Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Franchisee Profile: Marsh Flatau, Franchisee of Birmingham, AL


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Opened: February 2010
Location: Birmingham, AL

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I grew up in Macon, Ga., before moving to Birmingham about a year ago.

Q: Before Franchising, what did you do?
A: I was waiting tables at J. Christopher’s.

Q: How did you hear about ASP?
A: Being from Macon and knowing Stewart Vernon, I had been hearing about how successful ASP was for almost five years and I didn’t want to miss out.

Q: What specific steps did you take in validating ASP as a brand?
A: I was fed up with the economy and finding a job in Macon was proving to be extremely difficult for a 26 year old. After considering what was available, I decided to give Stewart a call about a possible business opportunity. To find out some more about the brand, I called other franchise owners and they were all happy with the company. That positive feedback, along with the reputation for success ASP had in Macon, really assured me that this was the right decision.

Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
A: ASP has never had a location fail, so it was obvious from the start that their business plan was a pretty good one. I was also very impressed with the level of support ASP gave me as I got the Birmingham location up and running. The great business partnerships that allow us to buy discounted supplies is a nice perk.
Q: What have been some career milestones for you/your business?
A: I received the 2010 award for Best New Franchise Start, which is given to the franchise with the highest sales of all new stores.

Q: What are your future goals? Development plans?
A: Right now, I’m focusing on my first location, but if I keep having the success I am right now there’s no reason not to open somewhere else. I think having multiple franchises is definitely a possibility five years down the road.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ASP-America’s Swimming Pool Franchise Recognized as a Top Franchise Opportunity by Entrepreneur Magazine

Nation’s largest pool and spa franchise enters Entrepreneur’s Top 500 Franchise List in 2011

Despite the rough economic climate and the treacherous home improvement market, ASP-America’s Swimming Pool Company was recently ranked #459 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 500 Franchise Opportunities list in 2011. Launched as a franchise in 2005 before the full force of the economic recession took hold, America’s Swimming Pool Company now has 56 territories operating in over 100 cities and continues to be recognized as the nation’s leading pool and spa maintenance franchise.

“Being recognized as a Top 500 franchising company is an award that highlights the success and growth that we have experienced over the past 5 years,” said Stewart Vernon, CEO and founder of ASP. “We have followed this specific award since we began franchising in 2005 and are ecstatic that we have been honored by Entrepreneur Magazine.”

Entrepreneur has conducted the Franchise 500 survey for 32 years. To determine rankings, each company is evaluated on its financial strength and stability, growth rate, size of system, years in business and franchising and percentage of unit closings.

“We feel this award is a testament to the solid infrastructure we have created for our franchisees that allows them to thrive in each market we enter. We have yet to see a franchise location fail and we attribute this to our outstanding franchise owners,” said Vernon. “As we continue to grow, we will be constantly reinvesting in and strengthening our franchise system to ensure we continue to move up in the rankings.”

Currently, America’s Swimming Pool Company manages over 40 million gallons of water per week and renovates or remodels more than 250 pools each year. Though regular pool service and repair is a necessity to many homeowners, the industry reputation has previously been perceived as somewhat unreliable, as many service contractors lack the consistent organizational skills and support to run a steady business. ASP has been explosively successful since its inception in 2001 by fusing a fragmented industry through careful analysis of changes in housing trends along with a heavy emphasis on professionalism and customer service.

For more information on America’s Swimming Pool Company, visit www.ASPpoolco.com.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Franchisee Profile: Jef Flournoy, Franchisee of Augusta, GA

Opened: March, 2008
Location: Augusta, GA

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Macon, Georgia

Q: Before Franchising, what were you involved with?
A: Before franchising with ASP, I worked as a middle school teacher for five years in Macon and coached the High School and Middle School soccer teams. After that, I worked for a year and a half as a banker in Macon before I began looking into business opportunities that provided a quicker paced environment. My wife wanted to further her education and decided to go back to Dental School, so we moved to Augusta. When exploring possible career changes and business opportunities, I began looking into a business I could own and operate on my own, which led me to ASP.

Q: How did you learn about the brand?
A: I learned about ASP initially through the now President and CEO of ASP, Stewart Vernon, who is a friend of mine. I loved the business model and was interested starting my own business when we moved to Augusta. After seeing the success that Stewart had in Macon in only a few years, I decided that ASP would be a great addition to the market, bringing professionalism and reliability.

Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
A: The ASP brand was a great opportunity to open a business of my own when we moved to Augusta. It gave me the freedom to be my own boss, starting with one truck where I could operate all of the initial operations by myself. Now that I’ve established ASP in the Augusta market, I can add employees according to demand, giving me the opportunity to operate and manage my own business.

Q: What have been some career milestones for you/your business?
A: After opening ASP in March of 2008, I have been able to increase sales every year, including from year 1 to 2, increasing total sales by 95%. We have been able to grow mainly through word of mouth, due to our professional approach to pool maintenance.

Q: What are your future goals? Development plans?
A: Right now my main goal is to hire and employee the best staff possible, provide superior service that our competitors and to be at $500,000 in sales by 2012.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ASP Featured in Business News Daily as Low-Cost Franchise Opportunity for 2011

The New Year is the time for a fresh look on life and many reevaluate their career path during that time since it’s such a huge component to anyone’s life. BusinessNewsDaily just published an article about 8 Low-Cost Franchise Opportunities for 2011 and ASP-America’s Swimming Pool Company was featured for their low initial investment and unique business proposition. Check out the full article here.

8 Low-Cost Franchise Opportunities for 2011

If you’re thinking 2011 is the year you’re going to start your own business, you might consider the thousands of franchise opportunities available. The International Franchise Association (IFA) web site is a good place to start pursuing your franchise ownership dream.

The organization relaunched its web site yesterday, adding functionality that makes it easier to access information about its 1,100 franchise members.

“IFA’s web site is the most complete source for information on all aspects of franchising,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira. “The Web site’s new design and navigational enhancements will vastly improve the user experience and enable visitors to more quickly and easily retrieve and share information about franchising.”

“The enhanced franchise.org Web site is an important resource in our ongoing commitment to promote the $2.3 trillion franchise industry,” Caldeira said. “Whether you are considering buying a franchise or franchising your existing business, franchise.org is your one-stop information source.

BusinessNewsDaily asked communications firm No Limit Media Consulting, which works with a variety of franchises, to compile a list of franchise opportunities that can cost less than $100,000. Some, even cost less than $50,000 to start.

The list is a great place to start dreaming.

America’s Swimming Pool Company
, the nation’s largest swimming pool and spa service and repair franchise serving over 100 cities, asks franchisees for an initial investment of only $43,500.

(Read More)

Monday, December 13, 2010

ASP Franchisee, Marsh Flatau Featured in Birmingham News

Marsh Flatau, franchisee of ASP-America’s Swimming Pool Company in Birmingham was recently featured in the Birmingham News in an article entitled, “Entrepreneur: Marsh Flatau makes the leap from waiter to business owner.” Marsh opened the franchise in Birmingham in the Spring of 2010 and earned the title of the highest sales of any franchisee opening this year earning over $100,000 in sales in the first eight months. What enticed Marsh about this business opportunity was the low start-up cost and low franchise fee allowing him to open quickly and by purchasing only chemicals, equipment and a truck. Marsh operates the business mostly by himself at this point and looks forward to the opportunity to grow in Birmingham with a large number of pools in the area. To view the article in its entirety, click here.

Entrepreneur: Marsh Flatau makes the leap from waiter to business owner
By Roy L. Williams

A year ago, Marsh Flatau was working as a waiter at J. Christopher's restaurant in his hometown of Macon, Ga.

Frustrated about not being able to find a better job in a difficult labor market, the 26-year-old decided to quit his waiter position and pursue a business franchise. After months of researching different companies and cities, Flatau bought the Birmingham franchise rights of America's Swimming Pool Co., a Macon-based pool maintenance and repair company.

Launched in March 2010, Flatau was recognized this month as Best New Franchise of America's Swimming Pool Co., called ASP for short. In his first nine months, Flatau achieved more than $100,000 in revenue, the highest sales of any franchise opening this year.

(Read More)

ASP Ranked in Top 500 Franchises by Entrepreneur Magazine

ASP - America's Swimming Pool Co. was recently featured in Entrepreneur Magazine as the #459 franchise in the nation. This is the first time that ASP has been featured in this yearly recognition done by Entrepreneur, the nation's leading business monthly magazine. This is a top distinction in the franchising industry and we are honored to be a part of it.

Entrepreneur Mag Fran 500

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Franchisee Profile: Rex Putnal, Franchisee of Savannah and Glynn County, GA

Franchisee Since: March 2008
Franchise Locations: Savannah, GA; Glynn County

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: The majority of my life I lived in Macon, GA and recently my wife and I decided to move to Savannah.

Q: Before Franchising, what were you involved with?
A: Before franchising with ASP, I worked for a pharmaceutical company that was based in Macon. I ran all of the company’s billing, payroll and collections operations for 20 years and it was a great opportunity to work with 11 other nationwide locations. When the company was bought out, they decided to relocate operations to Orlando and at nearly 60 years old I began looking for a new business opportunity as I was not yet ready to retire.

Q: How did you learn about the brand?
A: I began looking into franchising opportunities and knew of ASP through a neighbor who owned the location in Destin, FL. After looking into the company and speaking with our neighbor, I went to a franchise attorney in Atlanta to verify the system, check the brand and look at the franchise fees. Hearing nothing but positive feedback from a current ASP franchisee and from the franchise attorney, I contacted a long-time friend Bill Poe to discuss a business plan.

We met with Stewart and learned that the Georgia Coast was still an open territory and a possibility for ownership. Stewart was a good and honest man who was able to answer all of our questions, willing to work with us and who had developed a very strong business plan. Bill had a condo in Glynn County which ultimately led to our decision to purchase the Savannah and Glynn County territories.

Q: How do you see the brand connecting with your local community?
A: We are members of the local Chamber of Commerce in out territories; we sponsor local football programs and little league in Glynn County. We love to be involved in these communities and will stay as involved as our income allows.

Q: What have been some career milestones for you/your business?
A: We focus on the small things; everything we do is a milestone for our business. Our next immediate milestone will be purchasing another service truck for the area. Whenever we receive new customers and accounts, which is always a milestone in this business.
Q: What is an interesting fact about you?
A: I am a former UGA football player and a diehard UGA fan to this day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Franchisee Profile: Brett Henry, ASP Franchisee of Statesboro, GA


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Franchisee since: March 2009
Location:
721 South Main St. Ste. 10
Statesboro, GA 30458


Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I grew up in Twin City, GA, and went to Georgia Southern in Statesboro, so I’m very familiar with the area.

Q: Before Franchising, what did you do?
A: Prior to opening an ASP, I was farming with my father and working for a chemical manufacturer.

Q: How did you hear about ASP?
A: I actually heard about ASP from my best friend, Wes Simmons. Wes is a native of Macon and knew Stewart [Vernon] and Tom [Swift] before we got involved with ASP. Stewart and Tom approached Wes with the chance to own a franchise, and Wes came to me with concept. We’d been talking about starting a business together for a long time and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
A: There were a couple of things about ASP that really stood out to us when we were evaluating the company. The first was the strength of ASP’s corporate staff. We got instant feedback from Stewart and Tom on all our questions and they were very willing to work with us to solve problems and get things rolling. ASP also provides a strong business plan that will lead you to success if you follow it. The last big factor was that it was a local company. Wes is from Macon and I grew up about two hours away, so franchising with a company headquartered so close to home was an attractive opportunity.

Q: What have been some career milestones for you/your business?
A: We opened a retail store this year and it’s been really great. Now, people can bring their problems to us instead of having to schedule a service call. We also raised our sales 300% since last year and which is a huge accomplishment for us.

Q: What are your future goals? Development plans?
A: We’re hoping to add a second retail store to our territory in March of 2012 around the Rincon, GA area.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Franchisee Profile: Bill Poe, Franchisee of Savannah and Glynn County, GA

Opened: March 2008
Location
: Savannah and Glynn County, GA

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Macon, Georgia

Q: Before Franchising, what were you involved with?
A: Before I became a franchisee for ASP, I worked in the corporate world for Duracell Batteries for over 30 years as a territory salesman. For 10 of those years, I worked on the national medical account for Duracell and managed the territory from Alpharetta, GA.

When Proctor and Gamble brought the company in 2007, I was offered an early retirement plan for company executives and decided it was time to look for a new business venture. My lifelong friend, Rex Putnal contacted me with a new business opportunity that we could both pursue after spending careers in different fields. When Rex began describing ASP, I instantly became interested in this new career and by January 2008 we were in the process of opening our locations in Savannah and Glynn County.

Q: What specific steps did you take in validating the brand?
A: To start off, we met with Stewart and began looking at the business plan that ASP had constructed. After looking at territories that were up and running, we recognized this plan could work especially well on the Georgia Coast. There was a clear opportunity to grow the business wither you were the owner or an owner operator. What separated ASP from the competition was the operational side of the development providing quality service and maintenance while identifying target markets where there was room to grow.

Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
A: I loved the service that the ASP system provides and truly believe in the brand. What we have learned is that we offer a more personal service than our competitors. In addition, ASP approaches our clients and our business in a very professional manner and they are always pleased with our exceptional service. We teach each of our employees this simple concept; we have hundreds of customers that we serve every week but they only have one pool service. We were chosen as their company.

Q: What have been some career milestones for you/your business?

A: Over the last year, we have continued to build our presence in the market and have been able to pick up some large commercial properties in Glynn County. This has helped created a stronger brand recognition and has given us the opportunity to take on larger business ventures.

Q: What are your future goals? Development plans?
A: To continue to satisfy each of our customers by providing superior service. We are still small enough that we keep a personal touch to our business, respond quickly to calls and have created relationships with all of our property managers. We have not lost a customer due to dissatisfaction with our service and we strive to keep it that way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

ASP Franchisee featured in Augusta Chronicle

America's Swimming Pool Company was recently featured in the Augusta Chronicle where franchisee Jef Flournoy was able to delve into the details of the pool business in Augusta. The business feature about Jef came after 3 years of hard work and dedication to making the business grow in a successful way. Since opening in 2008, Jef was able to double the sales between year 1 and year 2 and in 2010 has been able to increase sales by 30% in one of the hardest economic times in history. What Jef has done to set himself apart from other pool cleaning services is to uphold the proven system established by ASP and makes sure to always show up in neatly press clothes and a crisp collared shirt that relays the message of reliability and professionalism in a highly fragmented industry. Most importantly however is the bond that Jef has established with all of his pool owners, where he has focused specifically on building and maintaining relationships to help build a system where his owners feel comfortable when having their pool serviced by ASP. A portion of the article is included below and can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

Pool-cleaning franchise thrives
By Tracey McManus

When Jef Flournoy saw parking lots full of chrysanthemums on sale across Augusta last month, he got an idea.

He bought 85 plants, piled them in his truck and hand-delivered them to the doorsteps of 85 of his most loyal customers.

When his customers found them, they saw a note saying, "Thank you for your business. From -- the pool guy."

Flournoy launched his Augusta-based franchise of America's Swimming Pool Co. in 2008 based on the premise of connecting with his customers. Since then he has become one of the company's most successful franchisees.

"It's not just about cleaning their pools," said Flournoy, 36. "It's about building relationships."

After his first year in Augusta, Flournoy doubled overall sales and continued the streak by increasing sales 30 percent in 2010.

(Read More)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Franchisee Profile: Matt Dayton, Franchisee of ASP Macon and Fayetteville

Matt Dayton of ASP

Franchisee since: 2007
Locations: Macon and Fayetteville, GA

Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I grew up in Barnesville but I’ve lived in Macon for years.

Q: Before franchising, what did you do?
A: I’ve been with ASP since my senior year in college at Mercer University.

Q: How did you hear about ASP?
A: I’d known Stewart [Vernon] since my junior year in high school. I knew he had owned a pool company and heard it had been doing well, so I asked him about a job opportunity. I started cleaning pools with about 6 credit hours to go before graduation. Back then, I had extra time and enjoyed the extra money, but I didn’t go into it with the intention of buying my own franchise.

Q: What specific steps did you take in validating ASP?
A: It was pretty easy to see the potential of ASP had when you look at its competition. There are some really good pool companies out there, but people appreciate good customer service with their pool service. I saw that ASP provided not only a fantastic product but was friendly and helpful as well.

Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
A: I started out cleaning pools for the first 3-4 years, and I’ve never gotten away from that. I like being outside and being my own boss. I also like working with customers and building relationships. Those relationships are really what set us apart from other pool companies.

Q: What have been some career milestones for you/your business?
A: After becoming the sole owner of the Macon location in 2007, I opened another franchise in Fayette County in 2008. This year, we had the honor of winning the highest grossing sales award of the entire ASP system for the Macon location.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stewart Vernon Highlighted as Pool and Spa News' Voice of the Industry

The Missing Piece
When consumers buy equipment online, they forget the most important part: a pool professional.
By Stewart Vernon

It’s no secret that with the Internet, buyers have become more knowledgeable price-shoppers when purchasing anything related to a pool.

I’ve received back-to-back phone calls from my service/retail franchisees about unhappy customers who felt they were being overcharged because of the lower equipment prices they find online after the fact.

Even if the sale has already been made, once the homeowner sees the product in his or her yard and has the manual in hand, they get curious about what they just purchased. In the course of their follow-up research, they’ll inevitably find a bargain-basement price from a guy wearing a bathrobe in his garage, halfway across the country.

We know that rock-bottom price doesn’t include necessities like installation, materials or someone to fix the product when things go wrong. But the consumer may not take that into consideration.

Looking at unhappy customers’ invoices has led me to think the problem lies, in part, in the perceived price of the system itself. Often, pool professionals will charge too much for a chlorine generator or robotic cleaner, yet not enough for the installation. The customer can’t understand that you charged him less for labor than you should have. Instead, they only see the black-and-white charge for the product itself, and compare that to the price online, which doesn’t include anything but what’s in the box.

But there is more than one solution for that sticker shock. You can keep approximately the same profit margin on a piece of equipment by breaking down the cost differently. By charging a larger amount for the installation, you can assign a lower value to the product itself, reducing the gap between what you’re selling and what can be found online.

What has worked for us, though, is flat-rate pricing. A total package on the bill that includes the cost of the product, labor and materials without breaking down each aspect eliminates putting an exact price on the system. It can also make clients feel that they’re getting an all-inclusive deal. In addition, taking hourly rates out of the equation is a nice bonus for the customers, who won’t feel miffed if they see their service tech taking a break.

Also, remember that dedicated pool professionals not only have a leg-up because of their relationships with suppliers and manufacturers, but we can also offer certified warranty work and extensively trained personnel.

Eventually, the buyer will call you to install, or fix, the system they bought online outside of the warranty. This will end up costing more than the $200 they originally saved. If you protect them from that in the beginning, it’s better for them as well as for our industry’s reputation and survival.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ASP featured on CNBC.com

ASP was recently featured in a great article on CNBC.com entitled, “The Young Millionaires Club.” Despite the fact that 15 million people are faced with unemployment, there are many opportunities still out there and entrepreneurship is a great option. This article features four entrepreneurs who took a risk in starting their own business and became millionaires before the age of 30. Stewart Vernon founded ASP at the age of 22 directly after graduating college, when he saw a void in the pool service industry. The article discusses Stewart’s journey in launching ASP as a franchise and how the brand has expanded to 56 franchises throughout the southeast. A portion of the article is included below and it can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

The First Million Before Age 30

With 15 million people still unemployed in the U.S. and companies being tight on their spending, it’s easy to throw your hands up and say, “But nobody’s hiring!”

The truth is, if no big corporation is hiring, YOU can hire you — Become an entrepreneur. Study different types of business and figure out a niche where you can make money. All it takes is an idea and the drive to take it to market.

Stewart Vernon
, of Macon, Georgia, was always entrepreneurial, running a door-to-door car-wash and detailing business when he was a teenager. When he graduated from college, he knew he wanted to start his own business and saw a need for better service in the pool-service business.

So, he used the few thousand dollars he’d saved up in college and in 2001, bought truck and some chemicals. And, he spent a few weeks shadowing a local pool cleaner who was about to retire. To get customers, he went door-to-door.

(Read More)
 
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