In The Business of Diving – It’s How Well We Do.
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional
Before I sat down to write our December Editorial, I took a moment to reread last year’s December Editorial. In that editorial I praised Dive Industry Professionals who were actively pursuing their love for the recreation and were having a great time doing it. That topic has been on my mind all year long and it has helped me to enjoy my scuba diving activities that much more. In life, we can choose to think and act in a positive manner or dwell on the negative aspects of life and criticize others for not living up to our expectations. I choose to think and act positively. Karma will take care of those who follow the second option. Any fool can criticize, and most fools do. But it takes a special person to see the possibilities of leading a good life that is filled with abundant blessings.
Needles to say, for many in the diving industry, it was a good year this year. I say many but not all. What I noticed this year is that, for the most part, there was a certain cause and effect banter going on. Kind of an action and reaction thing. Dive Shows that spent money on advertising and promoted their local dive communities did well. Those that didn’t, paid the price of failure and the loss of consumer confidence. Our Manufacturing friends who just held on to their jobs and didn’t produce are no longer collecting that nice monthly paycheck. Sales Reps that hit the road to visit their Dealers, sold product and made money. Those that hid at home, didn’t sell much and many lost their jobs. Dive Retailers who focused on their customers, made friends, built relationships and had a successful year. Those who didn’t, didn’t. In the travel sector of our industry, I participated in two successful FAM Trips, met scores of successful Travel Wholesalers, Dive Travel Specialists, Dive Operators and Dive Resort Destinations who were having a wonderful and successful year. I couldn’t help but notice the crying and moaning of unsuccessful operators who still don’t understand the concept of customer satisfaction that puts heads on beds and butts on seats. It’s just a matter of time for those types of businesses. The writing is on the wall.
While many in the industry are in the black this year, unfortunately, many are in various shades of red. Dive Industry Association had a record year this year, with more current members than we ever had before. Our renewal rate is over 90%. We added a large amount of new Members and we even refused membership to a few companies with bad track records. We increased spending on graphic programs and modern marketing tools while we cut back on wasteful contract spending. Our whole focus next year will be to promote our for-profit Members who sell dive equipment, training and travel and our non-profit Members who do good work in the industry.
I’ve been preaching the “Work Smart” instead of the “Work Hard” concept for many years. I have to tell you, based on what I am seeing this year, that most companies in the diving industry are agreeing with us now. It’s all about having your Marketing people pave the way for sales using sophisticated marketing tools, in a pre-show, at-show and post-show context. It’s about having your Sales people focus on making the sales calls and closing deals, not wasting their time with home made marketing programs that keep them away from selling. It’s about Professional Retailers running their business (working on their business) instead of spending time and money on their next level of Instructor certification (working in their business). It’s about Training Agencies supporting and promoting their Instructor Members so they could teach more entry level scuba programs, instead of running high priced Instructor Course Director Trainer Programs that only directly helps their bottom line. It’s about the Travel Industry working with Travel Wholesalers and Industry Mavens to run more FAM Trips and Introductory Mini Travel Vacations to attract more high-volume, FAM Ready, Dive Travel Specialists. And finally, it’s about Dive and Travel Shows helping their Exhibitors attract more qualified buyers to their shows, not just providing a venue. This year the industry is going to be looking at bankable results. What are we getting for our money, and why should we spend it with you? It’s not how many likes you get. It’s about how many convert to sales. It’s not about exhibiting at dive shows and just being there. It’s about your return on investment that matters. It’s about having a reason to exhibit and a plan that includes pre-show, at-show and post-show components to it. This year is going to be about thinking up new and better ways to make your business more dynamic and productive and less doing things the old ways you’ve always done them.
Most Entrepreneurs traditionally work in their business, instead of on their business. If you are a single Owner-Operator, all hope is not lost. Dive Industry Association is in the business of helping their Members work on their businesses. That is what we do and we do it well. If you are the only one responsible for doing the things that bring in the revenue, let us help you make your business more professional, more productive, more profitable, and more FUN. Working in the diving industry is an exciting way to make a living, but you have to stay in business to continue to Live the Dream.
On behalf of our Current Members, Sponsors, Donors and Staff, we wish you a Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. We’ll see you at the Shows or on the Dive Boats next year.