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Running a dive shop remotely?

Discussion in 'Business of Diving Institute' started by Pablo Honey, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. Pablo Honey

    Pablo Honey Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Baraboo, WI
    Maybe a noob question - I'm considering buying a dive shop in a different (TBD) part of the world from where I live.
    My sense is that I'd have to spend at least a year at the dive shop location to get it up and running, but could theoretically find a competent and trustworthy manager for the place and then run the high-level aspects of the business remotely, maybe going onsite a couple of times a year.

    Has anyone on here done this? How was/is it for you?
    Darcy Kieran likes this.
  2. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    I know a few who have, some successful, one not so much.
    Darcy Kieran and Pablo Honey like this.
  3. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    To me, as a dive operation owner and consumer, the best part of being an owner is mingling with the customers. It’s also the worse part. As a consumer, I want access to the decision maker, as I am special.
  4. Darcy Kieran

    Darcy Kieran Business of Diving Institute

    I tried that. It will work when you have that professional and trustworthy manager but... Will s/he stay around forever? Staff turnover is high in the dive industry. When your trustworthy right-hand person leaves, you'll have a hard time finding and/or training a replacement, remotely.

    Another serious issue: Theft in local businesses is mainly done by staff. If you are managing it remotely, it may take you a long time before finding out it's happening.

    Yet... Remote management of local stores happen in many other industries, right? Correct! But... 1) They have clear operating processes in place with lots of checks & balances; 2) I don't know of any other 'local business' as complicated as a local dive shop (as I outlined here: Running a Local Dive Shop: It’s managing 6 businesses in 1. How can you do that? ).

    It's not that you want to manage 'one' business remotely... You want to manage 6 businesses in one, remotely.

    That being said, as Pete The Chairman said... It has been done. Good luck!
    Pablo Honey likes this.
  5. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    I couple years ago I spent time at a dive resort in a remote area, and I got to know the staff pretty well. The place had been highly recommended to me by someone who knew it before it had changed from an on-site owner to a remote owner. In fact, the new owner was twice removed--he did not live anywhere near the island, and the true manager lived on the other side of it, rarely coming by the shop. The true manager on site was a great guy, but he had problems that were beyond his power to fix. Most glaring was their boat situation--they had two relics that were not up to the task of serving the needs of the divers there. The badly needed a new one. The owner, however, was only concerned about about one thing--maximizing the difference between revenues and expenses. He had therefore denied their repeated requests to improve the situation--too expensive.

    The second problem was pay. The on site manager was also working two other part time jobs so that he could feed his family. He was doing an outstanding job, and he was an incredibly talented young man, especially considering he had never been to high school, but think how much better he could do if he could dedicate himself to managing the resort. If that was true of the manager's pay, what would be true of the rest of the staff?

    The previous owner had a close physical connection to the resort. The staff loved him. He could see first hand what issues were, and he could take reasonable steps to solve problems.

    I think the problem of an absentee owner is the potential to look only at the balance sheet and not see for yourself what is actually happening and what needs to be done to make things better.
    Pablo Honey and Darcy Kieran like this.
  6. giffenk

    giffenk Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: toronto
    This is a recipe for disaster. And nothing specific to the scuba diving industry.

    As hinted above, in the service industry the customer experience is what we all pay for. We are happy to pay (extra even) for great experiences. We will quickly bash substandard experiences and may even expect compensation for our less than stellar experience.

    How do you plan to guarantee consistent good to great customer experience? If you are not there then you have no idea what REALLY happens. How are you going to control your clients experience? The most important aspect is dealing with situations when things go wrong. Things going well to great is the expected norm.

    I spent last week at a very large convention hotel. My room AC was broken. Housekeeping brought me a broken fan. I pointed out both the AC and the fan were broken. They agreed, shrugged their shoulders and asked me what I thought they should do (as they had reached the limits of their decision making). I told them the least they could do was walk down the street and buy me new fan. I could do that. They were not able to. Do you think I would ever recommend that hotel?

    As a consumer focused on the experience I am always looking for small owner operated businesses (regardless of the industry).
    RyanT, Pablo Honey and Darcy Kieran like this.
  7. Pablo Honey

    Pablo Honey Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Baraboo, WI
    Thanks Darcy! I had actually read your article on 6 businesses at once before you posted it here and found it to be highly valuable. I'll take another read through it though since I wasn't considering the remote vs. local question at the time.
    Darcy Kieran likes this.
  8. Rred

    Rred Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: In a safe place
    That's not remote management, that's absentee management and that pretty much always ends in financial ruin. If you want to invest in something that generates passive income, put your money in the market or in real estate--if you can find a trustworthy property manager. Or almost anything else that has a track record higher than dive shops do. Dive shops are not known to be a great way to reliably make money.
    Darcy Kieran likes this.
  9. RyanT

    RyanT ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Maryland
    Q: How do you make a small fortune in the dive industry? A: Start with a large one.
    Altamira likes this.
  10. Altamira

    Altamira ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Canyon Lake, TX
    Not understanding why you would want to enter into such a dubious money making enterprise! Any business adventure is dicey at best. You do not have to look very hard to see businesses in virtually every corner of the market that pop up and disappear almost as quickly. Such mis-adventures are usually the result of not knowing the market, poorly selected/trained employees, and/or over estimating one's own management/business skills. Trying to run a volatile business like a dive shop from long distance is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes it only takes one irate customer getting a really crappy experience from your employees, and not having you on-site to immediately fix the problem, to cripple or destroy your business. It can be as simple as management or employees failing to apologize, and make amends, for screw ups that can severely damage your reputation. Any business owner will tell you that finding and keeping outstanding employees that can help you grow your business is hard under the best of circumstances, and those employees are like winning lottery tickets. If you are a business venture with a long history of outstanding performance and reviews, potential customers like me may give you a pass for an occasional bad review, but a bad review, or series of reviews on a new business is not going to get my business if there are other options. If long range money making is your goal, invest in a high quality index fund.
    Darcy Kieran and RyanT like this.

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