Friday, September 23, 2011

Franchisee Profile: Amanda and Giorgio Lopez of Clermont & Orlando, FL


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Location: Clermont and Orlando
Phone Number: (850) 316-1719

Q: Where are you from?
A: Giorgio was born and raised in Aruba and moved to the United States in 2005.
Amanda: I am from the Pensacola area and then moved to Orlando for school.

Q: What was your career before franchising?
A: Amanda: I actually worked in franchising before we began our business adventure almost a year ago. I worked for US Lawns in their franchise sales department for almost two years which is how I learned so much about franchising and the franchise systems. Giorgio was primarily a student before opening the business and had always worked with his father in his various businesses in the area so this was really his first small business experience as an owner and operator.

Q: How did you learn about the brand?
A: We had been discussing possible work options and we were looking on craigslist ads and ended up coming across an existing pool maintenance company in the Orlando area which caught our attention. Then of course we started researching the pool industry and did a Google search for pool repair and maintenance franchises and America’s Swimming Pool was one of the first companies that we came across. We filled out the form online and then Tom and Stewart from the corporate office gave us a call. Our process was very quick and within a few months we had the business up and running. 

Q: Why did you decide to open your own business?
A: We both have always wanted to own our own business and wanted to stay in Orlando after college because we already had a house and had built a life in the area. Also, with Giorgio’s father owing different businesses, he was a true entrepreneur and that allowed us the ability to know that we wanted to open a business of our own.

Q: What was appealing to you about joining a franchise system?
A: After working in franchise sales for two years, we both understood the value of going with a franchise system rather than starting up a business on your own. The initial investment was lower and the opportunity to get started quickly was there with franchises. One of the biggest things was that the systems had been proven and it wasn’t something that we would have to come up with recording and paper work process; we didn’t need to invent the wheel over again.

Q: What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today with your business?
A: We have a day to day struggle with market saturation, especially in Orlando. There are a ton of single person pool operations that are unqualified and therefore able to undercut costs so it has been a struggle to make our brand stand out. Additionally, our age has been a challenge because we are so young, so we have been determined to demonstrate our hard work and ensure that every customer is satisfied with the service that America’s Swimming Pool Company provides. We are constantly looking for ways to show new customers that even though our prices aren’t as low that we have the expertise, training and national brand recognition that has constant training and provides the best customer experience.

Q: Are there any prominent industry trends that you are experiencing right now?
A: We have noticed a spike in customers who are interested in making more economical choices when pool pieces need to be replaces and we have been installing a lot more pumps and parts that are more efficient and economical or cut back on chemical usage. We started noticing this ‘green’ trend around the beginning of the year when pieces needed to be replaces so Giorgio has been doing a lot of these repairs in Orlando and Clermont. Homeowners are interested in these pieces because they cut back on the bills and also provide a more environmentally friendly approach with pools.

Q: What are your expansion or development plans?
A: We are definitely interested in growing and developing America’s Swimming Pool Company throughout the entire market but don’t have any solid plans yet as we haven’t even been owners for a year. We would like to add a store in Clermont by 2012 or early 2013 depending on the continued success and at some point would like to also add one in Orlando.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Franchisee Profile: Michael Duggan of Athens, GA


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Franchisee since: January 2010
Location: Athens, Ga.

What is your background?
I grew up in Macon, Ga., and graduated from First Presbyterian Day High School. I then attended Georgia Southern University and graduated with a B.S. in chemistry. Currently, I am 24 years old and operating the business.

Why did you choose to invest in an America’s Swimming Pool Co. franchise?
Coming out of college, my options were to work in Northern Iowa doing agricultural research, or work with my former high school football coach, Chris Stewart. He is the insurance supplier for ASP - America’s Swimming Pool Company and bought the Athens franchise, offering me the opportunity to run it. I did my research on ASP and decided that route was the best career opportunity. This allowed me to live closer to my fiancĂ©, who lives in Statesboro, Ga. I took over operations of ASP in January of 2010.

How has your business grown since you took over?
When I started, we had one account after a year of business. Within a year of me working there, and the location’s second year overall, we had about 13 accounts. We doubled that last year and now have 27 accounts, seven of which are commercial.

What has allowed you to become so successful with ASP so far?
I just followed the plan and procedures set in place by ASP. The plan has worked for every location (ASP has had a zero-percent failure rate). I went to “Pool School” – ASP’s training program in Macon – and have become a member of Business Networking Inc. in Athens, which has helped me network in the community.

What sets yourself and ASP apart from competitors?
My background in chemistry sets me apart because I understand the chemistry of water and how pools work a lot better than the average pool maintenance professional. Also, the level of professionalism required is just a lot higher than I’ve seen, in terms of customer service and promptness when it comes to appointments. Most competitors show up dressed in whatever, but we wear uniforms, and that also helps to create brand recognition throughout the area.

What are your expansion/development plans?
I’m interested in expanding in to the Monroe or Gainesville territories once we maximize our potential in Athens.

America’s Swimming Pool Company, the Nation’s most respected swimming pool maintenance and repair franchise, was established in 2001 by Stewart Vernon of Macon, Georgia. The company was built on the belief that providing the highest-quality pool maintenance with competitive pricing and a high level of dependability will attract customers. Since 2005, ASP has expanded into 56 territories in the Southeast, servicing over 100 cities across the country. At this point, the company manages over 40 million gallons of water per week and renovates or remodels more than 250 pools each year. For information, please visit www.ASPpoolco.com

Thursday, September 8, 2011

America's Swimming Pool Company featured in The Albany Herald

America's Swimming Pool Company was recently featured in The Albany Herald. The article titled, "Albany Man In The Swim Of Things With New Business" features ASP franchisee H.J. Chandler discussing how he made a late career change. Chandler ran his own Atlanta-based company for 15 years but when the economy started to decline, he began looking at other opportunities. He learned about ASP through a friend of his wife's, who knew ASP founder Stewart Vernon. Soon after, Chandler moved to Albany to open an ASP franchise. Click here to view the entire article.


Albany Man In The Swim Of Things With New Business
By: Jim West

ALBANY
 -- For 15 years, H.J. Chandler enjoyed the good life, running his own Atlanta-based financial services company. Then came tougher times for many in the industry, and Chandler was no exception. It was 2007 when things went seriously sour, Chandler said.
He tried to save the business he'd had so long, drawing from savings and moonlighting as an apartment painter. At various times, he sold repossessed vehicles and commercial equipment. Nothing served as more than stopgap measures, and Chandler was picking up speed in the wrong direction.
"Financial services was my real thing," the businessman said. "I hoped if I could keep it going, then things would get better."
According to Chandler, he and his wife, Lauren, came to realize that something had to be done. They began investigating small businesses, both franchise and independent. Chandler had considered the "Dumpster," or refuse-hauling business, and thought it might do OK for them.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

America's Swimming Pool Company featured in the Duluth Patch

America's Swimming Pool Company was recently featured in an article in the Duluth Patch titled, "Changing Careers Leads to New Success." The article features ASP Franchisee Dan Meehan who discusses how he made a career change very late in his professional life in an attempt to stay ahead of the declining economy. He invested in ASP and now has locations in Duluth, Norcross and Cumming. He has 51 clients and is looking to expand to more locations. Click here to read the full article.


Changing Careers Leads to New Success
By: Jeff Corbin

Ten years ago, Dan Meehan was among the countless number of Americans riding an economic roller coaster.

Stock market instability and high unemployment created great uncertainty. Jobs were drying up as many found themselves newly out of work.

Meehan had spent more than 30 years with technology companies large and small, mostly in sales positions. He then worked for years as a recruiter finding sales professionals for Altana tech firms.

"It took two to three years before the market came back to even be able to really make any living at all," Meehan said of the 2001 situation.

Fast forward to 2008, and Meehan was again witnessing an all-too-familiar scene. A stock market crash and joblessness were once again the dominant economic realities nationwide.

(Read More)

 
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