Most of the larger companies in the diving industry have established a reputation for being knowledgeable in their main product or service category. When they focus on products and services they are good at producing, it’s called their “core competencies.” Successful companies market their mastery of their core competencies because that is what they derive the majority of their revenue from and that is what their brand is built on.
The diving industry is based on the sales of diving equipment, training certifications and dive travel. I have been fortunate enough in my career to have worked as a Product Manager and Sales Manager for two major dive equipment manufactures, a Marketing Director for one of the largest certification agencies and a Travel Advisor for a number of dive travel companies. Let me share a little inside information with you about why these sectors should stick to their own core competencies.
Diving equipment manufacturers are recognized for their quality diving and life support equipment. Their Sales Agents are taught to know everything about their equipment line. How it’s made, how it functions on a dive and how it’s maintained or repaired. When I have a question about a piece of diving equipment I go to a number of dive equipment sales reps or employees of the companies themselves. I trust the manufacturing section to be Masters on all Diving Equipment Issues.
As a former Executive of a major certification agency, I know that our Training Agencies are all about Mastering the educational process that goes into developing training courses for divers. Their Sales Agents are trained in the development, necessity, teaching, selling and follow-up of all of their courses their agency produces and sells. They are education experts and are the Masters of teaching diving course.
Travel company employees are Masters of the hospitality and tourism industries in addition to being Masters of Recreational Diving. Training and preparation in this industry is extensive, exhausting, and on-going. When I became a licensed Travel Advisor I was overwhelmed with the amount of training and professional development that was involved. I know where I go when I need to learn something about the travel industry.
Now let me tell you about the need to be a Master of the Business of Diving issues ! Even after receiving a degree in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and working as the Marketing Director for a major certification agency, I got the most hands on, practical business experience working in my dive store for ten more years. And that was just the beginning of my education. My equipment sales reps and training agency reps were no help at all when it came to questions about how to run a dive business. My equipment reps didn’t share business advice for fear of making a store owner angry at them and losing his orders. They just told me to buy more equipment. Same thing with the training reps. They weren’t in the business of offering free business advice so they just told me to teach more classes.
Where it all came together for me was in the eight years I spent with the University of Houston as a Senior Advisor and Business Consultant for the Small Business Development Centers. My clients came from all industries, not just diving. The Professional Development I needed to complete annually involved learning about business hardware, computer software programs, business technology, planning and operation programs, banking, insurance, law, accounting, marketing, etc. The list goes on and on. I attended semi-annual SBA Banking Conferences. I participated in annual Professional Development Conferences for Consultants, both at the State level and the National level. I can’t count the number of seminars, luncheons and dinners I attended to meet business leaders from the U.S. Government, Microsoft, Intuit, Apple, Palo Alto Software and so many other hardware and software developers. All with great tools for running businesses more professionally, productively, and profitably.
We started the Dive industry Association 20 years ago to provide the industry with an organization that would focus on helping diving entrepreneurs start, grow and succeed in the Business of Diving. Over 1,600 small businesses have taken advantage of our business consulting and market advice. In 2002 we conducted a survey of the Dive Retail sector and was surprised to learn that while 100% of the stores had an equipment sales rep and 100% of the stores had a training rep, only 23% used a Business Consultant. Unfortunately, we did not identify the source of their business consultants. I guarantee, we will now. Our 2020 Surveys are ready to go. I just hope we can convince the industry to participate.
After the great economic paradigm shift of 2020, we will once again survey the 1,525 Retail Dive Stores in the U.S. to see how much the retail industry has grown, shrunk or changed in the past 18 years. We will also run our Annual survey for Sales Reps, to the 123 Reps we have on our database. One thing is for sure. The Dive Industry Association and our Global Business Network will continue to focus on partnering with business leaders and bring modern business technologies to as many diving entrepreneurs in our international diving community that are interested. Are you one of them?