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Tips on Improving Your Swimming School Business
Swim Instructor Teaching
Happy Kids = Happy Parents
Running a profitable business is never easy and running a learn to swim center requires pleasing both kids and parents which is often a challenge. The following tips on improving your swimming school business are focused on improving the experience for both the children in the classes learning a new skill and the parents paying the fees and bringing the kids to class.
Having a great program requires several basic elements. It must be built on an excellent base of lessons and core class structure. Be comprised of excellent teachers that are not only great swimmers themselves, but fun and understand how to interact with younger kids. A great reputation for successful networking in the community to drive word of mouth marketing.
Always remember that your clients are the parents, but that their children are the ones that need to be learning and having fun in order for the parents to keep coming back and tell their friends at the neighborhood park, school, or soccer game that they have their kids learning at your swim school to develop future business from success stories.
Qualities of a Good Swimschool
What is the most important element of a great swim school
Have a Water Babies Course
Class Progression and Lesson Plans
The most important aspect of a swim school is the class progression of skills and the lesson plans that are associated with each level. It is critical as the school program director to make sure the classes fit in a chronological order of skills for the children.
One problem some programs have is limiting the number of total types of classes available. If the program breaks down the beginner and intermediate skill sets into several classes versus 2 or 3 different levels, it gives students and instructors more focus for each lesson. This will results in better core skill development by the students as they learn each element of a swimming stroke and best practices for skills such as floating, kicking, and breathing. Programs that try and cover too much material in one class level end up with too many students needing to repeat a level instead of progressing forward which can be detrimental to the students self esteem. This can also cause parents to rethink the classes in general instead of keeping there kids in classes year round as they move through the various classes. Lastly, it eliminates some of the problems of an instructors stuck with classes of students where some students are much better than others making it difficult to keep the activities at all of the kids skill level.
Benefits of more classes and precise lesson plans
- Students are focused on learning a handful of skills.
- Parents witness success and progression of child
- Kids feel proud of passing classes and moving to the next
- Success or failure is not subjective based on a teachers recommendations (the child can accomplish the task or not)
- The program earns more money per acquired student by keeping the children moving up the skills ladder with less kids falling out because of dislike of the program and parents thinking that they have at least learned enough to swim on their own.
Hiring Awesome Teachers
Every swim program is only as strong as the teachers, no swim school owner can do it all. While in many swim school businesses the owner is also an instructor for some classes and actively involved in the entire business it is absolutely necessary for growth of the company that quality teachers are employed. While it may seem like high school and college age students that are or former swim team members will be the best fit for the program that is generally only part of the component that a good swim school will want to hire.
Desirable qualities in swim teachers
- Outgoing and fun personality
- Ability to speak well with both parents and children
- Able to show up on time every day and ready to work with a smile
- Patience to work with struggling students
- Be assertive and demonstrate a strong understanding of the material
Word of Mouth Marketing
The biggest tip for marketing a swim school business to a local community is to develop a large network of happy parents that can promote the classes to friends with children. There is nothing stronger for businesses that cater to children than the power of a great recommendation from one mom or dad to another.
Parents discuss their kids and activities in several settings with other parents while the children are at the playground, the park, and other activities such as soccer games and social functions. If you hire awesome teachers that make swimming fun and the kids like to go to the class than parents are much more likely to make the recommendation, if the topic of learning to swim comes up. The same goes for negative reviews and it really boils down to what happens in the pool. A program can be very well run from a management perspective with an easy sign up process and well designed program and comfortable chairs for parents, if the kids do not have a great time learning in the water with their teachers the parents are not going to be part of the businesses marketing arm which is a huge problem that may be hard to overcome. Constantly consider new ways to help encourage parents to recommend the program. If you are looking for a tip to overcome previously negative sentiment in the community about the swim program think of incentives and rewards for people that refer friends to bring their children.
In the end parents have a lot of choices for how to spend their money for activities for their children. Do everything you can to be on the "have to do this" list for as many moms and dads in your community and you will find yourself eliminating all paid marketing activities as the business grows.
Indoor Swim School Layout
Swim School Design
The swimming pool layout may be difficult to change especially since many swim schools rent space at other pools for the programs to operate at. This does not limit you though from coming up with unique ways to improve the facility for the students and parents to enjoy their time.
- Parents will be sitting poolside and so make sure that you have a nice assortment of chairs and be ready to pull out additional seating if the pool area is crowded during the busier times of year. Parents don't want to have to stand around for the 30 minutes that they are waiting for the lesson to be over.
- If you operate in an outdoor pool have an undercover area in case the weather is not cooperating. There is inflatable bubble domes that can enclose an outdoor pool during the winter months that work very well at allowing an outdoor pool to be utilized for a swim school year round.
- Provide a set work station for each class with the appropriate number of pieces of equipment for the classes. This will eliminate teachers from borrowing things from other teachers during classes, wasting everyone's time.
- Have an on deck pool supervisor that is available to support teachers when a parents have questions during classes, run and grab a piece of equipment if something breaks or needed and during beginner classes be capable of hopping in the pool to help with a student that is crying or in general not having a good time with the classes which is common with very young kids.
Swim School Marketing
Proven marketing techniques for community swim school programs.
- Purchasing ads in local parenting magazines. These are generally provided free at places such as schools and other kid friendly locations. They can be a great way to reach parents throughout the city and very important to generate legitimacy as a program for a new swim school.
- Building an excellent web presence on Google Places
- Create a profile on Yelp
- Contact local private and public schools to find out what avenues they have available for informing the parents about opportunities for kids. Some will have a simple bulletin board that activities can be posted on, while others may have regular newsletters that go out and for a small fee and ad can be purchased, while others may prohibit marketing of any kind.
- Church's that cater to families and other similar organizations can be additional locations that may offer a way to market the program.