The hardest part of starting swim lessons out of my house was deciding how much to charge. It was seriously nerve-wracking and I did a ton of research before deciding on my price. If you are considering teaching swim lessons one of your first concerns if going to be how profitable this new venture can be for you. This means that before you design your program you will want to evaluate how much money you can make and how much money you can charge for your lessons.
How much should you charge for swim lessons? Generally, private instructors charge $10-30 per half hour, but there are several different factors that come into play when you are deciding how much to charge for your lessons. Some of these considerations are the location in which you live length of the lessons, session length, experience as well as size of the class.
Your Location will Affect how much you Charge for Swim Lessons
One of the first things you will want to do is to check what the going rates for lessons in your area are. If you live in a hot location, like me (Las Vegas), there will be many different programs that you will need to look into before you are able to really understand the market.
Typical places to begin your search are with local recreation centers. Most of the programs are fairly typical across the board. They will be eight to nine half hour classes spread over two or three weeks. These are a great starting place because it is what comes to mind when parents are looking for swim lessons.
These programs are often the cheapest options out there with prices of 4-8 dollars per class. This is very inexpensive, but it should be mentioned kids will often have to repeat levels multiple times before passing and before they acquire the skills necessary to swim.
Some recreation centers do require their instructors to pass a training course before teaching, but this does not mean that these instructors have much skill, knowledge or interest in swimming beyond that. I do not want to sound critical of recreation swim programs because that is where I learned and where I began teaching myself, but the low price tag comes with some very real draw backs so you should not feel pressure to compete with their pricing, just use it as your base line comparison.
Another institution you may want to price out is a private water instruction facility. These are businesses such as Water Wings that are privately owned and are typically the most expensive of the lessons one could choose. These programs can be structured differently depending on the company so it really depends on your area.
The ones I have researched have usually offered a subscription program where you pay an initial price as well as a monthly fee that allows you to attend one lesson per week. The prices can be anywhere for $20-30+ per lesson.
I cannot attest to the success rate of these programs, but it can be difficult for young children to acquire the skills necessary to become proficient if they are only attending class once per week. When you are setting the price you are going to charge, these private institutions will probably set the ceiling since they are building in a lot of overhead into their fees, which you will hopefully not have to worry about.
With a floor and a ceiling, you will want to try and find some other independent swim teachers to find out how their pricing works. Most independent swim teacher will be happy to share this information with you as well as some pointers with teaching in your area.
This can be confusing because they will be your market competitors, but in reality parents will choose a swim instructor that best fits their child and it is good if you have references for parents if you become too busy or there is an instructor that would be better suited to a specific child. An independent swim instructor’s prices can truly vary, but they are typically in the $10-$30 per lesson range depending on location and whether it is private or a group lesson.
Once you have found out the going rates for the options available in your community, you will most likely have a number in your mind. This is when you will want to move on and evaluate some other factors and adjust your price accordingly.
The Length of your Swim Lessons will Help Determine the Rate you Charge
After finding a rate that seems reasonable, you will want to consider how long the lessons will last. Most lessons will run for 25-30 minutes, but you may be trying an accelerated program with longer or shorter lessons based on what you are trying to accomplish. If your lesson length is longer, you will obviously increase your base price and if it is shorter, you may decrease your price per lesson. It is important to keep in mind the child’s ability to thrive in the class length provided. Longer classes will mean more money, but children wear out quickly so their ability to learn may decrease drastically the second half of the class.
The Session Length or Number of Lessons will Impact the Rate you Charge
As you are considering how much to charge your patrons for lessons, you will want to consider how many sessions to offer. Most of the suggestions I have been making have been priced per session which is a good way to think about what you are charging, but you may not want to offer that to clients up front.
Packaging lessons in one or two week sessions provides many advantages in terms of profitability, as well as success. Firstly, and probably most obviously, when you offer swim lessons in a session, you are committing those clients to paying a more substantial amount of money than you would make in just a single lesson.
Secondly, having sessions means less administrative work to schedule, manage and keep track of individual clients and individual lessons. There are many advantages to requiring clients to commit to a session, but the best reason is it provides you and your client the framework to see real progress.
Since most swim clients are children, a single lesson is not enough time to make drastic changes. Sessions are a smart idea, but they do influence how much you can charge. Obviously, requiring a session means a greater price tag for parents. When $30 for a single lesson may seem reasonable, a parent may have second thoughts when that price rockets to $240 for 8 lessons. Whether or not you require a session commitment or provide single lessons, you will want to keep in mind what that does to your price point and adjust accordingly.
Your Experience Should Affect the Price you Charge for Swim Lessons
Most people reading this article are going to have some experience teaching swim lessons. The experience you have is valuable and a great selling point to clients, however, experience is not necessarily a great reason to raise your prices. I taught swim lessons for 8 years, swam competitively, coached, worked with Special Olympics and special needs children, played water polo, as well as lifeguarding, but when I began teaching lessons out of my home, I had to re-evaluate what that experience meant after such a long break from teaching.
Due to my long break from teaching, I decided to lower my prices so that I could take time to reacquaint myself with the process. Also, teaching at a public facility, with a structured plan that I was required to follow was a different experience than I was hoping to provide. Yes, I had experience teaching, but I did not have experience teaching these lessons, at my own location and I wanted to give myself time to fine tune the process. All of these factors come into play when you are deciding on your pricing. If you are just beginning your swim teaching journey, it may be wise to offer discounts to new students, which will make parents a lot more forgiving of any bumps in the road that may occur.
If you have been teaching for a long time and are deciding whether or not to raise your prices, the big question you may want to ask is if your lessons are consistently full, if your advertising is solid, and if you are acquiring new students annually.
Turning away students is never ideal, but it may mean that you are in such high demand you can handle a price bump without feeling any ramifications. Once your program is solid, raising your prices is expected on some level, but make sure to be cognizant of returning clients and making them feel valued and appreciated. Although swimming is a seasonal activity, word of mouth is year round and a few dollar sacrifices to keep your schedule full is well worth a small loss.
The Class Size you are Teaching will Change the Price you Charge for Swimming Lessons
A major component of the swim lesson charge is going to be class size. Depending on how many children you allow into your class at a time, you are able to charge more or perhaps considering charging less. The more children you allow into a class, the more money you potentially stand to make since each student will be paying a fee.
Larger classes, however, mean that you have less time devoted to each child and will therefore be less able to help each child thrive. Choosing a class size is a careful balance. For many parents, a larger price tags sets the expectation of more time devoted to their child.
An easy method to seeing if your price for a group lesson is too high or low is by setting a price for what you would hope to make per 30 minute lesson, regardless of class size. If you are hoping to make $30 a half hour, then you can divide that by the number of children you plan on having in your class. For instance you could have a class of three children and charge each family $10 per class. If you plan on having two children the price would increase to $15 per class.
Please note, this is just a starting point. If you feel the most beneficial class size for your lessons is 6 children (which would result in $5 per class, which would be very inexpensive for a vetted instructor), you are welcome to charge a higher rate and simply make more than you anticipated for that session. That is the benefit of teaching group lessons after all.
Group lessons can be incredibly profitable since it is less of your time and more people splitting the cost. It is important to note that it is not worth sacrificing your program to make a little extra money. After several years out of the water, I was initially most comfortable with a class size of two. This led to a smaller profit margin, but gave me a chance to really develop my curriculum. By the end of my first summer, I was much more comfortable meeting my clients’ needs with a class size of four, which increased my profit without sacrificing my reputation.
Setting your price is one of the most difficult steps in any business. By taking into account everything discussed in this article, you will have confidence that you are providing a value to your clients and making the money you hoped you would.
What should you teach during a first swim lesson? The first swim lesson with a new student should begin with an assessment of basic skills. The skills most specifically needed are:
- blowing bubbles,
- submerging underwater,
- floating, and
Check out this guide for more information on what you should teach during the first swim lesson.