Starting Your Own Business

DSC_0457Starting Your Own Business
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
January 17, 2022

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own your own business?  Maybe in a recreational scuba diving adventure business?  Well, it’s OK to wonder.  That doesn’t cost you anything.  It’s even perfectly acceptable to dream about it.  Imagine, you are the star of this fantasy.  Teaching people how to scuba dive and getting them all geared up for their very first openwater adventure.  Speaking of adventure, imagine flying from Island to Island, diving exotic destinations, one right after the other.  You could explore the coral reefs of the turquoise waters, lay on white sand beaches underneath the palm trees, while you sip pina coladas with your favorite diving adventure companion.  OK.  Pause.  Back to reality.  Can this really happen?  Well, yes it can, but there is a little work and preparation you need to do before you get to that point.  I was kidding by using the word little.  The good news is that there are a number of Dive Industry Professionals who can help you get to that point.  Maybe those of us who have done something like this before and are familiar with some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that a journey such as this has in store for you.  My name is Gene, and I will be your Guide and Mentor for what may turn out to be the adventure of your life.

First of all, before we begin our journey together, let me tell you there are already people scuba diving on the coral reefs of exotic destinations, hunting for food, laying under the palm trees on beautiful white sand beaches, and even living in houses right on the shore.  They are called LOCALS, and have been doing this for quite some time.  Hopefully you will get the opportunity to meet some of them as you travel along your chosen career path (in or out of the recreational water sports industry).  The purpose of this series of articles is to explore the possibility of having a career or a professional diving business in the Global Diving Business Network.  It’s to point out the pluses and minuses of choosing to invest your time, money, and manpower in this industry.  The choice is always yours to make, but as many successful entrepreneurs have said in the past, “It’s better to know, before you go.”

Let’s take this journey together.  This series of articles will be a little different than some of the self help books you may have read or are familiar with.  The Author (me) is going to take this journey with you.  As we look into the advantages and disadvantages of opening our own business in the diving industry, I will be doing the research with you, in real time.  Does that mean I am going to open my own business when we’ve finished?  I don’t know yet.  We don’t have enough facts to make that decision.

DSC_0001Building a business is like building a pool.  I will give you a little insight into my methodology.  Nine years ago, we had a pool built for our home.  Not knowing how to build a pool ourselves, we hired a professional pool builder, Paradise Pools, www.paradisepoolsconstruction.com   The Construction Boss, Terry Betten, sat down with us and asked us a ton of questions about what we wanted in a pool.  As we discussed the many options involved, Terry made copious notes and started to sketch out a drawing of what our pool would look like.  By the end of a few meetings, Terry presented us with a sketch of our new pool.  He made his comments and suggestions, and we added our comments and made our adjustments.   We discussed features, benefits, measurements, capacities, building materials, labor schedules, building permits, prices, and timelines.  Terry returned with a final draft and said:  “This is what your pool will look like.  It will cost $60,000 and be finished in about 52 days plus city inspection and approval time.”  We liked what we saw. It was a GO.

The pool construction process was a learning experience for us.  This was our first pool.  Not so with Terry and Paradise Pools.  This was not their first rodeo.  They had built many before, over two thousand.  Terry had a plan in front of him.  He saw in his mind’s eye what the pool would look like in 52 days.  He had done this before and knew what the outcome would look like.  I photographed and video taped the construction process every day and published daily updates on my Facebook page.  My Facebook friends and I saw this project come together right in front of our eyes.  It was an amazing process.  I learned a lot.  About building pools and about business planning.

Starting a business is pretty much the same process, although there are no guarantees as to the exact outcome from your pre-business research.  Having an understanding of what it takes to start a business, coupled with hands-on experience from people who have succeeded or failed at business ownership before is a big plus.  The more you know, the greater the chance that you will succeed.

In this series of articles, we can explore the questions you may have about starting your own business.  We’ll look at your own personal reasons for wanting to go into business, the products that are sold in the diving industry, the customers that make up our recreation, the size and make-up of the current market, the current supply chain, the various channels of distribution, and the marketing vehicles that deliver our marketing and advertising messages to divers and would-be divers, worldwide.  Since we will be going through this process with you, we can share real-time data on contacts that you should know to help you make the decisions you’ll need to make along the way.

We won’t be giving any financial or legal advice but instead, will attempt to refer you to the proper sources that could answer your questions.  Questions that we also may have along the way.  So, if you have always wonder about starting your own business in the recreational scuba diving industry, come take this journey with us.

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Editorial – January 2022

cropped-gene-roatan-1.jpgBe A Champion For Your Customers
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to the January 2022 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional.  After two sucky years in the recreational diving industry, I am no longer optimistic about the world economy or the world political outlook.  I have become a realist.  Things are what they are.  The year 2022 will be what it turns out to be.  And even though I have never really felt this way before, I am not alone in my thinking.  I’ve listened to friends and family, collogues and peers, local and national media, and gosip I’ve heard on the internet.  It seems that most people, in general, are not making New Year’s resolutions this year.  Instead, they are playing the cards they are delt and living each day to the best of their ability.  Because of the uncertainty in the economy and world situation, that seems like a very normal thing to do this year.  I’m willing to give it a try.

Today is only the third day of the year, and the first day back to work.  Many of my industry peers are off for another two days.  Those are the ones getting a paycheck from their employers.  We self employed people are working today, like we did over the weekend.  Like we do every weekend.  That made me think this morning as I sat down in front of my computer.  Dive Industry Professionals who have their own companies are choosing to put in the extra time because we have Members, Dealers and Customers who are counting on us.  I guess you can say that we are their self appointed Champions.  We watch their backs.  We go to bat for them.  We work to produce outcomes that benefit them.  We go into the office early and stay late so they could be more successful in their jobs, helping their customers.  We are their Champions so they could be Champions to their customers.  Now it makes sense to me. We are the Champions of the Champions.

We are going to need a lot of Champions this year.  I’m not smart enough, rich enough, strong enough or brave enough to try to do everything myself and still hope to get everything done 100% right.  I don’t have unlimited time, money and manpower to be a one-man band or a one-trick pony.  I need workers, partners, collaborators and task-specific experts to help me get my work done.  I need, we all need, collaborative talented input to achieve maximum professional outcomes.  Our customers require no less than that from their Industry Supply Chain and Demand Chain Champions.

There is one little difference in how I am looking at the need for collaboration this year.  In past years, I have been more or less of a cheerleader trying to rally the diving industry to work together for the good of the industry.  My montra was that we could all accomplish so much more if we all worked together.  This year is different.  Working together is still very important to our success, but we need to work together because more is at steak.  Yes, there has been more opportunity created because of pent-up demand and two years of decline in market activity, but seizing that opportunity is like searching for gold in a minefield.  It’s going to take more planning and better execution.  This year we will need to work together with strategic partners who have specific task skills we need to complete our mission.  We need to work with someone who has as much to gain or lose as we do.  That’s what makes a 2022 partnership what it needs to be.

There will be plenty of opportunity to work with your strategic partners in the supply of demand chains.  Equipment Manufacturers, Retailers and Sales Reps will have to coordinate their merchandise orders more efficiently and promptly.  Training Agencies will need to relook at their annual dues policy in relationship to their certification sales history.  They may have to increase their customer service efforts to support their current customer base. Travel companies  need to establish and use a better channel of distribution, rather than make futile attempts at achieving vertical integration.  There is just not enough time, money, or manpower to be successful using this business model.  Governments, Tourism Bureaus and Resort Destinations need to coordinate efforts to open their Countries / Islands to the tourism market and make visiting their destinations relatively seamless.  Resort Destinations and Dive Operators needs to work with Dive Travel Wholesalers and Industry Association to attract high volume, travel buyers to their destinations.  Dive Travel Wholesalers and Industry Associations need to be more active in working with Dive Travel Specialists at the retail level to sell dive travel.  Retail Dive Travel specialists need to communicate with their customers more frequently, efficiently, and professionally about the joys of dive travel and why group travel with you can be a very positive social experience.

There is much more work to do with Service Providers, Non-Profit Organizations, Dive Boat Operators, Dive Clubs and Dive Industry Professionals at the Instructor level.  This pandemic has affected us all and we are all in need of adjusting the way we do business with the consuming diver public.

If you were planning to hit the ground running this year, you are already three days late.  Now is a good time to start planning your 2022 calendar.

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Kenneth J. Hoser – Adaptive Diving Association

Kenneth J. Hoser, Adaptive Diving Association
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
December 20, 2021

Kenneth J. Hoser, Executive Director & Founder of Adaptive Diving Association passed away at his home on December 8, 2021, after a long battle with cancer.  His Service is scheduled for Saturday, January 22, 2022 at 2:00 pm at New Hanover United Methodist Church, 211 Swamp Pike, Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania.    

Over the years, Kenneth worked in the adaptive diving market helping a large number of amputees, people with spinal cord injuries and others who explored the benefits of adaptive sports as a means of rehabilitation.  He worked with returning Veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and helped them participate in his Adaptive SCUBA Diving programs.

Through the Adaptive Diving Association, Kenneth not only used adaptive SCUBA diving programs as a means of therapy, he also designed specialized adaptive SCUBA equipment to make it safer for those with physical challenges to participate in the zero-gravity environment.  While training adaptive divers and designing equipment to meet their needs is truly a remarkable accomplishment, Kenneth took it one step further and conducted dive trips to Dive Resort Destinations where properly trained and equipped participants got to experience, firsthand, the joys of diving the warm waters of the Caribbean.

The world has truly lost an Adaptive Diving Pioneer.

Adaptive Diving Association:  Adaptive Diving Association is a 501(c)(3) Non-profit Organization that specializes in tending to the individual needs of the diver who needs adaptive training, including those who are wheel-chair-bound.  This includes specialized training, custom fabricated adaptive equipment and underwater video taping for self-evaluation.  Visit Adaptive Diving Association at www.adaptivedivingassociation.org

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Editorial – December 2021

Defining Our Own Industry Identity
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to our December Editorial. Here we are – end of month, end of quarter and end of year. I hope this editorial finds you in good health, good spirits, back to diving and still in business. I get to speak with a lot of Dive Industry Professionals in my job as the Executive Director of a very progressive and customer-focused Trade Association. It has helped our association become a trusted confidant to many of the successful dive businesses in the industry because we listen and we learn. We’ve defined who we are and what we do for our Members and the Global Diving Community. Our Mission and the work we perform to accomplish our mission is one in the same. After twenty years of bringing buyers and sellers together, we’ve influenced many dive businesses and are humbled to say that we have learned a few things along the way. How do we do that? First of all, we define who we are and what we do. Secondly, we ask our members and the industry what it is they need a marketing and trade association to do for them. Thirdly, we train and prepare for successful outcomes that directly benefit our members and the industry. Our primary research has allowed us recognize, define, and pass on to our members, the dive industry’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We use our findings to create ways (new or existing) to help our members become more professional, productive, and profitable. We are known for laying out or suggesting agendas that works for different segments of the industry, such as dive equipment, training, travel, service providers, lifestyle products, and non-profits. In a Dale Carnegie sort of way, we do this without criticizing, condemning or complaining.

Bringing buyers and sellers together means that we cannot afford to have an agenda that does not include the entire Global Diving Business Network. Your agenda is our agenda. We understand diving and we understand business. We make it our point to know the market (both buyers and sellers) and know the pluses and minuses of the various marketplaces. If we favor one marketplace over another at some point, it is because the particular venue is doing something right or something wrong for that market at that point in time. And trust me when I tell you that all marketplaces and venues in the diving world have gone through and may still be going through changes. Sometimes it’s on a monthly basis, sometimes on a yearly base, and sometimes over a long period of time.

One of our jobs as a Marketing and Trade Association is to follow sales, marketing and advertising opportunities in the print media, on-line community, social media, and face-to-face events. With over 40 years of history following the diving market, I gladly share my research, findings and recommendations with our Members. We are also available for direct marketing consultation. But the reason I want to share 40 years of history with you first is that our economic forecast for the future is going to be totally different then what we would have been recommending in the past ten years. ALARM ALERT !

For the past 20 years, up until 2019, the diving industry had either been flat or declining. The industry was playing by the same paradigms and business models. For the most part, things were going nowhere and most of the industry was doing the same thing with the same people and going downhill. To be honest with you though, that’s when I started to see paradigm shifts, new blood, new thinking, and new technology creep into our beloved recreation. For the most part, these new ways of doing business were popping up but mostly kept under wraps by those implementing these changes, to the delight of their owners and customers.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic halt to business as usual, the supply side shortages, the travel restrictions, the lost of business and revenue, some equipment manufacturing consolidation, and believe it not, a new trend in Dive Store consolidation. Now people were actively looking for new ways to conduct business and it was obvious who was doing something different and who was not.

We could tell that the industry sectors of diving equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products were cooperating less with each other in the industry and looking for new alliances. Some stakeholder groups were breaking away from DEMA and looking at the Surf Expos, Adventure & Travel Shows, the Outdoor Shows, Boating Shows and what was left of the Regional Dive Shows. I think what we found out was that the non-diving shows each gave us a little of what we were looking for but did not fit our overall needs. A little advanced strategic planning would have helped these stakeholders realize that the diving industry has its own unique identity and its own unique needs. There may be some cross-over benefits and similarities to the other markets, but the diving industry is not the outdoor industry or the boating industry, or the travel industry – it is the diving industry.

I believe we should all work on defining and refining our own unique industry image. It has to center around diving and focus on all of the programs, products and services bought and sold by our Global Diving Business Network. Our market is made up of sellers of diving equipment, dive training, dive travel and lifestyle products. It is also made up of the buyers of these goods, both consumer and trade.

For a market to grow and sustain, it must be big enough to exist but small enough to navigate. I think we all learned that recently at a smaller venue that brought the right mix of serious buyers together with a smaller number of vendors. We also have to bring buyers and sellers together but we need to separate consumers and trade professionals. They have different needs and our sales approach needs to be different. We need to focus on conducting a trade expo for trade buying and a trade show for consumer purchasing. We should have a seperate professional development conference for training purposes, and focus only on training.

And I’ll leave you with one last comment about a trend we are starting to see in the industry. Some of the major equipment manufacturers have broken away from a traditional annual trade event and are conducting their own sales events for their select Dealers. While this may seem to be cost effective and an answer to another problem, it is a tactics that has been tried in other industry and is having a negative consequence. In isolation, if your Dealers sell only your products, this sales technique may work well. However, if your major Dealers also carry 2-6 other major lines, how can they take 6 weeks off from their store to buy products? They can’t and they won’t. We’ve been talking to other water sports industry manufacturers and retailers and this idea is starting to lose its appeal and effectiveness. That is why the dive equipment manufacturers must once again meet collectively with each other to discuss long term solutions to this ongoing problem. As for the Retailers, they must start working together to develop more workable solutions. A strong Manufacturing group and a strong, independent, Retail group is the best thing for an industry that wants to regrow itself.

It’s all about defining your industry image, strategically plan your future, and telling the world about what you do for a living.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. See you next year on a Dive Boat in Saint Somewhere.

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Editorial – November 2021

cropped-gene-roatan-1.jpgBe 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.

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8th Annual Dive Pirates Treasure Hunt

Dive Pirates dema map jpgDive Pirates Foundation Announces 8th Annual Treasure Hunt for DEMA 2021
Game evolves with pirate hats, touchless options and great prizes

Excited to reunite with friends in the diving industry, the Dive Pirates Foundation, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization committed to sharing adaptive diving with people of all abilities, will venture to Las Vegas for the return of the in-person DEMA Show 2021 with its much-anticipated treasure hunt; offering hunters a chance to network with vendors and enter to win great pirate booty.

President Tyler Brandes with Diamond Eye Jack“We are really looking forward to how we have retooled the game to access the map on your phone, take selfies in your official pirate hat at each of our “Pirate Partner Booths” with secret bone markers and finish at our booth and register for our Friday multi-prize drawing at 11:00 a.m.,” said newly elected President Tyler Brandes.

“Also for those who want to enter our grand prize drawing, a dive trip to any of the Clearly Cayman properties good for 7 night accommodations, three meals a day and 6 days of 3 tank boat dives. You can sign up for a Dive Pirates membership during the show. Memberships directly fund dive equipment for our recipients. It’s an easy way to give directly to those who have lost some of their mobility so they can share in the very mobile sport of diving.”

Treasure hunters can find a Dive Pirate hat with a secret QR code inside and start the hunt with any of the vendors listed below. All hunters will finish at the Dive Pirates booth, with a crew member verifying proof of piracy photos and sharing the code to register for the drawing.

“We hope all hunters will share their selfies on social media using #WhereIsDiamondEyeJack to share the fun and keep the conversation going,” added Brandes, who just completed a tour from Tennessee to Texas with the famed pirate Diamond Eye Jack, sharing the mission of bringing people of all abilities, especially injured veterans, into the world of mainstream diving.

The Dive Pirates Foundation thanks the following exhibitors for being a Treasure Hunt Pirate Partner and invites DEMA goers to visit their booths:

Of course, the Dive Pirates Foundation booth will also be a stop on the treasure hunt Booth #1409

The Foundation appreciates the pirate partners for not only participating, but also donating prizes for the drawing to be held Friday Nov. 19, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at the Dive Pirates booth.

Wrapping up its 17th year of sharing the freedom of diving with people with different abilities, the Dive Pirates Foundation looks forward to meeting with dive centers, operators, resorts, manufacturers, and retailers to find win-win partnerships to pay it forward and bring more adaptive divers into the mainstream dive community.  Attendees and exhibitors are also encouraged to buy unique Dive Pirate merchandise on the online store, become a member with five different options to join, or donate to the foundation.

dpf hat snipThe Dive Pirates Foundation, a non-profit organization, positively impacts the lives of its recipients; injured military, first responders, law enforcement and others with mobile disabilities by welcoming them into adaptive scuba diving which fosters accomplishment, self-worth and community.  The Foundation trains, equips and conducts dive trips year-round to calm, warm-water locations for the safety of those with spinal cord injuries, networking with facilities willing to empower all participants with compassion and adaptation for a positive experience diving, team building, leadership and relationship building.  For more information about the Foundation go to www.divepirates.org.

For More Information:
Theresa Cortez
Director of Communications
Dive Pirates Foundation
Phone: 877-393-3483 ext. 4
Web: www.divepirates.org

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Buddy Dive Bonaire

Buddy Readers choice 2021Catch up with Your Buddies on Bonaire at DEMA 2021.

Bonaire, October 2021 – After months of canceled trade shows and restrictions, we are counting down the days for November 16, 2021, when we can meet again at DEMA in Las Vegas. Your Buddies on Bonaire will be present at booth #611 and are really looking forward to catching up with new and old partners and friends.

Especially now that Bonaire is open for tourism and many guests found their way back to Buddy Dive Resort and Belmar Oceanfront Apartments, we are looking forward to meeting our partners again and catching up on recent developments. We will be there to tell you everything about our beautiful resorts, travel to Bonaire and of course our attractive DEMA special.

Come and see us at DEMA and visit us at booth #611. We will be there and can’t wait to see you again!

About Buddy Dive Resort
Buddy Dive Resort, Bonaire’s leading dive hotel is known for its personable staff, spacious accommodations and a dive operation that has something for every diver. Today, the full-service resort is consisting of 7 modern buildings, housing spacious studio’s, one, two- and three-bedroom apartments, a full-service dive center, activity desk, two swimming pools, two restaurants, pool bar, vehicle rentals, and the famous drive-thru air and Nitrox fill station. Built with active people in mind, Buddy Dive Resort knows exactly what is needed to make guests comfortable both during their busy day of diving and exploring and during relaxing on the resort. Over the last few years, Buddy Dive Resort was recognized as one of the World’s Best Dive Resorts & Operations in Scuba Diving magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards. For more information visit www.buddydive.com.

For PR inquiries or other PR related questions, please contact marketing@sapiasbv.com
International Reservations: +599-717-5080
Toll Free (US & Canada): 1-866-GO-BUDDY
Buddy Dive Resort: www.buddydive.com

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Why It’s Better to Start Fresh

cropped-gene-roatan-1.jpg Why It’s Better to Start Fresh.
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional
October 18, 2021

 

The Diving Industry is going through a paradigm shift.  A real one, this time.  A paradigm is a way we do things.  If we keep on doing the same things and get better and better results, then everything is fine, and the way it should be.  However, if we keep doing the same things and only getting the same results or worse, then we are not in a groove anymore, we are in a rut!  Many of the Diving Industry Advisors I have been speaking with lately, agree that the diving industry and many of its companies, are in a rut.  And it’s time we get out of this rut and make a change for the better.

With only a month before the industry’s annual trade event, there is talk about getting the band back together and making changes in the companies and organizations we have been dealing with in the past.  Some are saying, and rightfully so, that the diving industry is in trouble.  Something needs to be done to adapt to the new market realities, if scuba diving is to survive.  As much as I agree with these rock stars from another era, I have to say, after fighting this type of fight for over 40 years, I have learned that you can’t change the stripes on a Zebra.  They are going to continue to do what they do because of the structure of their organization, the people who are invested in its operation, the people that administrate its resource, the people that oversee that administration, and the agenda, goals, objectives, and desired outcomes of the organization.  We see it all the time.  They say they are going to do one thing and we buy into it.  Then we see them working on something totally different and what they said they were supposed to do, falls apart at the seams.  Here is the best part of this situation.  We are the ones with the check book, and we don’t have to buy into that anymore.  When I say “we” I mean every Dive Industry Professional who earns a part-time or full-time living in the industry.

It’s not for me to try to change a company that has no intention of changing.  Let the free market make that call.  If an organization is currently meeting the needs of their customers, they will do well and stay in business.  If they are not, then another organization will.  Successful companies vote with their dollars.  Let the voting begin.

Organizations that serve an industry’s needs must be transparent in their purpose for being in business.  A Mission Statement is not only a definition of who they are and what they do, it is a promise to the world that they will perform their mission to the best of their ability.  They must communicate what they do on behalf of their partners, members, and customers.  They must hire the right, qualified people to administrate the company resources to effectively complete the organization’s planned outcomes.  Organizations need to have a qualified Board of Advisors to see that their hired Administrators are doing the job they were hired for, and replace them if they fail in their task.

Here are my suggestions for working with individuals who are concerned about the scuba diving industry being in trouble. 

  • Agree to help define what the needs of the industry are.
  • Look at your own company’s Mission Statement.  Is your purpose for being in business clear?
  • Look at your planned outcomes.  Do your current inputs help achieve them?
  • Look at your organization.  Is it set up to accomplish your mission?
  • Look at your people.  Are they on-board to achieve your mission?
  • Look at your Advisors.  Are they qualified?  Do they support and enforce your mission?
  • Look at your success history.  Are you achieving your goals and growing?
  • Look at your scalable growth.  Do you have the right sized organization for your mission? 
  • Look at your products & services.  Do they meet the needs of your customers?
  • Look at new organizations in the industry.  Can networking with new organizations help build your company and make it more professional, productive, and profitable?  

DIA LOGO with tag 4cFor more information, contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net  Ask for a copy of our Member’s Guide and our Digital Trade Publication and Buyers Guide.

 

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Editorial – October 2021

Are We Good Administrators?
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to the October 2021 Editorial. In the past few years, October has always been about getting ready for the industry’s annual trade show. Exhibitors would be checking over their booths and equipment samples and getting it all packed up for the show. Travel companies would be putting the final touches on their brochures, catalogs and marketing pieces to showcase their show specials for the onslaught of Retail Travel Buyers to come. All that has changed. This year we are not only preparing for our customers who are going to the show but we are also preparing for our customers who will not be in attendance. Why is all this happening?

Before you jump to the conclusion and say that it is all the fault of the covid pandemic, allow me to give you my humble opinion. It’s not the fault of the covid pandemic. It is our fault for not managing the situation correctly. In life, we are all faced with challenges and obstacles. It is up to us to be good administrators and correctly deal with the situation at hand. After all, we are the Good Stewards of our company’s resources and must do everything within our limitations to complete a successful outcome set by the goals and objectives of our company.

In the past two blogs and editorials I talked about your purpose in business and whether or not you were being truthful to that purpose, or calling. Shortly after writing those two articles about purpose, I was introduced to a book by Dan Stallbaum entitled, Positioning For Breakthrough. Dan talks about how successful administrators manage their companies, direct their people, govern activity, while being a good steward and responsibly managing the company resources. I was blown away.

I have always talked about the importance of the business of diving. While people in your diving company need to be doing the things that your company does, i.e. teaching diving, selling gear, taking divers out diving, and keeping divers active, someone has to be running the business. It’s like that in every business, regardless of the type of business you’re in. Someone has to work in the business and someone has to work on the business. Pastor Dan even talked about Church Administrators who must be responsible for running the church and correctly and honestly administrating the resources entrusted to them by the congregation. All that administrating has to be done while the Pastors and Ministers are doing the work their church was built for.

Same thing in the diving industry. We belong or do business with a company because we want them to do certain things for us. We expect them to achieve certain outcomes for us, like building products, or creating and maintaining dive destinations, or running a consumer or trade event. We entrust them with our time, money and manpower and we expect they will work on our outcomes and administer our resources honestly and professionally. In the end, we just want a successful outcome for us.

That brings me to my whole point. If the company you are in has declared their purpose for being in business, they have to hire the right people to carry out that purpose. So the purpose for being in business has to be clear and transparent to its customers. The people who are hired to administer the company’s resources must be qualified and dedicated Administrators. If your company is not doing the things it is designed to do, then you have the wrong people. If your people are not doing a good job in bringing positive results to your planned outcomes, you have to get new people. It’s as simple as that.

Dale Carnegie taught us how not to criticize, condemn or complain. In that spirit, we won’t point out the errors of other companies. Instead, the Dive Industry Association will continue to improve our services to the International Diving Community. We will continue to bring Buyers and Sellers together to increase economic development in the diving community. We will offer our Members FREE Press Releases to promote their companies and their products. We will include them in our Directories, Websites, and Databases to give them more marketing exposure. We will represent them at Regional and National Shows & Events via face-to-face, digital, virtual and hybrid formats. We will continue listing them in our Buyers Guide to connect them with their customers. AND we will work with Dive Equipment Manufacturers and Travel Destinations to reach their Retail Dive Center Customers, using all the marketing vehicles that are necessary to complete the mission.

It’s not about what other companies are not doing. It’s about what unmet needs currently exist in our community that need to be addressed. Our Purpose for being in business is clear. Our Mission is to Bring Buyers and Sellers together to grow the industry. Our Goal is to be the Good Steward of the International Diving Community. That’s our promise to you.

For more information, a member application or an opportunity to volunteer as an Industry Advisor, contact Gene Muchanski, Dive Industry Association, Inc. at gene@diveindustry.net

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Your Purpose in Life & in Business

cropped-gene-roatan-1.jpgYour Purpose in Business 
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional.  

We all have a purpose in life.  A reason we are here.  A job that was assigned to us from the beginning of time.  What’s yours?

I believe those of us who were called to go into business also have a purpose.  A purpose to do something with our lives using the God given talents we were born with.  Using the experience we’ve gained along the way to help our fellow man.  Yes, we are all given time, talents and human resources to do good things for ourselves and the people of the world.  Are you doing what you were called to do?  And more importantly, are you being truthful to your calling?

We see people in the diving industry start their careers because of one thing and somehow get on the wrong path because of lack of insight or just plain bad mentorship.   As an example.  I started scuba diving when I was fifteen.  To me, that was the coolest thing I had ever done.  I loved to dive and would do it every chance I got.  How many of you wanted to be a Diver when you grew up?  Well, anyway, it became my life’s ambition to be a Diver.  When it was time to serve my Country, I chose to be a Navy Diver.  I loved the running, swimming, and working out, and the diving opportunities were out of this world.  Diving from Submarines was an awesome experience.  My number one passion was being satisfied.  Being in the Supply Corps, while serving as a Diver, was fulfilling because I was working in the business side of diving, my second passion.  I even became a Scuba Instructor while on active duty and was able to engage in my life’s third passion, teaching.  I was diving, teaching and working in the business side of diving.  Life couldn’t get any better.

When my four years in the Navy were up, it was time to move on  and continue my diving career.  My passion for Business brought me to the University of Connecticut where I majored in Marketing.  I was passionate about diving so I stayed in the Navy Reserves and rose through the ranks as a Hard Hat Diver, Mixed Gas Diver, Chamber Operator and Diving Supervisor. I also  had the opportunity to teach scuba classes at the University of Connecticut.  Teaching classes of 25 students with 14 TA’s assisting was very rewarding indeed.

Life in the active duty Navy was fun, no question about it.  Young diver, traveling the world, not a lot of responsibility.  Life was good.  Life at the University was sobering.  More knowledge, more responsibility, and more focus of purpose.  Life was still fun, in an adult kind of way.  Because of my continuing work in the Diving & Salvage Navy, I realized that no one pays you to be a Diver.  They pay you to do work while you’re diving.  I could weld good enough in practice but not good enough if the ship’s integrity depended on it.  And my demolition skills were dangerous to be around, to say the least.  I knew a little about det-cord and time fuse.  One is black and one is white.  I get the two mixed up.  I can remember an EOD Tech saying, “Chief, put the explosives down and back away from the table, slowly.”  For me demolition was all or nothing.  If using a pound of C4 was required for the job, then 2 pounds should be twice as good.  Right?  Obviously, I could blow things up, but you wouldn’t want me in charge of blowing the screw (propeller) off of an aircraft carrier.  In short, I was not destined to be a Commercial Diver.

OK, so I realized that I was passionate about diving, but not about working diving.  I’ve been happy to leave the working diving to the professional commercial divers while I continued my passion for recreational diving, for fun.  And that brings up an excellent point.  If you are passionate about diving, then go diving. I know too many people in our industry that became scuba instructors and dive store owners because they love diving, only to find out that they were so busy teaching classes or working in the store, they didn’t get much opportunity to go fun diving.  Were they being true to their Life’s Passion?  I think not.

My passion for teaching continued throughout my career.  I made the distinction between scuba instruction and teaching business classes  but it was the passion for teaching that motivated me to teach both.  While I taught scuba classes, I felt that my purpose was to train people to become active divers.  I always believed, and still do today, that scuba instructors should teach people how to dive, buy their gear, go diving and stay active.  Too many times I see Instructors teaching classes and specialty courses because they like teaching and not because their students need the classes.  I guess if you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail to you. (No, I was not referring to you Patrick!)

I am glad I realized that one of my passions was teaching and not just teaching scuba.  We all know, or will know soon enough, that teaching diving is very physical.  It’s a great job for a young diver in good shape but is challenging for older, less physically active individuals.  It takes a certain amount of physical ability to carry the gear, swim the distance and have the physical ability to perform rescue techniques if needed.  As we get older, or succumb to illness, like arthritis, teaching diving becomes more difficult and demanding, and even dangerous for our students.  At some point, every Instructor has to hang up their fins.  What will you do with your passion for teaching when that day comes?  Will you have something to fall back on?

Because I have been involved in scuba diving retailing for many years, it’s a subject that is close to my heart.  As I’ve said, I have always been passionate about diving, teaching and business, so opening a Dive Store was a natural progression for me.   But it is not a natural progression for many Dive Industry Professionals today.  How many times have you heard a retailer say they opened a dive store so they could go diving more?  Without a clear plan that takes your passion and purpose into account, you could be spending 80 – 100 hours a weeks in the store and teaching.  Not much time for fun diving with that kind of schedule.  

I don’t think all dive retailers are being true to their passion and purpose.  I know that many have not even thought about it.  When I look at the Retail Industry in the United States, I think about the training and commitment of the owners, directors and executives of the large Retail Sporting Goods Stores, a subcategory of the Retail Industry.   They usually have a degree in business and their professional development training is usually in sales, marketing, accounting, finance and law.  When I look at the retail stores that specialize in diving I see a lot of diver training and course director training but little if any business training.  I have also seen thousands of business cards from Dive Retailers in the past 50 years and I see that most owners and managers identify themselves as Instructor,  Course Director, or some other type of training agency title.  A number of successful store owners identify themselves as Owner, President, or CEO.  It’s all a matter of perspective, not a case of right or wrong.  But what you think of yourself as, is a good indication where your passion and purpose lay.  

This article wasn’t meant to pick on Scuba Instructors or Professional Retailers.  It’s just what I have observed in the industry because of my own personal preferences and passion.  As a Professional Educator and Business Person, I see what is happening in the industry and I relate it to my personal experience.  I have seen Dive Industry Professionals in many of the other sectors of the Industry make the same mistakes in not realizing their purpose or not living up to their passion.

One of my interests is trade and consumer shows.  For over 40 years I have been attending and exhibiting at dive shows.  Running a show takes a lot of focus and hard work.  It is not something you do part time while pursuing another interest as a consultant or trying to become a government lobbyist.  There are NGO’s who specialize in lobbying the government on behalf of your industry.  They are paid by organizations who raise funds specifically for that purpose.  Again, we are talking about honesty, transparency, and integrity.

Our industry has two critical needs in this post-pandemic era.  We need to start a trade show company who’s sole purpose is to organize six Regional Trade Shows and one National Buying Show.  The funding for the organization and the shows will be supported by the revenue generated by the shows.  A second, and separate company our industry desperately needs is a non-profit, non-government organization, who’s purpose is to lobby the U.S. Government, and International Organizations if successful, on matters that pertain to our recreation profession, the marine environment and the flora and fauna of the marine environment.  To fund an organization with this mandate would be enormous and will take major international fund raising events.  I know the interest is there.  And we can do this.

By creating new organizations that are guided by their purpose in the industry, it would be a worthwhile challenge to form a team of advisors who’s own purposes in life are used to create a better industry and a better recreational environment for everyone.  It can be done.  Who’s ready?

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