Chamber member Andrew Kline, Jones, facility manager at AquaKids Swim School in McKinney shares his business insights.
What inspired you to start your business?
AquaKids is a family business started by my mom in 1999. I have been with the company since 2005. Teaching kids how to swim is one of the most important things in the world as on average, 10 people suffer from drowning each day.
What services or products do you offer?
AquaKids offers Group and Private Swim Lessons, Private Birthday Parties, and Swim Team in our year-round, indoor, heated pools in McKinney, Flower Mound, and Keller, TX. We also have retail swim shops at each of our locations carrying all of the products you need including goggles, swimsuits, swim diapers, swim caps, and more.
What is unique about your business?
There are many swim school options in the surrounding area. AquaKids is the best choice for many reasons. Here are the top 5:
- The ENTIRE AquaKids staff is certified through the American Red Cross in Lifeguarding/CPR/First Aid. This creates a culture of safety at all times. Safety is our #1 priority. Some other schools do not have a single Lifeguard on staff; even during Birthday Parties when kids are swimming without supervision. We also have 2 American Red Cross Lifeguarding/CPR/First Aid Instructors on staff.
- AquaKids performs background checks and drug tests on prospective new hire employees. In addition, random drug testing is conducted every month.
- AquaKids McKinney has 2 pools. This allows for babies and beginners to have their own swimming area during lessons which increases comfort and learning in the water.
- Student-teacher ratios across aquatics vary. However, the lowest ratios you will find are typically 4:1 (4 students to 1 instructor). AquaKids offers a 3:1 student-teacher ratio. This allows for more swimming time for each student compared to competitors.
- AquaKids McKinney’s price per lesson is cheaper than the competition.
All of these factors plus many more give each child the best chance to succeed in swim lessons with AquaKids.
How does your business give back to the community?
The main way that AquaKids gives back to the community is by teaching the community how to swim. This saves lives and decreases drowning statistics. AquaKids also donates to group and private lessons to many organizations in the local community. These donations raise money for various causes. In addition, we accept funding through Hope Floats for scholarships for families that cannot afford swim lessons.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to get where are today?
Although AquaKids opened its first location in 1999, our owner started teaching swim lessons in backyard pools and health clubs for years before opening that location’s doors. Opening a Swim School is not easy. The costs involved with the building process, including digging a pool as well as installing commercial pool equipment are very high.
Through the 5 above factors, we have been able to navigate the competitive DFW market and stand out as the best swim school in the market.
What methods have you used to grow your business?
AquaKids utilized word-of-mouth, drive-by, community involvement, as well as print and digital marketing to grow the business. We have only been open in McKinney for 9 months and we have more than 200 Google Reviews already. This shows that we are satisfying our customers.
What is the secret to keeping happy customers?
There is no secret to keeping the customer happy. Simply ask the customer and based on their feedback, you can gauge their satisfaction. In the end, satisfaction is related to value. If a customer feels that they are getting value for their hard-earned dollar, their satisfaction will increase.
The difficult part about our business is that we have 2 customers: the student and the parent. We have to ensure that the student is having fun in swim class and is asking the parent to come back and we also have to ensure that the parent feels that they are getting value for their money.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My parents are my greatest inspiration! My mom, Kathy Kline founded AquaKids in 1999 with the opening of our first location in Flower Mound. My dad was a hard-working, Godly man that passed away in 2014 from a brain tumor. I get my work ethic from my parents.
What is your most/least favorite thing about your business?
My favorite thing about AquaKids is the fact that we are working to save lives every single day. Whether it is through building lifelong skills in the water through swim lessons or performing a water rescue or saving a child that is choking on a snack, we save lives every day. That is very rewarding!
My least favorite thing about AquaKids is more of our biggest challenge – hiring good staff! We all face this challenge. We need people with aquatic experience, experience with children, and higher-level education and certifications. This pool of people is very hard to find. We have a lot of good ones within the walls of our pools!
Where do you see your business going in the future?
AquaKids is aiming to expand across Texas!
To what do you attribute your success?
I attribute the success of AquaKids to a group of hard-working, dedicated people that love children and want to change a child’s life!
How are you involved in the chamber and what is the effect on your business?
I have been involved in various Chamber events such as the Wednesday morning gatherings, new member breakfasts, marketing events, tabling opportunities, and ribbon cuttings.
What’s the best advice you would give a new chamber member to get the most out of their membership?
My advice to a new Chamber member would be to take advantage of all of the benefits that the chamber offers such as events and happy hours. Find a core group of people and find out what a good lead for them is. By referring business to your core group, they will, in turn, refer to you as well.