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.
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