“The Return to Regional Dealer Networks”
Do you know who is the most powerful person or company in the diving industry? Is it a Manufacturer? A Training Agency? A Retail Dive Center? How about a Travel Company or someone who is working at a Trade Association? I bet that none of you have guessed that it was a Retail Dive Center. As a former Retail Dive Store Owner and a person who has worked for a few Manufacturers, a Training Agency, a Travel Company, a Media Company and two Trade Associations, I can tell you where the power in the industry lays and why. And it’s not in the Retail Sector! But the interesting point of all this is that the Retail Dive Center sector of the diving industry is the most important, most influential and most potentially powerful sector of the industry. Now, all we have to do is convince 1,800 Retail Dive Centers that they are the most important part of the diving industry.
The most powerful people in the diving industry are the ones who write the checks!
So why are Retail Dive Center owners not controlling the diving industry? Sporting Goods Retail Stores control the Sporting Goods Industry. Why aren’t Retail Dive Center Owners the recipients of industry awards and Hall of Fame nominations? Why isn’t the Retail Class invited to the Black Tie Parties and Gala’s? If the Retail Dive Centers account for the majority of new certifications in the industry, the majority of retail sales and the bulk of booked dive travel, then why isn’t there a category for Best Retailer of the Year at the many award programs throughout the industry? The answer is simple but the rational is incomprehensible. And why it has lasted this long is a mystery. Are you tired of being good enough to buy stuff from your vendors but not good enough to go to the parties they go to? Well, that’s all about to change.
The future of the diving industry is in the hands of the Retail Dive Centers. Without Retailers there would be no diving industry. Retailers are responsible for new certifications, equipment sales & service, dive travel and the perpetuation of interest and excitement of scuba diving, as a recreation with local events and activities. Unfortunately there is little or no data on how important Retail Dive Centers are and to what percentage of business they account for. What’s need is a strong, unified, and independent Retail Association that can gather information and share it with its members. Dive Industry Association has a section of its organization set aside for Retail Dive Centers. The scope of the association is International, and divided into National, Regional, State, and Local Chapters.
Promotion at Regional Shows: Dive Industry Association exhibits at dive and adventure travel shows. Member Retailers are asked to staff our booth at shows in their territory. Shows are supported with pre-show, at-show and post-show marketing campaigns. DIA is working with show promoters to start conducting business seminars at each show for members of the local Retail Network. Similar programs have worked well at Our World-Underwater and the Dive & Travel Expo in Tacoma, WA.
Retail Center Profile: DIA’s non-profit training organization, The Dive Industry Foundation, conducts an annual Retail Dive Center Profile that establishes a retail baseline for all retail profit centers. Over 70 Retailers have participated in this profile. Participants receive a summary report that shows them where they stand amongst their competitors.
Industry Best Practices: Using the annual Retail Center Profile & Survey, Dive Industry Foundation is putting together an “Industry Best Practices” recommendation that it will share at Regional Business Seminars.
Eligibility: Membership in Dive Industry Association’s Retail Association is open to all Retail Dive Centers regardless of their Training Agency or Manufacturer affiliation. Annual dues are $125. Membership is not required to participate in the association annual retail profile program.
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.