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Balancing increased fees with returning members

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by , February 15th, 2016 at 01:00 AM (2221 Views)
Q: I need to increase my program fees to meet expenses but I'm afraid I'll lose members. Any suggestions?

A: Most Masters swimmers participate in USMS clubs and workout groups for the coached workouts, access to pools at convenient locations and times, as well as the social benefits of a group activity. Knowing your swimmers and what they desire from your program will help you overcome a financial shortfall.
Before raising fees, evaluate if you can reduce or eliminate certain expenses that won't result in a diminishment of the benefits your swimmers value most.
Remember, youre dealing with adults who choose to come to swim.

Look to reduce the following expenses if they apply to your program:
Lane rental. Can you renegotiate the cost of the rental fees? Would the rental rate be reduced if you were organized as a nonprofit entity? Can you barter for reduced lane rental fees by volunteering your time or the time of your programs members for events held at your aquatic facility? Can you reduce the number of lanes you are currently renting?
Lifeguard fees. Can the Masters coach with current lifeguard and first response certification eliminate the expense of a lifeguard? Before implementing this change, know your local regulations. Determine if one individual can have duel responsibilities such as serving as the coach and lifeguard at the same time. Also, review your facilitys Emergency Action Plan for compliance issues.
Insurance. Take advantage of the USMS insurance policy for liability and excess accident coverage. When properly in force, the USMS insurance policy protects coaches, athletes, and facilities.
Coaches compensation. Im a huge proponent for Masters coaches being paid handsomely for quality coaching. Unless youre being paid a wage thats outlandish, stand firm on this expense line item. The health and longevity of the program depends on your wellbeing.
Travel expenses. Many Masters coaches travel to swim meets with their program. Depending on the size of your group, many hotels will offer group discounts. If the meet host hasnt arranged discounts with the local lodging establishments, call and ask hotels for a discounted room thats cheaper than the normal room rate. In some cases, based on the size of your group, the hotel may be willing to offer one or more complimentary rooms. Look for hotels that offer free breakfast, free parking, and shuttle service.
If youve trimmed expenses and still have a financial shortfall, consider other sources of revenue before increasing program fees. Additional revenue sources are:

  • Lesson program
  • Fundraisers
  • Sponsorships
  • Events hosting swim meets and clinics
  • Merchandise sales
  • Organized swim vacations
  • Volunteer services
  • Grants
  • Gifts

Part two of this series will expand on these and other sources of revenue you can develop.
Once the adults in your program know that youve been diligently trying to keep program fees from increasing while maintaining those benefits that are important to them, such as ample lane space, they may be more willing to pay a higher program fee.

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