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Best way to become an SSI OW instructor from PADI Rescue diver

Discussion in 'SSI: Scuba Schools International' started by Seta, Oct 4, 2020.

  1. Zef

    Zef Divemaster

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    As others have stated, to teach as an SSI instructor one must be affiliated with a shop. My understanding is that rule was introduced around the same time that Mares purchased SSI. There are stories out there about students being dropped from classes who did not purchase gear from the shop, and instructors who have been dropped from the shop who did not push for gear sales. Not every SSI instructor or shop is predatory like that but the association between Mares, SSI, the shops, and the instructors seems like a complete conflict of interest to me (and others).

    There are other certifying organizations that offer more flexibility for instructors from the standpoint of teaching independently (NAUI, PADI, etc.).

    -Z
     
    Bob DBF, Blueringocto_73 and abnfrog like this.
  2. oly5050user

    oly5050user Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Westchester NY
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    SSI from the beginning required instructor to be tied to SSI facility to teach, always was very assertive to produce gear sales, hence why a regulator was called a air delivery system and so on, to differentiate from other terms. Modeled very closely to NASDS , same business plan. No independent instructors so that facility had total control over them “ teach and create sales for the facility or do not teach at all”. I was a former NASDS instructor/ turned SSI, now PADI. Have made much more money with PADI. No agency is perfect, but for the investment of time, money, PADI has made sense for me. Been an instructor for 50 years, PADI since 1976.
     
    Blueringocto_73 likes this.
  3. abnfrog

    abnfrog Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: great white north
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    rethink the being tied to a dive shop and not being able to teach independently .......its a BIG handicap
     
    Blueringocto_73 likes this.
  4. rick00001967

    rick00001967 Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: canada
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    as was already pointed out, ssi has always required the instr to affiliate with a shop and believes it helps promote gear sales which in the long run is the only way a shop can survive.
    as far as students being dropped from classes if they do not buy gear.....i personally have never heard any stories like that and would have to believe this is either a misunderstanding or if it has happened it would certainly be extremely rare.
    dropping an instr however i could see happening. honestly, i have little to do with any sales at our shop. i am an instr not a sales person. this was discussed when i was hired. i do not get any commission. maybe if i did it would be different.
    that said, of course i always have discussions with students during classes about which gear may be appropriate for them moving forward. but i don't shove it down their throat. when it comes time to complete the sale, i hand them over to the manager or the owner.
    lastly.....to be clear, there is no association between mares and ssi. this has been discussed many times. both ssi and mares are owned by the same parent company. head sports. many people think mares owns ssi or visa versa.
     
    Blueringocto_73 likes this.
  5. Zef

    Zef Divemaster

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    SSI is owned by Mares. Go ahead and recommend to your students to buy other brands and see how long you last as an instructor with a given shop or under the SSI umbrella.

    Most instructors have to pay for their training and certification as an instructor. Most instructors have to pay for their own professional organization dues and liability insurance. The fact that one is limited in teaching only if one is affiliated with a shop presents a state of inflexibility and potential conflict of interest as a professional.

    The purpose of a shop, and arguable any commercial enterprise is to make money for its stakeholders, in the case of a shop that would be the owners and anyone who has invested in them.

    The purpose of a SCUBA instructor should be to produce quality divers through good instruction/teaching. Providing a broad based perspective on gear is in the students best interest. Even the slightest of thought by the instructor regarding whether the gear they are recommending is in line with what the shop is selling presents a conflict of interest...the fact that a recommendation may fall in line with what a shop is selling is more coincidental and does not excuse the conflict of interest.

    The fact that you have not personally hear, seen, or read about students being dropped from SSI courses for not buying gear or for not buying gear from the shop the Instructor is affiliated with does not mean it has not/does not happen.

    The fact that SSI and their affiliated shops are using their instruction based programs to push gear sales on students who are not yet in a position to know what they want and make sound choices for how they spend their hard earn money is problematic, pitiful, and possibly predatory (alliteration was not intended).

    -Z
     
  6. rick00001967

    rick00001967 Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: canada
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    1 - sorry but this factually incorrect. again, both mares and ssi are independent companies both owned by head sports.
    our shop is not, never has been, and most likely never will be a mares dealer.
    2 - 100% agree
    3 - that is why i did say that "if" this has happened, i believe it is extremely rare
     
  7. TravisD

    TravisD Assistant Instructor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Westminster, MD
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    One effect of being tied to a shop may be insurance - from what I've seen, I'm paying a bunch less in insurance since we're covered by a shop group policy, instead of having to get my own. Depending on the number of certs/year it may or may not be a factor for you.

    I guess I'm what I'd consider to be a "casual" instructor. I do it because it's a lot more fun that the day job, and for the most part I'm glad that I have a shop involved to deal with the overhead part - loaner/rental gear, sales of student personal gear, paying the pools we use, negotiating insurance, etc. I can focus on scheduling the students in way that's mutually agreeable, and spending time on actually teaching. I'm not trying to make a living off of it - right now I'm happy if it breaks even and buys me some new gear each year. I'm not spending a bunch of extra time out of my day-job day hustling for business.

    As far as the Mares/SSI thing, I've never hear even rumor (from the shop side) of any such pressure. We sell a little Mares stuff, but our primary lines are the Huish things (Atomic/Zeagle/Bare/Oceanic/etc). There's some expectation that we'll be using what we sell during classes, but it's not a hard and fast rule, and there are discounts offered to make that easier, and use of shop gear too. I don't have to play salesman though, but in the event that I bring in a student on my own, I make a little more off the class for my trouble.

    Big picture, the whole "tied to a shop" experience is going to depend on what shop you're working with - I don't think this will be different for any agency where you're in a situation where you're dependent on a shop for *something*. I'm sure that there are independent instructors out there who have been able to flip the script and be the ones bringing the business to the shop, but that's not for everyone. I don't want the hassle or liability of having student loaner gear, or having to put the student thru the hassle and expense of going somewhere to rent it, and get air fills and such. All of that gets baked into the course cost since it's the shop selling it. There was another discussion here recently about whether to charge friends and family or not for instruction. I can waive my fees if I want, but the shop is still going to charge their part which covers gear/air/pool/course-material/etc - as well as the perqs afforded to any assistants that might be helping me. Takes the pressure off of me to do anything for 'free' even if I am foregoing my income on the class, if that makes sense.
     
  8. rick00001967

    rick00001967 Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: canada
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    sounds like we work at the same shop. haha except for the part about discounting to friends and family. i offered to bring in a good friend and his son to do the ow class. i offered to waive my wages expecting to get a discount for my friend. i was told there would be no discount given. whaaaaat ?? my friend politely told them to go f**k themselves.
     
    TravisD likes this.
  9. abnfrog

    abnfrog Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: great white north
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    rick / the fact that you were not able to teach you friend at the shop (or on your own ) if you actually told the shop you were going to......... should say something about that shop.......i owned another lds and had the same thing happend , the instructor said he would teach them for free so we discounted his course WAY down......as HE could actually teach them off property anyway , so it was NOT an issue
     
    rick00001967 likes this.
  10. meesier42

    meesier42 Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Kennewick, WA
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    Wrong- SSI and Mares are owned by Head Sports. operated by completely separate companies.

    SSI instructors pay their own dues, carry their own liability, the fact that I am affiliated with a brick and mortar shop means I don't have to hire my own payment processing firm, don't have to own my own compressor, own my own rental gear (much less insurance and maintenance of it). I can still teach when I want, where I want, I still recruit my own clients. The support the shop offers me is worth at least as much support I return to the shop

    I don't understand the reasoning behind this statement, as an instructor I am a commercial enterprise, I am just the only stakeholder in my business. My investment in the shop is to help them generate revenue as I generate my own as stated above.

    To be honest, this is where you and I really disagree. As an instructor my first priority is to train safe divers. Safe divers well... dive! Divers that invest in gear purchases and are very familiar with their gear because it's theirs and they use it. Divers that dive frequently are safer divers. This is a lesson I learned working as a DM for a few years, the clients that I was worried about were the ones that every single thing they had on was brand new or rentals. I recommend gear purchases that suit the intended use and often steer people away from gear they don't need. Our shop sell all but one major brand, so I don't have any need to align my recommendations with the shop. I would be doing the shop and myself a disservice if I recommended clients to purchase anywhere other than our shop.

    This statement is a reflection of poor dive shop management, not a reflection on SSI.

    Simply not true, I am not a salesman, I don't pretend to be, the shop has a staff that focuses on sales and I often find myself referring my own clients to them. I will encourage them to purchase gear that is inline with their goals, their levels and future. I will help them understand how I chose the gear that I wear and why. I help them understand the value (and cost) in ownership. As an instructor I generate value for myself by good customer service, if my clients look back at the interaction and believe they were taken advantage of they will not return to me for further instruction nor will they return to the shop for future sales, they walk away knowledgeable and see value in their investment they will return.
     
    TravisD likes this.

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