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Handling LDS fee?

Discussion in 'Advanced Scuba' started by elitegoodguy, Mar 21, 2021.

  1. Eric Sedletzky

    Eric Sedletzky Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California
    4,542
    5,071
    All this is great stuff.

    Just to compare what I do to what dive shops are dealing with:
    I’m in the sign business.
    I’m an actual “sign painter” doing hand lettered signs, one of the very few left.
    I hate the way digital technology has taken over visual communications. I think computers have dropped a lot of the sign industry into mediocrity and sterilized a lot of the creativity that was once the competitive edge. Now since everybody is pretty much picking the same fonts out of the same sign programs it boils down to price. There are still a few good designers out there but by-in-large the industry has been taken over by non artists that are just looking for business opportunities. “Any idiot can do it” (with a few computer skills) has never been a truer statement than in the sign business now.
    There was a time when I almost dried up and blew away due to the shift in medium. Getting mad and cursing the new technology of computers wasn’t doing any good. Instead, I had to look at what I could do with hand painted and hand crafted signs that the digital world could not do. Turns out metal leaf, gold leaf, pinstriping, artistic flair, longevity of paint, overall one-off uniqueness and artsiness, were all things that computer cut vinyl and digital prints can’t do. So this is what I focussed on.
    I am busier than hell now.
    I don’t dare compete with digital technology trying to duplicate perfect block lettering for some basic sign where they only want to pay $150.
    Instead I hand design and hand paint the sign with all sorts of cool stuff and flair and guarantee it for at least 10 years, but it’s $600. Some people see the value, but it’s enough people to keep this one old school dinosaur guy busy full time.

    Dive shops need to think hard about what they CAN do that the internet CAN’T do.
    Sitting behind the counter with your arms crossed and a scowl on your face pissed off at the world because people buy stuff on the internet isn’t going to magically turn things around.
    Just sitting there and hoping sell gear at 100% markup to some clueless person who doesn’t shop online isn’t going to work anymore.
    The deal has to be offered in some other form since shops are bound on pricing. I saw free fill cards, service deals, free t-shirts, etc. these are good ideas.
    But more important is the human interaction and friendliness, these are things that the internet can’t provide.
    Also things like:
    A shop dive club
    Shop sponsored fun dives.
    Buddy connections
    An atmosphere of community.
    More physical involvement in actual diving.
    So many owners I’ve met haven’t been in the water in years.
    If people have a reason to come into your shop other than just to buy gear then gear sales will actually become a by product of people coming in.

    Also, shops need to think more about being cutting edge on gear. The wall of jacket BC’s and split fins is getting old. Some shops I’ve been into diversified into other water sports like surfing. kite boarding, kayaking, freediving, etc.
    It used to be that dive equipment was sold at regular sporting goods stores. When they became exclusive I don’t know, it was before my time. Perhaps they need to go back to being included in a general sporting goods store?

    I think the old model of the dive shop is at a low point right now. The future will dictate who survives and adapts, and who dries up and blows away.
    The creative ones will survive.
     
  2. Degenerate

    Degenerate DIR Practitioner

    522
    414
    I don't mind paying MSRP or even slightly above to support a local dealer if I feel that I actually benefit from having them around.
    That is not the case for me here as my LDS can't really do anything for me in terms of gear, service or fills.
    Also the fact that they charge insane amounts for air fills makes me stay far away from there and will happily advise others to do the same.
     
  3. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Kelp forest dweller Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    1,178
    1,588
    Sorry if this is too far off-topic, but I'm curious as to what constitutes an insane amount. From my limited understanding, many dive shops are filling tanks more or less at cost, and sometimes teaching courses even slightly below cost. These are essentially loss leaders to get people in the door to buy gear. But if they can't sell gear for much of a profit, then they have to make that profit elsewhere. Since Amazon can't fill your tank, that might be a more sensible way for them to make money.
     
  4. MrVegas

    MrVegas Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Ohio
    246
    150
    I always thought shops probably made most of their money on classes, and maybe the first set of gear.
     
  5. runsongas

    runsongas Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    4,532
    2,154
    open water classes barely break even or even are loss leaders, the expectation from the classical LDS model is to turn a profit selling gear to newly certified students. internet sales broke that model. but raising class costs is only likely to decrease the number of certifications and dig the hole deeper even faster for the LDS.
     
    Esprise Me likes this.
  6. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    7,116
    4,183
    There are two competing shops that work this way in my town. No surprise, they're both by far the largest dive shops in the area. Both sell scuba stuff and (oddly) snow ski stuff. One sells firearms, fishing, and camping stuff in addition to scuba and ski. Both are constantly full of customers. On sale days, there's a line an hour or more long to get in. I've been to one of the two during covid and they were STILL busy.

    The only sporting goods chain I can think of that's still around is Dicks. Afaik they don't do scuba.
     
    Lostdiver71 and Eric Sedletzky like this.
  7. formernuke

    formernuke ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: New England
    2,977
    2,695
    Someone mentioned that overhead is the same for online vs LDS because both need space electricity etc. Not true, I can sell my house here and buy twice the house in other parts of the country for the selling price.

    With MAP and price setting levels the field a little bit. How does a LDS stay in business. Look for the long term customer not the short term sale. My favorite up here (I have I few a deal with).

    Will take the time when asked gear advice to match best gear with future time.

    Trys and sometimes beats online pricing, especially once they realized when I call and ask pricing if they give me with tax I show up with exact amount in cash (figured that out first time)

    The shop is almost like a hangout for us costumers.

    Will throw little freebies in, they pay for the pool no matter how many are there. So if there is space (total occupancy limit by the pool) costumers can get in practice without charge.

    Be willing to send costumers elsewhere if what they have isn't right instead of pushing a sale.

    Advice on sites, gear etc.

    Resource for local dive buddies.

    In short costumer service.
     
    Lostdiver71 and Cdncoldwater like this.
  8. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Kelp forest dweller Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    1,178
    1,588
    So what's the solution? Should we be prepared to pay more for fills?
     
  9. _Ralph

    _Ralph Contributor

    680
    318

    Reread what I posted.... many large online stores are or have started from someone’s physical LDS that has figured out how to eCommerce.... and not just point to a manufacturers website... or the horrible ‘call for details’ about absolutely nothing, or online inquery/submission form that doesn’t work ...


    _R
     
  10. Superlyte27

    Superlyte27 Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Florida
    4,160
    3,317
    If everyone plays by the same set of rules (MAP) there’s a way to do everything right and still stay in business.
     

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