Worldwide, there are more than 6,600 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts. In spite of this (or because of it) becoming the owner of a diving company may no longer be a clear winner.
This article spotlights the common mistakes new owners of a dive shop make with tips for avoiding the pitfalls that cause some scuba businesses to fail.
Chatter in social media suggests some new dive shops are struggling to make a profit - or have closed down altogether.
Even though training and certifying divers is the foundation, some have resorted to desperate measures for survival.
There are several ways to become a dive shop owner. You can purchase an existing business, or you can set one up from scratch yourself.
The information and advice in this article focuses on helping individuals who are starting a scuba business as a new venture. In general, these pointers will not necessarily apply to the operators of established and thriving scuba diving enterprises.
Always ask for help. For example, affiliating a new dive shop with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) means you will be getting support and assistance with marketing, choosing a good location, and conducting staff training.
You rarely see successful entrepreneurs enter into a new business venture until they have a constructive plan and a functional strategy.
If you're going to be the new owner of a scuba school, you need to have a systematic game plan. So, you will need some advanced information about:
Moreover, unless you will be paying an accountant, a tax adviser, or a business consultant, you should also be able to:
Pro Tip: Another blog explains how to start a scuba diving business from scratch with information about making a business plan for a dive shop.
The reason for putting these tips and advice about choosing a dive shop location at the top of the page, is valid. In fact, choosing the wrong physical location is one of the most common mistakes that new dive shop owners make - without any doubt whatsoever!
Here's the kicker:
It's not easy to find a good balance between prime real estate and a rent that you can afford. Even so, if you are a new dive shop owner searching for a good spot to open a scuba school, a high-income area is best.
Even if the location is not in a high-income area, you are going to need access to a clean, safe, swimming pool or a sheltered shallow bay.
There's a reason why business locations with inexpensive rentals tend to be "cheap". However, the shop position of any new scuba center should be accessible and convenient for customers.
Another miscalculation that new dive center owners make is the pricing structure. Getting the prices right or wrong can make or break a business - even an established one.
The different training agencies do not dictate the prices for conducting scuba courses.
Hence, setting your charges to match, or better, your direct competitors can get you in deep water (pun intended).
Instead, calculate the actual cost, or value, of the service or product that you are providing.
Most of the dive centers that fail have focused on customer volume - rather than profitable trading.
A classic failure for new dive shop owners is a lack of investment in marketing. Relying on a few close associates is not going to keep a costly operation afloat for long.
This type of customer will already have most of their own scuba gear and accessories. In other words, the business they generate will most likely be a few air fills and some cheap equipment repairs.
Put another way:
You want to be a successful dive business owner right? So, you'll need to spend time and money developing a solid web presence. You shouldn't underestimate the power that the Internet can have for scuba businesses.
A good, well-written, informative website says a lot about a company. It should infer trust and professionalism. It's like having an extra "shop window" for your customers to see.
A successful and profitable dive shop is going to need staff. In general, having an approachable and dynamic team (like the Private Scuba team) will be better for business expansion.
In a nutshell, think about hiring someone for their personality, instead of their skill set. Let's face it, educators can learn new skills. But, not every trainer is born with the temperament and disposition to teach scuba.
Another misunderstanding about the recruitment process is not hiring sales-oriented employees. Few things harm the chances of success than staff members who hesitate, or are afraid, to close a sale.
It's common for new shop owners to be a bit too zealous with their line of merchandise. In the early days, limiting the stock can free up much needed capital for other financial resources.
Often, carrying a lot of different dive brands makes poor economic sense in business. Remember, manufacturers' representatives will be keen for you to sign an exclusivity contract. Stay strong, and consider the need to stay in business instead of poor judgement and greed.
Most of the busy dive shops publish their trading hours and facilities on various forms of social media. Doing so is helpful for customers!
But, contradicting what you say - by what you do - can damage the business reputation in a flash. Customers are fickle! They will not hesitate to find one of your rivals if you are unavailable, tardy, or downright dishonest.