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Which brand is your choice?


FOR THE PROFESSIONAL, IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHAT WORKS FOR THEM Some choices simply seem odd to those of us looking at the world from a different vantage point. For example, I have never developed a taste for the ubiquitous Canadian morning eye-opener, a “double-double” from Tim Horton’s. For those readers unfamiliar with the Tim’s franchise — a nationwide operation — a “double-double” is a large coffee with two shots of cream and two spoons of sugar. And although I understand that denouncing Tim Horton’s coffee in a public forum, puts my Canadian citizenship in jeopardy, I can’t drink it… not even one mouthful. Sorry, Canada (and many franchises operating in a handful of North-eastern states), I find it awful. It isn’t to my taste. Obviously, since Tim’s is popular enough to be the brand of choice for Canadians from sea to sea to sea, there are more than a few people who’d disagree and I expect to get messages to that effect any day now! But isn’t it great to have freedom of choice? What brought this to mind is an active thread posted on an online dive industry job market. Someone posted a “my-coffee-is-better-than-your-coffee” type of message. Of course, they were comparing certifying agencies and not coffee shops, but the intent and audience reaction were about the same. Very few people agree on which of the roughly 120 dive agencies in the world, really is the best. No problem identifying the biggest, but biggest is not the best. At least not for everyone. The argument that a single option is fine, the status quo is king, and universal brand recognition trumps everything, is… well… a bandwagon fallacy. It’s the same as saying that because Tim Horton’s coffee is the most popular in Canada, ergo, it must be the best. It ain’t! I wouldn’t even try to guess the reasons why a dive shop owner on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, chooses to certify through XYZ agency, while his sister, an instructor in Come By Chance, Newfoundland, prefers to work with ABC. That’s entirely up to them. As long as they understand that what makes sense to them, may not work for the shop down the street or one situated on the opposite coast. And in fairness, they have to accept that choice is good. It’s what keeps the industry vibrant. Without choice, standards, teaching methods, the way we adapt to new technology would become stagnant. That would be a disaster. Change and innovation are good. And I think it’s much harder for the established brand leader to try different things than it is for a smaller operation with more of a ‘bespoke’ approach. But, that’s just an opinion. When I lived in Maine, I bought a bumper sticker from a beautiful little coffee shop in a nearby college town, which read: “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.” I have to bite my tongue sometimes, because I feel the same way about teaching for one or two of the major players in the dive industry. Truth is, I have strong views on the subject, but of course, I’m biased… and in the final draft, making a poor choice is anyone’s prerogative. I believe instead, it’s best to work to bring positive CHANGE to the dive industry, but respect another’s choice to stick… well, to stick in the mud. And if you ever find yourself driving through Toronto’s Little Italy district, there’s this little cafe… – Steve Lewis – #TheRAIDWay™