Category Archives: Love Pool Industry

Maurice Bushroe
Blue Ribbon Pools

The new normal for business leaders is being very busy. It’s a good problem, but it’s still a problem. Sales dollars are not the same as profit dollars and cash flow must be carefully managed even in the best of times. Be sure your investments increase productivity for the long term. A bunch of new trucks might look good but upgraded customer relationship software could be more important to your long-term success. Are you prepared for higher liability and workers’ compensation bills that are tied to your increased payroll? Consider putting a good amount of cash aside to help avoid problems down the road.

The new normal for employees: there aren’t enough trained employees available to help us meet the higher demand for commercial service and repairs. As business leaders we must make sure our people are properly trained, equipped, and compensated as we push them to deliver more for our customers. And remember, a personal word from an owner or manager might mean more to the new generation of employees than just more money.

The new normal for customers: in our digital world customers expect everything immediately and they want it for free.The reality is that it’s not 2008 and every good service and repair provider is busy. It’s awfully hard to tell your customers that what they want on Tuesday won’t be ready until Friday, or next Tuesday, or the Friday after that. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’ve worked hard for them in the past and don’t be afraid to gently remind them of that. Keep in mind what they really need is accurate information to share with their guests and management, not overly optimistic promises.

Don’t forget to take a minute to reflect on this fact of commercial service and repair: the guests at our pools have worked and stressed and saved their money for weeks, months, and sometimes years to be in Florida. We wake up here every day; let’s give them the great experience they deserve.

Larry Drumb
Cool Pools by Larry

As a service company for the past 23 years, I have developed long-term relationships with my suppliers, which I feel as a business owner is crucial. By maintaining a strong relationship with them I can provide the best service possible for our clients at Cool Pools by Larry.

I know when I have questions there is someone who I can call upon to get them answered quickly. I know when I have equipment issues I can get the solution fast. I know when I need an item for our chapter’s online auction who I can count on. The list goes on and on but it dawned on me lately that the relationship we have with our suppliers is very much like that of our own customers.

PAYING ON TIME

Whatever your terms may be, whether they are 30 days or COD, it’s important to make sure to pay your suppliers promptly; just as you want your customers to pay  your invoices on the dates due. Ensuring that your business is paying on time gives the suppliers trust in you which makes for a stronger business relationship and may open the door to specials.

PROVIDING THE BEST SERVICE

In Deland where my business is located, I know I’m not the cheapest service company, although I feel that we are one of the best. My prices reflect that confidence. Same goes for your suppliers. You pay for what you get and I recommend remembering that when you are working with them. Service, education, and communication go a long way, sometimes more than the bottom line.

TWO-WAY STREET

Just as we take care of our customers so should our suppliers take care of us. Remembering which customers of yours are the biggest headaches may come in handy when dealing with the expectations you have of your suppliers. Often 20% of our customers take up 80% of our time and that shouldn’t be the case. If you are finding the relationship with your supplier isn’t the best it can be, think about your role in that and go from there.

Those who we pay and those who pay us have a unique relationship in how our businesses grow strong. Taking care of both relationships will only help your business in the present and future.

Ken McKenna
FSPA President

I worked in the banking industry for 14 years. Ten of those years were spent in retail banking. When our bank lost a customer to a competitor it was easy to verify what the other bank was offering to the customer as they were federally regulated and had to make their account pricing public. During my 15 years in the pool industry, especially the past 4-5 years, the reason for losing a pool sale is usually up for debate.

The most commonly heard answer from a consumer is the other company was much less expensive. This is the easiest and quickest answer for a consumer to give a salesperson. It’s also the most frustrating and upsetting answer to get as a business. We all feel the other company must be giving them away because how can they be lower and still make money?

Let’s think about this answer: you are the consumer and you don’t particularly like a salesperson or you just like another better. Maybe you trust the other company more or the salesperson just did a better job selling you than the other people did. Most people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings or open themselves up to conflict by insulting someone. “They were lower” is a quick and clean answer when telling a company they lost the deal.

I still hear so much talk and animosity from builders who feel companies are giving pools away. Yet we know that the term “buyers are liars” is used for a reason. I am sure most of the business owners and salespeople have probably used the excuse that something was lower to avoid further discussion themselves. Why do we focus so much on the price issue? I would bet that 50% of the time the reason for losing the pool is someone was cheaper, but that leaves 50% were for other reasons that people take as always price related.

The fact is price has always been an issue but when the pie was bigger no one seemed to be bothered by it. The fiction part is we only lose pools to lower prices now. This is just not true. I will use my company as an example. We did 300 pools in 2005 and were in the top 3 in our market. In 2009 we sold just over 100 and were still in the top 3 in our market. Our closing percentage of sales to leads is the same as it was when we did 300 pools. When I look at this, I constantly remind our salespeople that they need to focus on selling the pools that we want to sell and stop focusing on the price.

The only way to increase their sales is to increase the closing percentage by selling value better or by out-working the other salesperson. Lowering prices to increase sales is not a long-term solution. My feeling is we need to focus on what we can do better in our companies and not what may or may not be true about another.

David Griffiths
Insurance By Ken Brown

With Tropical Storms Bret and Cindy brewing, could this be the year the “hurricane drought” ends for Florida?

If so, are you prepared? Do you have enough insurance to to sustain both the physical damage to building and business personal property? How about financial burden? Loss of income, additional expenses to resume operations in temporary facilities, etc. can all be insured against. And they can also be expensive to absorb.

Hurricane season began on June 1. It has been more than a decade since a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger storm) struck the United States. The last challenging year for Florida was 2004 when we had 4 storms between August 13 and September 26.

So are we due for a big hit? NOAA recently released its hurricane season outlook, which forecast a near-average number of storms for the Atlantic (includes the Gulf and the Caribbean). That’s 10-16 named storms, 4-8 hurricanes, and 1-4 major hurricanes. An average year has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

“The most common question (I get) is, ‘What is this hurricane season going to be like?'”, said Dr. Rick Knabb, the director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. But there remains plenty of uncertainty regarding El Nino’s possible development, and therefore, how much of an effect it could have on the hurricane season.

“If El Nino fails to launch, we may be too low with our numbers,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist with The Weather Company.

The return period for a Category 1 hurricane is about 9-10 years. “In other words, if you stayed at a point, how often can I expect to see a Category 1,” said Jeffrey Medlin, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Mobile. “So if you look at pure statistics, we’re due.”

Instead of focusing on the “what ifs,” those who know about hurricanes are turning their attention to getting the public ready for the next one.

Because there is one thing they know for certain: there will be a next one. “It’s a common phrase that I’ve heard: ‘it won’t happen to me’,” Knabb said. “I’ve even had family members say that to me, and they’re related to the hurricane center director.”

It’s human nature, but it also has a technical term. “It really comes from something called optimism bias,” said Dr. Laura Myers, the director of the Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama. “About 80 percent of people feel like everything’s going to be OK. They think that it’s probably not going to happen. If it does happen to them it’s probably not going to be so bad. Even if there is a hurricane and it actually makes landfall, not everybody is going to be impacted by it,” Myers said.

Then there’s also the issue of inexperience. The coastlines are populated with thousands of new arrivals who maybe have never experienced a hurricane.

Myers said keeping the message out there is key. “You’ve got to say: this is what’s coming, this is what the potentials are and this is what we need to do to start getting ready,” she said.

“And what you’ve got to do is to remind them of what previous events have done. You’ve got to make it real in their mind of what the impacts were the last time these things happened. You’ve got to do that before the season starts. You’ve got to start triggering those memories.”

And it’s also important to think about what it would be like to go through a storm and be unprepared.

“There’s nothing worse than going through a hurricane warning and then the storm thinking, ‘I don’t have enough insurance’ or ‘I don’t have enough supplies,’ ‘I don’t know where to go.’ That’s the worst.”

Reality is that hope alone isn’t going to help you if it does turn out to be your turn to get hit. So, the two questions we pose today are as follows:

  1. Do you have a disaster plan for your business?
  2. Do you have enough insurance?

Griffiths_Dave (5)David Griffiths
Insurance by Ken Brown


It’s that time of year! Many young people are out looking for full and part time summer jobs. So what considerations do you have as a business owner?

Young workers can be an asset to your workforce. However, young workers have unique and substantial risks for work-related injuries and illnesses due to a variety of factors. On-the-job injuries to young workers may be significant and costly.

There are also several laws and procedures to consider when hiring a minor:

Posting Requirements
Employers who hire minors must display a poster in a conspicuous place on the property or place of employment notifying them of the Child Labor Law. Child labor posters may be obtained through this website by calling Child Labor Compliance at 1-800-226-2536.

Documentation Requirements
Employers are required to keep waiver authorizations, proof of age documentation, and proof of exemption from minor status for all employees who are under 18. These records must be maintained for the duration of the minor’s employment. Unless exempt from the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), the records must be kept until the minor turns 19.

Parental Permission to Hire
Employers are not required by law to have permission from the parents to employ their minor child. However, we strongly encourage employers to include parents in the process.

Work Permits
“Work permits” and/or “working papers” are not required in Florida and are not issued by either the schools or any governmental agency in Florida. Please see Waivers.

Hour Limitations
Minors are limited in the hours they may work to permit them to attend and complete their educational responsibilities.

Breaks
Minors may work no more than 4 consecutive hours without a 30 minute uninterrupted break.

Exemptions
Minors are exempt from the hour limitations of the Child Labor Law if they have been married, graduated from an accredited high school or hold a high school equivalency diploma, served in the military, have been authorized by a court order, or been issued a partial waiver by the public school or the Child Labor Program.

Safety
Each year minors suffer injuries in the workplace. OSHA has recommendations and guidelines regarding this area.

Waivers
The Florida Child Labor Law is designed to serve and protect minors and to encourage them to remain in school. At times, however, some minors feel that the law conflicts with their best interest or that their life circumstances are such that they need to work. Minors have the right to request that the Child Labor Office exempt them from parts of the Child Labor Law.

Penalites
Employment of minors in violation of Florida child labor laws may result in fines up to $2,500 per offense and/or be guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor.

More Information
Employers who have an interest in learning more about Florida’s Child Labor Law may request training by contacting the Bureau of Child Labor at 1-800-226-2536.

We support your company giving young people the opportunity to learn your business, learn what it is to have a work ethic and have some spending money or money for future education. It’s great for the future of our country. However, we encourage you to take the right steps to protect both you and them!

 

Myers_Rick (3)Rick Myers
Team Horner


Whatever your feeling or opinion is on the 64-E code, it is the regulation that all companies and properties must adhere to if they either take care of or have a pool on their property. We as professionals must begin to use this code not only as our back-up as we point out to our customers items that their pool is missing or are in need of repair but also to ensure that the commercial pools we take care of are as safe and healthy as possible. What is the end result of doing the right thing? Our sales will increase, our employees will be smarter and more involved in their routes, and our properties will be happy knowing that the pool in their condo, hotel, etc. meets or exceeds state code.

Here are just a couple of violations that the state of Florida considers cause for immediate closure:

  • Cannot see the main drain from the deck.
  • Three or more depth markers missing or illegible.
  • Main drain cover loose or missing.
  • Ladder treads missing or broken.
  • Vacuum line is missing.

Items requiring a fix that takes anywhere from 7-30 days could include broken PH feeder, spa clock missing, weirs missing or broken, and broken or missing filter gauges.

All of these repairs usually include a billable service call and many of them can be fixed in one visit. So how do you turn this into an easily managed revenue avenue for your company?

There are several ways of doing this, all of which are low tech, and best of all they produce results. What if you asked your service personnel to take a picture of all the pressure gauges one week and the wall clocks on the spas the next week? If every week you took one possible infraction and concentrated on that infraction, over a period of time you would have covered the entire pool code.

This could also be done by sending your customers a quick note via email or social media asking them the same question. Over time your customers will appreciate this “extra service” and depend on you even more.

Hopefully this short article gets you interested in the safety business and you will be able to have safer pool and a business that is growing annually.

Ken-McKenna-webKen McKenna
FSPA President


Recently about 40 of our dedicated members attended Legislative Days in Tallahassee to meet, talk and mingle with House Representatives and State Senators. Our goal is to educate them on our industry and discuss the current issues we may be facing. This has been successful over the years in developing relationships that can help us with issues if they arise. Unfortunately, due to election cycles and term limits, the players change and we have to create new relationships.

The FSPA government relations consultant, Jennifer Hatfield, has been instrumental over the last decade in gaining a voice for us in Tallahassee. We are now seen as the go-to association for anything concerning pools. She has worked tirelessly in growing our relationships and representing the industry. However, with everything she does, we need to help and pitch in more.

It is time for us to begin using our numbers to protect and promote our industry when it comes to the political process. There are several ways we can accomplish this:

  1. Donate money to PIPAC (Pool Industry Political Action Committee) — everyone knows money talks. Donating to our PAC or writing a check to a local politician creates access and establishes a relationship. This is the best way to get yourself and FSPA recognized.
  2. Donate your time to a candidate. Hold signs for them during their campaign. Work in their office stuffing envelopes or whatever they need. This is a great way to get to know the candidate and their staff. Again, it’s about developing a relationship.
  3. Visit them in their local office. Make an appointment to introduce yourself and tell them what issues are important in our industry. Make them aware of changes we may be looking to make or things we are trying to prevent from happening. We are their constituents and they will make time for you.

Ava Jones
FSPA Member Information Specialist

Trade Association: noun

  1. An association of people or companies in a particular business or trade, organized to promote their common interests.

The Florida Swimming Pool Association is comprised of 700 member companies. I wonder how many of our members know the history behind associations and what it means to be a member of an association?

Associations have been around much longer than most people think. You can find examples of trade associations back to Elizabethan England (16th Century) with the formation of guilds. The guilds were formed by merchants and individual artisans coming together to protect their interests and provide services for the industry. The guilds offered regulations on work hours and wages as well as education in specific fields relating to the guild’s industry (sound familiar?). As the world expanded and grew to today’s modern world, guilds grew and expended to reflect the needs of the ever advancing members.

The United States of America has a proud history of association involvement. In fact, you can see how important having the availability to be a part of an association was to our founding fathers by looking at our constitution. Freedom to assemble and freedom of speech are key factors for an effective association which are protected in our constitutional rights. The earliest association in the US is the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York that was founded in 1768. A group of 20 merchants pooled together to form the Chamber of Commerce with the goal of serving the needs of the local community. They gradually grew to become the industry’s leading advocates and attracting participation from some of America’s most famous business families: Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Murray,and Astor. The US boasts tens of thousands of associations that represent various groups and industries that make up our vast nation.

You have been accepted into the Florida Swimming Pool Association because of your commitment to a code of ethics, your credentials, and your dedication to advancing Florida’s swimming pool industry. You have chosen to continue on the path laid down by our forefathers. FSPA is only as good as our membership. We look forward to many more years of fighting for the swimming pool industry with our loyal and hardworking members leading the way.

 

Russell_Matt (2)Matt Russell
Pool Design Concepts LLC


All you have to do is Google “customer service memes” and you will see, dare I say, a truer side of the way today’s society views the idea. Granted, a meme by its definition is “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc.” However, we all know there is always a little truth behind irony and satire. Most, if not all, of us have experienced this in our day-to-day lives, such as calls to the cable provider, insurance company, or any office operated by the government. What has happened to the lost art of customer service? Continue reading