Merry Wise's Posts (9)

Sort by

This article seems thinly researched to me, and I am wondering why they don't link the cancer risk to chlorinated drinking water systems. I have tested water in my lab before and found the tap water from our sink was more highly chlorinated than the swimming pool water I was testing.

What are your thoughts on this article, and is APSP responding to this one? It seems to me this is very bad press for our indsutry and likely to be faulty science as well. Is the group doing this research an environmental group with an agenda? I find this very suspect. I'd be interested in knowing what everyone thinks about this article. It has been linked on the Drudge Report for several days.

Read more…

Sometimes the Small Stuff is the Best Stuff

As I write this, I am at my daughter's house in Austin, Texas, and can see from where I sit one of my favorite pictures, a photo of my daughter as a lively child of about ten, floating on a raft in our home swimming pool with my Mom protectively by her side in the pool, enjoying their happy swim together. Those small moments are the kind of memories we make in our business, and we can all take pride in creating thousands of happy family memories all over the world with our work.

That carefree ten-year old today is a lovely young woman of 33, and the reason I am here is to share another small and happy memory, Charles Anthony Wen Tao Yen, born to my daughter and her loving and supportive husband one week ago, their very first baby. We work hard, worry about our businesses, get caught up sometimes in the very serious problems our country and the world face, but the small stuff is the best stuff!

My new baby grandson sleeps peacefully, growing day by day to take his place in the world and make it, hopefully, a better place when his time comes. This lucky child shares cultures east and west, and symbolizes the best of what our country has become. When all is said and done, family is everything, and no matter what problems assail us, looking into the peaceful, innocent eyes of the newborn baby makes you realize again that hope and renewal are born every day.

I think it is helpful in our day to day grind to step back, and look at the small stuff, the joy in a child's eyes as he or she splashes in a pool we just built for the first time, to hold the hand of a child, cuddle a newborn once again, encourage the anxious new parent that it all works out just fine. We need to sometimes remind ourselves of the same thing.

I wish my Mom was still here to meet her beloved granchild's baby, but hey, maybe she is. Welcome, to my husband Charles' precious namesake, and thanks for renewing the hope and love only the smallest of the small can bring a family! When things seem overwhelming, stop and enjoy the small stuff in YOUR life! It's just the best!
Read more…
Just wanted to let everyone know there is an article in Aqua I wrote which gives a lot of advice on internet marketing based on lots of the information offered by Rex Richard, Brett Abbott and Mario Rosetti, this site and the Pool Genius Academy, and also some of the seminars given by these guys at our national and regional shows.

I tried to pull together some of the high points they have covered and I have researched to understand this subject better myself. If you want to get a basic primer as to how the internet sites can fit together for you for your marketing program, I think this article will hopefully help you. It is a challenge for me to understand how the new technology really works! I hope I was able to pull together some of this information in a simple way that will help others who get as confused as I do with the changes and the breathtaking speed with which this new technology inundates us!

There is also a discussion in the article of the new Pool Info program Rex has now established. I'm impressed with how he was able to pull together all the threads of the new methods of marketing online and promote them in a unified way to actually sell to the public. There is some exciting stuff happening in cyberspace, for sure! I want to thank Rex, Brett and Mario for the work they are doing to help our industry take advantage of the new marketing opportunities to promote our industry positively using the web.

It certainly helps for oldtimers like me to have some professional guides along the way who understand this new wave thoroughly and are willing and able to share it with others. Hats off, guys!
Read more…

Are You Giving Away The Store?

In these challenging economic times, our industry needs to rethink where our emphasis has been in the past and look at what other professionals do to create some new income streams for ourselves we have not considered. Notice I refer to us as “professionals”. We may not all have PhD degrees or the same kind of formal training other professions require, but many of us are every bit as knowledgeable in our areas of expertise as the doctors and lawyers and Indian chief “experts”.

Yet, too often we tend to give away our knowledge for free and hand away with both hands expertise we should be charging for as other professionals do. None of us would ever consider approaching our doctor or lawyer at a party and asking for free medical or legal advice, yet all too often we find ourselves in the position of handing out free pool advice over the cocktail or shopping for peas at the grocery store.

We design their pools for free while they “put our design out for bids”, we solve problems for free less professional practitioners of our trade have screwed up, we test their water for free, hold free classes for pool clients who may be buying their chemicals at Wal-Mart, and give away free info we print up to instruct our clients. While I am a big proponent of educating your client and feel the informed customer will be happier and purchase more from you in the long run, I think we need to look to the “other” professionals and take a few clues from them as to how we might upgrade both the appreciation for what we do and our just compensation for it as an industry.

These thoughts came to me after spending the weekend at our recent Region trade show and design awards and doing some follow up on some work after representing my own product at the booth where I talked with many of my peers. Here are some of the examples of what I call “giving away the store”:

Pool Builder X stops by the booth and I introduce my pool care book, and he immediately cuts me off, saying “ oh no, I have something I made up I already give them; we wouldn’t be interested in that.” So, instead of making double his money on a small product already created for him with pool care information, he would rather spend company time writing, revising, typing up, and making copies of his knowledge and giving it away for free. Okey dokey.

All too often, pool builders fail to value what they know and fail to capitalize on the fact that the pool owner will BUY what they know. The doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs rich enough to purchase our products, of course, know this. Interestingly enough, his wife stopped by the booth a little later and had a completely different reaction to the product, eagerly accepting the ideas I was offering as to how she could use it in their business. It will be interesting to see if this company will eventually “get it” and profit as a result.

We then attended the design awards on Saturday night and, as usual, loved seeing the best of our industry displayed with award after award of beautiful pools. Again, with the vast majority of this fine work, many of us nevertheless likely often “gave away the store” in the design phase of our work. While all of these fine projects the pool builder got to actually build, how many times have we designed these excellent projects for a prospect, spending hours of our time and often numerous changes, for FREE, and then had the client blithely announce he was “going with somebody else because they are cheaper??” Other design professionals CHARGE for design- we in the pool industry should too. All of us. We need to place more value on what we know and how we present it in order to reap the rewards we deserve in this industry. Knowledge is power and knowledge should have a price. While we routinely pay it ourselves, sometimes we don’t charge enough for selling our own and we “give away the store”.

Following up with a distribution branch after the convention, I had a talk with the manager passing on leads in his area for my product. He mentioned a pool builder in his area who had also mentioned to him giving away his own little typed up instructions on pool care, and both of us marveled at the guys who pass up profit for “giving away the store” on pool care. Many of us already do free water testing as well, and instead of driving sales with our knowledge we sometimes simply “give away the store”.

We do have so much to offer our customers and it is good for us to be helpful, generous and provide excellent service. But we also owe our employees, our families and ourselves a profit, and we can’t serve our customers as well when we give away the store and weaken our ability to continue to serve them with nonexistent profits. You are a professional, a knowledgeable expert every bit as valuable as a source of knowledge as the doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs who are your clients. Respect yourself and them enough not to “give away the store”.

Read more…
Small businesses create approximately 70% of the jobs in this country, so I have read. The politicians invoke small business all the time, but how many government policies really support us, help us create more jobs, enhance our chances to survive, much less succeed? I attended my Congressman's town hall meeting in August. He described a meeting in his committee at which he unsuccessfully argued for reducing taxes being added to small business by the new health care bill just passed, and his colleague said to him, "We can't take off the taxes on small business in this bill; they have had it too easy for too many years."I was aghast when he said this. When he called on me to speak later in the meeting, I spoke for small business and asked him to challenge this other congressman to come and work for one week with my husband- preferably in August- if he thought we had "had it so easy all these years", and see what we do to pay those taxes he wants to take from us. But what would actually raise tax revenue, promote more prosperity, and create jobs in the small business community? I suggest "raising taxes" isn't it.However, changing the entire tax structure to the fair tax system whereby everyone pays a higher sales tax remitted to the feds by the states and eliminating the income tax would perhaps be one step in the right direction. In my opinion, this woud save small businesses many thousands of dollars in accounting expenses and trying to understand and follow the law of our convoluted tax code, and would actually increase government revenue as it would be more difficult to cheat by many who do now. Drug dealers, illegal aliens, people paid under the table, tips, all this revenue is lost now, but all of these folks have to buy stuff to live, and this would of necessity be now taxed.How about allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines and organizations like our pool organizations allowed to pool their numbers to buy at cheaper rates? Surely that would help small business. How about tort reform in both the health care arena and business? Those reforms would also help business and the health issues being discussed as well.If the present tax system was not scrapped right away for a fair tax program, which looks unlikely at present, how about a tax holiday for fica and withholding for a year or two? That would certainly be a job and business builder. Eliminating capitol gains would go a long way for boosting small business. And historically, it is proven that when taxes go DOWN, actual revenue to the federal government goes UP! Lower taxes creates greater productivity, which stimulates growth and increased tax revenue is an inevitable byproduct, generally speaking. Lowering the corporate tax rate is another thing that would be helpful- the US pays some of the highest corporate taxes in the world, putting our businesses at a competitive disadvantage.These are just a few of my thoughts on what the feds could actually do that would help the small business- what are your thoughts? And is there any hope of communicating our needs to our elected officials to actually hear our voices now? After all, the future of our country and economy depends upon us to a very large degree- we are the little engine that could of the US economy. One would think it would behoove them to listen. That congressman hasn't volunteered yet to come help us, by the way.
Read more…

Making the Most Out of a Trade Show

It won't be long before many of us will be attending one of the many pool and spa trade shows around the country. Trade shows are great opportunities to get away from our day to day stresses, learn new things, network with some of the best and brightest in our industry and discover some of the cutting edge new products and technologies available to keep ourselves current in the industry!We've attended no telling how many through our many years in the industry, but I can honestly say I learn something new every time. Here's a few tricks and tips that might help you make the most of your trade show experience:Check for bargains for the hotels and transportation if price is a consideration, and for most of us, it is. We usually prefer to stay at the cheapest hotel the closest to the convention we can get. You really aren't in the room much at a trade show and might want to save the "splurge" room for a more leisurely trip. This year we are at Excalibur for the APSP show in Vegas for $31 a night! Don't forget to ask for senior discounts or AAA if you qualify for those. Also it is sometimes most convenient to pick one of the recomended convention hotels if they are providing shuttle service back and forth to the convention hall and you don't have a rental car. Taxis can add up.Check out the seminar schedule ahead of time and plan who will attend what when. I have attended many seminars over the years and presented some as well, and while some are more helpful than others, I don't think I have ever attended, or PRESENTED one, that I didn't learn something. A good seminar is interactive and you sometimes learn as much from the feedback from other participants as you do from the presenter.Shop the show starting at the back, with the smaller, more out of the way booths with smaller products. Sometimes you will discover the newer stuff that will enhance your offerings and set you apart for the coming year, and be "ahead of the crowd" in the process. DO "sweat the small stuff"- sometimes that small, unique product will add considerably to your bottom line if you market it right.For example, I once discovered a small, new product this way called "Aqua Golf" and brought it into my store. I set one up in the store, and held "Aqua Golf" tournaments on Saturdays while people got their water tested, and added about $3000 profit that year to my sales just selling Aqua Golf! You can do this with lots of "small" products! Use the show to scout for the newer stuff first, then check the big booths for their new offerings.Network and talk to people at the shows, even riding back and forth on the shuttles, waiting for seminars to start, walking around! One of the greatest opportunities a trade show offers is the chance to trade ideas and knowledge with people from noncompetitive markets who are incredibly generous in helping each other. Be open and willing to get acquainted and don't be shy, and you will find some wonderful associations in the process- and have a lot more fun!And... if you run into a short, old gal with a Texas accent, please say "howdy!" I'll look forward to meeting you, finding a new friend and learning some new stuff!
Read more…

The Best Advice We Ever Had for Tough Times

Many years ago when my husband and I were struggling along developing our business, we attended a seminar hosted by the then-NSPI. It was organized by a wonderful gentleman who was the NSPI Marketing Executive, Bill Markert. Some of you may remember Bill, who was instrumental in developing the design awards program, an excellent program NSPI used to have called "There's a Pool for You", and brought the industry many other great marketing ideas in the "old days".Bill had a retired friend who had developed the "lumberteria" concept of marketing, and he brought him in to do a seminar at an NSPI event. The details of all that transpired are lost in the mists of time for me, but one gem of advice he taught us in that seminar stands out for me and I have never forgotten it. I credit it with literally saving our business at that particular time and creating a policy for us that has stood the test of time in enabling us to survive the many ups and downs of the pool business.The old gentleman taught us the folly of "cutting price" when things got competitive in order to make up in "volume" what we were sacrificing in "profit". We were shocked when we saw how many pools it would take to sell to make up what we would sacrifice in pricing that was too low. The seminar was one of the ones that has stayed with me the most of the many I have attended over the 36 years I have worked in this business, and while I do not remember the mathematical details he showed us those many years ago,( in our business, my husband "adds" and I "spell", anyway!) I do remember the message.We immediately raised prices when we got back home, and have since resisted the urge to cut price to get business. We found that selling value was always more effective for us than trying to compete on price with competitors building pools more cheaply and with less quality, and while hundreds of those companies no longer exist, we still do. When times get tough, it is easy to panic and think first of "having" to cut price. Bill and his old buddy taught us many years ago to sell quality, instead, at a fair price, and if you look around, many of the most respected and enduring pool companies do just that. So, when times get tough, perfect your company through using the many tips and techniques you can learn from today's pool training gurus like Rex Richard and Brett Abbott and the many other experts you can network with here at Pool Pro Network, but resist the urge to panic and price -cut- YOU and YOUR pools and YOUR business are worth the best!
Read more…

Where is the "Cash for Splash?"

Where is the Cash for Splash?The government is taking many millions of dollars from all of us, and there seems to be unlimited funds for the favored in our struggling economy, but where is the cash for splash? Throughout the country, pool builders are selling pools, only to have trouble getting them financed. Yet today, it has come to our attention that our government is loaning two billion dollars to drill for oil in…Brazil! George Soros, coincidentally, holds the largest holding in his hedge fund in Petrobras, the Brazilian company. We are lending money to Petrobras in order to drill offshore, while at the same time expanding drilling is prohibited in our own country!In the meantime, our own vehicles have to be filled up with expensive foreign oil each day, the financing has dried up for pools, and the cash for clunkers program is being prematurely closed amidst a chaos of mismanagement. We found out in Texas this year that not only did we need to run our businesses, but defend them and our customers against onerous and poorly thought out new legislation threatening to burden our customers with extra costs and us with untenable procedures.Fortunately we were successful in our “grassroots” efforts to modify this, but on a national level we need to be aware, informed about what is going on, and ready and willing to defend what we have worked to build. If Paul Revere were taking his midnight ride today, he might be shouting to us, “the socialists are coming, the socialists are coming!” Taxation without OUR representation to fund Brazilian oil drilling, helping cronies to make megabucks in the process is robbing us of our “cash for splash”! It may no longer be enough to be businesspeople- it is time to stand up to save private enterprise and also become patriots.This is only my humble opinion, and I respect yours as well, agree or disagree- but can you tell me why there is no cash for splash for We the People?
Read more…
I'd like to share with you a series of blog posts dealing with some tricks of the trade that have worked for me over the years in our retail store operations. In today's difficult economy, it is especially important to find ways to maximize profit, so perhaps the 3 P's will help maximize YOUR retail success and help you survive and thrive! I will make this a continuing series that hopefully will give you some new ideas as well as encourage and validate the things you already do. Please feel free to share your input as well on these ideas and add to our discussions!So, let's go on the treasuer hunt for profit- and we'll start with PURCHASING!Blog post One- Purchasing- DistributionEvaluating the suppliersIt will depend on your area and what is available there where you want to do your purchasing. There are a number of factors to consider. Obviously price is a major factor, but there are a number of other important issues to consider to evaluate where you want to do your major purchasing.a. DistributionOne major source of supplies throughout the nation of course is distribution. There are major distributors in most of the larger cities all over the country and if you live in an area like this, this may be your best source of most of your products due to price, availability of a variety of products, delivery and service. It’s a good idea to establish relationships with all the major distributors in your area, and to reevaluate their programs each year, compare what each has to offer, and bargain for the best deals you can cut.However, establishing one as your major source gives you an edge in obtaining the best you can have in price and service If you can establish yourself as a major client. Be aware as well that in this industry the one thing you can count on is CHANGE. Be loyal to suppliers that back you up, but realize that conditions may change and it may be to your advantage to change suppliers accordingly. Watch the trends happening with your distributors locally, your local management and industry trends, and pay attention to what is happening that affects you and that will be to your advantage. Look for such factors as educational programs your distributor offers, price, of course, efficient delivery service, accurate billing and accounting, as few order mistakes as possible and willingness to address mistakes and problems, good warranty service, etc.(1.) Communication is key- Make an effort to communicate well with your distribution employees and establish a good working relationship with the managers and assistant managers of the branches you deal with, as well as their sales reps. Remember the old saying that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It never hurts to smile at the delivery man, counter guy, stop in and say a pleasant hello to the secretary, and be courteous and polite.(2.) Sure, problems and mistakes happen, but while you may need to be firm and insist on good service, you are more likely to get it if you have already established a pleasant working relationship first. Make your orders clear, keep excellent records and follow up on special orders. Write down what you ordered, who took the order, and have this information available to whoever is on duty in your store so that anybody can follow up a special request if need be. This will help both your store and the branch serve you better and most importantly, serve the customer better.(3.) And, VERY important- TELL THE BRANCH MANAGER WHAT YOU WANT HIM TO STOCK! I learned this from the “rep” side of the equation: distribution branches are constantly barraged with sales people wanting them to stock new products. The management of the branches is held accountable for what they stock and for selling it by their higher ups, and , accordingly,they want a market to be there before they bring in that wonderful pool care book or whatever that you saw that you want to start using. So, it is important to communicate with your manager, maybe over and over until he gets the message and brings it in, what you want in there. They are busy and may need to be reminded multiple times. But do so in order to have things available when you need them!(4.) Participate in programs-Find out what programs the distributor offers each year and participate. Take advantage of every thing offered- educational programs and tabletops at the branches, new products they might be stocking, literature, coop advertising, rebates, early buy, special store support programs, when it is to your advantage. Make sure your employees know what is available and how to participate too.
Read more…