There’s a certain rhythm to the business seasons in the diving industry. If you’ve been in the business for any length of time, you may have wondered why events seem to have an ebb and flow to them. Historically, and naturally perhaps, September marks the beginning of the new diving season every year, regardless of the timing of the DEMA Show. Here’s a couple of reasons why September is so important.
Scuba Diving is a recreation and recreations have a seasonality curve to them. Seasonality curves have a lot to do with the weather, holidays, work and school schedules and consumer buying habits. The typical summer season is Memorial Day through Labor Day. Kids are out of school, families plan their vacations and the weather is warm and inviting in the United States. Retail sales should be brisk during this time period, leaving inventory levels low and open-to-buy dollar levels at a high point by the time Labor Day rolls around. When the kids go back to school and activity slows down, Retailers have the time to clean house and get ready for the Holidays and the new diving season. In the retail industry, some stores do 25% of their annual sales during Christmas shopping. It’s a great time to sell off last year’s gear at discounted prices while showcasing next year’s NEW gear at premium prices. Sales Reps from the large diving equipment manufacturers have known this for years. They are on the road with their new samples beginning September 5th. It always seemed like a race to get to the Retailers first, show them the new products, get their orders and lock up their open-to-buy money before someone else does. Things haven’t changed, even when the DEMA Show switched show dates from January to November.
January through March used to be the pre-season period. We all exhibited at DEMA in January and participated in the consumer dive show circuit in February and March. It was time to stock the stores in April and May and get ready for the new Memorial Day to Labor Day Summer Season. Up until the covid pandemic this year, the pre-season period grew to January through April with May still being the restocking period. All of that changed and we now have to fill in the blanks next year for January through May. We have some ideas on how the industry can maximize its effectiveness but remember, this is only a first draft. Your comments are welcome.
First we have to divide the industry activity to In-Season and Off-Season. In-Season is when your dealers and clients are busy making money. Give them your support during that time but stay out of their way. The Off-Season time is when we should conduct our Professional Development Training. Let’s face it, dive shows may never return to the way they were. We still have to make the best use out of our industry down-time.
Let’s start the new season in September, right after Labor Day. Send the Reps out to show their new lines and take orders for Christmas. Move the DEMA Show back to January and clear the way for Retailers to focus on 4th quarter sales and to enjoy the Holidays with their families. In January, start the on-line professional development webinars and conferences. Plan to end this period by the end of April. Instead of planning a single event with 300 seminars, schedule dive equipment seminars, training seminars and travel seminars separately. Make sure that each industry sector (Equipment, Training & Travel) doesn’t compete with other sectors and does not compete within its own industry. As an example, have DAN, NAUI, PADI, and SSI plan their seminars on different days. Same thing goes for Aqualung, Huish, Mares and Scubapro. Remember, some Retailers may be Aqualung and Scubapro Dealers who certify through DAN, NAUI and PADI. Separating your professional development training gives your dealers an opportunity to attend all the training they need. No conflicts – No competing for Dealer time.
The month of May should be used to make sure your Dealers are ready for the new summer season. When Memorial Day arrives, your Marketing people should go visit their Dealers to see how they are doing, analyze their effectiveness, and get some good old fashion press content for future marketing purposes. Your sales people should be working on next year’s line of equipment, getting samples ready and making sure everything is on track for the introduction of the new line for the next season, beginning on Labor Day.
I know. Easier said than done. The main point of this article is not to tell the industry what to do or how to do it. Our point is that things are going to be different from now on and that we need to rethink everything. Equipment, Training, Travel, Customers, Dealers, Sales, Marketing, Time & Date to Market, Professional Development, Shows & Events, Communications, etc., etc. The best thing I can say is have a plan for what you are going to do, why you are doing it and what outcome are you shooting for. Start with an outline. Walk through the process. Add content as necessary. Make it a working plan in process.
Good luck in the next season. Stay safe.