Voice Your Opinion – Participate In Industry Surveys

Voice Your Opinion and Participate in Industry Surveys 
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Step 4 to uniting the diving industry is to participate in industry surveys.  Scuba Divers are a very opinionated group of people to begin with so this should not be problem.  Or is it?  Unfortunately, it is a problem.  Dive Industry Professionals, on average, don’t participate in surveys.  I don’t know why they don’t, maybe you do?  Are we too busy?  Too Lazy?  Not care enough about the industry?  Not want to get involved and make someone angry at us?  Is it the surveys?  Too long?  Too Personal?  I’m going to start asking our respondents and non-respondents what they think about surveys conducted in the diving industry. Then I’ll report on our findings.  It may lead to a significant breakthrough into how we do business in this market in the future.

Primary research is where an individual or a marketing company conducts a survey with a select group of people.  They are the originators of the survey.  Primary research could be very time consuming, frustrating and expensive.  Secondary research is looking for research that has already been conducted by someone else and published somewhere.  If you went to college, you are familiar with secondary research.  Secondary can be very time consuming.  Libraries and the internet are filled with secondary research.

The diving industry does not conduct a lot of surveys.  That is a mistake.  Before anyone can attempt to deal with problems in an industry, it must be defined first.  Surveys do that.  Secondly, surveys establish a base line when it comes to determining where we are on a particular issue.  Once we have established a baseline, we can measure any change in a positive or negative direction. If we conduct the survey over a longer period of time, we can formulate a trend.  Now we can brainstorm on problems and possible solutions to achieve desired outcomes. By measuring the effect of various inputs on the outcomes we achieve, we can establish “Industry Best Practices.”  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  But first we have to agree to produce good, short, quality surveys and entice dive industry professionals to participate in them.

When it comes to short term surveys about recent product purchases or events, surveys help to record what the purchaser thought.  In the case of diving equipment, knowing why a person purchased your product is important and so is what they think of the product now.  Surveying attendees and exhibitors of a recent dive show could show you why you succeeded or failed in producing the event.   It can also show you what you will need to do differently if you wanted to conduct the event again.  That’s why it is so critical for participants to respond to surveys.  In the case of a dive show, if the exhibitors don’t tell the producers what was good and bad about the event, the producer will do the same thing next year.  Without input to make changes, if it failed this year, it will fail next year.

Now you see why Step 4 in Unifying the Diving Industry is starting to get difficult.  In steps 1-3 we only asked you to subscribe to something and read it.  Now in step 4 we are asking you to do something.  No worries.  As an intelligent industry we can make this FUN and worthwhile. But the time has come to act.

Background:  I first learned about surveys in a Marketing class I took in college, Market Research.  Up until the 1980’s Sales was all about selling what a company had already produced and had in inventory.  Engineers designed it, Manufacturing produced it, Operations stacked the inventory neatly in a warehouse, and the Sales people people sold it through the company’s Channel of Distribution.  Pushed it really.   With the introduction of the Marketing concept, we saw that sales people were working very hard to push products in a competitive, increasingly saturating market.  Marketing Professionals were asked to come up with a better way to sell products and make it easier on the weary sales force.  Marketing Professionals were assigned to find a way to “pave the way for sales.”   And surveys were born.

Purpose:  Surveys are a way of asking prospective clients what types of products they need, want and can afford.  The best product consultant you can have is a current customer.  By buying your product, they show that they like your company, like your product enough to buy it and they now have a personal experience using the product.  If only we were smart enough to ask our customers what they like about our products, what they don’t like about them, and what would they change if they could, when it came time to purchasing the product again.  Needles to say market research caught on and changed the way we manufacture and sell products.

On-Going Industry Survey #1 – Sales Rep Survey:  Dive Industry Association conducted this survey in 2002, 2009, & 2011.  It is now an Industry Profile that can be verified and upgraded every year without having to complete it every year.  The survey can be download from our website.  Download Survey

If you are wondering how much the Sales Representative’s Sector has changed in 15 years, here are some industry averages:  93% were Male with an average age of 52.  73% had cell phones but only 20% had websites.  The average Sales Agent represented 5 dive companies, in 7 states and had 163 accounts.  Reps sold an average of $1,287,500 in dive gear per year and  made an average $77,500 salary.  They spent $33,150 in travel expenses during the 183 days they were on the road, away from home, which means they spent on average $203 per dealer.  Anyone still want to be a Rep?

Manufacturing Sales Reps are extremely valuable to our industry.  They are what we call the lynch-pin or the link between the Buyers and Sellers of the Supply Chain.  You can’t get any more important than that.  Reps are Professional Sales People and should be treated as such.  They should not be used as product demonstrates, Instructor Trainers or Repair Technicians.  They need to be used to sell, sell, sell.  Instructors teach, Repair Techs do repairs and repair training and Service Personnel do demos.  To ask a Sales Rep to perform these tasks is what we call busy work and besides, these tasks are non-income generators.

Understanding the Manufacturing Sales Representatives is the first group of Industry Professionals we need to work with.  Dive Industry Association has a plan to help them get new lines, get new customers and promote themselves in the industry.  It all starts with filling out our Survey and sending it to us with your Business Card.  We’ll take it from there.

On-Going Industry Survey #2 – Dive Retail Profile:  Dive Industry Association has conducted this survey since 2002. It is now an Industry Profile that can be verified and upgraded every year without having to complete it every year.  The survey can be download from our website.  Download Survey

If you are wondering how much the Retail Sector has changed, here are some averages from 2002.  Only 70% of the stores were incorporated.  The average age of a store owner was 48.  80% of the stores had a web site and only 30% had a cell phone.  The average store was open 6 days a week for 52 hours and 60% of the stores were in rented facilities.  The average store certified 292 students a year and 62% of the stores certified through PADI.  Let’s see what the averages are in 2018.

Filing out the Dive Retail Survey and sending it to DIA with your Business Card is the first step a store owner can take to elevate his or her position in the industry.  Retail Dive Stores are one of the four pillars of each Local Diving Community.  They work in the community, on the front lines, every day.  They are our Industry Ambassadors and the public face of our recreation.  They are more powerful than they realize, because they are the major buyers and sellers of the industry’s programs, products and services.  If they stop purchasing goods and services the industry dies immediately.  As I’ve always said, “They who write the checks makes the rules.”  Dive Store Owners – This is your wake up call.

Other Surveys:  There are other surveys in the diving industry being conducted that I would like to see more participation in.  The Cline Group conducts a Quarterly Diving Industry Survey that covers equipment sales revenue, certifications, and travel revenues.  DEMA runs a quarterly equipment sales survey that a number of equipment manufacturers participate in.  If you have access to these surveys or are on their distribution list, I recommend you continue to participate in their surveys and do your part to help us planners understand the current economic impact of this industry.

For more information on diving industry surveys or DIA’s Unifying the Diving Industry Campaign, contact Gene Muchanski at 321-914-3778 or gene@diveindustry.net

About Gene Muchanski

Executive Director at Dive Industry Association. Board Member at Dive Industry Foundation. Marketing Consultant to the Diving Industry. I have been a certified Scuba Diver since I was 15 years old and have been a passionate waterman for as long as I can remember.
This entry was posted in Article Series - Uniting the Industry, Business Improvement, Series - Becoming a Dive Industry Professional. Bookmark the permalink.

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