Today’s post is by guest writer and IDC Staff Instructor Tim Wagner
Open Water is the core of many PADI Instructors’ business. Unfortunately, specialty courses are often just a small portion of their certs. Today I want to share how I personally “flipped” my business from being 80% Open Water certs to 78% specialty certifications in a little over a year:
Bundle, bundle, bundle.
There are a variety of ways to bundle specialty courses with Open Water. Here is what I did:
- Nitrox: I introduced Nitrox on the first night of class when I introduced nitrogen theory. Though I taught the eRDPml, I also used the giant RDP table because it makes the pressure groups so visual.After showing the giant air RDP, I asked students to tell me how long they could stay at 60 feet on air (55 minutes). Then I showed them the giant 32% table and asked how long they could stay down at 60 feet (95 minutes) and lastly the giant 36% table (115 minutes at 60 feet).At that point, I didn’t have to do any selling. I told students for $15 they could try a nitrox experience on dive 4 of Open Water OR they could pick up the crewpak and do the Nitrox class with me during our Open Water weekend. I always had nearly 100% participation in those Nitrox classes.NOTE: If you don’t have the giant tables, you can do a similar demonstration with the Nitrox dive computer simulator.
- Peak Performance Buoyancy: While working on fin pivots and hovering in the pool, I would remind students that the first step to becoming “a good diver” was to master their buoyancy. I would play a couple games in the pool (and keep them short so that they wanted to do more) and invite students to play even more games to improve their buoyancy by enrolling in a PPB Specialty with us at the end of their Open Water weekend. Participation was very high!PPB dive one can be taught concurrently with OW dives 2-4, but not if the student is concurrently enrolled in the Enriched Air Diver Specialty. If you are concerned that divers would be too fatigued in an ocean swell condition or in cold water to do two extra dives at the end of their OW training dives, and they want both Enriched Air and PPB, you could teach the PPB course concurrently with OWD, and make it so that they only do one extra dive. Then you can conduct the Enriched Air Course immediately afterwards as it does not require dives unless conducted concurrently with the OWD course.
- Project Aware: On the last night of class I built the Project AWARE presentation into my class time. At the end of
that 20 minute presentation, I told them that they could get a Project AWARE certification by downloading the free manual and completing the extra Knowledge Review and for the price of a PIC ($35.55 @ 2013 SRP), they could complete another certification.
The net result: I had more divers with more specialties, which meant more divers buying gear and courses on their way to Master Scuba Diver. More active divers meant more people posting pictures on Facebook and telling their friends about their great local diving experiences –which is the best kind of marketing for your business. The benefit for me was that it grew my business and allowed me to do more interesting training dives instead of the same four training dives over and over again.
One more bundling idea that I have come across since joining the PADI team is the idea of building a specialty right into your Open Water offering. Some instructors are including the PPB manual or the CPR/AED manual in every Open Water crewpak they sell. Essentially, they are differentiating their Open Water classes from those of their competitors by adding additional value to their course.
As always, we’d love to help you develop strategies to grow your business. You are welcome to call one of our Sales Consultants any time. If you are uncertain who your Sales Consultant is at PADI, visit our PADI Americas sales team page.
Tim Wagner is a PADI IDCS and EFRIT who joined the PADI sales team in February 2013 as the regional sales consultant for the Pacific Rim. Before coming to work with PADI, he was a full time instructor and Assistant Retail Manager at International Scuba in Dallas TX. Tim loves taking dive trips with his wife Tonya and can’t wait until his three sons are old enough to dive.