Feature Article - November 2015
Find a printable version here

Ever-Expanding Aquatics

Tips for Programming a Profitable Pool

By Joe Bush

Create more of an experience and it will improve the perceived value of the program.

Olson said one of the fundamentals in programming for him is the willingness and ability to adjust. Flexibility to completely change or just tweak classes, personnel or schedules is necessary but only triggered by a feedback system between staff and administration and members. Olson said his facility uses paper surveys as well as online surveys.

"The general thing for programming, it's got to constantly be evaluated both from an internal perspective as well as a user perspective, engaging with the people who are actually taking the programs," Olson said. "Times change and people change, and if you're not getting the right feedback, both from your instructors and your internal participants as well as those that are taking (classes), from a customer standpoint it's going to be hard to try to move and adapt to what the changing needs are.

"The people, especially where we work, have resources. They'll go to where they can get what they want, so we have to be able to be sensitive to that. If something's not working, no matter how nostalgic or how ingrained it is, sometimes there needs to be change in order for a program to succeed or a facility to succeed. Constant evaluation and constant adjustment where needed in order to be successful: That's the foundation."

With so many classes and staff members, one of Olson's main challenges is scheduling. At peak season, Olson has approximately 150 part-time workers to supervise. He's found help from a web-based employee scheduling software.

"It helps us centralize everybody's schedule, and staff can have access to it remotely if they need to change something or they're sick, they can notify everybody with a click rather than make a bunch of phone calls," Olson said.

The technological help will only become more important if everyone involved with the facility's success does their job, from the city's marketing department using social media and brochures and banners to Olson's staff staying in tune with the public.

"The biggest thing is the experience," Olson said. "Word-of-mouth goes a long way, and a good experience is worth a lot more in our opinion than any marketing campaign, and we try to drill this into our staff—how (people) feel when they leave dictates if they come back and if they bring friends."