Huish Outdoors Acquires Oceanic And Hollis) Huish also took over US distribution of Suunto computers since the beginning of 2016.

So, what’s the result for the desperate scuba shops that got suckered into this ‘dealer network’ concept as they try to recoup some profit from their insane dive training model?

They’re pushed into an attempt to flog the highest priced, most unnecessary kit that they can.  Their survival depends on those equipment sales. 

That’s just a  ludicrous business situation to get into – when modern consumers can buy the same gear for a fraction of the cost through online retailers.

Desperate times cause desperate measures.

Dive professionals, employed by the desperate dive shops are forced to wear the kit that they sell. 

Diving customers are alienated by non-stop, overly forceful sales pitches.

Instructor training courses spend more time teaching sales skills than improving dive skills.

In some cases, the desperate dive shops start deceiving consumers with very ill-advised purchasing guidance. 

Desperate Dive Shop

Cynical up-selling that vastly increases the cost to divers.  The same divers who’ve been led to believe that scuba diving was a bargain-basement hobby.

Ultimately, consumer trust breaks down… again.

And that means that the desperate dive shops start to go bust, or the owners quit the industry in frustration.

You must note that whilst equipment manufacturers and dive shops are going bust; and whilst instructors leave the industry in droves, the big scuba agencies nonetheless attain huge profitability.

The biggest agency was sold recently for over $700 million – a triple return on investment for its prior owners. (Providence Sells Scuba Certifier PADI to Wealthy Families, Endowments)

At least someone is making big bucks off the dive industry, right?

Denialism

In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality, as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth.

The ‘Loss Leader’ concept of flogging cheap courses to encourage people to dive, then recouping profitability through diving equipment and vacation sales may have worked in the 1970’s and 80’s. That’s when the big diving agencies started building their business models for market expansion.

That was before the age of the internet. 

Nowadays, desperate dive shops have to blinker themselves against the reality of operating in an internet age.  To follow this agency-driven, antique business model, they have to operate in denial of reality.

I’m sure Blockbuster and Kodak felt the exact same temptation to deny reality. We saw what happened to them for not adapting to the reality of the internet age.

Agencies encourage this because THEY still profit entirely from any factor the promotes the sale of manuals and certifications.  They profit on volume turnover of students.  Volume turnover is promoted by cutting the cost and time commitment of training.

If you follow diving debates on social media and internet discussion boards, you’ll have seen the outcome of this. You will have seen representatives of the desperate dive shops begging, cajoling or even quasi-threatening people to “support their local dive shop”. It happens any time people start discussing dive equipment shopping, and as soon as someone mentions that a great deal can be had via the internet.

The desperate dive shop has developed a sense of entitlement.  They struggle with low profit and hard work.  It’s seen as their “sacrifice” for the consumer.  That provokes them to believe that the consumer then “owes them” some sort of loyalty, even at great extra cost to the consumer.

Desperate Dive Shop

Let’s get this straight;  Loyalty is earned, not demanded. 

Fact: Loyalty doesn’t grow from selling consumers threadbare, minimum standards diving courses.

Fact: Loyalty doesn’t grow from selling consumers ill-advised, over-priced gimmicky dive equipment.

Fact: Nobody asked the desperate dive shop to sacrifice profitability; chasing after some lunatic, antique business model championed by fat cat dive training agencies.

Diving consumers owe desperate dive shops nothing. That’s the quintessential nature of the consumer-supplier relationship. It’s the responsibility of dive shops to find a more profitable business model.

If they can’t, or won’t, then the responsibility is on them, not the consumer. So are the consequences.

Do also read my article:  An Evaluation of the Modern Scuba Diving Industry


About the Author

andy davis technical diving philippines

Andy Davis is a RAID, PADI TecRec, ANDI, BSAC and SSI qualified independent technical diving instructor who specializes in teaching advanced sidemount, trimix and wreck exploration diving courses across South East Asia.  Currently residing in ‘wreck diving heaven’ at Subic Bay, Philippines, he has amassed more than 9000 open circuit and CCR dives over 27 years of diving across the globe.

Andy has published many magazine articles on technical diving, has written course materials for dive training agency syllabus, tests and reviews diving gear for major manufacturers and consults with the Philippines Underwater Archaeology Society.

He is currently writing a series of books to be published on advanced diving topics.  Prior to becoming a professional technical diving educator in 2006, Andy was a commissioned officer in the Royal Air Force and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Belize and Cyprus.

 

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