An aquatic facility has the potential to expand any bottom line as long as it is treated like any other business. Whether your commercial pool is located at a fitness center, resort, municipality, hotel, or condo/apartment complex, you want to ensure it isn’t a money user but a revenue maker. Many factors can tip the balance one way or another.
To help ensure that pools are profitable, they should be treated like any other business venture. You must identify in what areas your commercial pool is costing you the most, make necessary cuts, weigh investments, and then explore revenue making strategies to effectively scale your business.
What Might be Costing Your Pool Money?
An improperly maintained commercial pool is dangerous which makes the liability extreme. Running your pool in a proactive manner and taking the steps needed to avoid the following problems will ultimately reduce costs and help you achieve a profit. Safety violations can incur costly fines and also damage your business reputation which costs you money.
RWIs Lead to Closures and Reputation Damage
It is imperative that you ensure the health of the visitors to your pool. Improper chemical balances can lead to the development of recreational water illnesses (RWIs) such as Cryptosporidium (Crypto), Giardia, Shigella, and E. coli. Chlorine effectively inactivates RWIs.
The following disinfectant levels are advised by the CDC.
- Alkalinity 80 to 120 ppm
- 200 to 400 ppm
- pH 7.2 to 7.8
- Total dissolved solids 2500 mg/liter
- Calcium hardness
If you fail to control the pool water’s pH, then the effectiveness of chlorine will take a nosedive. It is imperative that you monitor the chlorine while maintaining the recirculation and filtration system’s function.
Don’t let RWI’s cost your business money with downtime.
Prevent RWI’s by:
- Regular maintenance of the recirculation and filtration equipment.
- Maintain awareness of the dangers of RWIs by hanging posters and providing brochures to patrons to inform them about the steps they can also take to prevent the spread of disease while using the aquatic facility.
- Use VivoPoint Aquatic Management Software to maintain the pool’s chemical levels. The software gives you the information you need on the dosing amounts, so you keep your commercial pool chemicals balanced and prevent RWIs.
Risking Chemical Exposure and Staff Injury
Mistakes happen and an accidental chemical exposure causes pool downtime and can impact your staff. It is imperative that your staff use personal protective equipment whenever handling dangerous pool chemicals.
To avoid accidental chemical exposure, you should:
- Store all pool chemicals according to all state and local building and fire codes.
- Keep the chemicals cool by maintaining a temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
- Train your staff in the proper and safe handling of all pool chemicals.
- Post instructions concerning pool chemical safety for staff in the chemical area, pump room and storage area.
- Provide rapid response if a chemical spill should occur.
- Ensure staff wear personal protective equipment when handling chemicals.
- Focus on preventive maintenance to catch any problems with parts or equipment.
Slow to Update Pool Equipment
Yes, updates cost money, but they are an investment in the future of your business. If you do not regularly update your aquatic facility then you risk falling behind the competition, creating a safety hazard and providing a lackluster experience for your patrons which will all chip away at your bottom line.
Always maintain the cleanliness of your commercial pool and equipment room. Never store dangerous pool chemicals near the equipment, heat, or water. Accidentally mixing certain pool chemicals can quickly create toxicity.
Ideally, in the floor of your equipment room, you should have a submersible pump with an automatic float switch installed to quickly drain away water or a chemical leak.
Remove obstructions or other obstacles around the perimeter of the pool and keep the deck clear of any debris which could pose a hazard. Position pool furniture at least five feet from the water’s edge. You want to make the exit and entrance to the pool easy and open at all times.
Avoid lawsuits and other costs by keeping all special safety equipment on hand and ready in the event of an emergency.
- Shepherd’s Hook: A shepherd’s hook is attached to a 16-foot pole. It has an 18-inch or greater hole and will easily support individuals up to 150 pounds.
- Toss Ring: A toss ring is attached to a rope so that it can be swung and thrown an even greater distance.
- Floating Safety Rope: Position a floating safety rope wherever the floor slopes from a four to six-foot depth.
Lack of Involvement in the Day-to-day Operations
As the owner of an aquatic facility, you might prefer to let your trained staff oversee the day-to-day operations of the commercial pool, but a hands-off approach is a mistake that will ultimately cost you money. No one is going to manage your commercial pool like you because you are truly vested in the entire endeavor. If an owner fails to remain vigilant then employee function will start to become lackluster which will cause the business to falter.
If you are running a multitude of commercial properties then you might feel like you are stretched thin so you want to let your staff handle the day-to-day operations. Sadly, whoever you put in charge is not going to hold to the same level of perfectionism which will ultimately cost you money as the quality of your commercial pool operations starts to slip.
If you have your hand in numerous businesses, then staying involved is a challenge. VivoPoint Aquatics Software helps manage your aquatic operations. It gives you an extra pair of eyes in a lot of ways. You can track your assets and budget so you can make concrete business decisions without missing a beat.
Access your facility’s data when you need it via your phone, desktop, or tablet. You’ll also receive a daily detailed log that outlines the pool’s water chemistry readings, documentation of any incidents, and operational task management. You can use the performance data that the software provides you to take your commercial aquatic facility to the next level, so you actually end up increasing profitability.
Not Maintaining Pool Equipment
Maintaining your aquatic facility’s HVAC system and other equipment is costly. Maintenance programs are carried out every six months and you might wonder if they are really necessary so frequently. Unfortunately, many commercial pool owners have a viewpoint of ‘if it's not broke don’t fix it.’ Failing to maintain your facility will cost a lot more money in the future.
To avoid major future repair expenses, you’ll want to set up and maintain a preventative maintenance program.
- Have your staff check pool chemicals several times throughout the day to ensure proper balance. Improperly balanced pool chemicals cause mechanical failure.
- All aquatic staff should have training and current certification as a Certified Pool Operator (COP) and Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO).
- Schedule preventative maintenance on your pool pump every quarter from a skilled pool company.
Failing to regularly maintain your equipment can lead to a costly pool closure.
Not Knowing Your Costs
Many aquatic facilities, especially those established for municipalities simply do not know their costs because the city takes care of certain expenses. If you do not know the basic costs of your commercial pool, then you are probably losing money. Does your facility rent out the pool for activities? Typically, commercial pools who rent out their facilities end up renting the pool for less than the actual operating costs because they simply don’t know how much it truly costs to operate the pool.
It is imperative that you have the data on hand to know the cost of running your pool every hour it is in operation so that you can charge a fair price. When you rent out your pool for special events you want to make money and not have it cost you money.
The city of Seattle was faced with taking a businesslike approach to operating its ten commercial indoor and outdoor pools. A decade ago, the cost recovery was less than 50 percent and they were struggling to keep the doors open.
The Seattle aquatics team was tasked with carrying out in-depth monthly financial analysis to create a cost comparison of cost and performance so they could have better asset management. They found that the free and discounted programs that they ran to provide inclusion were costing a substantial amount of money. To counterbalance everything and make money they increased fees. They also developed a targeted scholarship program so that low-income children could take swim lessons that were paid for with funds from donations and the city.
It is imperative to pay attention to what aquatic facilities across the country are doing to remain profitable. Most have increased fees and offer programs that have pricing that actually matches the cost that it takes to operate the pool, so they do not lose money but either break even or turn a profit.
Municipalities often drag their feet over the thought of raising prices because they worry about excluding low-income families, but a rate hike is often better than a complete pool closure.
Revenue Making Strategies for Commercial Pools
When the mercury rises, people flock to commercial pools for a quick cool off, entertainment, and exercise. However, despite the popularity of aquatic facilities, turning a profit is challenging for owners. We’ve looked at factors that could cost your pool money so now let’s examine a few revenue making strategies for commercial pools.
More Aquatic Offerings
Many people, young and old alike, enjoy swimming for fun and exercise. You should capitalize on the sport’s popularity by offering a wide assortment of aquatic activities such as swim lessons, water aerobics, and therapeutic water activities that help a wide assortment of people such as stroke survivors, paraplegics and more. You’ll want to cordon off a specific area of the pool for the activities and only offer them during non-peak hours.
One of the best strategies to generate revenue is offering basic swimming lessons. Reports show that in 2014, the city of Seattle, Washington launched an aggressive swim lesson campaign that focused on children and adults. They brought in $4.8 million in one year with swimming lessons.
It’s often hard for a commercial pool to compete against water parks with extreme slides and lazy rivers. You probably cannot financially justify installing wave pools or water rides, so you’ll need to come up with other fun ideas for parents and their kids to enjoy your natatorium for a low cost.
Splash play areas have become immensely popular for toddlers and children. You can outfit the area with cannons, tiny waterfalls, dancing fountains and bucket games. A splash pad usually doesn't require any major renovations and only takes a small amount of space at your aquatic facility. The main fun in a splash area is spraying friends with water so make sure you have plenty of appropriate water cannons available. Also, pick a fun theme such as a zoo or nautical scheme to make it more appealing and memorable.
Focus on Sustainability and Remain Vigilant
Yes, it’s nice to be a good steward and remain eco-conscious, but there is also a considerable savings involved. When your pool equipment needs replacing, consider spending a little more to purchase energy-efficient models that will provide you with substantial savings on your energy bills. You’ll enjoy increased efficiency and great savings.
Remain vigilant to what goes on at your pool on a day-to-day basis so you can cut corners on small things. You can save money with tech. Automatic pool cleaners have become extremely popular because they can effortlessly clean an entire pool. You won’t have to pay your staff to waste time cleaning the pool.
If your commercial pool is located outdoors, then always watch the weather. If it starts to rain or there are very few patrons at the facility, then don’t hesitate to cut staff loose early and send them home. There is no reason to have staff standing around doing nothing on a slow day.
Embrace Pool Automation Software
Pool automation software like VivoPoint gives you a leg up against the competition and helps you stay up to date on all of the operations at your commercial pool. After all, you can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken. Many pool owners simply don't know where they are losing money or where to start creating a strategy to increase revenue. Knowledge is the key to the entire process. With VivoAquatics software, you can budget and make secure purchasing decisions because you have all of the data at your disposal to know your expenses and profitability.
Are you ready to change your pool from a money user to a revenue maker? If so, we encourage you to contact VivoAquatics today to learn more about our software systems which give you the insight you need to scale your commercial pool and increase your profitability by streamlining operations.