It’s Autumn and winter work lists are on the table. A familiar time for many of us, we’ve worked hard through the summer season, our equipment, training and procedures have been put to the test, and we’ve figured out what works, what doesn’t, and what could be improved.
Now’s the time that most Heads of Departments will have a list as long as their tired arms of jobs that need to be done, equipment that needs to be bought and contractors that need to be hired, all in preparation for the next season in a few months’ time.
So what's the best way to pitch your work list and get the boss to loosen the purse strings? In our experience, if you can present a case based on sound economics, you're more likely to get your way. Here are some tips on how to pitch like a pro.
Securing the funds to get the job done
Right now, work lists all over the Med are being reviewed, budgets are being drawn up and funds are being allocated to the highest priorities in each department. It’s an interesting and crucial time for the crew who are ready to crack on with important work, as well as for those that control the purse strings to ensure the most effective use of every euro entrusted to them.
Like everything in yachting, there are two ends of the scale - we could be employed on anything from a vessel that has an open-ended blank check, or one which recycles tired galley dishcloths years on end to cut down on costs. Either way, knowing how to prioritise essentials and pitch to get the go ahead for investment is an important skill to develop. Sometimes a simple “we need this” will suffice, while other times the conversation will require more tact.
As the quotes start to roll in and there are enough zeros to make an owner’s eyes water, we need to clearly and simply show why the results will matter to them, and the economic impact it will have on the running of their yacht. Having a well thought out pitch is essential: work list approval = problems solved & improvements made = happy owner = a job well done.
Use these steps as a guideline to getting your pitch over the finish line:
Find out what matters most to the person at the top, and why
This is huge for being able to do your job in the first place, but it's imperative when we need to ask an owner for cash to work on their already expensive yacht. More often than not, the answer lies in the almighty dollar, and the financial impact your ‘upgrade’ will have.
If it’s not money, it could be any number of other powerful and endlessly unique motivators such as a desire to standout (ego) or, if you’re lucky, to make a positive contribution to the environment and sustainability. No doubt these factors are present for every owner, but finding out which one is king will be your key to making your request seem like a great idea that the boss is willing to spend money on.
Clearly outline the true cost and the positive impact your upgrade will have
True cost can be broken down into the following figures:
• Financial cost of the item or project
• Time cost per crew member – what is an hour of each of your crew’s time worth?
• Wear and tear of the vessel
• Additional motivators for preventative maintenance which include larger financial cost over time and potential loss of charter time due to breakages
Balance this figure against the current true cost of the issue
As an example, a Chief Officer on a 50m motor yacht wants to use Absolute Teak for the upcoming season. It’s a product that makes the teak totally hydrophobic for roughly three months after one application and is totally invisible (unlike other products). It requires a post winter two-part scrub of the teak and one Absolute Teak application. This means no mid-season scrubs, no K2R, no moments of heartbreak when crisps and croissants are dropped at mealtime and no midnight cleaning for the night watchman.
To deck crew this is a no brainer, but with an estimated investment of €1,500 for a one-off application, there’s a good chance it may need a pitch to get it over the line.
What should your pitch include?
This pitch would require a comparison of labour, equipment and wear on the vessel - of both the cost it is currently running at, and the proposed cost with your upgrade.
Option 1: Current cost per season includes:
• 3 x two-part whole boat scrub with full deck team
• Nightly teak maintenance by night-watchman
• At least two additional spot scrubs of swim-platform.
Option 2: Proposed cost per season includes:
• 1 x two-part whole boat scrub with deck team
• 1 x application of Absolute Teak
Cost break down and comparison
Now it’s time to figure out the actual cost of each option, which is split into product costs and labour costs.
Additional product cost of €244
Option 1: Current Seasonal Deck Labour Costs
Option 2: Predicted seasonal deck labour with Absolute Teak
An initial investment of €1,400 for the Absolute Teak will result savings of 124 hours labour and €1,197 on deck maintenance for the following summer season.
Vessel wear and tear is also reduced by two thirds per season, which will increase the longevity of the deck and reduce the risk and frequency of far more costly jobs such as re-caulking and replacing worn down teak over the lifetime of the vessel.
It’s a compelling case and it’s likely most would think this is a worthwhile investment. By following these steps, you’ll also show an impressive level of professionalism and understanding - your decisions are well thought out and will build trust for future requests, meaning that you may not have to show your full workings down the line.
Even if you don’t get all your requests approved, crafting your pitch is a great learning experience. What was the deal breaker? Was it time? Cost? Or did the boss just not like the idea? The more you can learn and understand, the more prepared you will be when it’s your turn to hold the purse strings and have the final say.
About Jenny Mathews & Natasha Ambrose
Jenny and Natasha both hold Chief Mate 3000gt CoC’s and have each been working in the Superyacht industry for over 7 years. Now, as founders of She of the Sea, they are combining their experience and passion for the industry to facilitate industry wide positive growth.
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