The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Scheduling Swim Lesson Sessions

How do you schedule your swim lesson sessions?

  • Once per week for eight to 12 weeks.
  • Once or twice per week charging monthly dues.
  • Twice per week for three to six weeks.
  • Three or four days per week for two weeks.

First off, if you offer quality swim lessons, your customers will adapt to whatever you offer.  However, with that said, especially in this economy, it is certainly worth taking a closer look at how you will achieve the most profitable return.

From a skill acquisition standpoint, I prefer seeing my students twice per week over a long period of time.  Ideally, I would like most children in the pool twice per week for a solid six months a year.  The problem is that as a business owner, even if you are considered a swim lessons guru, the majority of parents aren’t necessarily going to do exactly what you suggest.  Why?  The excuses are endless, i.e., inconvenience, activity overload, homework, sibling activity conflicts, work conflicts, financially impossible, etc.

As a business owner, I try to adapt to the needs of my customers.  After all, if you can’t get them in your pool your customer will make one of two choices:

  1. They will keep their child out of the pool all together.
  2. They will leave you for your best competitor who will adapt to their needs.

I have a problem with both of those alternatives… don’t you? So here is my solution:

I have been running our local swim school, The Swim Lessons Company in South Carolina since 1994.  Over time, I have learned and experienced through trial and error what the parents in this area are willing to do.  We have offered each of the different scenarios I have mentioned above, and they have all had their success and failures.

I personally prefer more success that than failure.  I prefer to learn from my failures.  What I have learned and concluded was that my offerings had to change with the season.  During most of the academic year, parents aren’t willing to take lessons more than once per week.  During the spring as summer is approaching, parents start acquiring some anxiety so to speak.  Why?  Summer is coming and their child can’t swim or doesn’t swim well enough.  When summer arrives, they are ready to be at the pool every day.  So I simply learned to go along with their interests and offer what the majority of parents seem to want.  For my business model, what they want turns out to be most effective when offered in a “sessions” format because it works nicely with our online registration program.

Here’s what our typical year looks like:

Winter – Six to eight weeks, 1x per week

March – Four weeks, 2x per week

April – Four weeks, 2x per week

May – Four weeks, 2x per week

Summer – Two-week sessions, 3-4x per week.

Indian Summer (early fall) – Six weeks, 1x per week.

Fall – Eight weeks, 1x per week.

After much trial and error, this appears to be the best system for swim lessons in Columbia, South Carolina.  If we were in Florida or a different geographical area with different demographics, we may find something completely different works best.

For my own children (three boys now 1.5, 3.5, & 8.5 years old), I have them in the pool twice per week for six to eight months because this is what I personally believe is the best approach.  I stick with this routine until they graduate from lessons as my eight year old Jeb did just before his sixth birthday.  At that point, I want my children doing at least three months of swim team a year to further strengthen and refine their swimming skills.  If they want to do more than that, that’s their choice.  But like buckling their seat belts when they are in the car, doing less isn’t their choice.  Jeb will be nine this summer and he has been on my little novice swim team since he was six years old.  After doing our twice per week swim lesson program since he was a toddler, he could competently swim all four competitive strokes as well as sidestroke, elementary backstroke, and tread water.  So since he turned six, he has done swim team twice per week for three months a year.  I am satisfied with that because he is a strong swimmer.  I have no problem with him playing soccer and basketball in the fall, winter, and spring.  I think this is perfectly fine.  But if you’re eight years old and you can’t swim–it is my opinion that child should be spending more time in the pool and a little less on the fields until he/she can swim well for safety reasons.

I wish I could force that philosophy on my patrons, but I can’t.  It could put me out of business.   Instead, I offer what works and I offer what works in their schedules, in our part of the country.  Good business isn’t about us, it’s about our customers.  Hope this helps you!  My very best to you and your program!

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March 3, 2012 at 2:19 am Comments (0)