Existing Operators: Is it Time to Join the ASP Family?
The ASP Conversion Program
First, a Definition: A conversion franchise is a franchise system that permits existing businesses to join its franchise system and use its name, trademark and operating systems. Over the past several years we at ASP have been franchising our pool maintenance, repair, and renovation business throughout the United States, with a concentration of expanding into the South, and Mid-western territories of Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and Iowa. Additionally, we have just recently expanded into the Northeastern United States in Indiana. Our Goal: To be a household name nationwide! The franchisees that joined our system have all been business-minded individuals who wanted to own their own business and recognized the potential for success in the fragmented pool service industry. As time passed, our organization expanded from the original location in Macon, Georgia, to five locations, to 10 locations and is now 124 locations strong. As the business evolved, so did our ability to develop new operating systems that provide franchisees with a competitive advantage that may not have existed even in our own company just a couple of years ago when there were fewer franchises. Because our business has evolved and we now have so much to offer, we have begun to convert existing pool businesses into ASP franchises, bringing value to those businesses that they did not previously have. A few examples of the advantages that we can bring to your business (and that our franchises have) are listed below:
What do you charge per hour for repair work?
A Flat Rate Pricing System for All Repair Work. We are able to charge labor rates, unlike our competition, based on the national average of time it should take us to complete a repair. This allows us to provide the homeowner with a “no-nonsense” flat rate price before the job is accepted, inclusive of labor, products, materials, and sales tax, giving the homeowner the peace of mind of knowing that no matter how long it takes us to complete the repair, that the price will stay at the quoted flat rate price. This produces a much higher level of professionalism, resulting in increased sale, thus producing more profitability.
What do you get from the company you buy your products from?
National Buying Power. Each location purchases all of its chemicals, tools, parts, etc. from a POOLCORP (SCP or SPP) distribution center as needed and as they see fit in order to run their business. However, because we have a national account with this distributor, each of our locations gains the buying power of a company doing millions of dollars in annual sales. Even our smallest franchise location buys a bucket of chlorine cheaper than their largest competitor in that territory. This fact alone is reason enough for some pool business owners to convert to an ASP franchise. In addition to this buying power, our relationship with this distributor allows us to access resources that would never be available to a single-owner operation. We have a retail program with them catered just to our company that provides marketing dollars to any franchise that opens a new retail store. We have access to production facilities for the manufacturers of the products we buy. We have rebate programs established for our dealers based on purchases. And beyond these, we have the name recognition and respect with this distributor that allows us to be seen as the industry leader.
What information do you have about the city you are in?
Industry Leading Data Information. Each location is provided with data about their territory that is invaluable to them and that is unique to our industry. First, we provide the name and address of everyone in the territory that has a swimming pool. Second, in addition to this address list we provide income and home value information for the swimming pool owner as well. We not only know how to market, we know whom to market to. Next we take that data and apply it to a 3’x4’ wall map of the territory by plotting every pool on the map and also color coding the map based on buying habits of those homeowners. This is done with the extensive data research that our marketing company does in conjunction with the information we provide as well as information gathered about the area a franchisee is entering. Therefore, we not only know how and to whom we should market, but we also know exactly where those people live in relation to others with similar buying habits that will likely use our services. This information and this data are unique to most industries and are unheard of in ours.
What is your business doing to market?
Industry Leading Marketing. We have spent years marketing to swimming pool owners. We know what works, what does not work, when to market, and how to market. We use a unique direct mail marketing approach that takes all of the data listed above and targets the qualified homeowners with swimming pools. Further, we have the ability to customize each campaign specifically to our locations’ needs based on any number of factors.
How does our Web site compare to yours?
A Cutting Edge Web Site. Each of our franchises uses the Web site we have created to promote his or her business. This Web site allows a single owner-operator to be seen as part of one of the largest swimming pool maintenance and repair businesses in the country, thus bringing a higher level of respect and professionalism to their franchise operation.
How confident are you that your books are as good as they can be?
Bookkeeping. One of the most important factors we can bring to an existing swimming pool business is reshaping the way they operate their books. This aspect of a business is often seen as time consuming and annoying to the owner. Because of this, most business owners in our industry get into bad habits once they begin to get busy and do not develop a good practice of bookkeeping. This is one of the most important aspects of your business because without an accurate set of books the value and accountability of your business is drastically affected. We provide you with an easy to implement bookkeeping system. Accordingly our certified staff members help you monitor the books on a monthly basis. We understand profitability in this industry and how to change business habits to make you more profitable. After all, that is why you are in business.
What are you doing to stay on the cutting edge?
Continuing Education and Yearly Meetings. One of the most important elements that can separate us from our competition so drastically is our ability to be on the edge of what is new and provide training to our franchises based on this information. We do this through continuing education training classes we hold here at the franchise office, as well as regionally. We hold an annual meeting here each fall to discuss past, present and future aspects of our business. At these meetings we have representatives coming from all aspects of the swimming pool industry to show their support and help us grow. Our last owners’ meeting was attended by Pentair, Jacks Magic, Sider-Oxydro, Loop Loc, and POOLCORP. They understand our business and are doing everything they can to help us grow.
What is your exit strategy and are both your business and brand valuable?
Increased Value to Your Most Important Asset…Your Company. Intelligent, business-minded people will tell you that the single greatest way to build wealth and at the same time control your own destiny is through self-employment. When it is time to retire or to “cash out” the equity you have worked so hard to build in your business, it will be worth only as much as you have put into it and only as much as the brand you are selling to someone else. When this time comes you must have something that is easy for another party to see the value in. That person must desire to own what you have.
Where will your business be in 10 years?
Being Part of Something Bigger. We are changing the swimming pool industry. Period. There have been articles written about our company in two trade magazines and several other articles written about our franchisees relaying the same thing. We have a presence in our industry and continue to innovate. Ten years from now we will be coast to coast and each one of our franchise owners will have gotten in early on an emerging company. We are looking to continue this growth through converting existing pool industry professionals into ASP franchise owners.
We are a family-oriented business with great relationships with each of our franchises. Most importantly, we are the largest swimming pool franchise company in the United States, a feat we attribute to not only the proven systems we have developed but also to the dedication and experience we have to make each franchise successful. If we continue our discussions about a conversion franchise we will open up the lines of communication so that you can talk to our existing franchisees directly and see this for yourself……Thank you for your time and your interest in our business.