The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim Lessons Cancellations and Make-ups

What do you do when you cancel swim classes for thunder and lightning?   BUT shortly after, the weather clears up and the instructors are gone!
What do you do when a customer shows up with their little one?  BUT you cancelled classes for the day and THEIR CHILD is devastated!
What do you do when a pump motor goes bad and you have to cancel class unexpectedly?  Even though you reschedule, it is NOT convenient for “some” of your families.
What do you do when a student misses class due to illness, travel, or because of another commitment?  But you already paid the instructor, you paid your pool rent, etc.

I am here to tell you, there is NO one right or wrong way to handle these situations. What is right for your business may be detrimental to mine. What works for me may be a disaster for you.

Also keep in mind:   What felt comfortable when you wrote your policies and procedures may not feel so comfortable now that you have an angry customer on the other end of the line.  This is normal.  And this is why we have to always be open to change.  Change is inevitable. When you choose to embrace change you will begin to see it as an opportunity for growth.

So where do you start? Personally, I start with my customers. If they aren’t happy, quite frankly, I am not happy. Second, I listen to my staff. If they aren’t happy, I am not happy. Third, I listen to my gut. If my gut tells me it doesn’t feel right–it’s time for a change!

I did leave out a fourth area that gives you an opportunity for positive growth. Research! There is no shortage of great information out there. When it comes to customer service, one of my favorite books is called “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, by Jeffrey Gitomer. He really inspired me to make it a policy in my office to NEVER use the term policy. That’s right. We have NO POLICIES!

When you’re in the customer’s shoes, how do you feel when you hear the “policy” excuse?  Me? I feel that the business doesn’t value me as a customer. When I feel that way, I take MY business elsewhere!  Where is “elsewhere?”   Usually the nearest competitor!  

Do I ever feel taken advantage of?  Admittedly, I do. It’s not a good feeling either.  But only on a rare occasion do we take a stance and put our foot down.  Because usually we realize that the alternative is worse.  Upset customers tell everyone who will listen their side of the story–not ours.   In those situations you not only lose that customer–but perhaps several other potential customers.  Today with social media, several can become thousands overnight!   So in the end, you have to ask yourself, “is it worth it?”  “Which decision will help me sleep better at night?” That’s the bottom line.

So what can you do?  When our customers register, whether online or by phone, they acknowledge ONE BY ONE  a number of “Registration Agreements.”  If there is a problem later, my office  can refer the customer back to these BUT we handle each case individually and with care. Our goal is to make each customer feel appreciated.   As of today, here is what The Swim Lessons Company families agree to (in terms of cancellations and make-ups) when they register:

____In order to determine your make-up when a class is cancelled due to weather issues, go to www.swimlessonscompany.com and select the “Make-up Schedule” button in top navigation bar.  All make-ups due to weather will be posted within 24 hours.

____If your class is cancelled for any reason, it will be made up at the same time and same location on another available day, i.e, Thursday or Friday. The make-up will be posted on the website under “Make-up Schedule.”

____In the event of an unforeseeable cancellation, i.e., an instructor is sick, pool mechanical problem, water temperature issue, etc.—an SLC representative will call you on the number you listed under “home phone” when creating your account. This is the only contact number shown on the instructor’s roster.  If you would rather us call your cell phone, please contact the office immediately to change that information.

____While there are no refunds for missed classes that have been taught, if you miss class due to illness, travel, other obligation, etc., email Jim Reiser at swimprofessor@sc.rr.com  Let him know that you missed your class and would like to schedule a make-up.  Providing there is a class opening available, we can offer you a makeup at that time during the back half of the session (In other words, once the Live Online Registration Period has ended to avoid over booking a class). If all classes are full and a make-up is not possible during the current session, we are happy to offer you a full credit for that class with no expiration date to be deducted against a future registration.

So that’s what our customers “agree to” when they register, whether online or over the phone.  There are also a number of other registration agreements, but that’s how we handle “Cancellations & Make-ups” today.   I do believe that by publishing your terms and conditions in a contract form, having the customer physically “check a box” beside each term is a very pro-active way of preventing problems from arising.  It may not prevent them all, but in the big picture, you will find it to be a very effective strategy. 

I hope today’s blog helps you!  If you would like to schedule a “One-on-one Phone Consultation,” you will be delighted to see how reasonably priced they are.  To schedule your personal consultation OR for more information, check it out on the Swim Lessons University website today!

, , , , , , , , , ,
December 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm Comments (0)

Focus on “User-Benefits” in Your Swim School Marketing

 

I recently attended a fascinating talk by Dr. John Crompton. In his keynote speech at the Midwest Conference in South Dakota, he emphasized that we need to STOP MARKETING, SELLING, AND PROMOTING, and instead FOCUS ON USER BENEFITS & HUMAN NEEDS. He said if you are going to sell Mr. Johnson what Mr. Johnson buys, you have to know how to sell through HIS EYES.

One of his slides that I thought was very interesting highlighted why children and adults alike participate in sports and recreation activities. Each of these represent basic human needs:

  • Social Recognition
  • Excitement
  • Ego Satisfaction of Achievement
  • Security of Belonging to a Group
  • Social Interaction

He also challenged the attendees to ask Three Questions:
1. How much market research do we do?
2. Why do we do what we do today?
3. What are we doing different than what we did 5 years ago?

Below I have shared a short clip of Dr. Crompton explaining the importance of what we are selling to our parents, and that we are actually selling human needs, not the activity itself:


Dr. Crompton not only holds the rank of University Distinguished Professor, he is also both a Regents Professor and a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M University. He currently teaches exclusively for the Department of Parks and Recreation, and is the most published scholar in the history of Parks & Recreation.

, , , ,
April 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm Comments (0)

Swim School Marketing Lesson

This blog is about marketing YOUR swim lessons…just to be clear. Now picture my four year old son playing basketball. While YOU may not agree with me that he could be the next Larry Bird yet, he is a great little basketball player for four years old. In fact, just today he scored 10 points in a 15-minute scrimmage! You are thinking, what does this have to do with swim school marketing?

Nolan plays basketball better than most of us market our swim schools. What do I mean? How so? He knows how to POSITION HIMSELF for SUCCESS. When the other team has the ball, where does Nolan go? He goes directly under the basket!!! My wife Heather asked him today after his game: “Nolan, why do you stand under the basket when the other team has the ball?” He said, “Well Mommy, that’s where the ball comes out! Then I can get it and I go make a basket!”

Are we positioning ourselves “under the basket?” Are we putting ourselves and our marketing materials under our customers’ noses? Or are we randomly advertising and hoping that a potential customer will find us? Think about it. If you put yourself in position like Nolan, you will not only earn more business, but you will save lots of wasted advertising dollars as well.

Here are a few of our most cost effective advertising and marketing strategies that will position you under the hoop!
1. Do Water Safety Presentations in preschools and elementary schools. At the end, you pass our your print materials as part of a water safety packet. Here is a Water Safety Presentation children, principals, and teachers love!
2. Set up a booth at Kids events, Baby Fairs, and Exhibits for children. Make sure to have your logo printed on stickers, tattoos, pens, and balloons to give away to potential customers.
3. Consider an ad in a local “parent magazine” dedicated for activities for children.
4. Get your current customers to tell their friends about you on their Facebook page. Their friends likely have children too, and they can include a link right to your website and it cost you nothing!
5. Go out of your way to create LOYAL CUSTOMERS who will rave about you to their friends. Take care of your own first, the friends and new customers will naturally follow.

, , , ,
February 8, 2013 at 1:47 am Comments (0)

Swim School Staff Training

Have you ever thought about training your swim school staff in customer service?  How well are your swim instructors and front office personnel doing with “the welcome?”  Surveys of customer service firms show that the act that most influences people’s satisfaction is the welcome! In one survey, 96% of the clients who said that they felt “very welcome” when they entered the company’s office, said they were “very satisfied” with the OVERALL EXPERIENCE. So the initial welcome FRAMES THE ENTIRE EXPERIENCE!  “The key moment in every relationship is the VERY FIRST.”  So if you want to improve your numbers, don’t underestimate the “non-swimming” part of your swim school staff training.

To maximize the success of your swim program, you will want to spend time teaching your swim instructors how you want them to greet the students and parents.  I would suggest that you call your office from time to time from an unknown phone number to hear how they sound when they answer the phone and greet your potential customers.  Jeffrey Gitomer has a great tip for those struggling with that:  Imagine you are talking to grandma.   Imagine you are getting a call from a friend you haven’t heard from in years, he says.   That’s how the tone of  their voice should sound when they are greeting your customers.  Thirdly, the way you reply to email.  In our local business, I am the only one who replies to emails.  Replying to emails can be tricky if it is going to be done well, and I would much rather my front line people TALK to my customers, especially if they have a complaint or concern.   You want your customers to hear and feel that you really care.  Typed words rarely do the trick.

I hope this blog was beneficial to you and your swim program.   If you have questions or if you would like to do a “One-on-one Phone Consultation,” I would more than happy to help you solve your specific problems or help you brainstorm on your ideas.   I personally guarantee our session will help.

To your success!

Jim Reiser, Executive Director

Swim Lessons University

, , , , , , , , ,
November 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm Comments (0)

USE FACEBOOK TO ENCOURAGE ONGOING SWIM INSTRUCTION

SUBJECT:  LET’S BE FRIENDS!  I DISCOUNT LESSONS FOR MY FRIENDS!

Dear SLC Families & Friends:

That’s right!  I want to discount lessons for MY FRIENDS!  Especially those of my friends that VALUE the importance of “ongoing swimming instruction” which ensures children will not only learn basic skills, but they will learn to swim well!

In my opinion, every child should continue lessons until they receive the “I.M. GRADUATE BLUE BRACELET.”   That means they master all the skills in the Swim 100(Red) ,  Swim Strokes 200 (Yellow), , Adv. Swim Strokes 300(Green) , and Lifesaving Strokes 400 (Turquoise) so they can graduate to swim team.   AND if YOU DO value “ongoing swimming instruction,” I will reward you with a progressively higher discount for consecutive sessions, $10 off, $15 off, $20 off, $25 off, $30 off, etc.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

3  SIMPLE STEPS:

1.  SEND ME A FRIEND REQUEST and “Let’s be friends!” Here’s a direct link to my facebook page.

2.  POST on your facebook wall a suggestion to YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS to check out The Swim Lessons Company at www.SwimLessonsCompany.com or call us at 865-2629. Make sure to type in our website address so there is a hot link that will take them right to our site, and please make sure to tell them about your positive experience with us!

3. POST on our Facebook wall something similar. Any type of testimonial or thank you would be perfect!

That’s it!  Just CALL MY OFFICE at 865-2629 and let them know that you are participating in the FACEBOOK FRIENDS, CONSECUTIVE SESSION DISCOUNT!  All I ask is that you post a new testimonial on your page each time you receive that discount.   This is optional, but we’d love you to post pictures of your child in our lessons too!   Your friends will enjoy seeing your child learning to swim and improving his/her swimming skills!

As long as the sessions are consecutive, each consecutive registration gives you bigger savings! If you miss more than two sessions in a row, then you would start back at the original discount of $10.00.   I understand there are other things in life you have to do, i.e., vacations, other activities, etc.  But don’t forget, NO OTHER SPORT SKILL CAN SAVE A CHILD’S LIFE!

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU ON FACEBOOK!!!
SwimmingSafercerely!

Jim Reiser, M. S. of Physical Education

Founder – The Swim Lessons Company

www.swimlessonscompany.com

803-865-2629

p.s.  I will be posting videos on our facebook and youtube page that show what children can learn when they enroll with The Swim Lessons Company with Swim Lessons University Certified Instructors.   I appreciate you watching and “liking” those posts!

, , , , , ,
May 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm Comments (0)

How to Improve Your Swim School Business

What measures can you take to improve your swim school business?  As the unexpected first place San Francisco Forty-Niners Coach Jim Harbaugh said after yesterday’s win:”WE SPEND A LOT OF TIME ASKING QUESTIONS.”

Swim school owners must do the same.  What questions should you be asking?  Here are a number of good ones to get you started:

  • How can we improve our staff training?
  • What incentives do we offer our instructors to be even interested in improving what seems to be already working?
  • How can we improve our customer service?
  • What can we do to increase referrals?
  • How can we advertise more cost effectively?
  • What can we do in order to encourage ongoing instruction and repeat business from the students we already have?
  • How can we use social networking more effectively?
  • What costs do we have that are “wants” vs. “needs?”
  • How can we communicate more effectively?
  • What can we do to make doing business with us easier?

The list of questions you have to ask almost endless.   As business owners, we have to ask these questions and then act upon them if we are going to continue to improve.  As the saying goes,  “If what you did yesterday still looks good today, then you haven’t done much today.”

The best in any business don’t turn a blind eye to the negatives that are present–even when the business is successful.  The best are always looking to get better. Like a great coaching staff, you have to pick apart every aspect of your game and find ways to get better.

What if things aren’t going well for you?   Then double the importance of everything we just discussed.   Be resilient, find a way stay positive, and refuse to quit.  Be determined and enjoy the challenge.  Sometimes you have to take chances.  But learn every day, drink from good books, and seek help from those who have been there.

, , , , , , ,
November 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm Comment (1)