How’s business these days at ASP?
Well, when you asked me that question last year, we were having our largest classes of incoming pool school attendees. We launched 14 locations last year, which was a record for us. If you break them down, the highest-performing locations did better last year than any of the high performing locations from the previous year. Last year’s class of new locations got off to a better start and generated a higher amount of first-year revenue than we’d ever seen in the past.
Some of that was improvement in the response rate to marketing. We’re seeing customers really start to buy in and believe in the variable speed pumps — the energy efficiency and energy savings that new technology in the pool business is able to bring. We’ve really capitalized on this. We’ve seen a record number of variable speed pumps sold last year. And this year, we’ve almost sold more in February of this year than we did in all of last spring.
The new technology is well-branded in the pool business and we’re seeing the results of that. The consumers are responding.
How are the variable speed pumps selling? We’re seeing these pumps trickling down from the high-end projects to the mid-range, and the reason is that the manufacturers are understanding their technology better and how to market it. I saw a presentation from a big manufacturer at our owners meeting, it was the second time I’d seen them present, and it was so much better: the message was better-delivered, better information, more data. So I think they’re understanding their own products better, the dealers are understanding the technology better, and the consumer is getting more relevant, better information. And so no longer is it the six-figure new pool that’s getting the variable speed pump, it’s now the $25,000 backyard pool because the dealer is
better able to show them off.
One thing that has really helped is the data and the energy savings calculators on the manufacturer websites — the big three all have them — and the consumer can say, “Here’s where I live, here’s how long I run my pump, here’s how much I’m spending, and here’s how much I can save in a year.” It’s hard to argue with the dollars and cents of it. It’s just common sense. Those selling tools have just gotten a lot better.
We now have a link on each franchisee’s website so the customer can go to that pump savings calculator. They get our direct mail, go straight to the franchisee website and get their own data.
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