How to start a swim school

Where there are children, there is always demand for swimming lessons. Swimming is an important skill for all children, as it gives them confidence, a love for physical activity, and a sense of safety around water. Not only this, but swimming is a fun social activity, around which swim schools can foster a great community of children and parents.

If you’re thinking of setting up your own swim school, we’ve put together some tips to help you turn your passion for the pool into a thriving business.

Make sure you know your stuff

Having knowledge and a passion for something makes for a successful business. This just as true when you set up a swim school. Not only do you need to be good with children (as they make up most of your customer base), but you need to know your stuff about swimming in order to give specific advice to your students. It might help if you’re already certified as an instructor as you wouldn’t need to hire any other staff immediately, thus keeping your initial costs low.

Plan as much as you can

Putting the legwork in at the planning stage can save you a lot of time and stress later down the line. Although nobody can plan for every eventuality, trying to think out as much information and as many scenarios as possible can make all the difference. Some useful considerations are:

  • What will my swim school cost to set up?
  • How long it will take to break even?
  • How long will it take to turn a profit?
  • Who is my target market and how will I reach out to them?
  • What should I name my swim school?
  • Will I be offering group only swim lessons, or will I also do private lessons?

Get your money in order

Create a profit and loss book template before you officially open for business as this will make it easier to keep track of your money when you start your school.

Also work out what payment methods you want your customers to use. Many swim schools use Direct Debit as the most convenient and cost-effective payment system.

Direct Debit is an automated payment system, which takes the hassle out of collecting payments from parents or customers. Swim school fees are taken directly from the customer’s bank account, meaning that you can rely on fewer late payments. You can decide when you want to collect your money, whether that’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Do your paperwork

There’s a fair amount of set up involved in starting your own business, a big chunk of which is administrative paperwork. Setting up a swim school is no mean task, so it’s important to make sure that you’ve made all necessary preparations in order to make your business a success.

Some things that you might want to investigate include:

  • Whether you want to form a Limited Company or a Public Limited Company
  • Registering for taxes/permits/licenses
  • Getting business insurance
  • Ensuring that all certifications are up to date

Find a niche

Most parents want their children to be taught how to swim, meaning that there are lots of swim schools already established in the market. It’s important to consider what is going to set you apart from other swim schools. Following whatever it is about swimming that you have a passion for is usually a good place to start – your genuine interest and enthusiasm for something might translate into a great business idea.

Build a brand

“Your personal brand is a promise to your clients… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability.”

— Jason Hartman, “Become the Brand of Choice”

A strong brand will attract customers. As your swim school will likely be working with children, you need to create a sense of trustworthiness and friendliness through your branding.

You should try to be as genuine as possible when considering your branding, as your passion for your company will likely give an unaffected trustworthiness to the brand. If your branding conveys some authority, authenticity, and friendliness, you will attract a lot of new clients.

Find a pool

Finding a pool where you can hold your lessons can prove difficult, as most public pools already have their own in-house swim school. However, many school pools are unused at weekends or in the evenings. You may be able to negotiate a rental agreement with a local school that will give you the facilities with which to grow your business.

Set prices

You can position yourself wherever you like in the market, as your prices entirely depend on your class sizes, pool rental fees, and how unique your proposition is. However, in order to avoid pricing yourself out of the market, you could do some competitor research to get a feel for average rates. Ultimately, the decision of pricing structures should be decided by you, considering your running costs.

Promote, market and retain

Once you’ve set up your fantastic swim school, you need to promote and market it. The easiest and most cost-effective way of doing this is to establish a trusted online presence.

Setting up a search engine-friendly website and social media channels will boost your credibility – and allow potential swimmers to find you.

“Because 97 percent of consumers go online to search for local businesses before making a purchasing decision, if you don’t have a website, consumers searching for information about your industry will likely end up choosing a competitor.”

— GoDaddy

Don’t forget traditional media, though. Flyers, business cards, and print advertisement are all excellent ways to reach potential customers directly.

In terms of retaining clients, special events such as swim parties will keep young swimmers coming back, whilst reward schemes or special offers will encourage those paying for your services to book repeat lessons.

Now go out there and make a splash!

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Gym marketing 101: top tips for improving your strategy

With fitness and overall wellness becoming increasingly trendy, there seems to be more people than ever before signing up for a gym membership. In fact, the UK fitness industry is booming at an estimated market value of £4.5 billion.

There’s no denying the fact that the fitness market is a little crowded. There are so many gyms for potential customers to choose from that standing out from your competition can be a real challenge. Here are some easy tips that could help you market your gym more effectively, which may increase acquisition and retention.


Finesse your website

This one may seem obvious, but many smaller gyms often overlook the importance of a slick website.

Most consumers now make decisions based on what they find online. You could have the best gym in the world, but it would still struggle to attract and maintain members if it had a poor online presence.

Having a website where people can browse the classes you offer, compare membership packages, view the equipment on offer, or simply scope out what the gym looks like will do wonders for attracting new members. Having a great website gives your gym a sense of authority and trustworthiness that will help incentivise people to sign up for a membership.

Furthermore, having somewhere that current members can book classes smoothly will make going to your gym regularly easier for them, thus boosting retention rates.


Pump up your online content

Use social media to your advantage. Since people like to engage with brands on social media, this is an excellent vehicle to deliver you gym’s personality and authority to potential and existing members.

Try featuring real-life members on your social media channels to give your posts some more relatable authority or using video content (including teasers of popular classes) to engage customers.

Gym owners also would benefit from running a blog, which provides a wealth of information to members and positions your brand as one that is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and helpful. A blog may also improve your search engine ranking and so provide more traffic (and more potential members) to your website.


Make yourself visible to searchers

Did you know that Google receives a whopping 1.5 million queries a month for the phrase “gyms near me?” Not only does this number indicate the sheer volume of potential fitness fanatics trawling the web, but it also shows the brand habits of the searchers. People are looking for local, rather than a preferred brand.

Gyms can capitalise on this by investing some time in a Google My Business page. This gets your gym featured on a “local snippet” (a pane which highlights the Google My Business pages which match the search.) More eyes on your business, more potential members who now know you exist.


Streamline your payment process

When you’ve put all the effort into signing someone up to a gym membership, the last thing you want is to lose them over an outdated and difficult payment system.

Online recurring billing is the best payment process for both you and your members. It gives your members an easy way to pay their membership every month whilst ensuring that you are consistently paid on time with little hassle.

82% of gym membership payments are made with Direct Debit. Direct Debits are quick to set up and require little maintenance, allowing members to pay automatically and reducing bounce payments.

You can also integrate FastDD into your website which allows for online membership registration. This creates a 24-hour sales opportunity, making signing up far more convenient for members and cutting down on incomplete applications. When people don’t have to come into the gym to sign up, they are far more likely to buy a membership.


Kick start your referral programme

Referral marketing is one of the simplest, lowest cost, and most effective ways for a gym to find new members whilst keeping current members happy.

Your members probably have a friend or family member who would love your gym. Simple word of mouth about how great your gym is from your current members will do great things for your marketing, but adding an incentive will push this even further. You could offer a free month of membership for a referral, for example.

It’s also true that members are more likely to stay at your gym if more people they know attend the same gym.


Cutting through the competition is the biggest challenge faced by gyms when it comes to membership acquisition and retention, but hopefully, these simple tips will help you connect with your members – existing and new.