This statement from DEMA, the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, is mostly relevant to US readers but there are also some useful ideas for all dive businesses:
With the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and the latest information that the effects of this National Emergency could continue into the summer, it is critical for dive retailers and all small dive businesses to stay in front of their customers and to utilize all the resources available to them.
DEMA suggests several resources from the federal government and from DEMA for Members to consider during this crisis.
STAY HEALTHY AND SAFE
Most important is the need for all to remain safe and follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). These guidelines can be found on DEMA’s COVID-19 update page.
SBA DISASTER LOANS
The President has ordered that low-interest loans be made available to small businesses effective immediately from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in states affected by COVID-19. Congress has increased funding levels for these SBA Disaster Loans to $50 billion.
As of this writing, dive businesses in these states are eligible for these SBA Disaster Loans – businesses in the remaining states will be eligible when the Governor requests access to the SBA Disaster Loan funds. If your state has not yet requested access, you can send an email to the Governor requesting access by clicking here and asking the Governor to immediately request access to SBA Disaster Loans. An example email will populate the page for you, or you can include your own email verbiage.
Where SBA disaster loans are available, apply by calling the SBA at 1-800-659-2955, or start the application process here. To find and access to your local SBA resources, click here. Don’t wait – these resources are finite and may take time to process.
POOLS, EQUIPMENT AND TEACHING FACILITIES
The federal government is recommending that people gather in groups of fewer than 10. If you are running classes, keep your classes small and utilize online instructional resources when available. You can also host online events for your customers to let them know more about diving, about upcoming sales, and more.
If possible, consider teaching CPR/first aid to keep customers coming back to your store. Classes can be kept small, and your training organization’s proper cleaning guidelines can help protect you and your customers.
When possible, consider local diving – this is healthy exercise, and it means being out in the fresh air while using proper social distancing and following appropriate safety guidelines. Keep your customers active using local underwater treasure or Easter egg hunts, dives from local charters, and other ideas that allow divers to participate until they can travel more extensively.
Keep your dive equipment clean. Divers Alert Network has issued guidelines for sanitizing dive equipment, which can be found here.
With schools closing, pool facilities for teaching scuba may become scarce. Some stores with pools are willing to share. You can find contact information for other nearby retail dive stores at GoDiveNow.com. Now is a good time for all of us to work together.
It is critical to continue being visible and relevant to your customers and communicate about your operation, talk about diving, and keep customers and local divers engaged. Time after time, those businesses that continue promoting their operations and services come out better and faster following a crisis when they have continued marketing.
DEMA Member businesses can keep their continuous marketing efforts up and keep their cost down by utilizing the FREE professionally designed marketing materials from the Go Dive Now Member Toolkit.
USE INEXPENSIVE, TARGETED SOCIAL MEDIA ADS FOR OUTREACH
DEMA Member Retail Stores can stay in front of potential customers by receiving a FREE chart of local zip codes which contain the greatest number of target households with the highest per capita income who are good candidates for interest in learning or continuing to dive. These zip codes are ideal for targeting on social media, using Go Dive Now materials, free to DEMA Members.
DEMA will continue to provide access to guidance as more resources become available. If you have questions, please contact email@example.com.