Top 7 Mistakes New Dive Center Owners Make

dive shop owner

As a new or aspiring dive center owner, here are some things to keep in mind before solidifying your game plan.

Choosing the Wrong Location
Finding the right balance between affordable rent and a location in a high-income area is a struggle for many new dive shop owners. Generally speaking, it’s better to pay a little more for a location in a high-income area near a reliable pool. Cheap rent is often a double-edged sword. If getting to the shop is inconvenient, customers may choose to pursue a different recreational activity.

Carrying Too Many Product Lines
By limiting the number of product lines, a shop owner shop can maximize their financial resources. Buying “deep and narrow” is a safer, more economical choice than carrying too many brands. This doesn’t mean signing an exclusivity contract, but it does mean saying, “no,” or “not right now” to manufacturer reps.

Not Understanding Business Strategy
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is not spending the time to make a decent business plan and get advice about costs, profits, turnover overhead, etc.,” notes PADI EMEA Regional Manager (RM) Matt Clements.

Christian Ambrosi, a PADI Americas RM echoes Clements’ sentiments, “Everyone should understand how to analyze an income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flow. Without this knowledge, you can’t measure the health of your company.”

Pricing is another common struggle, “Some dive centers price everything based upon what the dive centre down the road is charging rather than costs, or what the product is actually worth. Other dive shops mistakenly focus on having the greatest number of customers rather than being profitable.” said Tosh Tanner, Territory Director at PADI Asia Pacific.

Sporadic Business Hours
When a dive shop publishes its hours to Google, Facebook, etc. it’s important to adhere to the posted hours. Regional Manager Ambrosi asks, “How many times would you stop at a store with a sign that reads ‘be back in 30 min’ before you find a shop that provides that service when you want?”

Fernando Martins, RM for PADI Latin American notes, “I’ve seen excellent dive pros open a store that later fails because they have another job and try to run the shop too, so the business becomes like a hobby.”

Poor Hiring Choices
“Hire for personality, not skill set,” recommends RM Nick Jenny. “You can teach skills, but a million-watt personality is something you’re born with. The next time you’re shopping and someone goes out of their way to help you, or adds special something to the experience, consider whether this person might want to sell travel and adventure instead of clothing or electronics.”

Not hiring individuals with a sales-oriented mindset is another big mistake. “I repeatedly see instructors who are afraid to close a sale as they are afraid of being pushy. The people who work in your shop should be both eager to sell and provide great customer service,” said Clements.

Insufficient Marketing
The number one mistake new shop owners make is failing to invest in marketing efforts. “I’ve seen people open a shop thinking their personal dive associates will keep them in business,” said PADI Americas Regional Manager LeRoy Wickham.

“They overlook the fact that the majority of these friends already have most of their gear and only bring in small business like air fills and maybe some repairs. It’s not enough to keep the doors open,” Wickham explained.

Successful dive business owners spend as much time developing their web presence as they spend building out their physical location. A dive shop’s website is typically a new customer’s first impression of the business. It should be designed by a professional and feature inviting photos of smiling divers on a mobile-friendly platform.

For outdoor signage, a simple design with a dive flag and “Scuba and Snorkel” is an effective choice. As supplementary tactic, business owners should allocate capital to online search advertising such and Facebook ads targeting local users interested in scuba diving (not post boosting).

Not Asking for Help

If you’re interested in opening a dive business, involve your PADI Regional Manager early on. Your RM can help you choose a good location, conduct staff training, and take advantage of PADI’s marketing resources.
Attend PADI Business Academy to strengthen your business with pricing and fraud avoidance workshops plus hands-on experience with web and social media marketing tools.

Further Reading:
Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill
PADI Business Academy information and schedule
Does Your Business Project a Professional Image?

Tips for a Profitable Pro Night

Andre SIngle Tank

Written by Megan Denny

A PADI Pro Night is a proven way for PADI Dive Centers and Resorts to increase class and equipment sales. In this article, we’ll share proven tactics from top producers to help your PADI Pro Night be as successful as possible.

First, decide on an event date with your PADI Regional Manager. Avoid hosting the event at the same time as a major sporting event or school holiday.

4-6 Weeks Prior
Announce your Pro Night in your newsletter, on social media and blog (if applicable). Visit the PADI Pros’ Site for free graphics, an email template, a poster for your classroom, and customizable Pro Night invitations.

Tips for a Profitable Pro Night

Ask divers to RSVP via eVite or email. As part of the RSVP process, ask about their diving certifications and experience so you have an idea who your audience is. This will also help ensure you have plenty of drinks and snacks for everyone.

Identify at least two, ideally three members of your staff to speak at the Pro Night. If possible, choose people with different ages and backgrounds.

Video testimonials from graduates who may not be present but send them in from exciting places they are working helps build excitement and build relevance to your programs for the attendees.

2-3 Weeks Out
Ask your PADI Regional Training Consultant about raffle prize donations, Go PRO DVDs, and any special dispensation on a Pro Night order for crew-paks.

Promote your event at the register and in your scuba classes. Include flyers in crew-paks and shopping bags.

Continue posting reminders to social media.

Collect or buy raffle prizes. These could be gift cards, airfill vouchers, hats, t-shirts, or scuba accessories.

A slideshow to play in the background while divers and staff mingle before and after the presentation is nice to have. The slideshow can include staff photos, images from dive trips, and slides promoting upcoming dive travel opportunities.

Create your Pro Night specials:
– Tiered training packages (basic package, mid-range and platinum) are the ideal way to go as most consumers will choose the middle way. You can create bundles of just classes, or packages that include gear as well.

Create packages to lead a student from whatever certification level they are at currently up to DM or Instructor.

Train all your staff in these packages and ensure they fully understand and are able to answer questions about each offer.
– If you have an active travel program, have information available on your upcoming trips. Some attendees may want to complete their training in warm-water destinations.

– Consider offering a Master Scuba Diver special in addition to Divemaster and IDC specials. If you get a lot of MSD sign-ups, consider having a Master Scuba Diver night later in the year.

– Include a calendar, as a slide in your presentation and/or as a handout, showing your class schedule for the year. Help students see the path to Divemaster, Instructor, Master Scuba Diver, etc.

Require instructors to create a target list of at least five students who “have what it takes.” Compare the lists to ensure the same student isn’t on the same list twice, then have instructors phone or email students a personal invite.

Run a pre-mortem with key staff. Imagine worst-case scenarios (a presenter is sick, it snows, there aren’t enough snacks or chairs, etc.) and identify how you’ll prevent and handle these problems.

1 Week Before
Send out a Pro Night email reminder, and tease your one-night only specials.

Ask your presenters if they have any photos or videos they’d like to share and load those files on your presentation computer.

Have instructors make follow up calls to students who expressed interest but haven’t RSVP’d.

Prepare a list of interview questions for your Pros in the spotlight. Example questions:
– What do you love about being a PADI Divemaster/Instructor?
– When did you know you wanted to go pro?
– What’s a common misconception people have about working as a Divemaster/Instructor?

The Day Before:
Post your specials to social media and emphasize they are one-night-only, no exceptions.

At the Event:
Prepare a sign-in sheet to capture diver names, highest level and contact info (phone/email). Assign a staff member to ensure guests fill out their information legibly and completely so you can add them to your database.

Train all staff how to sign up customers for each package, and explain any financing options you may offer.

Plan for 30 minutes of mingle time/happy hour before the presentation. Play a slideshow/video playlist showcasing your travel adventures and smiling staff having fun with students.

During mingle-time, Invite divers to ‘Like’ your Facebook page (or check in on Facebook if they’ve already Liked your page) to earn extra raffle entries.

Kick the presentation off by asking the audience a few questions (raise your hand if you’re an Open Water Diver, Advanced, Rescue, etc). Ask a few people to share why they decided to attend.

Limit your presentation to one hour – any longer and you risk draining – rather than building – energy.

If lighting conditions are good, record your staff member’s presentations for YouTube and/or social media.

Keep the excitement up with a raffling prize drawing between presenters.

After the presentation is over, allow time for divers and staff to socialize. This interaction is a powerful sales tool.

Assign ‘golden egg’ customers to specific instructors who can close the sale with the diver in a personalized way, perhaps catering to their interest in a retirement job, or as a way to travel the world.

Finalize as many sales as possible. Capitalize on the excitement of the presentation to sell training, trips and equipment.

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After the event:

Meet with your staff to designate a follow-up plan for each attendee – and then follow-up!

Evaluate the event and take notes about what worked well and what could be improved for future events.

Conclusion/Top Tips
This article is designed as a checklist to help you build a successful Pro Night. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, the most important tips are:

  1. Promote your event early and often.
  2. Require instructors to extend personal invitations to select students. Don’t count on email and social media to bring in a crowd.
  3. Create three tiers of specials and don’t compromise on the one-night-only deadline.

Additional tips and marketing resources are available on the PADI Pros’ Site.

PADI Application Fees & eLearning Prices for 2018

2018 application fees

Below are some helpful links to use throughout the year. Bookmark them for quick reference in 2018.

2018 PADI® Application Fees
How much is the PADI Master Scuba Diver™ processing fee? What is the application fee for a new PADI Divemaster? Find this information and more by bookmarking this link to PADI Application Fees.

PADI eLearning® and Touch Retail Pricing for 2018
Quickly find the retail price for PADI eLearning and digital products like the Open Water Touch certification pak here: PADI eLearning and Touch pricing.

Member, and PADI RRA Member pricing is available in the 2018 PADI price list. The price list is not available for download. Please contact your PADI Americas Regional Training Consultant along with your PADI member number to have a PDF version of the price list emailed to you.

PADI 2018 IE calendar (pros site login required)
To view the most up-to-date version of PADI Americas’ IE schedule for 2018, log into the PADI Pros Site, then click the link below to go directly to the 2018 PADI IE dates.
https://www2.padi.com/mypadi/templates/cb-login.aspx?id=6963

When can I download the 2018 PADI Instructor Manual?
The 2018 Instructor manual is scheduled to be posted to the Pro’s Site the first week of February 2018. Renewed PADI Pros can login to the Pro’s Site and download the manual from the Training Essentials menu.

Where can I download the 2018 PADI Price List?
You can view current pricing by logging into the PADI Pros Site and clicking the red Shop Online button. The online shopping cart has been updated to reflect current pricing. For a copy of the PADI Americas’ price list as a PDF, please contact your Regional Training Consultant and include your member number. Currently, the price list is not available for download.

2018 PADI Business Academy – Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

PADI® Business Academy (PBA) is heading to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to conduct another industry leading business development seminar on 12-13 February 2018. This PBA will be held at Nova Southeastern University and will include a guest presentation from a Nova professor and a panel discussion with Millennial-aged students. Whether you have attended PBA in the past or not, this program is one you certainly don’t want to miss. Sign up today and join PADI Staff for the first PBA of the new year.

Register Now

If you can’t attend PBA – Ft. Lauderdale, please take a moment to review 2018 calendar of events or visit the PBA page on the PADI Pros’ Site.

Find Out More

2018 PADI Event Calendar

Register to attend the PADI® events located near you.

 

Day Month Event Location Registration Link
02-04 February PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Greenville, South Carolina Register now
06-09 February PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Pete Beach, Florida Register now
12-13 February PADI Business Academy Fort Lauderdale, Florida Register now
16-18 February PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Houston, Texas Register now
01-03 March PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Register now
02-04 March PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Cape Coral, Florida Register now
21-22 March PADI Business Academy Secaucus, New Jersey Register now
23-25 March PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Eugene, Oregon Register now
23-25 March PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Glenview, Illinois Register now
10-12 April PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Scottsdale, Arizona Register now
13-15 April PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Colorado Springs, Colorado Register now
20-22 April PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Glenview, Illinois Register now
07-09 May PADI Swim Instructor Trainer Development Course (ITDC) Bolingbrook, Illinois Register now
20-21 June PADI Business Academy Rancho Santa Margarita, California Register now
17 November PADI Business Academy Lite Las Vegas, Nevada Register now

Help Your Divers Keep Their New Year’s Resolution to Dive More Often

Written by Megan Denny

On average, 80% of people abandon their new year’s resolution by mid-February. But your customers are above-average, right? Help divers achieve their goal to dive more in the new year with these four helpful tips.

Schedule Recurring Activities

Regularly-scheduled activities make it easy for divers to fit scuba into their busy schedules. Whether you have a Saturday morning fun dive, or a club meeting the last Wednesday of every month, make an activity schedule and stick to it.

  • At the end of every class, dive club meeting, etc. talk about upcoming events and encourage divers to take out their phones and add plans to their calendars.
  • Post your events and activities to Facebook or other social media sites.
  • Include a list of upcoming events in your eNewsletter.

SI_Jan_DiveAgainstDebris

Offer an Incentive

Each month, raffle off an enticing prize and invite customers to earn raffle entries by:

  • Attending dive club meetings
  • Getting airfills
  • Participating in Dive Against Debris® surveys
  • Bringing their gear in for service
  • Taking PADI® courses

Promote your giveaway online and in-store. Put a fishbowl next to your register with a small sign, “enter to win XYZ prize.” Each month, post a picture of the winner on social media and in your eNewsletter with a description of the current prize and how customers can win.

Important – your raffle must include an option for customers to enter the drawing without making a purchase or having an obligation. If a purchase or obligation is required to enter, that can be considered a lottery and is illegal in many areas.

Try a Disincentive

Encourage divers to show their commitment to diving more with a fun or philanthropic disincentive. Ask divers to choose a goal like logging 20 dives before 31 December, or earning their Master Scuba DiverTM rating. Then, help them choose a penalty for not meeting their goal.

Research has shown a disincentive can be more effective than an incentive to help people achieve their goals. The disincentive might be having to wash the dive center van, posting an embarrassing picture to social media, or something philanthropic like making a donation to Project AWARE®.

To keep things light, throw a year-end party for everyone who signed a commitment to dive more in the new year. Invite all participants whether they achieved their goal or not.

Use the Buddy System

Encourage dive buddies to set a team goal such as earning their PADI Rescue Diver certification. Create a #scubagoals social media post and ask your followers to share their goal and tag a buddy to help them achieve it. You can find a variety of images on the PADI Pros’ Site under Toolbox, Image/Video. Quickly and easily add your logo and custom text with Canva (a free online program)  See examples below:

Use the ideas above to help your customers feel a sense of accomplishment in the new year, while having fun and supporting their local dive shop. Have a great idea we didn’t mention? Post it to the PADI Pros North America Caribbean Facebook page.

Five Tips for Managing Your Online Presence

When it comes to consumer decisions online, credibility is everything. Multiple surveys show that most people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This makes it more important than ever to manage your online presence and ensure your good reputation stays intact.

Here are five tips to guide you in managing your business’s reputation online.

  1. Create your own positive presence. Customers are going to look you up online, so make sure they find what you want them to know.
  • Promote your business via your website, blog and social media sites, and put effort into creating relevant and informational content about what you offer.
  • Write short bios about yourself, your company story, what your business does, and include great photos or video.
  • Claim free business listings on appropriate online directories and social media networks. There is no cost and you control the company description and general information to present your business in the best light.
  • Pro-actively ask customers for positive reviews. This is an essential part of any online reputation management strategy. Often, people won’t think to post a review, but will be more than happy to when asked. Having positive reviews on your website is a great way to generate quality content.
  • Positive and optimized content can show up higher than the negative comments on search engine results pages. If you have a dominant number of positive reviews, your chances of losing a potential customer from the few critical comments is much less.

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  1. Be active on social media. If you have social media profiles, you need to update content regularly.
  • Because your profiles are a reflection of your business, you want to ensure they are current and energized.
  • Always remember that social media is a public forum. Never post images or comments you don’t want the whole world to see.
  1. Listen to what others are saying. People are going to talk, so you need to stay on top of what is being said about your business.
  • Reviews or comments don’t go away. You need to take control of what is being said, whether it’s good or bad.
  • View your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ pages and accounts “as public” or “as Page Visitor” so you can see what they look like when someone stumbles upon them.
  • Set up a Google Alert on your business name, or use another online reputation management tool. This allows you to track any mention of your business and see overall reactions to your brand online.
  • Add a feedback form to your website or send customer satisfaction surveys to your customers to hear their thoughts and sentiments directly.
  1. Be proactive, not reactive. Negative comments can be addressed in a way that shows potential customers that you care about your consumers.
  • Some public relations professionals advise not to respond publicly in some cases, because your response has the risk of fueling more negative comments. On the flip-side, there are also strong advocates of replying and using the situation to create a positive outcome. Carefully consider the potential upsides and downsides of responding to a negative post before deciding.
  • Definitely don’t respond if you’re going to be aggressive, and never accuse a reviewer of being fake. Take time to calm down before responding.
  • A good guide is to address concerns in a timely manner and actively try to remedy the situation.

PADI Pros should stay up to date on their linkedin profiles

  1. Respond professionally. Responding to negative comments in a professional and positive manner can actually result in an overall positive experience and outcome.
  • Even if you don’t change the negative reviewer’s perspective, a well-crafted response shows others that you care and you want to create positive experiences.
  • If you do choose to respond to negative or critical comments follow these guidelines:

– Acknowledge the issue or complaint by thanking the person for sharing the concern.

– Empathize with the person and explain that you understand the concern.

– Ask what you can do to fix the problem.

– Explain the steps that your business takes to provide the best customer experience possible.

– Share the steps you are going to take to follow up or look into the matter.

– Offer some incentive for giving your business a second chance.

Businesses are more vulnerable to online attacks on their reputation than ever before. Taking proactive actions to optimize positive reviews and manage negative ones will help you minimize this vulnerability.

For more information about best business practices, marketing and customer service, plan to attend a 2018 PADI Business Academy in your area.