HOW TO REPLY TO A DIVER'S ENQUIRY AND INSTANTLY SIGN THEM UP
Hopefully, you're getting bombarded with loads of emails and messages from new customers that want to come to your dive centre. That's the dream! A steady stream of enquiries that you can convert into paying customers.
What's your success rate? When you reply to a diver's enquiry, how many people actually sign up after getting in touch?
Currently, I'm sitting at 24% based on email interactions over the last 12 months (I've tracked 192 email enquiries and signed up 47 divers from those). I have no idea if that's good or bad - there's no specific diving industry data for this. There's plenty of research into general email marketing that suggests that 2% to 5% is seen as a good email conversion rate, but this is more for someone taking specific action in an email (like clicking a link) rather than actually purchasing something.
So, hopefully I'm doing something right - I've definitely been fine tuning my skills in this area over the last 10 years or so, tweaking the way I do things in order to get the best result.
Here's an actual enquiry I received through the contact form on The Fifth Point website last weekend.
I'm looking to do a full open water course with dry suit in quite an intensive period, a week?
Can you give me a call please to see what we can do!
I've dived 4 times before, but just discovery courses abroad, looking forward to getting into the North sea!
In this article I'm going to show you how to reply to a diver's enquiry and instantly sign them up, because that's exactly what happened with Chris!
MAKE YOUR REPLY TO A DIVER'S ENQUIRY PERSONAL
I think the main reason I got Chris on board was the fact that I made my reply personal. Putting in that little bit extra effort when you reply to a diver's enquiry really pays off.
I actually conducted a little experiment where I secret shopped 10 dive centre from all over the world and analysed their responses. Although the replies were packed full of useful information and sounded really friendly, the one major thing lacking was that personal touch.
When you get an enquiry like this, it’s super tempting to reply back with a bog-standard template email - especially when it's the tenth enquiry about the open water course that day (among all the others you've had to write!)
Thumping out the same thing over and over on the keyboard gets tedious for sure, but your customer can smell a template email a mile off if you don't use it in the right way.
You definitely should have templates ready to make your job easier, but every time you reply to a diver's enquiry, you must edit the template.
Firstly, you need to make sure that you've addressed their specific questions (those specifics might be missing from your template), secondly you need to make sure they can't tell it's a template! Make sure all the formatting is standardised (no changes in font or text size) so it doesn't look like a copy and paste hack job.
A happy compromise would be to start the email with a personal greeting, perhaps saying how awesome it is that they’re interested in learning to dive. Then you could drop in the template response with all the info about prices, how many sessions blah blah blah. Lastly, you can answer their specific questions and sign off with a personal flourish - I love to tell people what the dive conditions are like at the minute and what marine life I saw on my last dive. It whets their appetite for their training and dives to come.
MY EMAIL REPLY TO THIS DIVER'S ENQUIRY
This is the reply I would send back to Chris. I didn't actually reply by email (I'll explain why later on), but this is what I would have sent.
And in case you're reading this on a phone and that image is teeny tiny:
It's awesome that you're thinking about learning to dive!
Where did you do your discovery dives? Did you see anything cool??
Now that you've got some experience behind you, you're going to rock your Open Water Course, and I can't wait to show you what UK diving has to offer.
We can certainly help you with an intensive course, and we can do some drysuit training too.
Did you have any dates in mind? Let me know and I'll check our availability.
To give you an idea, an intensive Open Water Course with Dry Suit Specialty usually takes 5 to 6 days to complete.
It costs £895.00 and includes:
- Self-study diving theory using PADI elearning– an awesome interactive manual where you’ll watch videos, read sections, answer questions etc with an exam at the end. Check out this little video.
- At least 5 confined water sessions in our onsite training tank – everyone learns at their own pace, and that’s fine by us! If you need a bit more time in the water, no worries. We can jump in again!
- 1 session at Astley High Swimming Pool
- 5 dives at open water – we'll visit some awesome dive sites along the Northumberland coast
- Full kit rental for the duration of the course
- The PADI AWARE Specialty Course where you’ll learn about the pressures faced by our underwater environments and how you can use your new scuba diving skills to help protect them
- A donation on your behalf to PADI AWARE and a special limited-edition certification card upon successful completion of the course
Just as a heads up, you’ll be asked to fill in some paperwork including a medical questionnaire. You can have a good look through it here. Basically, all answers need to be “no”. If there’s any “yes” answers, you’ll need to print the form and take it to your GP to get signed off as fit for diving before you hit the water. Give me a shout if you need any help with that.
Wow… that’s a lot of information! If you’ve got any questions, please fire away.
It's a great time to learn to dive right now. I was out at St Abbs the other day and I saw octopus, nudibranchs, seals, dolphins... it was epic!
Let me know some dates and we'll get the ball rolling 😀
Hopefully, I’ve answered all his questions and I’ve given him everything he needs to know about his training. I’m not convinced that’s an optimal email length, there’s quite a lot of reading to do and definitely lots of information to digest.
But the main thing is I’ve tried to make it as personal as possible:
- I referenced things he mentioned in his original email which shows I took the time to read and understand his message fully.
- I’ve asked pesonalised questions that will hopefully get the conversation going (for example I asked what he saw on his try dives - I’m genuinely interested to know where he’s been and what he’s seen and I think that is more likely to get a back and forth email chain started compared to a boring admin type question)
- I checked and edited my template response to make sure it was more specific to his training schedule
- I signed off with a little story about a dive I did and repeated a call to action (let me know some dates and we can get the ball rolling)
My tone is friendly and optimistic (according to my Grammarly extension that also checks my spelling). I tend to write the way I speak so my style is very conversational. I also can’t stop myself dropping in emojis, it’s a habit, but hey - we’re not exactly in a corporate setting so I think I can get away with it! 😉
You should find the email style that best fits you. It’ll make writing emails easier and more fun (is it wrong I quite enjoy doing emails!?) To be most effective and personal, you’ll need to find the right tone. Emails from dive centres should be friendly and fun but not unprofessional. They should be informative but not corporate and stuffy. There’s definitely a balance.
The downside of writing in your own tone is that not everyone will read it the same way as you intend. You’re probably not reading this blog post with a geordie accent, and you won’t have the same inflection and emphasis as the voice in my head. My inside voice and your inside voice will be totally different.
This can lead to some issues… If what you write is taken the wrong way because someone reads it differently, you could turn off your potential customer. Been there, done that!
MY ACTUAL REPLY TO THIS DIVER'S ENQUIRY
Projecting tone in an email is extremely difficult and that’s why I didn’t reply to Chris’ message with an email.
I sent him a video message - you can watch it here and see the full formatting how Chris would have seen it, but the message itself is below.
It took me about 12 minutes to write that email reply with the help of my template. I had to try hard to make it personal and re-read it a million times to make sure it made sense and covered everything.
It took less than a minute and a half to record that video. I hit the main points of specific information Chris needed and if there’s any other detail I can follow up with that later. In Chris’ case, I knew that he’d already downloaded our Open Water Info Pack so he had all the “template” info stuff already.
There can be no misunderstandings in my tone because he’s hearing my voice for real. My personality comes across and I can show him round the dive centre too.
I’ll happily do ten of those replies in a row, it’s soo much easier to make it personal in a fraction of the time and what do you reckon your potential customers will think when you reach out with a video message made just for them?
HOW DIVER'S REACT TO PERSONALISATION
Well, here's Chris' response to my personal video message reply:
This is how run a business!
Incredibly impressive response, I'll be with you shortly on the dates I need to speak to the lady of the house.
All of my weekends are blocked booked out until Mid August, when I move to Scotland! So it would be a week on July, I can do any week but next, if that fits in your availability maybe you can suggest which weeks in July could work for you?
I get that quite a lot - where the customer is really taken back by the way I reply. I think it's just... nice! I do several videos like this every day, I can walk around the centre and include team members (and dogs) who might be pottering around. No one video is the same. Whatever ends up in the content when I reply to a diver's enquiry, it gives them a really clear feel about who we are and what we do.
After a few messages back and forth with suggested schedules (and checking with the boss), Chris was signed up. He even added the PADI Advanced Course on top of his Open Water and Drysuit training.
If you try this personalised approach, it will lead to more sign-ups. Give it a go!
LOOK OUTSIDE OF DIVING TO FIND NEW WAYS OF DOING THINGS
I want my dive centre to be like no other. I want our customer service to be phenomenal. I want my divers to be excited to come here, and when they're diving, I want them to have the time of their lives.
This video messaging tool is called Bonjoro. I stumbled across it at like, 2 in the morning on a night I couldn't sleep (curse of the entrepreneur!) I go through phases where I get obsessed with learning new business stuff. I stay up late reading business books, listening to business podcasts, going down rabbit holes of businessy stuff on YouTube.
Sometimes I hit gold, and when I found Bonjoro, it was one of the best discoveries I've ever had!
I think a lot of dive pros look for business inspiration solely within the dive industry.
As an experiment, go and look at a few random dive centre websites. How many refer to themselves as the "premier" dive centre in that region??
This always makes me laugh because when I first built The Fifth Point website, I had no idea what to write. So I looked at a few successful dive centre websites for inspiration. They were all "premier". So I copied because I thought that was the kind of language I needed to use. Now every time I see a premier dive centre I have a giggle to myself. I reckon there's so many premiers, because we all copy each other!
We need to take the blinkers off and look to other industries for new ideas. I found Bonjoro because I was learning about successful e-commerce websites and how they treat their customers after they've made a purchase. They were using Bonjoro to send a personal message to say "thanks for your order". It hooked in their new customer and made it more likely that they would return for repeat business.
Finding little nuggets like this and working out how they can be applied to The Fifth Point (and The Honest Diver) has been incredibly important for our success. Using techniques, tools and processes that aren't already used in the diving industry helps us stand out - especially when they're used to improve our customer service.
WHY AM I SHARING THESE SECRETS OF HOW TO REPLY TO DIVER'S ENQUIRIES?
Some of my peers think I'm mental to share my "secrets". Now you know one of my customer service tricks - am I worried that you're going to steal my customers??
You are not my competition. And that's not me being big-headed (although you might have read it that way because it's hard to get my tone across in writing 😉 hah)
I have carved a very particular niche at The Fifth Point - we're the dive centre that does all the environmental stuff. There's not many out there that have made this the core of their business.
Because of this, we attract a certain type of customer within this niche. The dive centre down the road is not our competition because they have their own niche. There's one that has adaptive diving expertise (and to who I referred a customer last night because I thought they would get better, more specialised training than we could provide), there's one that specialises in creating a diving community and who rocks dive trips, there's one that does primarily tech and rebreather training and many, many more.
Each centre will attract their own type of customer, and believe me - there are enough divers for everyone!
The Dive Pro Hub is about sharing tips and techniques for everyone to try. If we're working together to grow the diving industry, only good things will happen for individuals and their centres.
So, go and sign up for a free trial of Bonjoro, send your first personal reply to a diver's enquiry and let me know what your customers think!