Posted: 14th May 2019 | Written by: Jodie Clarke
The topic of crew turnover is constantly in the media. Articles usually focus on dissecting the causes and proposing ways to reduce it, but a magic solution has yet to be found.
The causes are varied. For some yachts, the odds are stacked against them because crew prefer charter yachts over private yachts or are lured to the perceived glamour of “gigayachts.”
Decades of experience has taught us that losses of both time and money can be extreme when every new head of department decides to create their own new system. Many crew who take it upon themselves to do so aren’t qualified or knowledgable enough to do it well. Good systems are often thrown to the side, and owner and guest experience is disrupted.
It’s unlikely the issue of crew turnover will ever be solved, so we’re addressing it from a different angle: making it less painful. We believe yachts can lessen the worst of the pain by creating bespoke systems for each yacht - user-friendly systems that take each yacht’s construction and design specifics, cruising schedule and owner preferences into account so that new crew can integrate seamlessly and don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they make a move.
We use a combination of comprehensive checklists (created by industry veterans) and knowledge from experts on leather, marble, carpet, crystal, paint, teak care and so on to create specific detailing procedures for each space on board.
These bespoke SOPs provide detailed instructions that allow even the greenest of crew to thoroughly clean each space and correctly care for various surfaces without risk of unnecessary damage. This is because they have to digitally check off each line item, and the completed checklist creates a non-editable PDF record showing who completed each task and when.
Images can be added to line items to ensure that, for example, bathrobes are correctly presented and throw pillows are properly placed. Sunscreen baskets, sun lounge towel placement, tender setup – every important detail is recorded, ensuring that each area is consistently prepared and ready for guests.
The same approach is taken for guest service. Digital checklists walk crew through every aspect of setup, and images show exactly how things should look. A typical breakfast setup would include images of the table, the juice station, the coffee station, condiment setup, buffet and more.
Lunch and dinner service checklists even include seating charts for all available dining locations. Pack down checklists ensure everything is tidied away correctly, and digital rosters provide crew with quick access to their daily duties.
Cocktails, beverage recipes and guest preferences are also included, and the system is expanded and refined over time.
The deck crew have access to information on guest watersports preferences, wetsuit sizes and drink preferences, enabling them to ensure they have their favourite beverage available in the tender or at the beach.
The result is that nothing is forgotten and the guest experience is flawless.
Whether it’s preparing for a shipyard period, stowage for an Atlantic crossing, daily watch duties, pre-arrival or pre-departure checks, the crew have quick access to it all. This greatly reduces the time that heads of department must devote to preparing instructions for their team, freeing them to perform more valuable tasks.
SOS management system in use in the engine room
Bespoke familiarizations, inductions and certificate requirements are set up for each position on board, and every inbound crewmember is walked through an automated process for each of these. The captain can see at a glance what has been completed and what is outstanding.
The safety culture onboard is increased because each new hire is walked through the comprehensive induction process without this being a burden on their superior’s workload. The captain is also notified automatically before certificates expire, offering one more layer of peace of mind.
Importantly, the system belongs to the yacht, so that outbound HODs don’t feel so entitled to remove all the information on departure, as is unfortunately so common when the system is paper-based or based on Excel and Word documents. If someone does manage to delete any content, it can easily be restored via backup.
Each yacht is well cared for with this system because there’s never any misunderstanding about how things should be maintained or how frequently. The resulting appearance of the yacht and the easy availability of its detailed history also increase resale value.
Savings to the owners is enormous because the detailed onboarding process results in thorough training while still greatly reducing the time that HODs devote to the process. Owners don’t experience the frustrations of inconsistent setup and service. The result is that crew change becomes far less stressful.
Owners may have to get used to some new faces and personalities, but their general everyday experience can carry on with little to no disruption. Between the financial advantages, the increased safety and security and the seamless experience of a well maintained ship with fewer headaches or disruptions—even when crew inevitably turn over—the system makes for much happier owners.