Michael Clark is the Business Development Director for Swimming Nature, the largest independent provider of personalised swimming tuition in the UK. Michael has over 20 years of experience within the sector, which include senior positions at Living Well and Leisure Connection (1Life), and two years spent at Fitness First heading up innovation and development. With experience in creating the ultimate customer experience, he is the driving force behind Swimming Nature’s business growth.
We spoke to Michael about:
- The overlooked financial and added value opportunities in swimming provision
- The growth and innovation in water-based products and services
- How to maximise return for your facility
When it comes to identifying revenue streams, why do you think swimming is often overlooked?
I don’t necessarily think swimming is overlooked, rather it’s underestimated hence it drops down the list. Equally the way in which water has been used to generate revenue, until recently, has remained fairly unchanged whilst more traditional fitness and exercise formats have marched on so operators may not yet be aware of the possibilities. At Swimming Nature we offer new ways to generate revenue from pools which sit alongside the existing swimming lesson provision.
What is the revenue potential from water-based products?
It’s difficult to give averages as pools and venues differ so dramatically but in the world of premium swimming tuition, for example, it isn’t unusual for a progressive operator to generate in excess of 100k per annum via the direct hire fees and profit share.
“It isn’t unusual for a progressive operator to generate in excess of 100k per annum”
What products / services are suitable for introducing into pools?
This really depends on the pool environment, be it hotel, local authority or private sector. Swimming lessons and personal swimming tuition are the obvious offerings that can suit all but beyond that the water workout/fitness provision is expanding and diversifying all the time, in-part due to wearable technology and the physical variety that water based training can offer.
We are creating a unique water-workout for adults that incorporates swimming drills, PB training and general fitness session, so the client gets to improve their swimming/stroke as well as getting a really effective, low-impact workout. It’s a break from the grind in the gym and allows an operator to start viewing their water real estate as another gym floor.
What innovation is happening in water-based products and delivery?
Technology will start to play a big part as it has in fitness. Bespoke wearables, some wrist based and some built into wetsuits, will become prevalent and provide an array of data to help children and adults track progress and see the significant physiological benefits of swimming and water workouts. A step further will see augmented reality add a gaming element, especially within the children’s swimming tuition market. We are working on our own wearable that will send key performance data to our instructors and clients to view on a simple dashboard. This then links to a learning algorithm that creates the ideal plan for the next session/s.
“Bespoke wearables will provide an array of data to help track progress and see the significant physiological benefits of swimming”
How do you decide on the right product or service for your facility?
It’s really about choosing something that will add tangible value and differentiation; so it is well worth investing the time researching the numerous approaches to swimming tuition to find a solution that seamlessly fits operationally and strategically.
What consideration should you give to your current membership when hiring pool space to a third party?
There is no way of pleasing everyone especially when it comes to how the pool time and space is allocated so trials are always a good way to start alongside creating a defined water-strategy that then shapes how the pool is best used.
Are there any other benefits to increasing your water-based offering besides income?
There are now so many different ways to offer “swimming” that the provision/s an operator chooses can help them differentiate themselves in the market, but also start to create another space for members to credibly view as a place to train and learn which can only help retention.