How to Develop A Good Relationship with Your Dive Store (Part 2)

Last month, we gave you some common-sense (at least from a store owner’s perspective) ideas on how to develop a good relationship with your local dive shop. This month, we pick up where we left off:

SHOW A LITTLE LOYALTY: We know you’re going to shop at other stores. But see if you can make one store your “home” store. I used to have a customer who always was asking for little favors. Could he have the Early Purchase price for a trip even though he was paying the day before? Could he get a better discount? Could he get his Reef Saver card at no charge? Could we special-order a BC for his wife and then, would we please take it back because she didn’t like the color? And then he wondered why we were upset the day he came in and asked us to re-rig his regulator for a drysuit hose. “When did you get a drysuit?,” we asked with trepidation. “Oh, I found one over at XYZ shop. And I got a BC for my wife as well.” Wonderful. Sure made me glad for all the times we bent over to help him out.

WE LOVE YOU, BUT YOU’RE NOT OUR ONLY CUSTOMER:
By this, I don’t mean that we’re going to replace you. But what I mean is don’t lose sight of the fact that you may have a need and there are maybe 10 or 12 other people who also need something at the same time and we’re trying to juggle everyone and make you all happy. This doesn’t mean we may not try to do some triage and deal with the most pressing problems first. And that may mean you get pushed back a bit in the stack. (By the same token, at some point you need to be told when you’ll be dealt with. There’s a difference between “I’ll be with you in a few minutes” and being ignored totally.) But usually we’re dealing with limited staff (and sometimes it’s a one-man-band) and maximum problems and we’re doing the best we can.

PLEASE LISTEN TO DIRECTIONS: At Reef Seekers, we used to have a requirement that when you rented from us, you hooked up the gear in the store to make sure everything worked before you walked out. We even had you sign a rental form where you signed a statement to that effect. Of course, there would inevitably come a day when we’d be out on the boat, someone would take rental out and there was something wrong. They’d come to me to complain. The first thing I’d ask was, “Did you assemble the gear in the shop to see if there were any problems?” And the answer usually was some form of, “No, I didn’t have time.” Most of us in this industry are pretty good at what we do. Most of us see the same problems over and over again. If we’re asking you to do something that strikes you as mundane or useless, there may be a legitimate reason behind it. Give us the benefit of a doubt.

DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE: I always loved people who waited until the last minute to either (1) get gear serviced, (2) make a purchase,  (3) order prescription lenses, or get something else done that was time-dependent. And when you walk in an hour before you’re supposed to leave for the airport and we can’t get your reg serviced before we close, somehow this is MY fault. Guess what? No it isn’t. We’re happy to bend over backwards and will frequently go out of our way to accommodate you, but you need to give us an opportunity to do so.

THE CUSTOMER ISN’T ALWAYS RIGHT: Frequently, the customer is wrong. In fact, the more wrong they are, the more belligerent they are about it. You’re human, and so are we. Everyone screws up. And hopefully, we’ll cop to mistakes when we make them and do whatever we can to make things right. But please don’t come in with a holier-than-thou attitude. You act reasonably and so will we.

DON’T LIE TO US: My favorite was always when someone who didn’t know me would walk into the store, come up to me, and announce, “I’ve a very good friend of the owner’s and he said you’ll take care of me.” I would say, “Oh really???” Or “I just bought this a month ago and it’s broken already” when our Point-of-Sale system shows you bought it two years ago. A little honesty goes a long way.

We retailers want your business. (We NEED your business because we can’t exist without you.) We want you to be happy. WE want to be happy. We want to make a buck and take you diving (and we get to go diving too). We’re happy when our customers are happy. But work with us a little. Give us the benefit of a doubt. Show a little love. We think you’ll find you’ll get a lot back in return, far beyond the value of whatever business transactions you make.

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