With competition growing in the swim school industry, retaining swim school students is becoming increasingly important.
Swim school customer retention starts with understanding the needs of the parent.
The parent is the primary customer and keeping them satisfied is the key to long-term retention success. If a parent feels like their child is progressing in their swimming lessons they are likely to continue to invest in their child’s lessons.
Below are some tips for maximizing customer retention in your swim school.
1. Hire right! Find the best teachers
Your teaching standard directly impacts student progression.
Do your teachers know how to keep children engaged and focused?
Do your teachers make lessons fun for students?
These aspects impact the student’s enjoyment and ultimately their progression which is closely related to customer retention.
In addition to hiring the best quality teachers, ongoing training can be a great way to maximize your swim school teaching standard.
We suggest having an ongoing training process (ideally monthly) to ensure teachers are clear about your swim school’s expectations and standards.
A final note on teachers. High teacher churn leads to high customer churn. Think about how you can minimize the churn of your teachers and create longer-term employment opportunities.
2. Have an onboarding process
When a new parent joins a swim school there can be a lot to learn.
Your aim should be to help parents understand how your program works and set expectations such as how long a child should be on a level.
An ideal onboarding process should consist of a welcome email which can include video content as well as follow-up emails during the early stages of the student’s enrollment.
We recommend using a mix of different communication methods in your onboarding including:
- Human to human
Using automated software such as First Class can help you set up an effective onboarding process.
Here are some ideas to include in your onboarding process.
- Set expectations
Introduce key staff via video so customers can put a face to the name
- Give new customers an unexpected gift
- Have a frequently asked questions page
- Create some videos that will give customers some “quick wins” such as an exercise they can do with their children at home to improve their lessons
Good onboarding sets the foundations for customer retention success.
3. Reduce friction
Swimming lessons can be a hassle. Therefore, you want to reduce any friction or uncertainty for new families.
Ideally, you should explain to new parents how to locate their child’s lesson.
This can be through a color coding system or by clearly marking specific pool areas with signage. An SMS booking confirmation complete with the teacher’s name and pool area sent a few hours before the child’s first lesson is a great way to deliver this information to parents and make their experience that little more frictionless.
We recommend that you go through your customer journey and experience with a fine tooth come and have an attitude of ongoing improvement.
It is useful to think of your customer experience in terms of both on-site experience and digital experience.
For example, clean and warm change rooms are a key part of the on-site experience as our friendly and helpful staff.
Whilst your parent portal is an example of the digital experience. For example, is it easy and clear for parents to book a make-up lesson online or report an absence?
This is where the right swim lesson management software is important.
4. Provide detailed feedback to parents
One of the things that parents crave the most from their Swim school is ongoing feedback.
They want to know how their child is progressing and what skills require further development.
In fact, surveys have shown that 69% of parents rank lack of feedback as their biggest frustration with their child’s lessons.
The biggest challenge for swim schools is providing feedback to parents in a scalable way. The right swim school management software can be helpful in managing this process.
By simply inputting assessment results in a swim software skill tracking feature via a tablet or mobile device, this information can then become instantly available to parents via their parent portal.
Ideally, each child in the swim school should be assessed at least once every term or 10 weeks.
One final tip for providing parents with feedback. Make it detailed by using descriptive words for skill progression such as introduced, improving, and consolidating.
If you’re not providing parents with regular feedback about their child’s progress you will almost certainly have a higher attrition rate than a competitor who is providing feedback to parents on an ongoing basis.
5. Personal contact
In addition to email feedback, parent portals, and onboarding communications, it must be noted that nothing beats personal contact. These automated communications serve a purpose however they should never be the only source of communication with customers.
Make an effort to engage with parents on the pool deck where appropriate. Greet all parents with a welcome smile and don’t be afraid to ask them if they are happy with how their child is progressing.
We recommend scheduling time for staff to interact with parents on the pool deck.
This is where deck supervisors can be a great investment.
Deck supervisors can help build strong relationships with your customer base which can have a very positive impact on customer satisfaction and retention.
6. Monitor “time in level”
Progression = Retention!
If a child is progressing and this is clearly illustrated to a parent then that family are a low risk of cancellation.
On the other hand, If a child has been at the same level for a long period their chances of dropping out or canceling are heightened.
We recommend that your monitor a metric called “time in level”.
Time in level is how many weeks a child has been in the same level without progressing to the next level.
We have found that 30 weeks tend to be a drop-off point so we suggest that you identify students who have been at the same level for 25 weeks or longer and have an intervention plan for these students.
The intervention may be as simple as ensuring that student has more one on one attention or assessing them to identify the areas that need further improvement.
It’s all about identifying these higher-risk students so you can focus on them more before they drop out.
Doing this consistently will ensure you can handle high dropout-risk parents before it’s too late!
7. Track Teacher Performance
Your product is your swimming lessons.
You want to make your product as good as it can be. Therefore, it’s important to maintain high teaching standards. High teaching standards are best maintained through tracking.
What gets tracked or monitored tends to improve, therefore it can be a useful exercise to track teaching progression performance. This way you can make corrections if a teacher’s progression rates are lower than average. Tracking such information is easy using the right swim school software solution such as First class.
If you proactively implement the suggestions above you can ensure you are doing everything possible to maximize your swim school’s customer retention.
All the suggestions above can be more easily implemented with our swim school management software- First Class, an application specifically designed for maximizing parent communication and retention.