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!

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

Swim School Email Marketing

When I say email marketing, I am not talking about sending emails to anyone. I am talking about the importance of staying in touch with your current and past customers. I am talking about creating customer loyalty.   I am talking about positioning yourself as an “expert” that your customer can turn to with confidence!

As a general rule, I send a weekly email to my local swim school patrons.  HOWEVER, I keep that email short and to the point (unlike the email I am sharing below).   Don’t send your clients a lengthy newsletter that they are going to DELETE and miss your real message.   As a rule of thumb, keep your weekly email messages to three points or less.

There is a time and place to elaborate, to give more, to educate… just don’t do it weekly.   If you send something longer on occasion and it is educational, most of your readers will be curious if not anything else.  They will want to know why you have taken the additional time to write them… and they will read it.   This is your opportunity to make a statement, to  educate, and even to persuade your reader and get your critical message across!

Here is an example of one of those longer emails.  It has what I feel is a critical message to communicate to my local swim lesson parents, and it benefits their children:

Dear SLC Families & Friends:

Why are March lessons so important? Because if you start lessons now and continue in April and May–your child will get 24 lessons BEFORE summer arrives.

Why is that important?  Consider what your child could ACCOMPLISH before summer is here:

  • Parent & Tot level Students – He/she could learn how to swim short distances and learn how to get back to the side of the pool if he fell in.
  • Swim 100 level Beginners – He/she could learn how to swim across the pool
  • Swim Strokes 200 level Swimmers – He/she could master freestyle with side breathing and backstroke–two of the most critical skills any swimmer ever learns!
  • Adv. Swim Strokes 300 & 400 level swimmers – He/she could graduate from lessons– making him like a “black belt of swimming” (blue wristband) by summer, giving your child a complete set of swimming skills.

Why 2x per week?

Listen, 1x per week of swimming lessons is clearly 100% better than ZEROx per week, and 1x per week is a great way to maintain swimming skills over the winter and certainly make some improvement.

However, IF you increase the frequency of swim lessons/practice from 1x per week to 2x per week you will CLEARLY see a significant difference in the speed/rate of improvement. STUDY AFTER STUDY clearly suggest when you increase frequency, you increase the learning rate.

As a parent of three young boys–I UNDERSTAND HOW NICELY ONCE PER WEEK fits in our busy schedules and I am okay with that in the fall and winter. But when spring time comes, it’s time to increase the frequency. Learn to swim is so important for the safety of our children.

Soccer, Karate, Basketball, Gymnastics, Dance, etc. are all skills that are TERRIFIC for young children to be exposed to and learn. But if your child is going to master a musical instrument, excel at a sport, or if you are just trying to stay fit–-do you really think once per week is enough? How much weight will you lose if you diet and exercise once per week? If you really want your child to swim not only for fun and fitness, but for skills and safety–NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE A REAL COMMITMENT TO SWIMMING. There are no magic formula, but I can promise you that our Swim Lessons University curriculum is as efficient as can be!

What do I do with my own children? We dedicate 2x per week for swim lessons from March through October and have done that for all three of my boys since they were a year old. It works!

REGISTER YOUR CHILD TODAY! Swimming is the ONLY skill that could save your child’s life!

SwimmingSafercerely!

Jim Reiser, M.S. of Physical Education

Founder – The Swim Lessons Company

865-2629

www.swimlessonscompany.com

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February 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm Comments (0)

Summer Swim Lessons Planning

A great New Year’s resolution for swim school owners may be to simply plan better than the year before.   Like Santa Claus, I’m making my list and checking it twice!   So what am I doing right now?  Here’s my first draft of my “To Do’s” for my 2012 Learn-to-Swim season:

1. I email my current staff to find out which Swim Instructors will be back to teach for our spring and summer sessions, and how often and at what times they can teach.

2. I create a Staff Schedules for all eight of this spring and summer’s locations.  In the beginning planning stages, I just use a basic word table to organize and project how many new swim instructors I will need to hire, train, and mentor.

3. I “tweak” last year’s Help Wanted ad (if needed) and I pay to have it published in the Daily Gamecock (our local university’s newspaper).  I NEVER provide my phone number in the ad.  I provide my email only.  I will call them IF I like their pre-interview questionnaire which I will get to in a minute.

4.  I set the dates of this year’s classroom staff training.  This year I will lease a conference room at the Columbia Wingate Hotel on Sunday March 11th, 18th, 25th, and April 1st from 1PM – 6PM.  All new instructors will be required to attend.  All returning instructors are encouraged to attend and are paid a minimum wage for attending.  New instructors are not paid, however, their certification cost is “on me.”

5.  I respond to every swim teacher candidate who emails me expressing their interest in the swim instructor position (which is the first step of my hiring process).  I email them a “Pre-Interview Questionnaire.”   My questionnaire includes items such as contact info., summary of experience, availability for spring and summer, ability to attend all training sessions and mentoring sessions, and the phone number of their previous two employers).  This helps me weed out candidates who wouldn’t work out and waste my time interviewing.  I only want to interview candidates who sound great on this pre-interview questionnaire.

6.  I schedule Interviews at my office.  I pencil in all candidates I like that and are ready to accept the position.  I ask them if I can have their permission to submit their information for a background check at that time.  Once I fill all my swim instructor positions, I continue to offer “potential positions.”  I always offer the next half dozen or so applicants free training with a potential position.  I invite them to attend the training with the understanding that I may or may not have an immediate opening.  Those candidates who do the training always make a really good impression because it shows me that they are very enthusiastic about the position.  In addition, it never fails that candidates who accept the job end up changing their minds or their plans for whatever reason.  When that happens, you have an enthusiastic instructor trained and ready to go!  If it doesn’t happen, then I didn’t break any promises and they benefited from the free training.  And nine times out of ten, you eventually get them on board, and both you and your new instructor feel blessed!

So this is the beginning of my “To Do List” for the summer.  Of course there are many other items, i.e., website updating, determining which local events to be an exhibitor, where to advertise, etc. that will come up.

 

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University Online Swim Instructor Certification  and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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January 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm Comments (5)