Note: Although this article was written with swim schools specifically in mind, the content can be relevant for any class business where the parent is the main customer and the child is the “student” receiving lessons.
“What gets measured, gets done” – Peter Drucker
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are present in some form in every business.
The various KPIs that a manager can measure and report on are endless, therefore it is important to establish which “vital few” KPIs are the best reflection of business performance.
So what are the best KPIs for a swim school to measure and review?
We take a look at the 6 most important KPIs to measure in your swim school from a customer satisfaction and experience perspective.
Metric: 1 Retention (Monthly attrition)
Once your swim school has reached a critical mass of customers, retaining your customers is arguably the most important aspect of operating a successful swim school.
That’s why it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to your retention performance.
Perhaps the best way to measure retention in your swim school is perhaps by measuring monthly attrition.
This is calculated by taking your number of canceled customers/students for the month and dividing that by the starting number of active enrolments.
Here is the formula
Number of canceled students/months starting enrolments X 100
67 (canceled students)/1257 (month starting enrolments) x 100.
In this example, your attrition rate would be 5.33%.
By measuring attrition on a monthly basis you can establish a feel for your ongoing retention performance.
Ideally, your attrition should be getting lower each month or staying steady.
An attrition rate of 2.0-3.0 percent is the ideal range but this will depend on the size of your enrolment base.
Ultimately, you want to see your attrition performance slowly trending down.
You should be able to easily pull this information from your swim school management or booking software.
It is also important to realize that your attrition may be worse at different times of the year.
For example, you may experience a lot more cancellations as the cold weather emerges. This is why it’s important to measure year-on-year attrition so you can compare your performance against the same time last year.
Attrition tracking is a feature we recently added to our swim school management system – First Class.
This feature automatically tracks your attrition rate each month so you don’t have to!
Metric 2: Total number of assessments (monthly/each term)
A good starting KPI is the total number of assessments per month.
Assessments drive customer satisfaction because you can communicate and demonstrate progress to parents particularly if you are using a parent portal.
At the end of the day, parents are most concerned about the progress of their children. (69% of parents rate this as the biggest cause of dissatisfaction with their current swim school provider).
If there is progress, most parents will continue to invest in their child’s lessons. Therefore, it is important to track the number of assessments your swim school is completing each month and every term to ensure that parents are receiving regular feedback.
An ideal frequency of assessment is once a term for each child (or once every 3 months).
We recommend this as a baseline goal for our clients. Therefore, if you have 1000 students at your swim school, you will aim to assess all 1000 students at some stage throughout the term.
To assess 1000 students per term you would on average need to assess 333 students each month to keep pace with your assessment goal.
If at the end of the first month of the term you have assessed only 100 students, it would mean that you are already over 200 assessments behind the pace required to complete your 1000 assessments throughout the term.
Can you see how monitoring your total number of assessments each month can help you ensure you assess all students at least once throughout the term?
Metric 3: Number of “non assessed” students (each term)
If your aim is to maintain good communication with parents and to assess each student in your program at least once every term, then measuring the total number of assessments is a good starting point.
However, the flaw with this approach is that total assessments do provide a clear idea of how many students have not been assessed or have slipped through the cracks.
Assessing 1000 students may mean you assessed 500 students twice leaving another 500 students without an assessment. (and 500 parents in that dark about how their child is progressing).
For this reason, we recommend a KPI called a non-assessment list.
A report on non-assessment will show all the students who have not been assessed during a defined time period. IE. Throughout the term. This means you can clearly identify the number of students who have slipped through the cracks and identify who they are so you can clean things up and assess them before the term ends or at the start of the following term.
Metric 4: Non Progression-Number of students in the same level for more than 30 weeks
Progression is the key to customer retention.
If a student is at the same level for more than 30 weeks then this is a warning sign.
Note: We use 30 weeks as a recommendation, however, this will depend on your unique program and levels).
At the end of each month, we recommend reporting on the number of students who have been at the same level for 30 weeks or longer.
Again, you want this number to be as small as possible.
You can also compare this to your enrolment base to calculate 30-week non-progression percentage.
A good idea is to chart this each month so you can see if this KPI is trending in the right direction.
If your non-progression metrics are improving, this should reflect lower attrition rates and a growing enrolment base.
If you are seeing improvements in progression performance you can be happy that you are doing a great job serving your families.
Metric 5: Attendance reporting
Attendance is critical to the success of your swim school.
High levels of attendance drive student progression and student progression drives customer satisfaction and retention.
Our data across our suggests that the average swim school lesson attendance is 75%.
This means that from all the possible lessons booked, 75% of those lessons are attended.
We recommend targeting 80% as an attendance target for a high-performing swim school.
By measuring your attendance each month, you can keep your finger on the pulse and ensure your attendance is as high as possible.
We recommend making attendance at the point of a lesson on a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. This leads to the most accurate set of data because often attendance records from students scanning it can be patchy.
Our First Class software has tablet-optimized class lists for marking attendance as well as options for parents to pre-record absences through their parent portal.
Metric 6: Consecutive absences
The final KPI will look at is tracking consecutive absences.
We recommend tracking on weekly basis students who have missed 3 consecutive absences.
If a child has missed 3 lessons consecutively this is typically a “dropout risk” warning sign.
By carefully tracking this metric each week you can proactively follow up with these families who pose a dropout risk.
The best approach to customer retention is a proactive approach. This means interacting and connecting with customers before it’s too late to re-active them.
Here is a summary of our 6 KPI’s for managing a high performing swim school
- Monthly attrition
- Number of assessments per month
- Non-assessment report
- Non-progression report (30 weeks)
- Attendance report
- Consecutive absence report
We hope these KPI suggestions can help your swim school grow and improve your customer satisfaction.