Here is some Business of Diving Institute recommendations on digital tools to help you manage various parts of your operations in the scuba diving industry. Why are we bothering specifying that they are ‘digital’ tools? No reason. Pretty much everything is digital nowadays.

We only recommend the digital tools we use.

1. POS, eCommerce & BOOKING Management Systems

Selecting a proper POS & eCommerce platform is a crucial step in launching and managing your local dive shop or dive resort. These systems play an essential role in numerous parts of your operations, including customer satisfaction, staff productivity, and quality assurance.

Processing the Sale of Goods & Services And Managing Inventory

If you sell physical goods (like scuba gear) online, you want an in-store point-of-sale (POS) system fully integrated with your eCommerce website. You must maintain proper inventory levels and be able to verify and ship all orders quickly.

Finding such a system is a challenge. Numerous outstanding eCommerce platforms are inadequate for in-store POS operations (like Magento). And many other ones are excellent for inventory management and POS operations but are useless at providing a user-friendly eCommerce website. One outstanding ERP and POS system is E21 by TGI.

POS refers to the system used at physical locations to sell goods and services and process transaction data. That’s why it’s called point-of-sale (POS). You need that. But you also need to plan how much you should order for the upcoming season, send purchase orders, receive goods, and more. This is what an ERP system does. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning.

E21 is an impressive ERP system, and it offers an add-on POS system, although the POS system is not explained on their website. E21 is particularly useful when managing more than one retail location.

In most cases, you can sync two or three different systems, but this can become complicated for a small business without a full-blown IT department. It’s much preferable to pick a system that provides excellent support for both in-store and online sales, like Lightspeed.

Contact us for help in selecting and implementing proper ERP, POS & eCommerce systems.

But hold on! This is only one of the six businesses you operate in your dive center.

Other Operations to Manage in Your Dive Center

On top of selling scuba gear, you sell and manage bookings for day trips and fly-away dive travel. You operate a rental department and a repair & maintenance department. You also maintain a school selling scuba diving courses.

This makes it even more challenging to find an all-in-one system for everything you sell and manage in your dive center. It’s one particularity of the dive industry. It’s straightforward to sell services on any POS and eCommerce system. You define a product that has no inventory, and you sell it. Easy. But the problem is managing the delivery of the service and keeping class and dive rosters up to date.

If you ‘Google it,’ you’ll find numerous suppliers advertising a system that can do everything a scuba diving center needs. But after testing many of them, we haven’t found one, yet, that offers a best-in-class system for all of your six business units.

It is such an important topic that we will come back to it when discussing the management of a local dive shop and operating a dive resort.

2. Your Online Presence: The 3 Big Ones

Your online presence starts with a website. It’s common practice to select a web hosting provider and have this supplier handle your eMail and DNS servers as well. We believe it’s not an optimal approach.

We recommend setting up these three essential services with three different suppliers. It provides you with numerous advantages. For instance, if you need to change where your website is hosted, you can move it with no impact whatsoever on your eMail delivery. And you can set the new DNS servers entry for the new hosting server without having to wait for that also to be transferred.

It also allows you to select the best-in-class for each one of these three services. Otherwise, you end up with a supplier very good at one of these services but only ‘so-so’ on the rest. Why would you be satisfied with that?

After numerous tests and trials, these are the three big ones we recommend

  1. Registrar, Domain Name Registration & Domain Name Servers (DNS): Namecheap. Not only their platform is easy to use; it provides everything you may need one day or another.
  2. Website Hosting: Siteground. This is where your website content resides. This is where you install WordPress, for instance.
  3. eMail System Provider: Google’s G-Suite for Business. It’s hard to beat! Their system is reliable. And with G-Suite, it’s effortless to manage everything in one place: eMail, Calendar, and Contacts. They also provide apps for iPhone and Android. Why not keep things simple? However, stay away from Google Drive. It’s good at giving headaches. We recommend Dropbox for file sharing and management (see below).

3. Other Digital Tools for Your Website

Getting a domain name, setting the domain name servers, and picking an efficient and fast hosting provider is the easy part. The biggest challenge is creating all the content you need for this website to be valuable to you and your clients. But before you get into content marketing, you need a few more digital tools.

  • Security. If you do not take care of it right away, you will be hacked; you’ll host malware; or many other similar nightmares. To start, we recommend Sucuri, including their firewall. If appropriately set, Sucuri will both protect your investment in a website and improve loading speed for your clients – which is something Google takes into consideration nowadays when determining who shows up atop of the search results.
  • Privacy & Cookies. This is a huge issue nowadays. Your website can be visited by anybody around the world. The European Union, in particular, brought a new level of complexity in managing privacy and cookies. Copying the ‘privacy policy’ from another website no longer cuts it (and it’s always been against copyright laws). We suggest you use a service like iubenda to produce and keep up to date your privacy policy and cookie policy.

If you’re using WordPress as a platform for your website, we have two more recommendations for you.

  • Website Speed & Optimizing Images. As mentioned above, Google values page loading speed. And images can slow things down. To optimize pictures on WordPress, we recommend ShortPixel.
  • Themes & Visual Page Builder. There are millions of WordPress themes out there. A theme provides you with basic formatting and design for your website. Instead of shopping endlessly for a theme that fits the personality of your brand, we recommend using Elegant Themes’ Divi Visual Page Builder. Your web designer will be able to do anything with Divi.

4. Other Digital Management & Marketing Tools

What else can we use to be more efficient and productive?

File Storage & Sharing

As mentioned above, we recommend G-Suite for eMail, Calendar, and Contacts. But we suggest you stay away from Google Drive. It works in ways that probably only Google engineering staff understands.

Instead, we recommend Dropbox for file sharing (with your staff or with clients) and to keep your files in-sync on different computers. Dropbox is an additional cost if you’re already paying for Google G-Suite, but it’s well worth it.

eMail Campaigns

Even though everybody is gaga over social media, email marketing still works, especially for your most committed client-divers.

We recommend Mailchimp for numerous reasons. It has the most user-friendly interface. Even your mother-in-law could use it! It integrates with pretty much every other application you use or may use one day.

Furthermore, MailChimp is a digital marketing tool you can use for more than just sending an eMail newsletter. You can use MailChimp to manage social media campaigns and landing page campaigns – and even to send postcards in the mail.

5. What’s Next?

If you didn’t find the management or digital tool you were looking for, we could help you select and implement the most appropriate one for you. We’re here to help. Contact us.

Looking For More Personalized Help?

For more extensive one-on-one support, please consult the section on the Business of Diving Institute Products & Services.