As a dive shop owner, you will have to choose which training agency, or agencies, will be the best fit for your store’s dive training needs. Choosing a training agency is no easy task. This is true whether you are just opening your store, taking over a pre-existing store, or have been in business for years.
There are a lot of agencies for you to consider. The decision you make should be well thought out. After all, this is a decision that will affect your business. There are many factors you should take into consideration. Chief among them:
When choosing a training agency for your dive shop, one of the first things to consider is customer service and support that the company offers to you and your customers. This is listed first for a reason because having consistent support for your business is important.
As a dive shop, it can be extremely frustrating to have a request or a question for your agency that needs a quick answer, but not getting a timely response. The ability to contact the training agency or a representative for the agency, is something you will value as a business owner.
Here are a few questions you can ask the agency. Or, even better, ask the dive shops that currently use that agency:
Which types of direct communication will you have with the company and what is their average response time? (phone, email, chat feature, etc.)
Which types of direct communication will your customers have with the company?
Which resources are available to you through the website?
Who will you be communicating with when you call the company?
Pricing and Quality
As a business owner, the first thing you may look at is the price of training materials, as making money is your goal. It is also important to look at the quality of the materials and what is included in those prices.
Start by comparing the materials from the agencies that you are looking into and note the differences between them. Determine which of those would offer the most benefit to your instructors and students. Once you have narrowed it down, check to see what is included in the price and if there are any additional costs that you will be required to spend. Even though cost should not be the sole reason you choose an agency, you should be sure the company will support your goals of making money.
Marketing and Business Resources
Many training agencies do a great job marketing scuba diving. The question you need to ask though is, are they marketing for your business or for their own?
Some agencies market their own brand and see that as the way they will make money.
Other agencies will market their dive professionals and facilities. They know that, if the shops sell, everyone makes money.
Training agencies that view dive facilities as the source of their income will often:
Provide many more marketing resources members can use to increase sales.
Support them with their other marketing needs.
These agencies will often offer business resources for their dive facilities as well, such as sales technique webinars and website audit to ensure your business succeeds. Utilizing these resources as a dive shop owner can take much of the stress off you. This will give you more time to run your business.
One thing that is often overlooked, but extremely important, is how the training agency approaches risk management.
Some agencies have strict guidelines that your instructors must follow while teaching.
Others offer much more flexibility in their teaching standards.
What does this mean for you as a dive shop owner? A training agency whose teaching standards are inherently flexible, will be more legally defensible. When too many stipulations are added to the teaching standards, it creates more potential for standard violations. This creates more potential for successful lawsuits.
As a dive shop owner, you should review the Quality Assurance procedures for the agencies that you are looking at as well. Knowing what will happen if you are ever accused of, or if you need to report, a quality assurance issue will help you understand what that agency does to protect its members and facilities.
Trusting the training agency you choose will be key to your business success. You will need to trust that the decisions they make will be best for everyone, not just for themselves. This is the company you are relying on to provide you with support for the main portion of your business. You need to know that they will back you in bad times as well as good.
Trust is something that will be built over time. However, asking other dive shops about the relationship they have with their training agency is something you can do now. Use their feedback to help you with your decision.
Choosing a scuba training agency for your dive shop can seem like a daunting task. This is true whether you are picking one for the first time or switching from your current agency. Knowing which questions to ask and consider can make the choice easier.
Will SDI/TDI/ERDI meet all your dive facility’s needs? Only you will truly know that. Nevertheless, if you have any questions about what we can offer you and your facility we would love to talk with you. Email, chat in online, or call us any time to find out more details about joining the International Training family.
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