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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