To borrow a phrase from a great northern “Winter is Coming” (Game of Thrones—Eddard Stark), or to be honest has already got here. While as I am writing this it is still relatively mild, however, the slow temperature decline has started in the water already.
So what does winter mean for your training pipeline and marketing effort? Well, there are those that don’t mind the cold and can be seen braving the ice in a semi-dry, those that honestly enjoy the experience are few and far between.
But you don’t need to put your business on hold and it really gives you the option to pull out your trump (no, not Donald) card and heap on the added value that makes your business stand out from the crowd. Diver Referral and Dry Suits are winter training considerations.
There are a few winter dive training options open to you but I would like to look at your Centre’s bread and butter, Open Water training. Whilst Tec is great and a fantastic route for the limited few who have made diving their passion, without a steady flow of entry level divers who will be your ConEd divers in years to come?
Both of these options may mean that you need to look at your course pricing and equipment choices. If you would like to do a pricing workshop then please pick up the phone with your friendly Regional Manager as we are here to help. PADI reinvests heavily in the industry from marketing the industry (see latest UK-centric campaign) to local support for 100% PADI Centre’s with individual campaigns agreed with your Regional Manager. Your Manager is there to help so if you haven’t picked up the phone in a while please do.
Back to training, the logical 1st step is to include Drysuit training within your core open water course training. I know that for some this next section is redundant and a few of you do include drysuit as an optional extra, however… I would suggest that at this time of year a drysuit is a must, especially in our temperate clime. Looking at some surveys of why people left diving, feeling cold was a strong indicator that someone would not continue.
Drysuits have moved on a long way in recent years and needn’t be the cumbersome and expensive beast they once were. If you ask around there are some exceptional budget choices that you could incorporate into your school right up to custom fitted deluxe options. But drysuit costs are something that you need to speak to your suppliers over.
What PADI can do is make the training, which is what PADI does best, link together. When did you last look at your instructor guide, in particular, the general standards section? Sorry for dragging you back to basics but please remind yourself about linking Courses:
P45 S7 2016 Instructor Manual –
Dry Suit Diver – integrate knowledge development, confined water performance requirements and conduct all four-course dives in a dry suit. Complete Dry Suit Dive 1 skills during Dives 2, 3, and 4. Conduct another dive beyond course dives to complete Dry Suit Dive 2 skills.
This means that if you are following the recommended Sequencing then you can “bolt on” an additional training dive on to one of the days to complete the added course. Your sells rep will be able to work out a “bolt-on” package deal when buying an Open Water product (Touch/eLearning or CrewPak) and the Drysuit Manual/Crewpak and PIC. If you need help with training then your Regional Training Consultant will be able to give you some guidance.
The 2nd option is to partner up with a Centre who’s able to carry out your winter training. You could and should be set yo to just sell a “Referral” and hope that your student returns post course to continue diving. There are some great follow-up tips that your Regional Manager can help with to try and maximise the return of your student.
The referral market is a good one and some build their whole business on it. So what is a Referral? Well, incase you have never taught one a referral, it is a process in which student divers complete part of their training in one location, then complete the rest of their training at a different location with a different instructor. What is important if you are going to just send your customers out into the wild is to make sure you register them with PADI. As the referring instructor and Centre, you will get credited with the part certification and it can help with planning marketing once you get a true reflection on numbers. There is a great guide to Entry-level Diver Referrals if you need help.
Jumping back to point 2 teaming up. It is worthwhile building up a formal working relationship with a Centre who is able to conduct parts of the Open Water Course and run it as priced option on your core course structure. PADI invited a contingent of professional English speaking Italian Centres to the recent NEC Dive Show. These Italian Centres were looking to work with UK Centres for just this sort of tie in. Italy is one option there is, of course, the fantastic Isles of Malta and Gozo, the canary islands and the Azores to name but a few who operate all year round. All of which have excellent English and would be looking for a good reciprocal business partner. Don’t forget that resort markets have a similar need for a solid centre to send their DSD customers too in order to keep their interest alive ready for their next holiday.
All regional managers have links within the EMEA territory (and beyond) and will be able to help point you towards reputable 100% PADI Centres.