• Funding Expansion

    by Mark E. Battersby April 2006

    Interest rates remain close to their historical lows but financing for many spa and pool businesses continues to be elusive. One problem: Lower interest rates mean lenders and investors can be more selective. How, then, can spa and pool business owners hope to fund the expansion of their operations?

    Any quest for expansion funding must begin with an understanding of the various types of financing, where that funding is to be found, and at what cost. Generally, there...

  • Head Of The Class

    by Virginia DeMoss April 2006

    "There's no other industry event that has the quality of seminars AQUA has," says entrepreneur Matt Gohlke, who attends every session he can squeeze into his schedule. In fact, the five-time AQUA 100 winner doesn't waste a single chance to learn something new, which is why he particularly appreciates the many opportunities the conference and show provide to...

  • Feeling At Home

    by Phillip M. Perry March 2006

    Do non-family employees feel like "outsiders" in your business. If so, it's a sure bet that their lower morale and simmering resentments are having a negative effect on your operations and sapping your profits. It makes sense, then, to take action that will make outsiders feel right at home.

    Workplace psychologists suggest two steps. First, foster a business environment that communicates respect for all players. Second, make a point of uncovering...

  • Wrapping The Perfect Package

    by Karen Erstad March 2006

    It would be nice if every pool customer could afford a $500,000 vanishing-edge pool decked out with every bell and whistle on the market, but that's just not in many clients' budgets. However, there are millions of families that can afford a vinyl-liner package pool. Builders who serve this market stand to make a healthy profit if they deliver a quality product. How,...

  • Surrounded With Options

    by AQUA Editors March 2006

    “ACCESSORIES MAKE THE ROOM, even when the room is outside,” says Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of public relations for the American Home Furnishings Alliance. “Consumers shopping for special accents this spring will find the broadest array of complementary outdoor products ever.

    ”Even within a specific category — say, hot tub steps and surrounds — variety is the spice of life. Industry manufacturers have come up with accessories that help...

  • Thinking Outside The (Big) Box

    by Becky Strauss March 2006

    Many dealers carry toys in their stores simply because they have to. They feel they can't compete with big-box stores, yet also feel they can't ignore the market entirely. But what if it didn't...

  • The Magic Of Education

    by Virginia DeMoss March 2006

    An eight-time AQUA Show attendee, store-owner Bret Kahl brought along his entire crew for the first time in 2005, including his wife and partner, Melanie, store manager Tina Meyer and two service technicians. As a result, he's been able to turn more of the maintenance and repair chores over to his employees, allowing him to devote more time to management, finance and other...

  • Unexpected Luxury

    by Becky Strauss February 2006

    Most above-ground pool dealers can get customers into a pool for between $3,000 and $5,000. Customers opt for above-ground pools for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that lower expense. But that shouldn't stop dealers from looking for ways to add on to the sale. There are plenty of add-ons available in the above-ground market, luxurious items that are...

  • One Happy Family

    by Becky Strauss January 2006

    So many variables go into building a successful portable spa business. Your store looks great. Your spas are displayed in a manner both efficient and aesthetic, and when customers walk in your door, they feel instantly as though they want one of your beautiful tubs, right. And then, the biggest variable of all walks on the scene, the face of your product: your sales staff....

  • Concrete Or Acrylic?

    by Barrett Kilmer January 2006

    Looking through the pages of AQUA could give the impression that big backyards with high-end pools always come with custom spas, and standalone spas on patios or decks are always of the portable variety. But obviously that's not true in all cases. Sometimes the half-million-dollar pool customer wants the hydrotherapy experience that only a portable spa can provide,...