Back to basics for better business
By John Kinsella
Ross Neill has trained a PADI® Pro or two. He’s a five time Platinum Course Director, a 300 Level Elite Instructor has more than 20 years experience teaching divers. (Check out The Bearer of Dreams blog on padi.com for some fascinating insights into his career.) He’s also now a Regional Training Consultant at PADI Americas covering the Southern California and Central Pacific regions. When he talks about the business of instructor development, it’s a good idea to pay attention.
Neill is open with his advice. He likes to “dive it forward” and has no qualms sharing his top tricks and techniques. When he speaks about pro-level customer acquisition, his peers perch on tiptoe and lean in; a bit like a group of investors eavesdropping on Warren Buffet. Everyone’s expecting something big, a game changer, a life altering revelation.
What they get, at least what the dive pros get, is a reminder of the basics. If you want more divemaster and instructor candidates the key is customer service.
Start with superior phone etiquette. You’d think that something as simple as answering the phone should be a given. Surprisingly, it’s not, and there is nothing more certain to annoy people than getting the run around when they call your dive shop. The ideal is a prompt, professional and personable pick up. If that’s not possible and a caller has to leave a voice message, it’s absolutely imperative that you respond within three or four hours; immediately is better. If you don’t, rest assured that your potential customer is now doing business with someone else. The same principle applies to email or any other form of contact, respond quickly, ask for a phone number and make the call.
Once you have future PADI Pros on the line make sure that they get the information they need. All staff, everyone, should be trained to sell pro-level courses. One of the best ways to do this is to create a pitch book and/or a frequently asked questions sheet that staff can use face to face or over the phone. Every person working in the store should be equipped to answer questions about the complete line-up of pro-level programs, overcome objections and find out precisely what the customer wants.
Finally, get a comprehensive information package into your potential customers’ hands (There’s a plethora of professional promotional publications you can use, add to and customize available on the PADI Pros’ Site and you’ll find PADI Regional Headquarters happy to help too.) and follow up once they’ve had some time (not too long) to review it with, you guessed it, a phone call.