Staffing a Commercial Aquatics Center in 2013
by Monique Nelson on June 25th, 2013

I recently created a survey to find out what is of interest to commercial swimming pool operators. If you missed the survey, and would like to take it to give me your much anticipated insight to a unique industry, you can still find it here: Commercial Pool Operators - What Interests YOU?

One of the issues that was mentioned more than once was Staffing. I thought this would be a very interesting discussion topic, so I did some research. I found myself delving into some of the key industry publications for more information about staffing best practices, setback, cutbacks and much more...

Want to know what I found out?

From Recreation Management Magazine

2012 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

swimming pool and deck with a pool closed sign
According to this report about the state of the industry from last year, 46.6% of respondents were planning on reducing their staffing levels. In fact, next to increasing energy efficiency, this was the most popular means of reducing operations expenses.

With that being said, however, that was actually an increase in the average number of employees over 2011, with the biggest jump in growth coming from community and sports facilities. Of course, some segments did drop in numbers, notably YMCAs.

I recommend you read the entire report, which you can find here:

From Parks & Recreation

The Long Slog

I am actually quoting quotes here, but this source had a nice collection of statistics NRPA survey of member and non‐member park and recreation professionals. The numbers I found most interesting were:
  • 65% of the respondents did not have to cut part‐time and seasonal positions and 76% didn't have to cut full‐time staff positions
  • Similarly, over 70% didn't expect to have to cut part-time or seasonal staff, and approximately 78% didn't think they woudl be cutting full-time staff either
You can read all the details Parks & Recreation Magazine chose to share here:
Now that we have some grasp of what is happening to staff in the industry, lets take a look at what that means for managing staffing.

From Aquatics International

States Face New Laws

lifeuard looking over swimming pool
This article discussed various new state laws that are affecting the way commercial aquatics centers staff their facilities, basing the number of lifeguards required on a combination of swimming pool square footage and number of swimmers. The idea is that it will help efficiently schedule the appropriate number of lifeguards while still maintaining safety.

They also discuss laws that pertain to consturction, and if you'd like to read the full account, you can follow this link:

From Parks & Rec Business

Managing Aquatic Facilities

This article is a close look at the difference in staffing needs between different types of commercial swimming pool facilities and the variety of staff needed to take care of their customers. Balancing safety, service and supervision is a formula that obviously requires a lot of evaluation and analysis.

The article is a good read, and you can find it here:
Knowing where the industry stands on the subject of staffing, and the unique problems and requirements facing aquatics facilities is all well and good, but it doesn't really help us figure out a way to make ends meet. Staffing is one of the largest costs for a facility, and in an economy where just about every business is concerned with making every penny count, how can the commercial aquatics industry cover their costs?

From Parks & Rec Business

Deep Pockets Not Required

Photo credit: pmorgan / / CC BY-NC-ND
two men cleaning a large commercial swimming pool
While certainly not a cure all for every public swimming pool in North America, this article paints a very pretty and creative picture for the financial fate of community aquatics centers. 

It tells the story of a small town that was able to create programs that are entirely funded by their community. By knowing what their patrons want to participate in, they are able to offer very targeted programs that pay for themselves through sponsorships. Not only are they able to grow their programming this way, but it covers the costs of staffing (bringing new jobs to the community!) and provides quality activities that are in demand and well attended. 

Instead of shutting down their services, they keep they found a way to keep their programs alive and thriving!

To read the full article, following this link:
After learning all of this information, it is not surprising that "staffing" came up as a major concern in my survey, Commercial Pool Operators - What Interests You?

If you add to this the idea that your community has very particular ideas of what your scheduling should look like, facility managers are put in a tough spot trying to work out the details of their staffing. 

I'd like to leave you with one final thought...If you are looking for ways to reduce your operating costs, in order to give your budget a bit more room to allow for staffing, consider adding a liquid pool cover to your pool maintenance program. There are many aquatics centers using Heatsavr right now that are saving up to 40% on their energy bills (not to mention the added savings on their water costs!). How much could you accomplish if you had that 40% to spend on other operations? Email me with the square footage of your swimming pool, and your pool season, and I will reply to you as soon as possible with estimated costs, savings and installation details. [email protected]

What are you waiting for!?

Posted in Commercial Facilities    Tagged with staffing a commercial aquatics center, commercial aquatics center, aquatics center, commercial pool operators, commercial swimming pool, commercial swimming pool operators, swimming pool operators, swimming pool operator, commercial swimming pool operator, commercial aquatics facilities, commercial aquatics facility, aquatics facility


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