Recently, my pool’s main pump broke so we were out of commission for a few days. Using my “secret network of fellow Social Directors,” I quickly got in touch with two other nearby pools to ask that our members be allowed to swim there in our time of need. One put it to a quick Board vote via email and the other just cleared it with their President who said, “sure, why not”. So, within a few hours, we had two equally great back-up pools.
This showed some awesome neighborhood camaraderie, and as the downtime crept into the weekend, everyone had a blast inter-mingling on Saturday and Sunday. Keep in mind, these are neighborhood pools, so parents all knew each other from school connections, church, synagogue, little league, the local watering holes, you name it. So it wasn’t like strangers were forced to swim with each other for a few days. My city, Dunwoody, considers itself one big neighborhood (their unofficial motto), and that’s exactly what this felt like: one big neighborhood get-together. Which got me thinking that our pools need to intermingle more often.
So, how do we best co-mingle pools? The first thing to consider is how to make sure only members are visiting other member-only pools….
Get member’s wearing wristbands (if they don’t already)
I think every neighborhood pool needs to issue wristbands for their members. 300 wristbands is only about $100. And yes, it’s a pain to distribute these to members, but that’s why you ask for a volunteer to do this once-a-year thing. If your club sends out newsletters announcing 3 or 4 “wristband handouts,” which could even be at a member’s house from say, 5pm-7pm, you should be able to get them into most members’ hands. With our club, we always have some stragglers that don’t pick theirs up, but when that list gets down to only 15 or so families, we just start dropping them in mailboxes.
As much as your Pool Dues-powered Member Check In app can do, it can’t stop gate-crashers as well as a wristband can (nor can a paper sign-in book for that matter). You need something that’s easily identifiable on EVERY member above a certain age that screams “I belong here”.
Now if you do an occasional inter-pool event (or if your pool’s pump breaks), the pool receiving strangers will know for sure those are banded-members from your pool.
When to organize inter-pool get-togethers?
Obviously, that’s going to be something you and your like-minded neighboring pool(s) will need to discuss. Here are some thoughts…
Particular events. For example, a pool volleyball tournament, your Adult Night Parties, Teen Night parties, a Mommy’s Morning Out, etc.
A particular day of the week. For example, Wednesdays. You don’t want to pack too many neighboring-members in on a busy weekend, but let’s face it, even the busiest of pools usually aren’t that busy during the work week.
Or how about this…
Create a Sister-Club Network with Revenue Share
Find 3 or 4 neighboring pools that have wrist-banded members and similar yearly dues. Propose to them that Monday-Thursday members can use any pool within the “sister club” network.
Essentially you’re making it so guest fees are waived for members of your sister clubs. But as we all know, most clubs rarely enforce their own guest fees and barely make any money off cash boxes anyway (though that’s something your Pool Dues portal can solve).
Here’s the key part. This isn’t free. This is an add-on fee only available to members of those 3 or 4 clubs (again, a perfect fit for your Pool Dues portal).
Our yearly membership is $550. As a father of 4 kids (almost 5 now), I would pay as much as $100 more to visit 3 or 4 other pools in the summer. I know my kids would love to vary which pool we visit. Different pools mean different playgrounds, high dives, maybe even water slides. And as a parent, I’d love the social aspect of meeting other parents in the community.
So let’s suppose 4 pools did this. They have 1000 families between them. Now let’s assume 300 families paid $100 more for the Sister Pool Network option. Are you ready for some math…
That’s $30,000. Split 4 ways that’s $7,500 per pool.
Win-Win for Pools and Members….
1. Can you say your pool made $7500 in guest fees last year? Or $5000 or even $2500…. Probably not. And your club definitely did not make that much money from people that already had a home club nearby. Most of your guest fees probably come from out of town guests, birthday parties, adult friends, etc. They do not come from people swimming 1 mile away.
2. It costs nothing to try. It’s just an extra Cart option you can add to your payment portal.
3. If you limited the days to Monday-Thursday that members could hop pools, that still leaves your peak days (Friday-Sunday) exclusive to members. Which also ensures that prospective members are still going to favor their closest pool.
4. This add-on feature also becomes a huge perk to your membership in general.
June 4, 2018