As aquatics professionals, we always had certain days marked in our annual calendar, such as spring break, holidays and budget week. Now, more than ever, the need for a “crystal ball” is ever present.
If I had a crystal ball, I would use it to tell me when I could run full programs and family swims, train my guards like I’ve done for decades, and so on. I do not have those answers, but I do know every aquatics facility out there is wondering how they will pay for all those things when they return.
Let’s go beyond the cleaning supplies, safety training and staffing basics. Here are four areas of budgeting that may have been overlooked in the past but are vital in this current condition:
- Money, money, money. It has been said it is not cheap to keep a pool open properly. So, prove them right. Each pump, pipe, or short-notice-emergency-overtime chlorine delivery charge costs money. Dig deep — how much are you really paying to keep the pool open — from the general cost of chlorine to staff turnover costs, and everything in between.
- Programmability. Look at your pool like a grocery store. Every vendor is fighting tooth and nail to get shelf space to get their product in front of the consumer. Create that same demand for your pool, from sponsors to clean and safe rentals.
- Risk reduction = revenue recovery. Evaluate and assess your areas of risk, from local competition to slip and falls in the locker room, etc. Then tell your story. Make sure every community member — swimmer or not — sees, hears and fully understands how seriously your team and you take water safety.
- Value variations. Create value assessment for everything happening in and around the pool. How much are you paying a third party to manage all the chemicals? Are they more or less valuable than an internal team, and vice-versa? Could a lifeguard give a membership tour? Cross-train staff to increase their overall value.