Some sample strategies for Dive Centres

If you have already completed the 'define your customers' worksheet, and the 'define your services' worksheet, and the 'define your sources' worksheet, then you have enough information to put together a simple strategy for your business.

Why do we need a Strategy?

Every well run business will have a core business strategy - a method or system or ethos that drives the company and the way it operates. If you work for Walmart the core business strategy is low cost, but if you work for BMW you know that the core business strategy is low cost. Picking the right strategy is very important, but then, just as important is sticking to the strategy, especially in the months when it does not seem to be working.

Our Hint: Start by being honest and realistic about where you are today, and then work on refining your strategy, rather than throwing everything away and embarking on a new direction.

Examples of Strategies for Dive Centres

Strategy Description Advantages Pitfalls
Lowest Cost Supplier Be the cheapest in your market. If this is the case then you are aiming for volume, but you have to make sure you run a low cost service to back it up. Can lead to high volumes, but you may find that your returning customer volumes are low.    You can end up constantly chasing volume, with none of your customers helping you find real profits. It may be better to use the as a short term tactic for your quietest period. You can end up looking 'cheap and nasty' if you cannot generate sufficient profit to reinvest in your equipment and or staff. Difficult to sustain as there is always somebody else who will try to be cheaper.
High Quality Service / High Price Aim to be known as giving the best service in your market, and charge a higher price for it.  The customers who are attracted to you will pay the best prices, giving you high profit per person, but on a small volume.  Expect to invest heavily initially to buy good quality equipment, facilities, staff, marketing materials. Can take several years to build the name and reputation.
Local Experts Be regarded as 'the experts' for your particular diving area. Show that you and your team know more about the wrecks / marine life / sharks / corals / geology / currents etc in the area where you dive. Will build trust in your customers and they will pay above average to learn from you. A good long term strategy for building support in the community for your business.    Can take some time to build and then maintain the reputation. This is based on the people in your team - can you keep the team together?
Local Training Leader You are the dive centre who stand out as having the best width and depth of training options in your market. You may do this by the training facilities you have, by the instructional team, or by the standards you set for your training (or by all three) Will provide a sound foundation for a long term stable strategy. Effective delivery will lead to recommendations and repeat / referral business   Can take some time to build and then maintain the reputation. If all you do is training dives, instructors may not stay long if they are looking for variety.
Local Technical Diving Leader You are the people with all the toys, air mixes, rebreathers etc  This is similar to a high quality service strategy - you are looking for a more specialised customer, who wants something outside the normal... and is prepared to pay for it. Higher than normal prices are ofset by a lower volume of very demanding clients.  

Look at the 3 worksheets you have completed, and what sort of business you want to be, and you can come up with a statement like:

  • Example 1 - A dive centre near Scapa Flow or Truk Lagoon "Our Strategy is to become the local expert of the wrecks in the area. Our staff will know more, we will have more reference materials, and we will invest in special equipment to make it easier for customers to explore these wrecks."
  • Example 2 - A beach-front dive centre in a popular tourist destination (not renown for the quality of diving). "Our Strategy is to become the service leader in our market, giving the best overall customer service to our customers. Our staff will be more approachable, helpful and service focussed than others in the area."

Tips on implementing your Strategy

For every part of the statement you have put together above, you now have empowered yourself - you can make important decisions about what you are going to offer and how.

Here are some Marketing Hints to help you use the results.

  • Communicate this to your team! make sure every one in your business knows where you are taking them.
  • To be really successful, your strategy must be to 'be the best xxx' in your market. When you hold a leadership position you can start to dominate your market, and build a long term secure position.
  • Be the best at one thing, but be good in every other area. e.g. If you are the Service leader do not let your training standards slip.
  • Profitability of your strategy must be achievable. While it may be attractive to become the 'quality' leader in your market, are there enough people who will pay your prices?
  • There is no single 'ideal strategy'. It is up to you and depends on volumes, local diving, capabilities, and what you want to achieve. Two dive centres side by side may have very different strategies and both still be sucessful.
  • In your strategy, try not to be "me too" and just copy some competitor .. look for the gaps, what are they not offering ?
  • Be realistic in how much you can change.
  • Review regularly .. is the strategy working ? Are you attracting more divers with the profile and wallet that you want?

What is the next step in Building your Marketing Plan

If you have now completed the customer profile worksheet and the service profile worksheet you have probably already got some ideas about where you could grow your business.

The final step is to complete the style of business worksheet and come up with a set of statements that define what you are. When you have all four worksheets completed it is time to work out your plans to achieve the growth or change in focus that you want.