By Ryan Vickers
I have had the pleasure of knowing the editor of this magazine for a long while, and we have had many chats about various things about diving over the years. He gave me one piece of advice: “If you’re just learning to drive, would you start on a major highway on your first day”? Of course, I would not – hopefully, no one else would.
In this article, we are talking about how the training progression can create better divers while increasing your sales!
Step one: Get them interested.
You never know where someone’s inspiration to go diving comes from. As I mentioned in a previous issue, mine was based on seeing many TV shows and movies that featured scuba within their storylines. Others might have read about scuba diving, seen a friend’s vacation videos, or even had a hint of jealousy when a dive boat left with their loved one for a morning charter.
A great introduction to diving is just that – a discover scuba diving session. This allows participants to get hooked. Never underestimate the value of running a discover scuba diving session. Do not offer them for free, as free has no value. Instead, have a fee for the session and offer a coupon that they can redeem when purchasing a certification course.
Step two: Get them certified.
Now that they have had an appetizer, it is time for the main course. Follow up with the people who have expressed interest and all who have completed a discover scuba diving session with you. Talk to them. We often assume they will contact us if interested, but statistics have shown us otherwise. Get these people excited with the idea of becoming open water certified.
This training progression is vital to getting long-term students and customers. Then, once they are certified, it is time to…
Step three: Get them to become a local diver.
The number of professionals who do not use this step often astounds me. There is a misconception that diving locally is not worth strapping on your fins and heading under. I heartily disagree with this statement! I am lucky to live in Ontario, where there are a multitude of shipwrecks, many of which can be reached by a shore dive. Establish a club where members can sign up to do dives locally to practice and hopefully master their skill sets. Tie in some specialty dives where they can sample the dive while paired up with you or another instructor. After the dive, talk to them about signing up for their advanced or specialty course. Continue this as people like experiences, and you will like the students and course income. Remember, with courses come equipment sales and air fills. Once they have had a go at the local diving, it is a logical progression to…
Step four: The day/weekend charter
One of the most exciting things of my diving career was going on my first-weekend charter. We travelled to Eastern Ontario to dive into the St. Lawrence River. The trip went well, resulting from going through the progression as laid out above. This is not only a great way to get certified divers out to dive, but they might need more training and equipment, which will put money in your pocket! We then move to the final step in today’s lesson…
Step five: Far away from where they started.
In a word, travel. This is the part we all love.
There is no way I would have been able to go out diving in far-away places I have visited, such as England, Australia, Curaçao or Palau, without following the progression I have detailed above. You will find that the divers you train will be able to thrive given not only the proper training but also the proper support. Keep them diving and having fun, and you will be able to offer sales, service, and more training. If you plan a trip, tie in a course with the trip. Once again, this circles back to the fact that one of those divers might be able to fill the last spot on your organization’s dream group dive trip of a lifetime – all because you made sure to follow these steps.
Let me leave you with these last words – TRAIN and RETAIN. Too many dive businesses choose to “teach and release.” Remember that the open water student you’ve just certified is very anxious to get out and dive with you and your team– so why not let them?
Remember, we are here to be of assistance! Our mission is in our name – ScubaBiz.Help!
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