Goals and challenges

When large volumes of people visit any public facility, there are bound to be challenges.

Leaders at Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center in Chandler, Ariz., needed to accommodate the needs of many different visitors, while still making sure each customer has a positive experience.

The team designed a menu of offerings to suit individuals from a range of ages and competencies, from infant to adult, and from no swimming experience to those training for swim teams or triathlons. This is accomplished through many programs, including Learn-to-Swim, Lap Swim, Aqua Fit, Stroke Development, Recreational Swim Team, and others.

In addition, schools, community groups, businesses, churches and families host events there.

This means traffic can become dense. According to Beth Grasser, head pool manager, the location draws more than 2,000 guests daily over summer and saw 145,000 in the 2015 season.

While the best challenge to have, this traffic poses logistical issues. “Most days over summer we reach our capacity in less than an hour, and guests are faced with the decision to wait in line or go to another facility 15 minutes away,” Grasser says.

Many choose to wait because of the facility’s reputation, but long lines on hot days can be problematic. People get cranky, which can lead to negative feelings if lines aren’t handled smoothly.

The team wanted guests to view their experience as positive from start to finish.

How they did it

The team began by changing check-in and line operations. Staff starts ringing in customers 15 minutes before opening time. “This allows us to get over 100 customers processed and in our gates from the moment we open, instead of continuing to have them stand in line and opening our register right at our opening time,” Grasser says.

The staff also established a pass-holder line for customers with pre-purchased or season passes, which can be scanned for quicker entry.

For those still waiting, Mesquite makes the time as comfortable as possible. Staff provides free water and frequently walks the line to share facility rules, estimated wait times, and where else guests can go if waits are too long. Water misting “Big Tex” fans keep customers cool. These steps show the facility cares about guests’ experience.

At the end of each lesson, participants receive a customer satisfaction survey. Staff seriously considers feedback, and takes the initiative to respond. Their dedication is evident by Mesquite’s 4.5-star Yelp rating.