Dan Berzansky | Pivoting From a Swimming and Lifeguard Business to Software Development

Dan Berzansky is the Founder and CEO of OneTeam360, a software service that helps companies manage hourly and shift workers. He believes in constant education and training to build a happier and more engaged team. OneTeam360 improves employee engagement, training, and reporting to achieve higher employee retention rates and reduce turnover costs. 

Dan is also the Owner and President of Premier Aquatics, a comprehensive aquatics service company specializing in aquatics programming, lifeguarding, and CPR/AED and first aid training. He also serves as the Owner of Premier Swim Academy, a swimming school brand, and is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Orange County.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran is joined by Dan Berzansky, the Founder and CEO of OneTeam360, to talk about pivoting from a swimming and lifeguard agency business to software development. They also discuss the benefits of OneTeam360, the challenges of running a swimming school, and strategies for adapting to a new industry.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • [02:10] Dan Berzansky’s background as a competitive swimmer
  • [05:40] How Dan started a lifeguard service agency
  • [06:35] The challenges of running a swimming school
  • [10:14] What inspired Dan to create employee management software?
  • [20:30] Dan’s experience of transitioning from a swimming and lifeguard business to software development
  • [23:54] What makes other employee software ineffective?
  • [28:39] Dan’s future plans — and his strategies for learning about a new industry

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of this show. And I’m so privileged to be able to have conversations this week with interesting CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies. You can check out our archives, you want to see some of our previous conversations with CEOs or co-founders of Netflix, Kinkos, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, and many more. And of course, this episode brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. And if you’re listening to this, ever thought, Should I do a podcast? I tell everyone, Yes, absolutely. And we’ve got lots of resources on our website, rise25.com, if you want to learn all about how to do it. 

Alright, Dan, pleasure to have you here today. My guest is Dan Berzansky. He’s the CEO and Founder of OneTeam360, which is a software service that helps companies to manage hourly and shift workers. It’s known for gamifying employment, to improve employee engagement, management, training and reporting, and to help build a totally engaged team. So we’re gonna ask him all about it. And he launched it basically just scratch his own itch. Because as the owner of a number of swim schools and a life get lifeguarding service, which employed hundreds of hourly workers, he needed some kind of solution to manage such a big team of workers, and to encourage them to show up on time and do their shifts. And I met Dan through Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Orange County, which he is a member of and active there as well. Dan, such a pleasure to be here today. And I you know, I told you, I love to ask people about what sorts of entrepreneurial endeavors they’re engaged in or side hustles they’re engaged in, when they were growing up, about half my guess you were doing lemonade stands or something like that. Many of them were like me didn’t do that many different things, or they were engaged in some other passion for you is swimming. You’re a competitive swimmer. And that brought you eventually to swim instruction. So tell us a little about what that was like during your childhood.

Dan Berzansky 2:36

Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me, John. I’m excited to be here. And it’s funny, my entrepreneurial journey started, I think the ripe the ripe old age of 14 years old, where I was really teaching backyards, homeless, by community pool. And it’s something I grew up a swimmer swam through college. It’s always been a passion of mine. And I do think, you know, now as I’m older, and I’ve done this professionally for a number of years, it’s, it’s such an important thing. You look at the stats. And, you know, the number one cause of death for children under the age of 16 is drowning. And it’s such a big piece. And it’s not why I got into it initially, I got into it, because I loved it. But that’s definitely what’s kept me in it. So yeah, it started from 1415 years old teaching kids in the neighborhood, initially how to ride bikes than it was how to how to swim. And really, it continued through college. So I went off to college, I’d come back in the summers, I would run the local summer league swim team, swim lessons from morning till night, you know, try and save up 20 or $30,000 in a summer, just in swim lessons, and that would kind of get me through my school year and everything I needed. And then it kind of followed me i My first job out of college was running an aquatics department for local JCC. I opened that facility I was there for about eight or nine years. And interesting enough, it’s kind of been a full circle situation for me because I left while I while working at the JCC they offered me the opportunity to go to grad school, they had some other bigger, bigger, better jobs for me in the organization. I ended up I did my MBA at Pepperdine. And when I finished my MBA and I was ready for that, that next step in the organization, it was right around 2008 2009 And we all know what that looked like. Yeah, there was plenty of opportunities, plenty of opportunities for them to save some money. So it was really a really interesting situation. I was you know, I had I had a commitment to stay with them for five years. They were struggling. So I I took a step back and I they released me from my commitment to be there for five years. And I left and I still I did a business with a buddy, very much similar to what we do now. And that lasted about three months. Partnership was hard. 

John Corcoran 5:08

But right away hard going into partnership with a friend.

Dan Berzansky 5:11

I don’t know that I would ever do that again. Yeah. There’s too many opportunities and there’s too many. I wouldn’t want to kill a friendship again, that’s for sure. And that’s what it did. It was a challenge. So I started premiere aquatics three months, four months later, with zero clients. And today, we’re I think we’re the biggest lifeguard service agency on the West Coast of the United States. And we’re knocking on the doors at some of the other big boys as well. So

John Corcoran 5:40

and you have now so you developed a swim school and you developed a lifeguard business, which came first.

Dan Berzansky 5:47

Yeah, so the lifeguard business was first. Okay. Our lifeguard business initially, and it’s funny that we talked about pivoting. Lifeguard agency originally we were premier aquatics today. But when I started the business, we were premier recreation services. So we did your swim, we did your swim lessons, your swim teams, but we also did all of your Halloween events and recreation events and anything

John Corcoran 6:09

under the sun, right? Anything that will take you any client that could come Yeah,

Dan Berzansky 6:14

anything revolving around kids, right kids and families. And then we really worked to streamline and today we really premier aquatics is purely a lifeguard agency. And then premier swim Academy is my swim school brand. We have three locations to which we own and one that we leased. We leased for a city. But it’s it’s taken off, it’s been a lot of fun.

John Corcoran 6:36

I had a conversation with a woman who ran swim schools. And what struck me by that conversation was just the it’s that the stakes are so high that I don’t know that I could ever own a business like that, because I just don’t know that I’d be able to sleep at night. How do you deal with that kind of stretches pressure, knowing that your teams are getting in the water with kids that can’t swim and their lives are on the line?

Dan Berzansky 7:05

Yeah, I like to think that we do things differently. So we didn’t buy any curriculum, we’ve developed the curriculum over 10 years. Every one of my facilities you won’t see a swim lesson happening without one everybody’s trained in the water. And they do about 60 hours of training, which I think the next closest competitor I’ve heard of they you know, they do about 20 to 30 hours. Every every shift as a deck manager on on deck watching classes. We’ve even gone as far as to create a really the simplest of systems, but it’s a flag system, where if an instructor feels like they’ve got a squirrely kid that we need to keep an extra set of eyes on. We’ve got a flag that shoots up in the sky. And it tells mom, hey, we don’t need to keep a special eye on this one tells our managers to keep a special eye on it. And we’ll even throw extra bodies at it. But then, you know, then it’s a matter of just developing the right team. Right. So I I sleep very well at night. I’m obviously always nervous. We’re lifeguard company, we’ve had drownings that we’ve responded to, and we will have more that we will respond to. But if we’ve got the right team in place, and you’ve cultivated them and supported them and train them, where they are doing the same thing with their team, really, every one of my people take has ownership like they they know it’s their business like it’s mine. And they want it to be great. And they I really feel like I’ve partners, I don’t have people to work for me, I have partners in our business.

John Corcoran 8:32

And of course, you know, the motivation is that you overwhelmingly are helping kids to learn to swim and preventing drownings because people have a skill that’s going to prevent them from an avoidable death throughout their lifetime.

Dan Berzansky 8:50

Yeah, and it’s, we’re not just educating kids, we’re educating parents as well. So you’ll see in nearly every community we work in, and we work all the way from where we’re we work from Marine Corps, you work all the way through cities, private clubs, private HOAs. A lot of what we do is community outreach and education. So we we work with an organization called Stop drowning now, we provide free education programs, all of our clients. And really, I think that the most startling thing is nine times out of 10, a pair comes in and says my kids water safe. And then we get them in, you know, we haven’t tried to backflow to catch a breath one time, and the kids are just straight down. So it’s educating. It’s saying, Hey, I know you think that they’re comfortable in the bathtub, and they’re comfortable in the baby pool. And maybe they’re comfortable for a minute, but on a hot day when they’ve been in the water for two hours. They’re, they’re getting tired. You gotta pay attention and get off your phone and pay attention.

John Corcoran 9:46

Yeah. And I have to say, I have four kids. Oldest is 12. Youngest is for the most fun I’ve ever had with my kids. My entire lifetime has been in a pool. So yeah, just having fun. with my kids in a pool is a time when the phone is away. All their distresses are away. And you just have pure fun with your kids.

Dan Berzansky 10:08

Yep. Yep. It’s a it’s a happy place. It’s our vacations tend to revolve around the pool or the beach for sure.

John Corcoran 10:14

Yeah, yeah. So tell me about kind of this challenge you had. And I remember when we first spoke about it, you said that, I think it was in your life guard business, you had discovered that there’s one instance where one of your facilities, you had a lot of people quitting. Maybe it was the swim school, but you kind of launched this feedback. And you could tell that it was an issue with a manager. And I don’t know if that was the direct inspiration of the the software solution that you came up with. But that was one of the challenges was getting feedback and also motivating workers to complete shifts. So talk a little bit about what motivated this software program? One Team 360?