"Trailer for sale or rent, pool to let, 50 cents." Well not quite, but the idea works. Many successful Learn to Swim businesses started as tenants in motel, apartment or homeowner's association pools. In today's market, add health clubs to that mix.
There are underutilized pools out there for the finding, but it is not an easy task. One of the first things you have to analyze and realize is that some pool owners don’t want their pools to be busy and don’t care if they makes or lose money. It’s OK to talk with these people but seldom will you find a common ground.
Another important area you have to be prepared to address is insurance and liability. Regardless of risk management procedures in place, if something bad happens, everyone will be sued. Why would the pool owner want this exposure? Of course the answer to that is “if you have a pool, you already have that exposure”. A professional Learn to Swim business on site with a great risk management plan lessens that exposure. This can take some convincing and it helps to have a nationally recognized Learn to Swim agency behind you. (Just as a point of information, posting signs “Swim at your own Risk” does not release liability for negligence. The signs might as well say: “Swim at your own Risk and here is our attorney’s phone number so you know where to send the summons!”
There are also marketing advantages you can develop that will show the pool owner how a Learn to Swim on site can enhance his position in the community. Check out Make a Splash for some ideas. Get the picture? The pool owners have to have something substantial in it for them to even consider allowing you to rent their pools.
Next hook – money! You cannot expect to get the pool for free. That is simply not good business for either party. There are quite a few valid ways to offer the pool owner money for the pool time you need. Here are just a few.
- Water time lease: This arrangement is one of the simplest to understand. You need a certain area of the pool in which to teach lessons. You probably will not get the whole pool at convenient time for your lessons so negotiate for a reasonable space that will not infringe on the pool owner’s customers. Rule of Thumb: the national average for water space rental is 15 cents per square foot per hour. So if you wanted to rent an area 10’ x 20’ that would be 200 sq ft x 15 cents = $30 per hr.
- Lane rental: If the pool is a larger pool that has lane lines as dividers, you can rent 1 or 2 lanes per hour. For a 25 yard lane the national average is $14 per lane per hour. For a shorter 20 yard pool the average is $10 per lane per hour.
- Flat fee: Offer a daily fee of say $50 for a portion of the pool. The draw-back of this is that when your lessons program takes off and you need more pool time the owner will want to renegotiate.
- Per class fee: Offer to pay the pool owner a set amount per class per day.
- Per person fee: Offer to pay the pool owner a set amount per person per day.
- Percentage of gross: Offer the pool owner a percentage of your income. What you are really doing is offering him a minority partnership in your business. This requires more bookkeeping and more trust between principals.
- Access fee: This can work well in health clubs. You charge a registration fee or pool access fee in addition to your lessons fees. That fee is usually between $10 and $25 per student and is paid up front when the session of lessons are prepaid. It is in a separate check or transaction and is made payable to the pool owner. You can negotiate whether this is a yearly fee per person or a per sessions fee.
Bottom line is that you have to make money and so does the pool owner. You also have to have a clear and fair arrangement with the pool owner concerning:
- Liability insurance
- Pool maintenance and upkeep
- Use of shower an dressing areas
- Pool water and air temperature
- Pool water and air quality
- Deck cleanliness and accessibility
- Emergency action plans
- Advertising and signage
- Interaction with other pool users
- Lifeguards/Water Watchers with (CPR & 1st aide)
So there is a little more involved than the seemingly simple question “can I rent your pool?” Be prepared to discuss all of the points above. The pool owner will appreciate your professionalism and may be more inclined to consider your offer. For more information please contact: Sue Nelson.