• Welcome to ScubaBoard


  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Need for standard business practices

Discussion in 'Business of Diving Institute' started by Bruno Genovese, Aug 19, 2017.

  1. Bruno Genovese

    Bruno Genovese Angel Fish

    36
    13
    8
    After a couple of decades of not diving I returned to the sport this year and I'm working my way towards instructor level with the plan of making it part of my "retirement" work.

    This allowed me the double perspective as both a customer and a future business owner. Such perspectives allowed me to notice some troubling business practices that can only hurt the business.

    It seems to me that improved standardization of practices is necessary for the diving industry, but the real question is whether there is an industry-wide body that can help define those standards.

    Below I list some of those troubling business practices:

    1) Diving insurance - more fluff to fleece customers than substance? When I started diving again I researched the various diving insurances available. I discovered that my regular insurance from my job had excellent coverage for travel and diving illnesses and accidents, even including medivac and hyperbaric chamber coverage. So I didn't really need separate diving insurance, especially after discovering that most travel and diving insurances are really just "supplemental" coverage to your regular insurance. But during the research I saw many positive comments about DAN's excellent coordination of doctors and handling of the paperwork, and I ended up buying DAN World coverage. The first surprise was to discover that DAN does not have local numbers!!! This is a problem because in many countries where you are likely to dive the locals handling your emergency are probably cash-strapped and are very unlikely to make an international call to DAN. The lack of local numbers is insane in this days of cheap voice over IP... there are many vendors that make it trivially cheap. For example, I have local numbers on various countries that ring on my phone and/or computer for about $5/month per number and free incoming calls to my computer through DIDww.com. The second and even more disturbing surprise was on a recent diving trip to Colombia where I was told by the dive shop that DAN did not work at all there (even though the city had excellent diving infrastructure and even a hyperbaric chamber). Good thing I didn't need it. But these problems raise some serious doubts about the true value of diving insurance outside of the US and Europe.

    2) Dive shops vary widely in quality of service, safety, practices and even reliability of gear. I have encountered both good and bad dive shops, some that want to make a quick buck and spend as little time and effort teaching their students, often skipping required portions of the training or failing to supply enough instructors and divemasters for a given group (my wife almost gave up on diving because of how horrible were her first 2 dive shop) while others are excellent. Similarly, I found myself diving with both good equipment as well as horribly maintained gear that leaked air and failed to operate properly. And those things weren't from "any shop", these were all certified PADI shops, and it didn't happen from lack of research... I typically spend at least a couple weeks filtering through the list of available dive shops at a destination to pick those that "appear" to be the better ones. Heck, I've even seen a so-called 5-star PADI dive shop that I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole (how did they get a 5-star rating is anyone's guess, or a sign that there's a flaw in that rating). Sites like Trip Advisor help to identify the truly good or truly bad dive shops - if you read all the comments - but what seems to be the real problem is the lack of a solid dive shop rating system independent of their individual rating agencies.

    3) Finally, and the most disturbing, I noticed that while the certification organizations do an excellent job of describing and teaching safe practices, they don't go far enough to ensure that their certified dive shops follow those practices. The most glaring failure is about "diving sick". I believe all certification agencies clearly identify in their training that it is dangerous to dive sick, especially with a cold. But they don't seem to live nor enforce what they preach. Again I mention PADI, as that is the one I know best, but I suspect this is an industry wide symptom. I've talked to multiple instructors who were pressured by their dive shops to teach when they were sick - a clear violation of the safety rules - and on occasions where I tried to reschedule because I was sick (even when calling more than 24 hours in advance) the standard reply was "sorry we don't reschedule, our policy is that if you want to dive on a different day you will have to pay again". In a sport as expensive as diving, such policies create undue pressure on divers to take unnecessary risks with their health. This is one area where industry standards are needed, with with stiff penalties for dive shops that don't follow them. And it doesn't have to be terribly onerous to the dive shops, for example something like a standard 10% reschedule fee when sick for customers and some kind of mandatory "sick income insurance" for instructors and divemasters would help massively improve divers safety.

    Those were just examples. I am sure there are many more. While each of us can individually address some of these matters and make our own businesses successful, the long term health of the diving industry depends on coming up with solutions and mechanisms to address matters in a standardized and enforceable way.

    My ultimate question is: Is there an industry-wide body to establish such business standards? If there isn't one yet, what would be the best way to ensure that one is created?
     
    Darcy Kieran likes this.
  2. BRT

    BRT Giant Squid

    10,849
    6,760
    113
    Do you think all businesses should run on standardized practices? I kind of like the free market approach.
     
    cool_hardware52 likes this.
  3. Bruno Genovese

    Bruno Genovese Angel Fish

    36
    13
    8
    Not all businesses, not even "most" businesses. But when safety matters and dishonest practices have developed, then the need for standarization or at the very least a clear and effective rating system become important.
     
  4. oly5050user

    oly5050user Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Westchester NY
    3,938
    739
    113
     
  5. oly5050user

    oly5050user Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Westchester NY
    3,938
    739
    113
    Everyone can complain about paying for insurance..they are sure glad it is there if and when they need it..

    PADI or any other training agency has nothing to do on how a business is managed or any policy choices management has for business.

    Instructor or divemaster has choice to dive if sick or not dive. It is the business managements choice to keep them employed. Why cannot they dive? Stayed out late and got drunk? Have a hangover? Who here has gone to work when feeling ill? I am sure most if not all of us have gone to work when sick.

    For a customer to cancel a dive due to feeling ill that is their choice. Why should the business take a loss if customer feels ill or stayed out late maybe drinking and has a hangover? Business may have turned away customers due to this person reserving spot on boat.
     
    Sam Miller III and northernone like this.
  6. Bruno Genovese

    Bruno Genovese Angel Fish

    36
    13
    8
    This post is a perfect example of why standards are desirable, it demonstrates how the current lack promotes behaviors 100% opposite to what PADI and other certifying organizations teach and claim to promote - like safe practices.

    But perhaps enforcement of standards aren't needed, perhaps all is needed is an effective rating system that clearly exposes which dive shops live what they preach in training and which don't... if customers saw which shops follow all of the rules of certifying agencies (like not pressuring instructors, divemasters and divers to dive with a cold ir other illnesses - through monetary or other means) then it would be easy for divers concerned with safety to avoid the undesirable outfits.

    That way market pressure would make "safe and honorable" practices more profitable and thus more common.

    The easiest way to achieve such a rating system would be to have a web-based questionary made available to divers by the certifying agency after every dive (or at least after every course). But even if the agencies don't do it, it is probably just a matter of time before someone makes such a rating system not only available (some primitive ones already exist, like tripadvisor ratings and comments) but aldo detailed and easily accessed.
     
  7. elbig

    elbig Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: West Palm Beach,Florida
    246
    105
    43
    There already are many ways for people to write reviews such as here at scubaboard or TripAdvisor as you have mentioned. What specifically are promoting? Is this market research for something you would like to launch or are you just making a general observation? I for one don't really see the need. I don't see a compelling problem to be solved.
     
    northernone likes this.
  8. Bruno Genovese

    Bruno Genovese Angel Fish

    36
    13
    8
    General purpose reviews like scubaboard and TripAdvisor are "something" and I use them myself as a first step when I plan dive travel (followed by emails with questions and phone calls).

    The problem with those reviews is that they typically only give an overall 1-5 star rating and you have to read 50-100 reviews to get a good sense of which dive centers are good/bad or simply match what you are looking for. Also, it is very obvious that some dive centers fake-pump positive votes to make themselves look better.

    A rating for different categories (with the overall rating being a calculated total) would make it much easier for the average person to choose a dive center that fits, and as customers would naturally flow to those that give the best service it would make giving good service financially attractive for the centers themselves.

    This is just a quick guess at possible 1-5 star categories, but it should give you an idea of what I'm talking about:

    - Center gear is in good condition and well maintained.
    - Prices charged were as advertised, vs there were "extra" charges not mentioned.
    - Dive was as expected.
    - Center showed attention to safety.
    - Good for entry level divers.
    - Good for Open Water / Advanced Open Water divers.
    - Specialties taught well.
    - Quality of Divemaster / Instructor training.
    - Center cancelled my reservation or I had to change dive site or plan in order to dive. (measured as % of Yes versus total reviews).
    - Center allowed rescheduling if sick, charging a moderate (i.e.: 10-25%) rescheduling fee. (measured as % of Yes versus total reviews).
    ... and so on.
     
    Darcy Kieran likes this.
  9. elbig

    elbig Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: West Palm Beach,Florida
    246
    105
    43
    Is this something you plan to launch? I am not so sure of an overall score since it's hard to weigh the relative value of each component. I do read the reviews and much of what you describe is included although subjective not as a numerical value.
     
  10. Bruno Genovese

    Bruno Genovese Angel Fish

    36
    13
    8
    Elbig, I hope to NOT have to do this myself, but if nobody does it I probably will eventually include it in something I am working on.
     

Share This Page