We asked five SDI-TDI dive centers what they did that made a difference in keeping up with their customers’ needs and expectations. Reading through them all, the answer was pretty easy – it is about keeping the customer satisfied, happy and involved. Long term business isn’t just about the sale, but about the relationships.
We feel the same way.
“Sense of community”
Dive Addicts has tried to increase a “sense of community” through club meetings, socials, dive-a-longs, photo contests, free seminars, and lots of trips. We strive to make diving a lifestyle decision and not just a “once a year on vacation” type of activity. In this day and age of on-line super stores grabbing a substantial amount of equipment sales, we feel it is important for the local dive retailer to establish this personal connection with the local diver in order to survive what will surely become an increasingly more difficult market. When divers feel a connection through personal relationships with their LDS (local dive shop), pricing becomes less and less of an issue and it becomes more and more about where the customer feels comfortable, and how he or she wants to spend their time.
At the end of the day, it’s not about money. It’s about how people spend their time!
-Randy Thornton. Dive Addicts, Utah USA
“Customer loyalty – gaining it and maintaining it”
Success in business is not just about the sales and profit gains. One of the most important gains of good business is gaining your customers loyalty. A loyal customer goes out and sells you and the center and will generate more customers for you. Reef Shepherd’s principle objective has always been to win over the customer first through excellent customer service which has allowed us to continue successfully competing in the market for the last 10 years.
-Santiago Estrada. Reef Shepherd, Colombia
“Empower our customers”
We make the customer feel like part of the Water Quest Family. In the store we have a hang out area with couches. Many of our regulars come in daily and hang out. In this area most of our dive trips are born, not only by us, but by the customers themselves. Recently, we planned a trip to Utila in just 10 minutes notice for one of my favorite groups. We made reservations and off we will go next week to Utila. You might say it is crazy to cater to customers on a whim, but it is easier to sell a trip that has passion behind it than one that is planned for months ahead.
-Bill Schoeningh. Waterquest, Guatemala
“Be friendly and smile”
If you really want to build loyal customers then you have to be friendly. Step one in being friendly is to start with a smile. This goes for when the customer enters the shop upon greeting, as well as when you answer the phone. If you smile while talking on the phone then it will come across in your attitude and will be perceived on the other side as “these people are nice and I want to give them my business.”
-Greg Kobrin. New England Dive Center, Connecticut USA
“Get noticed and keep it fun”
Change the look of things, try walking into the centre and look at it from a customer’s perspective. Make it fun. Keep your centre pumping, have lots of things going on. Customers’ perception is one key to success! While doing this, make sure your staff and yourself are happy, if your customer thinks it is a chore then they will go somewhere else.
-Kel Bradley. St George Underwater, Australia