Celebrating your customers is crucial to your business because it’s the customers, coming in again and again, that keep it running. However, celebrating your customers isn’t always easy and can sometimes go by the wayside. We encourage you to always be thinking about ways you can improve on and implement strategies that give back by constantly identifying issues in your operational processes and making them better. Celebrate your customers!
Goldfish Swim School is a company that has outstanding core values and can provide you with amazing insights and strategies that we hope will get you thinking more about how you can celebrate your customers.
Tiffany Miller is the Director of Operations at Goldfish Swim School Franchising. Tiffany’s team is constantly working to identify opportunities to improve operations within the franchise system. The operations team works with their franchisees to develop enhanced solutions to roll out at each location. These are great lessons to help you celebrate your customers more, too.
But first, Tiffany’s story and how she got to where she is:
About nine years ago, Tiffany was looking for a switch from her tech career. She was looking for something that would inspire her and that she really enjoyed. One of her passions has always been swimming and teaching others how to swim. With this in mind, Tiffany joined the then small team at Goldfish Swim School at its first location in Birmingham, MI.
Starting out as a swim instructor, her role quickly developed into helping with almost everything in the school from pool deck operations and lifeguarding to working at the front desk and everything in between – whatever needed to be done. After a year in her role, she was promoted to the school’s first-ever General Manager. She put her operations background to work and immediately started working to continue to improve operations at the swim school.
After two years, the owners of Goldfish Swim School invited Tiffany to help on the franchise side of the business as they were starting to expand. With a baby on the way, Tiffany was looking for a career that would fit into her upcoming family lifestyle so she happily accepted.
After the birth of her daughter, Tiffany returned to work as the first employee in the franchise office. Because the corporate team was so small at the time, Tiffany took on a variety of tasks ranging from operations to human resources. The evolving role forced her out of her comfort zone at times, but it was exciting to witness the beginning of the creation of a successful brand.
“My goal is to take the lessons I learned every day in the school and apply them on a larger scale to benefit the entire franchise system. Even years later, we are still a growing brand so there’s never a day that’s exactly the same. Big decisions, changes, moves – always something new,” says Tiffany.
Keep in mind, when looking at your company’s operations, changes should be based on how they will better celebrate your customers. Eliminate unnecessary processes if they waste money, aren’t required by law or don’t add to a customer’s experience in a positive way. Introduce new processes that will benefit the customer like making a transaction process smoother or a product safer. When implementing new procedures, it’s important to ask how and if it celebrates your customers.
A large part of Tiffany’s job is making sure operational changes do just that as well as reflect the five core values of the company: GOLDEN Experience, WOW! Customer Service, Integrity/Compassion/Trust, Extraordinary Results, and Celebrate!
Here are a few examples of how effective operations at Goldfish are able to give back to the customer. While you may not be able to be apply them directly to your business because you aren’t in the learn-to-swim industry, they can definitely help you rethink how your organization operates. We hope you use them as foundational thinking points when you strategize on the best ways to celebrate your customers.
Goldfish Swim School provides a very unique experience for its students. The curriculum, which was carefully crafted by Co-founder and Owner Jenny McCuiston, is meant to teach kids how to swim (swimmingly!), but also develops their character in the process. Ultimately, the focus is on the kids – the entire facility was designed specifically with them in mind. Colorful murals and faux palm trees create a tropical environment in each location. To create a shiver-free environment, water temperatures are kept at an inviting 90 degrees at all times.
One lifeguard certified instructor teaches every four children and the curriculum focuses on safety skills. Classes are held year-round for kids ages 4 months to 12 years and, with flexible class times, they can accommodate the busiest of families.
Using the foundation that Jenny & Chris McCuiston worked for years to create and continue to refine, the franchise network successfully teaches over 50,000 kids each week how to swim and be safer in and around the water, all while having fun. It’s a large part of what keeps Goldfish members coming back again and again. And the product produces awesome results, which we’ll talk about later.
What WebPunch Thinks:
How does your product or service celebrate your customers? Is it carefully crafted? Well thought out? Does it celebrate your customers simply by being the best in the industry? Does it celebrate your customers by delivering consistent results like Goldfish Swim School? And is it constantly being reviewed, re-evaluated, and adjusted to make sure it continues to celebrate your customers the best it can? We know you want your product to be perfect, but unfortunately that’s impossible, especially in this day in age when information and technology is constantly shifting. It’s okay to change, in fact it’s necessary. Maybe the foundation of your product or service stays the same, but don’t be afraid to adjust and tweak as new information comes to light.
WOW! Customer Service
“Customer service is number one,” says Tiffany. “As hard as all of our locations work to provide the best experience around, of course there are times when everyone gets busy and something may get overlooked. In those situations, our teams know the most important thing to do is to listen to our members to ensure we are providing the best service possible.”
Companies get busy…sometimes you might get too busy to celebrate your customers. Even though that may be the case, taking steps to change that by listening to your customers is one of the first things you should do to show your customers they are number one in your business.
Noticing heavy workloads on General Managers in the schools, Goldfish rolled out a new position, Manager on Duty (MOD), with hopes it would alleviate some of the stress and allow more time to spend on increasing customer service. After testing the new role, it soon became clear that splitting the position into two specialties would provide a better solution.
The Sales/Service Manager focuses on the front desk operations and the initial customer service experience. The second role (Pool Operations Manager) is responsible for the technical operations, lifeguards and the pool itself.
Splitting the MOD position allowed managers to have clearly defined roles, knowing exactly what their responsibilities were so that they could focus their attention on those tasks and the team members in their respective departments. This has allowed for better internal operations, as well as increased customer service.
What WebPunch Thinks:
Are the different positions in your company enabling you to celebrate your customers? If positions are muddled and nobody knows what they are supposed to be doing, it’s possible the things you should be doing to celebrate your customers—among other tasks— are slipping through the cracks. Make sure your managers and employees know what their roles entail. Celebrate your customers by making sure your employees pay customers the most attention possible.
A huge part of Goldfish Swim School is the focus on safety. Students and parents alike need to understand the importance of being safer in and around the water. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children ages 1-4. To help combat this, the curriculum at Goldfish teaches skills that every child should know.
Every instructor at Goldfish is a certified lifeguard. Red Cross certifications are good, but Goldfish decided to take their certification standard up to another level. To become even better, the company switched to Ellis and Associates, a private facility that provides lifeguard certifications.
Ellis requires a yearly recertification after a very challenging test, as opposed to every three years, which is the industry standard. The company not only trains for lifeguard certification but also provides risk management and water safety training and are used by emergency response professionals. They also perform safety audits on each swim school location throughout the year. Some might think that was an extreme measure for the company to take, but Goldfish felt it was completely necessary – they are dealing with children in the water and need to ensure their safety to the utmost degree.
Goldfish Swim School is the only swim school partnered with Ellis (who mostly works with waterparks) and it is a factor that sets them apart from other learn-to-swim programs.
What WebPunch Thinks:
It’s okay to make operational changes. But again, they need to be for your customers. They need to celebrate your customers. Does the new process, product or service provide your customers safety, a more efficient transaction process or a better product overall? Does it fit into the company model and celebrate your customers? If not, toss it. Get rid of it. Make sure it celebrates your customers.
Another key factor that keeps Goldfish Swim School far above water is their proven results. Across their 36 locations (and growing!), over 50,000 kids are learning how to swim every week.
Further, Tiffany provides an anecdotal testament to the company’s successful curriculum. During high school and college, she taught swim classes at a local community pool. She, as well as the parents and students, were frustrated by all the barriers the kids ran into while learning to swim. Maybe the curriculum would suddenly change, the environment was wasn’t comfortable or the classes didn’t mesh with family schedules. Whatever the case, kids were slow to learn and the instructors weren’t aptly certified. Goldfish is quite different. As we mentioned earlier, Goldfish has a solid curriculum, flexible hours and a comfortable learning environment. Tiffany said she taught more kids how to swim in the first year she worked at Goldfish than the five years she taught at the local pool. . . that’s results.
What WebPunch Thinks:
Customers should experience positive results from your product or else what’s the point? Positive results should be a result of your awesome product or service. It may be one of the best ways to celebrate your customers because a great product/service equals great results. Make sure you are celebrating your customers with awesome products/service and easy ways to get them.
Celebrate (your customers!)
Finally, Celebrate! We’ve been talking about how to celebrate your customers all along, but in indirect ways like processes, results, the actual product and so on. But why not actually celebrate them? And while you’re at it, celebrate your employees because they will celebrate your customers too.
Every month, each Goldfish Swim School location gives out four awards to celebrate the success of their students learning how to swim or overcoming their fears of the water.
The awards are meant to go to kids that are breaking through barriers. Tiffany says if a franchisee can’t provide a really great success story for a student they award, they probably selected the wrong kid. Goldfish strives to truly celebrate kids that are facing their fears or accomplishing something—for good reason.
These success stories are displayed at the locations for all to see and celebrate. This reassures the parents, as well as inspires the kids, to reach their personal goals in the water.
As for employees, in addition to recognizing Employees of the Month, Goldfish Swim School holds annual internal swim meets for their teams to have friendly competitions, celebrate with each other and talk about celebrating customers.
We love Goldfish Swim School, because we think they celebrate their customers through and through. We think it’s amazing how they keep their fingers on the pulse of their company’s operations so that they can take, add and improve from it all in the name of their customers.
They celebrate customers from every angle; from the quality of their product to the customer experience to constantly tinkering with their operations so that their customers continue to be WOW’d. Goldfish Swim School doesn’t stop at the basics. They go above and beyond, like when they decided to switch lifeguard certifications. They could have stuck with Red Cross like all the other swim schools, but that wasn’t good enough for their members so they took it to an entirely different level.
We hope you can do the same. We hope you can think about how to better celebrate your customers, because it’s incredibly important. Check where your customer satisfaction level is. Say you shoot for a six out of ten. Bump it up to a seven and shoot for a 12. Don’t skimp on celebrating your customers; the reward will be bigger than you imagined.