The Beatles got by with a little help from their friends, and according to Jill White, co-founder of Starfish Aquatics Institute in Champaign, Ill., during tough times it may be more important than ever for aquatics facility operators to recognize the value of relationships with their key stakeholders.
White says she's seeing cutbacks across the industry, with many operators either hurting due to the weak economy or simply "playing it safe," as a result of weak consumer confidence. "Agencies are cutting costs by closing pools, cutting staff hours and freezing capital improvements not previously budgeted," she says. "There's also exploding interest in energy management as a way to save on operations costs. I think that trend is here to stay, and that's a good thing."
Green technologies are one way to lower operational costs, but how can you increase revenue? White suggests seeking creative collaborations. This might mean looking to the local business community for potential partnerships or reaching out to key city officials so that they better understand the safety implications of budget cuts.
It's also important to remember how powerful your patrons can be. "One thing we do have in our favor is that [pool patrons] are committed to wellness, love aquatics and want their kids to learn," White says. "That makes us a little bit recession-proof."