The Marketing of Scuba Diving
Finding the Best Scuba Diving Instructor
NAUI: The Definition of Diving
Once you decide to become a scuba diver, you are among great company of those that dive in all bodies of water, in all temperatures, all times of year, and in all parts of the world. I often tell students that they need more training, more dives, and need to be reevaluated from time to time. Sometimes the student even needs to slow down. Bret Gilliam, the author of, "Dive Training Today A Perspective:* An industry and training veteran says a poorly trained diver is a dropout statistic waiting to happen. Are you one of them? Do you agree?" Bret lists eleven matters of concern and discusses them. I've been teaching that "confidence fosters competence" for a long time.
Bret mentions that same philosophy. "I am deeply concerned about the dumbing down of dive training on all levels. Of course, the impetus originates with some agencies that see the strategy enrolling and graduating more students. But, it seems, they miss the point about customer retention. People that are not fully competent are not confident." The confidence that student's build starts by good training, meeting their individual needs, being flexible, and most of all, being patient. Human beings are not aquatic animals and while some people do incredibly well, water is not our natural environment. An instructor from another agency once told me that the student should have "mastered their skills" before leaving the pool and before they go to open water. Similar to Bret's concern of "dumbing down" the educational process, I believe this is misrepresenting the student's abilities. According to those standards:
"During confined and open water dives, mastery is defined as performing the
skill so it meets the stated performance requirements in a reasonably comfortable, fluid, repeatable manner as would be expected of a diver at that certification level."
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "mastery," as:
Comprehensive1 knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment; The action or process of mastering2 a subject or accomplishment; Control or superiority3 over someone or something
Complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something
Acquire complete knowledge or skill in (an accomplishment, technique, or art); Gain control of; overcome
The state of being superior4
Higher in rank, status, or quality; Of high standard or quality
So, why be so critical or analytical? Because NAUI instructors can! NAUI does not believe in hiding behind flowery language and doesn't believe in minimizing the risk associated with scuba diving. It is true that all agencies use liability releases but as is often the case, these releases are blindly signed without really reading them and comprehending them. Additionally, a "risk awareness" video is not a fair substitute for plain and literal language... "You can die scuba diving even if you follow all the rules and do everything right." I don't want students to believe that they will master any of their skills by the time the course is complete. NAUI requires a minimum of 10 hours of water time. It is realistic to believe that after those hours, at minimum, the student will be "adequate." Why only adequate? Because no one masters a skill after 10 hours, let alone a year. Dive instructors work for years upon years to master their skills and even then, we are not perfect, we can't avoid mistakes, and students can still be injured and even die during in-water training. I don't share this lightly, rather I share it so you know how dedicated I am to make sure you are ready to dive, ready to receive your certification card, and ready to dive without me -- to have the proverbial "umbilical cord," cut... As of recently, NAUI's slogan was, "Just Dive." That says a lot. Diving and regular practice is how one's skills, confidence, and competence improves.
What now? Let me teach you how to scuba dive! If you are already certified but it has been awhile since your last dive, how about a refresher? If you dive on a regular basis, how about a dive skills evaluation? Take a specialty course? Earn a new ranking (Advanced Open Water Diver, Master Diver, or Divemaster)? One of the aspects of my business that I take very seriously is how my students view me after their courses are done. You can see this in my online reviews and student testimonials. It's not about just getting five-star reviews, but making sure that everyone has a great time. Scuba is great sport and activity, it teaches leadership skills, responsibilities, boundaries, and teamwork, but it is also a group activity. That doesn't mean that a technical diver wouldn't find themselves on a solo dive, but it does mean to me that our down time is filled with great experiences as well. With only 30-45 minutes underwater, what does everyone do during their surface intervals? I can sum that up in one word, "community."
Because I'm not worried that my students won't be skillfully trained, I make sure that they don't go their separate ways once they get out of the water. Diving is not just about hanging out, but it's about getting to know everyone a little better, it's about building relationships, and of course -- community. I feel that community is the biggest thing that is missing from retail establishments. Community is priceless! There should never be a fee for being part of a community and everyone should feel safe. There should never be any cyber-bullying and interpersonal relationships with other members is encouraged. Many of my members go diving independently of the larger group. Ending these experiences is often what is sacrificed in order to get back home...
I've built a private group of divers, students and family that rivals any scuba club. Now, with over 134 members, it is in the same league with groups having two or three times the amount of members. A club isn't a club because it has hundreds of members, after all there are a lot of groups that have thousands of members that never participate. Additionally, my group is private because there will never be any pressure from a dive shop to market to them or for sales opportunities. The only thing I want sold is what is necessary to keep the student diving. I don't use clever or coy marketing strategies and I only promote my business from word of mouth, referral basis, and online. Business has been great! I've doubled the returns of my first independent year, and I've doubled the number of students, teaching all of them and diving with them again and again.
I have no issues with sharing this as my students know I'm not making fortunes from teaching. In fact, as I drive to meet my students for education, pay for pool rental fees, often drive myself to our dive sites, and pay for my own lodging, after the hours are calculated, I'm making less than minimum wage in many cases. I encourage my students to keep learning and if they've felt that they have had a great time, felt comfortable during the training, and had fun, to please come back, tell a friend, and remember me for everything scuba diving related. When asking for additional business, a "yes" is not an open invitation to take advantage of someone. It is an opportunity to continue to give them more of what they deserve, more than they expected, and more than they thought they would ever receive. I am proud to say that I've developed great friendships from this community I've built. Thank you, friends. I am grateful and in your debt for helping me to earn a living doing the thing that I love to do...
If you would like to learn a little more about scuba diving, a little more about the underwater world, a lot more about the life found there, please check out my Facebook page. This is a fantastic page that primarily focuses on the excitement in every dive excursion, trip, and the wonder of the oceans, lakes, rivers, and bodies of water all over the world. If you find it as awesome as I do, please give me a "LIKE."