|Good Owner, Bad Owner|
Part 2: Owners must work hard at being the team leader.
By Kim Kavin — August 2003
Respect breeds that kind of loyalty. It comes in many forms, including respect for the fact that crew need space to do their work. Even the best crew won’t last long with owners who await the boat’s arrival at the dock after a long passage and expect to begin cruising immediately, with no time to provision. The same goes for owners who insist on half-day turnarounds between charter bookings and private use. Good crew will meet such demands but quickly burn out.
While some crew do take advantage of owners—and don’t last long—good employees regularly work 16 or 18 hours a day, out of the same respect they feel owners have shown them. “I’ve had crew that bleed for the boat,” Simcox says. “I’ve had crew break bones and finish a 14-day charter and not say a word when they probably should’ve gone to the hospital, but because of their ties to the owner, they don’t make a big deal about it.”
To forge such ties yourself, make keeping good crew your job, one you can always strive to do better. A longtime owner who has an excellent reputation for keeping good crew says the most critical step is taking the selection process seriously. He seeks out qualified candidates, checks multiple references thoroughly (references can be chatty about yachties with a history in the business), and spends at least two meetings getting to know crew before hiring them. After he brings a new employee aboard, he begins establishing the lines of respect, appreciation, and trust.
And it’s not enough to assemble the right team, he explains; owners must work hard at being the team leader. “It’s all about maintaining good relationships, making clear what has to be done,” he says. “It’s a management job, and you have to do it in an effective way. If you’re a real son of a bitch, barking orders all the time, you’ll probably lose them.” It’s admittedly a hard job, he continues—crew need to be respected as human beings with needs, such as vacation days that conflict with your calendar. “There are many times you are asked to give way to the crew’s requests, and every now and then you have to do it.”
Showing appreciation is also key. As with any employee, crew are more likely to remain loyal if the boss goes beyond the basics of paying good salaries and allowing time off. Young’s boss recently developed a passion for Harley Davidson motorcycles and bought two—one for himself, and one for Young to ride. Simcox’s former boss once arranged for him and his crew to do laps in a NASCAR Legend car as a reward for good, longtime service.
This article originally appeared in the July 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.