The next time you walk out on your pool deck and it’s a busy
day, take a look around. It probably won’t take you more than
a few minutes to notice several patrons using cell phones or
handheld tablet devices. Wouldn’t it be great if you could
capture the attention of all those people via today’s
Unfortunately for many pool operators, particularly those in the
municipal sector, that’s not always a reality. In
today’s economy, budgets are limited and even when the
technology is free, there’s often a significant amount of red
tape to overcome.
But with a little know-how, you can break through and gain access
to tools including social networking platforms, the latest Web
wonders and even new hardware to better manage your team. Here are
nine strategies to help you stay on the cutting edge.
1. Create a plan. “Develop an idea of what
you want before you talk to anyone,” says Chris Griffith,
aquatic supervisor for the city of Paul’s Valley, Okla., and moderator of
the group on AI Connect,AI’s online professional social netowrk.
To adequately explain what you need and why, you must take the time
to evaluate your market and determine what will best meet current needs.
Be sure to also draft a policy statement governing use of the
technology. For example, if you’re proposing a new social
networking site, your policy statement should answer these questions:
• Who will be allowed to post?
• What topics will be covered?
• How many postings are expected to be delivered to your patrons daily?
• What happens when something inappropriate is posted?
• Who is ultimately responsible for the facility’s social media presence and content?
To further allay concerns, think of the audience. “Pinpoint
the specific demographic you’re going after,” says
Kathy Fisher, aquatic director at West Morris (N.J.) Area YMCA.
2. Demonstrate the benefits. Clearly articulating
the benefits of your proposal can go a long way toward winning
approval, Griffith adds. Be prepared to explain why what
you’re asking for is vital to your facility.
Data and statistics are key. Another good strategy is to provide
examples of what competitors are doing, suggests Stephanie Hee,
marketing specialist at NRH2O Family Water Park in North Richland Hills, Texas.
It also may be useful to present some examples of what high-level
brands are doing, and how their strategies are working. For
example, if you want to implement QR codes on your brochures, show
those in charge what a company such as Coca-Cola is doing. Coke
launched its first nationwide QR code program during the 2011 holiday season.
Finally, when presenting the benefits of what you are proposing,
remember that money talks. It’s difficult to oppose something
that’s free, so you can use the fact that many of the newest
tools come at low or no cost.
3. Understand your opponent. “Know who
you’re pitching to, what their personality is like, and what
they generally like,” Griffith says. “This will help
[prevent]you from accidentally offending someone and botching your
proposal.”Also develop a clear vision of how those
individuals will be involved.
“The biggest pushback we got was because they didn’t
want another arm out there broadcasting the city’s image
without direct oversight,” says Mark Foote, recreation
programmer for the city of
Mesa, Ariz. He recently launched a Facebook page for his
One way to calm these concerns is to demonstrate how your Web
vision will meet organizational goals. For example, you might
discuss how social networking builds community, Hee adds.
4. Focus on those you serve. Remember that
it’s all about your patrons. How will what you are requesting
better meet their needs?
Hee and her team acquired a small camera, which they use to create
videos from the waterpark. The videos are posted on YouTube, which
gives the public a closer view of the experience at NRH2O.
5. Arm yourself with knowledge. Technology changes
quickly and the individuals you might need to convince may not have
a strong understanding of what you’re asking for. Therefore,
you must become the expert.
“We had to go outside our circle,” Fisher notes. She
recalls that a year ago, before entering the world of social media,
the idea of status updates meant little to her. When her agency
decided it was time to go for it, they brought in experts to help
explain how it works and how it could be a valuable marketing
6. Start small. “You won’t always get
the ‘yes,’” Griffith says. “There is a
threshold to the amount of stuff you can get from even the most
lenient of people.” For that reason, it’s smart to
When Foote decided to jump into Facebook, he started by creating a
group just for his lifeguard staff. Once that was successful for
about a year, it was much easier to make the case for a public
7. Find supportive allies. As with almost any request, the
best supporters are those individuals in your organization who may
not necessarily be in a position to give you the go-ahead, but who
hold a good deal of power and influence over the
Allies might be board members, IT staff or leaders of other
departments who also want what you are requesting. Or you might
enlist the support of your direct supervisors, says Traci Tenkely,
aquatics coordinator for the city of Chandler, Ariz.
8. Be persistent. If your proposal is not accepted
immediately, request the ability to tweak the proposal and present
it at a later date. “Don’t get offended …,”
Griffith says. “If you get some backlash for something, they
likely don’t understand your position. If they respond
negatively, or just plain yell at you, apologize and ask if you can
try to explain more clearly your position and what you hope to
accomplish. If you have written information to provide, it can help
if you’re more gifted with a pen than your tongue. Or if they
like to read instead of listen.”
9. Professionalism and manners count. When it comes time
to make your proposal, be professional and polite. Prepare
thoroughly and “don’t expect softball questions; expect
rocks,” Griffith warns. Present your request with confidence
and thank those who made the decision — whether you get what
you want or not, he adds.
“It will stick with them and you may get something else later
because they remember your professionalism.”