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How Big Blue Swim School Uses Data and Analytics to Stay Ahead of the Competition

The emerging leader in the swim school space sets itself apart from the crowd with its proprietary enterprise system and a data-driven approach to real estate location.

Since its founding in 2009 by U.S. National Champion swimmer Chris DeJong, Big Blue Swim School has emerged as one of the dominant players in the $3 billion swim school industry. With 58 new locations signed across 12 states, the brand is on target to continue growth through franchising to 150 locations signed by 2021.  

To set itself apart from other learn to swim concepts, Big Blue Swim School has brought innovation to every facet of the company. The swim school’s unique curriculum, its proprietary enterprise system known as LessonBuddy™, and data-based real estate sourcing all contribute to the brand’s superior business model. Combined with best-in-class offerings, the franchise is positioned to be the leader in this underserved category. “Everything we do is data-driven,” said DeJong. “Big Blue has ten years of customer data to inform our decision making process. Most early-stage franchises can’t claim that.”

Here are some of the ways the Big Blue team leverages their data and innovation to stay ahead of the competition.

Proprietary Lesson Management Technology Offers Real-time Data

Big Blue’s LessonBuddy proprietary enterprise system that serves up real-time data to the user. “Every 30 minutes, we receive progression data about students and how they are performing in the pool,” said Justin Waltz, Vice President of Franchise Operations. “Big Blue uses that data to modify staffing levels to make sure we are hitting our goals every day of the week.”

On the consumer side, LessonBuddy operates as a self-service app, providing parents with timely feedback on their child’s progress. Parents can also use the tool to schedule and reschedule lessons with the click of a button. While lesson time in the pool is only 30 minutes, Big Blue innovates by creating a tool to interact with parents on an ongoing basis.

“When we look at innovation, Big Blue aims to create meaningful relationships with the consumer, and we think LessonBuddy helps us achieve this goal,” said Waltz.

Big Blue also leverages the LessonBuddy software to analyze consumer data from corporate locations and support new most profitable franchise partners. By tracking overall activity including costs, efficiencies, and pool capacity, Big Blue’s leadership team can make swift and sound business decisions that benefit all stakeholders including franchise partners. 

“Today, data is everything and Big Blue is swimming in it, pun intended,” said Waltz. “Data is the dashboard—just like you don't fly an airplane without a map, you don’t run a business without being able to see and achieve future goals. Having access to data is one thing, but using that data to support existing pools and launch new pools is how we’ve set ourselves apart.”

The LessonBuddy consumer data is available to both franchise partners and the corporate team, meaning the two can work together to leverage the information and make an impact. LessonBuddy puts fitness franchise partner’s entire management platform in the cloud so they can operate successful schools without needing a daily presence. It also allows education franchise partners to manage their business through dashboards and KPIs all the way down to the shift level. 

Capacity Planning Drives Innovative Pool Design

Big Blue leverages the LessonBuddy technology platform so franchise partners can maximize their capacity planning of each pool. With LessonBuddy, the brand’s swim facilities run efficiently and instead of focusing on payroll or tracking hours, general managers and swim associates can make sure kids are learning effectively and that their parents are happy. 

Market insight indicates that most families in the united states have two kids about 36 months apart. Families want to schedule all of their kids lessons during the same 30-minute window so Big Blue designs it’s pools to meet this need. Big Blue’s innovative design can facilitate instruction of a ten-year-old child working on endurance and stroke refinement while also accommodating a younger sibling who is just learning to get in the water. This separates Big Blue within the segment, as it maximizes the lifetime value of the customer.  

“By leveraging the capabilities of LessonBuddy, we are able to take a unique approach to pool capacity planning, ultimately making lessons more convenient for our families,” said Brooke Mallick, Vice President of Marketing for Big Blue. “LessonBuddy helps us make it easy for parents to fit swim lessons into their lives, not the other way around.”

Data-Driven Real Estate Development and Research

Big Blue further differentiates itself from the competition through its approach to site selection. Its team of real estate pros assist in locating and negotiating real estate and managing the construction and facilities operations. 

“We have a tested, proactive, data-driven real estate strategy designed to place a location in the path of least resistance,” said Waltz. “This means we select locations where people drive to, instead of locations they tend to avoid due to traffic patterns, ease of access, and other data and key considerations.”

The access to data provides Big Blue with strong real estate insight and a pool opening process  that ensures a location runs on day one, like it is year five. This includes a robust pre-opening marketing strategy to generate brand buzz and contribute to memberships sold before opening

As Big Blue continues to grow through franchising, its leadership team is analytically focused on ensuring each location is set up for the best possible avenue to success. By using analytics for site selection, pool optimization, and market reach, Big Blue is laps ahead of the competition. 

Multi-unit Franchise opportunities are available for qualified candidates looking for their next big opportunity, and veterans can receive a 10 percent discount on the $75,000 franchise fee. The total investment for one Big Blue Swim School ranges from $1,825,500 to $3,687,000 (refer to item 7 in FDD). To learn more or inquire about Big Blue Swim School, visit