It's August, and that means aquatics facilities are incredibly busy as pool attendance hits its peak. But this is the time to begin planning for a successful season next year. Here are four key things aquatics operators should do this month.

1. Start negotiating with guards. For many guards, school starts up again, usually mid-month or later. But most pools stay open until Labor Day. This leaves Peper doing a lot of negotiating with guards to keep pools open as much as possible. Things he’s used: buying staff pizza; offering raises for that time of year; giving bonuses to guards who work the whole season. “Sometimes we find things that work,” he says. “But it’s always trial and error.”

2. Review the summer and standard of care. As pools shut down and staff, including head guards, prepare to depart for another year, now is the time to talk about the season and explore what can be learned and what needs to change for next season, Pritchard says. The goal in such reviews is always asking, “Are we meeting the standard of care?” It’s a tricky question that can lead to costly liability if not answered correctly. “None of that standard of care is written down anywhere because it’s all based on lawsuits,” she warns. “So as a newbie, how do you know that stuff? And how do you avoid becoming the precedent?”

3. Do maintenance walk throughs. With the season winding down, it’s time to check what requires fixing, says Twehous. Some parts of a facility may need to be shut down to do repairs, which can be a good way to close the door on the season as well.

4. Celebrate your staff. Like Pritchard, many managers close out the summer with lifeguard games or competitions, which allow guards to show off and have fun. Pritchard’s crew has another tradition: Prom Day, in which men where suits and women wear prom dresses — in the pool. “It’s like, ‘Oof, we’ve made it through,’” she says.