So for 10 years since I am running the DIVE PROFESSIONALS network, I recurringly read and hear first hand the same old story coming from the exploration sector:
Some of our colleagues at a certain point were so unhappy with a price hike by PADI, they actually created a group on facebook called "Unite Against PADI price increase"
Although I personally don't endorse teaching diving from pre-mashed systems created by companies who sell 'diving education' for profit, and package their knowledge like McDonalds happy meals; just to be able to sell another little card.
That is a personal choice I as an educator/teacher take, frag me if I will ever bring another cent to nameless investors or hedge funds; whose only concern is balance sheets and how they can put another dollar in ;)
The inherent point is the following:
Whoever makes such a statement as above is actually pretty much short sighted.
Explain this: If a PADI open water course run by professionals costed upwards of $450 in 1988, how in the friggin hell can it cost $200 today?
There's this nifty invention in economics (that no one likes for obvious reasons) called:
"A general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money."
This is generally a % per year depending from country to country and from year to year to be added to your pricing. I guess it just does not apply to diving operations in Bubble Land...
So please you who call yourselves professional divers (which does not directly mean professional business caretaker because you have been, or bombarded yourself owner/manager of a dive center) try to apply some economics one on one when you make pricing, based onto facts like: location, overheads, salaries, return of investment, depreciation of equipment, etc...
You'll be doing yourself a favor and more importantly the industry at large, as your shortsightedness in business making is first of all ruining your own business (a lot of operations cannot sustain longer than 3 years).
But also the quality level of the industry and the end product to our customers.
SITA UK has some sound advice for you here in the picture below, I suggest you take it next time you want to complain.
(please note this is certainly not an endorsement for SITA on my part)
© THEOCEANROAMER via THEDIVEPROFESSIONAL
I can only speak for myself and my own motivations. I live in a border town that happens to have a pretty nice lake. I fell in love with diving the very first time I ever tried it, back in 1985. I was NOT introduced to it by a professional. I was introduced to it by an advanced-certified diver who had spare gear and zero experience teaching it. Of course, I could have been severely injured or even have died. Fortunately, it was a great experience and I was hooked immediately. I dove with the guy occasionally over the years and did resort courses. It wasn't until 2000 that I finally got certified. Eventually I built up a desire to share this experience with other people--but I wanted to do it the right way. So, I worked hard to become an instructor. At no point have I ever desired to do this in order to make a living. I have a well-paying day job and I don't actively seek students. If the conversation comes up, I mention that I'm an instructor and over the course of a typical season I get enough students to keep my skills up. Between the instructor fees, insurance, maintenance costs, and various permits I have to cover, I rarely break even. And, for now, that's okay for me. Because that's NOT why I do it. I totally get my demographic here on the border. Most don't make that much money, but I do what I can to cost isn't a roadblock to people learning how to scuba dive. With all the costs steadily going up, it's certainly possible that I'll reach a point where I can't afford to keep doing this--there's only so much I could increase what I DO charge before nobody will feel the course is worth it to them. Now, once I retire from my day job, I will have to rethink my ambition to continue teaching since I won't have the disposable cash to throw into this. But different motivations for instructors will drive different levels of tolerance for cost changes.
Valid argument(s) as you are not running it from a diving center with staff, cars, boats, compressors etc...
In the end everyone is free to choose his pricing. My argument is that most people base their price on what the market is charging rather than calculating it through.
But my only advice would be once you go and do this full time and are dependent on it, then it is better to do less quantity and more quality to ensure long term economic sustainability.
Interesting insight and share!
Making a full time living is a tough endeavour in diving
I totally agree and cannot tell you how many times I have seen an Open Water course advertised at $200 USD. Most dive shops and dive instructors do not have a profit problem they have a sales problem. I talk to shops and instructors about this all of the time. If a shop were to double their course prices and lost half of their customers they would be more profitable because they will not need to but as much training materials and supplies etc. I understand that it is harder in real life than that but the diver that selects where to get a certification based on price alone will not be loyal and will likely shop on price for their next certification also.
Most dive shop employees do not have the skills to sell or handle objections. Many shops staff are basically cashiers or in customer service. Professionals need to invest in becoming a sales organization and scuba is only the product they sell. When I talk to shops or any business owner they often can not articulate what makes them better or why someone should get certified with them. Being able to sell on value and inform divers why they should shop with them will build a relationship and have a customer for life.
Each shop has something that makes them unique or can build a package that allows them to sell on value. It is not just features but value. For example... Maybe they have had their own pool. a new diver that does not mean anything. but if they inform the diver that "because we have our own pool we can schedule a class whenever is convenient for you", every new diver that gets certified with us gets unlimited air fills for a year, every diver when they complete their OW will get an extra dive with a DM or instructor 1:1 and go to 60ft.
They also need to be able to handle the price objection. Every employee should have 2 or 3 answers when someone objects to the price question. If your class is $500 and the student says "I saw an advertisement for the shop down the street and it was only $200. If the employee can explain the difference they will leave without signing up. But if they can say.." I know I saw that too. However, ut that price is only the class they are not including training materials, gear rental, entry fees, fills and the C-card. with us, you pay this one price and price and everything is taken care of" now the value is a pain-free experience and no surprise hidden costs.
The biggest problem with being the low-cost leader on scuba classes is the instructor knows for any Open Water course with classroom, confined water, and open water the instructor to make it worth their time they need to minimize their time. Then divers do not feel like they were special and will not come back.