie works closely with Sonny on new business development and strategy.

Jon White is Sales Office manager. He has overall responsibility for all purchases of boats, brokerage services and, of course, boat sales. He has a team of 6 to 8 staff in charge of the sales, mooring lettings and general office administration.

Cy Collins is the boatyard manager. Most jobs are channelled through the main (sales) office but repeat customers come direct to Cy and his team of mechanics, welders, engineers, painters, etc. The marina has dry and wet dock facilities and two slipways for removing boats from the water for repair. These can be hired by customers who wish to undertake DIY repairs.

The chandlery and small caf? are situated next door to each other close to the canalside. However, they are managed as separate outlets. The shop is run by Dave Wheeler with full and part time assistants. He has responsibility for maintaining stock levels in the shop, for which he has no formal stock control system. He places orders for stock by phone, email or online (depending on vendor preference). He has been known to forget to place orders and when they come in does not have a system for storing them, resulting in sales staff hunting around all over the shop when the customer comes to collect their order. He has an electronic till and all sales information and receipts are ultimately routed to Marie Harris for entry onto a separate Sage account.

The chandlery is well known in the area and has a small website built using a template which is not quite what the shop needs but does, at least, give a web presence. Dave would like to upgrade this to allow for online purchases but realises that the delivery end of the process would need attention. The marina and shop have separate web addresses although they link to each other.

Shakira Williams runs the caf? (and take away) which is open from 9 until 5 Monday to Saturday and 10 until 4 on Sunday. It is small with seating for only 30 people so has a limited menu of mainly home-baked food. However, it is popular with boaters, visitors and local small businesses and has a popular Sunday Lunch clientele. It has obvious potential for growth.

Snakeshead Junction: Results from second interviews

An interview with a member of Jon White?s staff revealed:

When a customer buys a boat they are allocated a temporary mooring (i.e. a six month contract). All other mooring bookings/renewals are for a period of one year. The mooring fee is paid in advance. The customer may be offered a full mooring at the end of six months if there is one available.

A new customer is sent an invoice with a payment period of one month. Renewal notices are sent out on the last Monday of each month, one month before they are due and must be paid before the renewal date. There is no request for customers to let the marina know in advance that they will not be renewing. In the case where a renewal is not made, the mooring is allocated to the next person on the list. The marina has to check that the boat has been removed from the mooring and if not will chase the owner and charge a daily fee. The waiting period for boats on the list has been known to be over two years in length.

Mooring fees are charged per foot of boat length and the charge per foot is reviewed each year and raised in line with market demand. New and renewal invoices are passed through to Marie Harris in Accounts.

An interview with Cy Collins, Boatyard Manager, revealed:

Jobs are usually needed on boats that have been purchased and subsequently surveyed, although some jobs come directly from existing boat owners. The work needed is assessed and a quotation, itemising costs of parts and labour, is given to the customer. Should the customer wish to go ahead with the work, a jobsheet is completed. This contains customer name and contact details, boat name and itemisation of the work needed. The workshop schedules the work according to availability of both parts and labour and current jobs in hand. The office let the customer know when the job has been booked in for.

Most of the components needed for a job are ordered by telephone from a set of preferred suppliers with whom Snakeshead have an account. Some items are obtained from the onsite chandlery and are cross-charged. Sometimes the boat will need some specialist work/parts and these are negotiated separately through specialist suppliers/craftspersons. As each job is completed Cy?s team tick them off the jobsheet. If a job took longer than estimated they add the extra time taken, any additional resources needed and they provide a reason why this was necessary (e.g. + 1 hour due to crumbling DS-4 cable which needed replacement).

When the whole set of jobs on the jobsheet are completed, Cy takes the jobsheets to the office where an invoice is typed up and sent to the customer. Invoice and payment details are forwarded to Accounts.

An interview with Jon White revealed:

A customer makes an offer on a boat and the office contact the vendor with the offer. The vendor might accept or reject the offer. If accepted, the customer must pay a deposit of 1% of the boat value to secure the purchase. The boat details are annotated as ?Under Offer?. The customer is advised to have a full survey of the vessel in order to ensure its insurability. The customer does this through independent surveyors who charge them a fee. The surveyor will need to see the boat out of the water so the slipway and tractor need to be scheduled in ? and a payment made to the marina for this service. Following the survey, work may be identified as needing to be done ? and most customers will schedule this in immediately while the boat is already out of the water.

If the work to be done is unacceptable to the buyer, then they may pull out of the purchase or attempt to renegotiate a purchase price with the vendor. Once the deal has been agreed, the customer must pay the full balance to the vendor and pay the marina for any work done. The marina receives commission on the sale of 6% of the purchase price. The customer receives all the boat sales documents plus a registration document.

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