8 Months Per Year of Customer Abandonment
My favorite restaurant is absolutely amazing. The food is incredible and the service is the best around.
Their hours are a bit funky though.
In November they close for a couple of weeks to go on a tasting tour in alternating locations in the US.
From before Christmas through the New Year it’s pretty hit or miss because so many staff members are taking vacations.
In January and February, their entire team takes a trip to Europe, visiting Germany, France, and England.
March brings a trip to Chicago, then visits to both Ohio and New Jersey (not exactly known for their cuisine).
In April it’s a trip to Seattle.
In June they visit southern California.
In between each of these trips, they need a bit of time to recover from the trip, then some time to prepare for the next one.
So they’re really only open full time from July through October.
They’re effectively open four months out of the year.
To be honest, it’s tough to remember my favorite restaurant when their hours are hit or miss for eight months out of the year. It’s frustrating to show up, thinking they might be open only to realize they aren’t. Or if I am able to catch them between trips, they’re not usually on top of their game since they’re either recovering from a trip or planning the next.
I travel for work too and have no one to cover for me, so I can relate. Travel means prepping for a trip, doing everything you need to do on your trip all day during your trip, keeping up with everything going on back home at night, then dealing with post-trip work afterwards.
You might be thinking like I do and are wondering why they don’t just hire more staff, at least seasonally (if 2/3 of the year can be considered a season). I’m honestly not sure why, especially when I see on local forums and review sites that other customers are getting frustrated with the inconsistent hours and service. But man, we sure do love them when they’re around and firing on all cylinders.
In case you haven’t deciphered my analogy yet, I’m not actually talking about my favorite restaurant.
Most people would stop going to a restaurant that operated like the one I’ve been talking about.
I’m talking about dive gear manufacturers. The trips are the various trade shows that most manufacturers attend. The local forums are dive forums, unattended Facebook Pages, and info-at email addresses that go unanswered.
It’s all good though, dive gear manufacturers don’t need to have a relationship with the people who use their gear, it’s the responsibility of the retailer to maintain that relationship, right?
Luckily no divers have weird equipment questions or warranty issues for two thirds of the year. Yeah, that seems likely.
If you think I’m being dramatic, I can speak to personal experience.
I’m trying to launch a new project at work, but it requires purchasing some underwater imaging equipment. Since the equipment expense is coming out of my own pocket, I’d rather not pay full retail so I’ve been contacting various manufacturers to inquire about keyperson pricing and some questions answered. It’s been an absurdly slow process with some manufacturers, which is why after several months of working on assembling my rig, I’m still not done.
I’m not mad about it because I understand the hectic schedule of dive shows. I go to a few a year and know I should be going to more of them so I can better connect with our customers. They’re stressful and draining and I’m not even setting up a booth. So I’m a very patient person.
But does the typical dive consumer understand? Or do they just feel like the manufacturer of the gear they bought is ignoring them?
The crazy thing is there are relatively easy solutions. Hire some more people. If that’s too expensive, do what several manufacturers do and contract with our team to monitor for brand mentions, answer the easy questions, and escalate the hard ones to a designated person within the company.
Or if you really have zero room in the budget, do what I do: stock up on your favorite energy drinks, take care of customers after you’re done with industry events (well after midnight), and figure out how to operate on less than six hours of sleep for a week. It’s not fun, but it’s good service.
This is just one of many issues that plagues diving. And it doesn’t need to be an issue when there are easy, affordable options available.