As a privately owned swim school, you may feel like you’re facing a lot of stiff competition from the larger, corporate-owned schools. That’s because you are! That doesn’t mean that you can’t compete and thrive. As a smaller, privately owned company you still have a lot to offer your customers. You have a lot of resources at the tip of your fins that larger companies don’t; make a solid plan to utilize them and you’ll be able to hold your own just fine.

1. Use your size to your advantage.  

73504_Jay Feitlinger_Swim School Competitive Wheel Steps_D2_040517.jpgAs a smaller swim school business, you don’t have to answer to a panel of decision makers or executives that are higher up the corporate chain. That gives you the ability to make changes on the fly. You can change your programs, add new offerings, or even have a last-minute sale without having to wait for approval. This will help you adapt to your market, meet customers’ needs more quickly, and swim freely.

2. Focus on the people.

While having systems, structures, and processes in place will help run your business and keep your customers safe, make sure that’s not all you’re focusing on. People don’t want to feel like a number or a process, and if that’s all you focus on, they can tell, and they won’t be customers for long. Don’t let your customers feel like they are small fish in a big pond; make sure you are constantly addressing their pain points, needs, and wants to keep mutually beneficial relationships that you don’t want to lose to the bigger companies.

3. Maintain customer delight.

Show the people who already are your customers how much you appreciate them. They’re the ones keeping your business alive. For example, train your staff to ask smart questions of your customers, and really listen, and have them input that info into your CRM software for that individual client profile. When the time comes up to either address a customer concern or to reward them for being a great customer, you can personalize your response and make them feel very special. Fostering a healthy and meaningful relationship with your current customers will make sure they stay your customers. Not only that, a happy customer is the best advertisement you could have!

4. Don’t forget about social media.

It’s a great, free way to stay connected to your current customers, and to reach out to new local people who might be looking for your programs. Large franchises typically don’t do a good job maintaining social media profiles in the local communities where they have locations, so ramp up the engagement with current followers to stay relevant and top of mind.

5. Add a local blog to your media strategy.

Big franchises most likely aren’t spending time focusing on local issues. Their content topics tend to speak to a broad audience so niche topics about communities is rare to nonexistent. Blogging about your company is not only a good way to get your name out there, but if you make your blog more about local events and things that matter to the community, people are going to come for local news and will end up learning about your company in the process. Also, pushing local content on your school’s site will positively increase your rankings in local search results, driving more traffic to your site. Win-win!

6. Local charities are a must.

Pay attention to what’s coming up on the local events calendar and team up with organizations that are targeting the same people who fit your buyer personas. When you network and help support local causes and charities, it not only gets your name out to more people, it also shows that you truly care about your community and the people in it (because you do!). The message that you want to portray is that if you care to participate in the community, then you’ll put in the effort to win and value the memberships to your swim school.

7. Do your research. crop swim school local vs franchise.jpg

When you’re looking at connecting with your local community, through social media, blogging and supporting local causes, make sure you’ve done your homework and know what’s really going on. Your size gives you the ability to dive deeper into your local community and generate a stronger understanding of that community’s needs, something a large franchise is going to struggle with. Knowing your locals well is going to help you truly give them the services and programs they want and need – and that’s going to keep them coming back to you time after time.

Don’t let size intimidate you, as they say, ‘Dynamite comes in small packages.’ You can do this! If you would like to know more about how to compete against bigger fish in your pond, please contact us! To dive in even deeper to see how StringCan helps swim schools like yours, download our free ebook below.