Be There For Your Customers
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional
Welcome to our November Editorial. This month we are reaching our customers with messages about our company and our products. I hope you are doing the same. Not because this is the best time of year for that, but because our industry agreed on this current timeline a few years ago and we all followed along with it. Well, not everyone. I think the top four equipment manufacturers still believe in and practice a September introduction. And to tell you the truth, November is the worst time of the year to conduct an annual trade event. I know we’ve been doing it for a long time and it has become a habit. A bad habit. We should be thinking about our families and friends and getting ready to sit down with them at the Thanksgiving Day table. The last thing on our mind should be our businesses. But I get it.
And another thing wrong with introducing our new lines in November is that it is too close to the December Holidays; Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, and New Years. By this time of year, the dive stores should be stocked to the hilt with new gear for the Holiday Season. Did you know that in some retail stores, over 25% of all annual sales happen in December? So that is why I am a fan of starting the new season in September, right after Labor Day. And now I’m leaning toward September and January based on what our manufacturing and travel members have been telling us for years.
Speaking of customers…you know, the people we started our businesses to serve? They are ready and waiting for us to show them our new 2022 programs, products and services. But where are they? Some of them are going to be at the trade show in two weeks. The rest are going to be home waiting for us. Do you know who is going to be where? The show or home? Are you planning to visit them where they will be or are you simply doing what you did in the past and hoping for the best? I can only speak for our organization and a number of our members who have been very busy getting ready for this month. We’ve surveyed as many dive stores as we could and have a pretty good idea who is going to be where. We’ve corresponded with as many show attendees as possible and promoted our exhibiting members, what booth they will be at, and what they are doing for show specials. We continually refine our databases of Dive Industry Professionals and certified Divers and we’ve used the data to help our members reach new customers and make sales. We created a “Retail Buyer Only” publication and introduced our organization, our members, and our members’ fall specials. And the total extra charge for all those additional member perks was zero. Now let me tell you what that has done for us.
For the past month, we picked up new members, recaptured former members, and received early annual renewals from many of our current members. We helped our members reach tens of thousands of Dive Industry Professionals, Domestic and International Retail Dive Stores, and everyday dive consumers. We are helping put together a number of FAM Trips for the Dive Industry Travel Buyers and we let over 900 Dive Resorts, Liveaboards, Tourism Bureaus and Dive Travel Wholesalers know that we would like to do it for them next year. The most important things we started lately, I can’t talk about yet, but it is going to add significantly to our Member Service offerings and hopefully increase our membership roles exponentially. It’s time to move on and I am confident the majority of the diving industry will move with us.
As my High School Vice Principal used to say, “Muchanski, It’s late in the Ballgame.” And I agree with ole’ Bill Carr. As an industry we can’t wait for non-responsive companies to do things for us. I don’t feel that we are a priority in their agenda anyway and they certainly don’t have our best interest at heart. I’m not the waiting kind of person and I don’t think you are either. To be successful and grow we have to take matters into our own hands and get the job done. Accomplish the Mission. As the economy begins to improve, we can all do what we can to grow our own businesses, which will grow the industry as we each succeed.
So let’s agree that our customers are our top priority. We do it all for them. We need to pledge the use of our collective industry resources to determine their needs, fill their needs and grow our businesses and the recreational scuba diving market.