Select Page

I reckon KFC tastes awesome and it must really piss Ronald McDonald off that he’s got sugar, salt and fat and the Colonel’s got secret herbs & spices.

But take away one of the herbs… and it doesn’t taste the same. Take away one of the spices and it starts tasting like Mum’s chicken. Mum’s chicken’s good, but it’s definitely not KFC.

Last month we talked about the ‘You’re the Worst Parent Ever’ conversation. If you missed it you can catch up here. We talked about developing recipes for dealing with these situations.

When I talk to Centre Managers they often see the failure of the ‘You’re the Worst Parent Ever’ conversation as the primary reason their parental supervision programs isn’t gaining traction.But it’s just one ingredient and in fact, should probably be our fall-back position. If you want your parental supervision to work here’s what I reckon are the secret herbs & spices.

1. Wristbands: these humble little stripes of paper work on so many levels it’s ridiculous. If we knew it would be this simple we’d have been whacking them on kid’s arms decades ago. There’s a more detailed explanation here.

2. Customer Service Staff: lifeguards are not the centre piece on the parental supervision chess board; customer service staff are. I can’t stress this enough. The centres with the most effective parental supervision programs are inevitably those with the best front of house staff. This is where the customer has their first interaction with the centre and it is here that the message is successfully sold or the failure begins. Customer service staff are generally a happy lot; this is what makes them good at their job. They’re ability to smile and have a friendly conversation about the wonderful, safe centre that the customer is about to enjoy.

“Hi Mr Johnson, how’s Kara this morning? As part of keeping our little people safe here we just ask that you be within arm’s reach of her today and that includes in the water. Our lifeguards have been asked to keep an eye on this. Here’s your armband Kara… love those swimmers! Thanks Mr Johnson.

If your parental supervision program is hard work on deck, call a customer service meeting. They need to know that they can stop kids drowning out there, more effectively than anyone else in the building.

3. Consistency: Every customer service person, every lifeguard and every duty manager must be singing off the same hymn sheet. If one goes easy and then one goes firm and then a duty supervisor doesn’t back them up… it all turns to custard. It’s called team work. Be the team.

4. PA Announcements: These days sound files are easily loaded onto players that can automatically deliver reminder messages to patrons. It takes some of the heat off the lifeguards. You’ll need a decent PA system. Some screechy, crackly, blaring noise won’t reminder people, it just makes them annoyed… like Ronald McDonald.

5. Signage: doormats into the pool hall, sandwich boards near leisure pools, even signs on the backs of toilet doors. There’s nothing quite like reminding customers at every turn that we’re serious about this stuff.

6. The ‘You’re the Worst Parent Ever’ Conversation: have a recipe, be prepared, weave your magic… learn the art. Start here.

7. The Refusal: You need a plan for when a parent openly decides they simply will not comply. They’re rare but there’s a few. You don’t want to be making up a ‘policy’ on the fly. Some centres offer flexibility, but doing this without compromising safety and your consistent approach can be difficult. For me, if a parent isn’t prepared to help you prevent the worst day ever, then maybe they need to use the aquatic centre down the road. With any luck, the centre down the road is pushing the same message anyway, or at worst, they’ll take a risky client off your hands.

If you know other ways that make your program a success please, please, please leave them below in the comment section.

All this talk’s got me salivating. I’m off for a 3 piece feed and a triple bypass.