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Ever thought of starting your own dive centre?

26 Feb 2018 ="post-tag" > Written by  ="post-tag" >
Ever thought of starting your own dive centre?



At some point, all divers have dreamt about owning their own dive centre on some beautiful tropical island somewhere – after all it will give you the opportunity to both have your own business and be able to dive every day, right?

The fantasy, unfortunately, is nothing like the real thing – usually you’ll be so busy with the general running of the place that diving takes a back seat at first, and before you know it you haven’t dived in an age and are not likely to anytime soon!

So what should we consider before taking the plunge and investing in your own scuba business?



Great divers do not always make great dive centre owners

 It’s very common for someone with a lot of experience as a dive instructor to think the next logical step for them is their own place somewhere, changing the lives of new divers every day. In reality, while the customer service skills learnt and honed whilst working as an instructor is certainly beneficial in owning a business, being a business owner requires an entirely different set of skills – so make an effort to take courses on technical and mechanical subjects, they will come in very handy and for easy repairs and maintenance you can rely less others, thus keeping costs down.


Get help from the right people

It’s a good idea to visit every dive expo you can to talk to business owners, attend as many relevant seminars on the subject as is humanly possible, then of course speak to your accountant, bank manager and lawyer to ensure that all legalities are taken care of before it’s too late.



Make a detailed business plan

If you are not familiar with a business plan, then find a course that’ll teach you.  A bad business plan can easily cause the failure of the new business, so make sure it includes:

 - Your chosen facilities

 - Professional instruction and teaching operations

 - Advertising, marketing and public relations for your business

 - Local demographics

 - Initial investment outlay and projections for future income

If you’re new to this, then any portion of the plan that you do not fully understand is an area you need additional training before starting to develop your business - if you do not understand the marketing functions, then you need a marketing course for example. Expect to spend at least a few months putting together your business plan.

The advantages of a new dive shop vs. buying an existing business

Are you planning on starting afresh or will you buy an existing dive centre? Purchasing an existing Dive Business generally means the initial risks are less and the start-up time is nearly eliminated, as you can usually retain the dive shop’s customers, suppliers and volume of sales. However one of the main disadvantages of buying an existing business can be that you inherit the reputation the original business had with its customers and also suppliers.



Choose your business name carefully

Firstly, and before you get all those fancy t-shirts printed, verify the right to use the name and register it! If your choice of name and location may cause confusion with an existing dive operation, it could land you in a trouble so take the time to do some research first - take note all the dive operations around the world that stole the ‘Big Blue Diving’ name! Try to be unique, after all you don’t want to be confused with a lesser dive outfit with a similar name…

Be aware of the amount of time it takes to start a dive centre

It of course depends on your schedule, energy and resources, but expect to be able to open between nine months and a year after deciding to start if you’re lucky, and don’t forget to figure in the amount of time you’ll be working without an income whilst getting everything started.

The Importance of a great website.

A professional and informative scuba diving website can be an extremely affordable way to attract new customers online.

Website sales and enquiries in general are a low cost method to find new customers, and they’re ‘open’ 24 hours a day, all year round. Much thought needs to be put into its provision and design, and how easy it is to navigate for those with no previous diving experience at all – I know from personal experience that a bad website can easily put someone off diving with you. Also make sure the spelling and grammar is correct for those pedants that are so common in the dive industry!




How much money will I need?

Dive centres require a lot of capital to start up, and it’s vital to consider how many divers you feel you will want as customers a day, and the costs that will be incurred to service them. For example, how will the divers get to the dive sites? Will you buy your own boat, or rent space on someone else’s? How about tanks and a means to refill them? Fins, BCDs and wetsuits come in different sizes so you will need an assortment too – expect to be paying around $1000 per person for the necessary equipment they’ll be wearing, and then there are maintenance costs to take into consideration.

Your training organization can help get good rates for dive liability insurance, but it is always an upfront premium payment. Do not forget your general business insurance and business permits too!

What about the competition?

You will always find that where there’s good diving, there are dive centres. It’s vital to take a look at what the dive centres close to your project are offering, what is successful and what they appear to be doing wrong. The best laid plans can sometimes be thrown up in the air by simple problems that were overlooked, so by having an in-depth look at how the competition operate will hopefully give you a few ideas on how to be a success from the very first day.



So, your dream job will certainly be exciting and incredibly challenging, and to be a success with your own dive centre depends on many factors. You’ll need a lot of luck, but with some appropriate and intensive research, forward planning and sensible business skills, the realistic chances of rising above your rivals and the competition can become a reality.

Just don’t start one right next door to us, okay?

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