Featured

Lifeguarding Classes – The Advertising Price Is Right

How effective is the advertising platform associated with the brand of trainings offered by your company? Do the brands of training you offer even have an available national advertising platform? How effective is the platform in garnering registrations for your classes? This platform accepts lifeguarding class listings and other class types. Advertising course offerings on the LifeguardingClasses.org platform will benefit your business and the students searching for classes and certifications. StarGuard, American Red Cross, American Heart Association, ASHI and many others can be listed on the site.

Most importantly, do you believe in the product you offer but, not the advertising cost associated with the brand’s platform?

LifeguardingClasses.org is now offering a national online advertising platform specifically designed for all brands of heath & safety courses. Currently, the platform is accepting class advertisements in all states, provinces and territories of the United States and Canada. Training providers have the opportunity to list courses from: American Heart Association, American Red Cross, ASHI, Canadian Red Cross, Ellis, Infant Swim Resource (ISR), National Swimming Pool Foundation, OSHA, StarGuard, and YMCA.

In addition to the course listings, the site provides facilities and employers the opportunity to post job openings. Currently, employers can post job openings throughout the United States and Canada.

Once a class is listed on the site, the training provider who posted the class may edit and manage the listing an unlimited number of times. If you need to alter the date because the original date has not attained enough participation, you may do so up to and including the day of the original class date.  

  

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

American Heart Association Announces it Will No Longer Use Distributors

American Heart Association recently made a public announcement that, beginning on July 1 of this year, they will start selling all AHA educational material directly will have long lasting impacts on many. In essence, this announcement means that American Heart Association’s three distributors have been eliminated from the AHA operation after June 30th of this year. Just hours after the AHA announcement, Channing Bete announced that it will cease operations July 3, 2019.  Though, the Channing Bete company sites various reasons for the closure, the timing of their announcement tells us all we need to know.

Similar Decisions

This is not the first time this type of business decision has been made in the Health and Safety industry. Many of you may remember StayWell. StayWell was the company from whom we all purchased our materials or anything Red Cross. A number of years ago, the Red Cross also decided to bring these sales under their own roof so to speak. They digitized manuals and made these electronic manuals free to access. And, they now sell many other products directly through their own web platforms. This will not stop but, instead, will likely increase as these large companies seek to maximize profits.   

examples of profit minded decisions

The evolution of the delivery method of health and safety programming and classes continues. This is not isolated to the recent AHA decision and announcement. The evolution impacts all of us across all brands. Even though some of us may have the viewpoint that we are in this industry for the greater good, it, ultimately, is about the almighty dollar. Our industry, like most, continues to change with the times. Often, these changes focus on increasing profit margins. This, typically, comes at the expense of the ‘little guys’ in the industry. Consider these facts associated with reducing costs and increasing profits:

  • American Red Cross moved health and safety from the local chapter houses to national headquarters and hired regional representatives who are responsible for a territory.
  • The American Red Cross continues to increase prices of certification cards and has announced that they will do so each year moving forward.
  • Red Cross moved from a free online class posting service for AP’s/LTP’s to charging for the class posting service. The costs are not insignificant. Currently, all aquatics classes are $25 per class posting and $50 for all CPR based classes. It would seem to me that during the period of time in which this service was free, all of the AP’s/LTP’s who posted classes helped to increase the SEO. Once the SEO was enough to drive a tremendous amount of web traffic to their page, the Red Cross began to charge. Why the difference in price between the aquatics class postings and the CPR class postings? Let us not forget the Red Cross no longer teaches aquatics classes themselves as they do not own pools and do not engage in renting these spaces for classes. However, the Red Cross does still teach all of the CPR based classes and, therefore, the AP’s/LTP’s are in direct competition for participants. So, it makes sense that the cost to advertise those classes is double on the class posting service. Again, I go back to self-serving tactics and revenue and/or profit margin being of the utmost importance.
  • AHA announced a little over a year ago that privately held for profit companies will no longer be considered for Training Center status. Instead, these companies must affiliate as a Training Site under an already existing Training Center. In this scenario, the Training Center controls the costs passed on to the Training Sites. These costs are all too often prohibitive.
  • American Heart Association discontinues their relationship with their three distributors. They are moving all sales under their own roof and digitizing their books in an effort to increase margins.
  • ASHI also increased the prices of certification cards and instructor packages in early 2019.
  • HSI, the parent company of ASHI, purchased and merged with EMS Safety. We will see what impact this buyout has on HSI brand and EMS Safety providers moving forward.     

Decreased Access to training

The digitizing of course materials, moving away from distributors, closing local chapter houses, not teaching their own aquatics classes, annually increasing prices, charging to advertise class offerings all speak to increasing profits at all costs. In other words, it is becoming increasingly difficult for small training companies and/or individual instructors to turn a profit and continue to operate. This leads to less access, limited access, or no access to training by segments of our population. Those training companies and/or individual instructors who remain in business also seek ways to decrease costs. One such way is to offer a majority of blended learning classes. This will help decrease facility rental costs. However, the segment of the population without internet access are left behind. As we begin to read and see what is going on with the Net Neutrality debate, this may widen the gap and lead to larger numbers of the population with no internet access.

Cost of doing business

It may seem that the answer to remaining in business is as simple as increasing prices for courses. However, the market simply will not bear the increase even if only by a few dollars. This is especially true in saturated markets where there are more training companies, instructors and classes offered than the demand. Hence, each time advertising costs increase or certification cards increase it has a tremendous impact on the profits and the ability for the training companies and instructors to make a living.   

I am not advocating for the evolution and changes nor am I speaking out against them. Instead, I am, merely, pointing what is happening in our industry. The recent announcement by the American Heart Association is one in a long line of similar decisions in the last two decades.The ability of small training companies or individual instructors to make a living or even turn a profit is quickly dwindling.  

Added budget strains

What we do is needed, it is vital to many in our local communities, it is required for the jobs that many of our students hold. Yet, the changes made by the American Red Cross and American Heart Association are adding strain to the budgets of the companies and individuals delivering these classes. It seems to have become exclusively about increasing profits as opposed to reaching as many people as possible with training.

Unfortunately, by all indications, the big brands will only continue this trend.

Training Standards and Business

We, recently, posted a piece that included some information about quality assurance which you can find here. Given that we are approaching the summer season and are, already, in the height of the training and certification season, I thought I would circle back with this piece to focus on QA.

Training Standards and Quality Training

Training companies, instructors and instructor trainers for any and all brands of training are aware each of those brands has their own standards, quality assurance protocols, and penalties for non-adherence to said standards. But, there seems to be tremendous inconsistency in how non-adherence is recognized or discovered; policed; investigated; and penalized. The whole notion of quality assurance stems from both the desire and the need to produce well-trained first responders, lifeguards, and lay responders. However, inconsistency in enforcement of quality assurance issues leads to inconsistency in training.   

Who Is Responsible?

I am not indicating that the quality assurance teams are solely responsible for the breakdown in maintaining standards that I am suggesting. Rather, it is an issue the entire industry must own and help to rectify. Thus, if a finger is to be pointed it would have to be pointed at: instructors/IT’s who may have not familiarized themselves with all of the new standards; the training companies who may be cutting corners to increase profits or simply are not aware of the standards and have not hired a training director; and, most certainly, the brands who may selectively police and enforce violations and sub-standard classes.

We all may believe in what the industry is doing and feel strongly that we should be reaching as many people as possible with high quality training. However, we all need revenue to support our training efforts. So, as strongly as we may feel about providing quality training, decrease in revenue and an increase in operating costs creeps in and works against us.  

The brands must bear a large burden of responsibility. On one hand, as we all face increased operational costs, the natural response is to increase prices. Incidentally, some of the brands have continually increased prices and passed this cost on to training companies. Conversely, instructors/IT’s, those very training companies and instructors/IT’s have not been able to pass these increased costs on to their customers. The market will not bear higher prices by the training companies. This may lead to cutting corners to decrease overhead and, hence, lead to sub-standard training.

Business Competition

Additionally, each year there are new privately held health and safety firms entering the market that offer the full range of classes and services. Consequently, this leads to a crowding of the market; and, lower margins for companies as they compete for clients.  

How do we get this under control to ensure quality training and classes taught to standard 100% of the time while, at the same time, ensure that privately held firms responsible for delivering the trainings are able to remain solvent and stay in business?    

Lifeguards of Retirement Age

The Issue

The aquatics industry is dealing with a relatively new issue. If you are an aquatics director or manager you know that it has become increasingly difficult to locate qualified lifeguarding candidates. Consequently, it has become near impossible to fully staff your facility. There seems to be no difference between year-round and seasonal facilities. Both are experiencing this issue. As a result, our industry has turned to retirees.

The Solution

Hiring retirees is a viable solution to the lifeguard hiring crisis. If we consider the factors that have led to a smaller pool of qualified lifeguarding candidates, hiring the retirees as staff members makes sense. The high school and college aged lifeguards with whom we are accustomed to working, are choosing to spend their summers differently. For example, they are choosing internships, summer travel, and additional college courses instead of spending their days lifeguarding their local pools. Furthermore, the generation of workers who are high school and college aged continue to present concerns. For instance, these concerns include lack of reliability, willingness to accept constructive criticism, and, in some cases, lacking a full and complete understanding of the seriousness of the job as a lifeguard. On the other hand, we do not experience these same issues with retirees.

It will be difficult for anybody in the industry turn this trend around. Instead, I believe we are faced with identifying new and innovative ways to recruit qualified lifeguarding candidates.

In many cases, the retirees now employed as lifeguards at our facilities have life experience that makes the job easier for them. Namely, they understand the seriousness of the job, the importance of being a reliable employee and have a willingness to learn a new profession. There is a reason they have come out of retirement to join our ranks of lifeguards.

Remaining Questions

The question the aquatics industry must answer is what other solutions do we have for the lifeguard shortage. Do we feel the trend of having retirees willing to get certified and work the pool for the season will persist? Or, are we concerned that this is a short-lived trend and that we must be creative and solve, in the long-term, the lifeguard shortage issue another way?

Training Companies All the Same?

Training Companies and quality

Training companies are not all the same. The quality of training, product or service the customer receives is not the same from one company to another. Of course, this is not unique to the health and safety industry. We all experience this each day with all types of professionals. The question we need to ask within our industry is how we ensure that all companies are being held to the same standard and are quality assured. What type of quality assurance is the answer?

Quality Assurance

Sure, the brand of trainings that each health and safety firm is offering has a quality assurance program. That said, these quality assurance programs differ from one brand to the next. The expectations of the training firms also differ from one brand to the next. And, this leads to inconsistency in the quality of training delivered to the customer.

Another area of concern is the raw number of instructors and training companies across the United States. It does not matter how good a quality assurance program might be, it is near impossible to ensure each instructor and training firm is adhering to the standards as they should.

And, quality assurance staff are not present during most classes. As a result, they rely on complaints from participants. Many times, these participants do not understand what makes the training poor. And, competing firms often submit complaints. So, quality assurance staff spend time chasing down issues that are not really issues.

Training companies delivering poor quality classes increase the worry and the challenges during instructor level courses. As a result of poor training, the next generation of students will be poorly trained.

Self Policing

How does the health and safety industry begin to talk about policing itself? What does this policing look like? I am not suggesting that self policing replaces the quality assurance provided by each brand of training.

All Classes Require a Minimum Number of Students to be Compliant with Red Cross QA Standards. Those Classes that Fail to Meet that Minimum Number Will be Postponed/Cancelled