Expand Your Aquatic Offerings
Unlike many other forms of exercise and recreation, swimming is an activity that is available to a wide variety of people — young and old, men and women, athletic and out of shape. Capitalize on your wide-ranging audience by offering a broad array of swim lessons and aquatic activities. In addition to enhancing water safety, swimming education will boost your bottom line.
“Swimming lessons are number one for revenue generation and our number-one priority in terms of service to the community,” says Kathy Whitman, aquatics manager for Seattle Parks and Recreation. In 2014, Seattle’s aquatic facilities collectively brought in $4.8 million, with swim lessons accounting for half that amount, according to Recreation Management.
While young children, ages 3 to 5, are the typical target audience for swim lessons, don’t stop with the kids. Consider teaming with a local health care facility to offer therapeutic water activities (for stroke survivors, for example); reaching out to your older members with water aerobics; and enticing hardcore “weekend warriors” with in-pool personal training. Be sure to cordon off one area of your pool for such activities, and offer them during non-peak hours so you don’t limit the use of the pool for recreational swimmers.
Make a Splash
For regular patrons, coming day after day to swim in a rectangular pool can get boring — particularly when there are colossal water parks beckoning, with their lazy rivers and sky-high twisting slides.
While it’s probably not realistic for you to install water rides or wave pools, there are more modest features you can add, at relatively low cost, to keep your pool exciting for parents and their kids. Consider adding splash play areas, small waterfalls, cannons, and bucket games — all of which can be created without major renovations and using limited space. Whether it’s a fire station-themed play area or a nautical splash zone with cannons, kids will love having the control to spray their friends — and any adults who unwittingly get in the line of fire.
Offer Great Eats
As long as pools have been around, concessions stands have been there to peddle popsicles and hotdogs. But today’s pool goers are choosier in what they eat and feed their kids. Capitalize on this demand, and increase your profits, by featuring a snack bar with healthy options. Offer salads, smoothies, and grilled chicken in addition to old favorites like burgers, French fries, and sno-cones. And situate your grill out in the open (rather than hidden away in back) so that pool-goers can see — and smell — the alluring sizzle.
Don’t make the mistake of having teen managers run your concession stand. Instead, find a full-time, experienced food service expert. It’s more than worth the investment, says Rick Lowderman, director of the Raytown Parks and Recreation Department in Missouri. He told Recreation Management that over the course of one summer season, he paid $12,000 for a professional manager — and saw revenues jump by $60,000.
Other easy ways to tap into consumer spending: Set up a small gift stand with swimming supplies such as goggles, swim caps, nose plugs, swim diapers, water bottles, and towels — a sure convenience for those who may not want to travel all the way back home if they forget something important. And create an attractive “party package,” providing a popular spot for big groups to gather on birthdays for an afternoon or evening of swimming, water games, pizza, and birthday cake.
Be a Good Steward
Sometimes the best way to make money is to save it. Start by staying on top of your maintenance schedule. Is your filtration system running properly? Are there small cracks developing in one portion of the pool? Finding these problems early on will enable you to make any needed fixes before they become major and expensive.
When equipment needs to be replaced, consider investing in new energy-conserving models, which can result in substantial savings to your utility bills. Another savvy option: Install a pool cover, which can reduce energy costs by almost a third.
Always be on the lookout for new ways to increase efficiency. In cities across the country, automatic pool cleaners have become popular among managers of small- and medium-sized pools. They can clean an entire pool overnight, cutting the need to pay humans to accomplish the same task. Along these same lines, keep a close eye on the weather and avoid being over-staffed. If there’s light rain predicted for the next six hours and only a handful of patrons at the pool, send some staff home. They’ll appreciate the night off — and you’ll see the benefit to your bottom line.
At American Pool, we offer a full range of pool maintenance, management, construction, and renovation services — and can help you figure out the right upgrades to optimize the profitability of your pool. Get in touch to find out how.