• Align sales with marketing to maximize ROI

    by Linda Bishop March 2009

    Dick Jerrod, president of ABC Pools & Spas, frowned as he addressed his team in the conference room: "I don't understand it. We're spending more on marketing, but not getting real growth in sales."

    Sherry Martin, the CFO, spoke up first: "We should look for ways to improve productivity. How can we spend less and get more?"

    Bud Shipp, vice president of sales, answered, "It's just like Joseph Wanamaker said a hundred years ago. Half...

  • Treating people well can be good business in a downturn

    by Phillip M. Perry March 2009

    With the recession wreaking havoc on revenues, business owners from coast to coast are reducing employment rolls to control operating costs. Too often, though, terminations are carried out in ways that spark costly litigation.

    "Given the increasing number of layoffs in recent months, there is bound to be an uptick in wrongful-discharge lawsuits," says Joseph P. Harkins, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest...

  • A look at some of the pool and spa industry's top retailers, builders and service pros

    by Barrett Kilmer March 2009

    AQUA PROUDLY PRESENTS THE 2009 AQUA 100, our list of the most-professional retailers, builders and service companies in the business. You’ll notice that the companies listed in the following pages build, retail and repair a wide variety of products. What you won’t see, however, is any information about how many pools a company built, how many spas a store sold or how much a service company billed for weekly maintenance. We don’t think professionalism can...

  • The franchise concept and its use as a pool and spa retailer's exit strategy

    by Scott Webb March 2009

    A good number of entrepreneurs in this industry have accomplished what they set out to do - build a successful retail business.

    They began with a dream - sometimes with little else - and grew their stores into healthy, profitable enterprises. With that dream fulfilled, and often with their golden years before them, they find themselves considering retirement, at least from the pool and...

  • Automatic pool cleaner buyers know what they are looking for

    by Scott Webb March 2009

    "What we're finding is that consumers are researching their purchases more carefully than they ever have before. They are just very cautious about where they're going to spend their money. It means more to them now than it did two or three years ago."- Kevin Braidic, product manager

    That observation, while intended to address the automatic pool cleaner market, may summarize the...

  • Facing the future in the pool and spa industry

    by Scott Webb March 2009

    Scott WebbIt never hurts to look ahead.

    Yes, at the moment the big economic indicators are still dropping, but the day is coming when the great American economic machine will roar to life again. It's good to keep that in mind, always.

    It may be this fall, or it may be next year, heck, it may be the year after that, but it's coming. The headlines will once again speak of hiring...

  • Retailing saunas can add a welcome boost in sales

    by Scott Webb February 2009

    At a time when many dealers are looking for products that can add to the bottom line, saunas are providing some retailers a welcome lift in sales revenue.

    There are several reasons. The sauna market is still relatively small, giving it more room for growth. And the sauna's size and shape are easily customized to fit attractively into existing homes. Its ongoing operation and...

  • Three lessons kids teach you about business success

    by Brian Sullivan February 2009

    "My see," were the words my 2-year-old daughter Maggie used last week as she extended her arms toward an older woman sitting in the window seat on a spring break flight to Mexico last week. The adult translation of those words is, "Excuse me ma'am, your window seat is better than my middle seat. I would really love to climb over this armrest, jump on your lap and hang out with you for a few minutes so I can look out that window. You good with that?" This...

  • Keep your sales up in a down market

    by Douglas Smith February 2009

    Salespeople are feeling pressure in today's economic environment. Entire market segments are hurting. Customers and companies are holding back orders or literally have no money to buy. Opportunities and new prospects are fewer and farther between. In 2008, many salespeople earned only half the commission they earned in 2007. Half! When you take a 50 percent pay cut, you know what a recession feels like.

    But not all sales professionals are in a slump. Some are...

  • Solar pool heating systems are popular choice in down economy

    by Jenna Danninger February 2009

    There really is no other way to say it: Times are challenging. But with the lemons we've been given as an industry, it's time to make some lemonade. And nothing goes better with a tall, ice cold glass of it than a little warmth from the sun.

    "Pool builders have got a file cabinet that's like a safe full of money," says Rick Sims, sales and marketing manager for Aquatherm...