Rex's Posts (10)

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Notes

Welcome to Notes.

Above in the "All Notes" link you will find a directory of additional information, reports, blogs, etc. found on this site.

Feel free to browse through the directory and see what you can find.

Take care,  The "PGN" Faculty
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United We Stand!

Dear Fellow Pool Geniuses, Today we hit another milestone, a HUGE one! We now have more than 2000 members in our community! The next milestone is 2500. But you may be thinking, "why should I care if the PGN grows or not"? Great question, and there are several answers why you should care, but here's one. For years our industry has been separated, fragmented, and unable to connect in any meaningful way. Remember the saying first quoted by Aesop and later made famous by Patrick Henry, "United we stand, divided we fall"? This great truth once spoken by a great patriot still stands today. We have been divided by many things, associations, brands, geography, time, culture, ethnicity, age, and more, but the divisions only served to weaken us and prevent our industry from achieving a greater position in the economy and in the world. Divisions serve a small few, and are created by controlling and restricting communication. Only when communication is open to all can we become truly "united". This is why a site like the PGN cannot be reproduced by an association, or a brand. The fact that there is a "label" on a site effectively prohibits any "competing label" from participating enthusiastically. Only by the removal of all "labels" can a site be truly free. The larger we become, the stronger our voice will be, and the larger the collective body of information and wisdom will become. As a group we are already breaking down barriers and providing free and rapid access to information as you need it. The fact that nearly all of the "associations" and "brands" have endorsed, participated in, and supported the PGN, is evidence that we are on the right track and have provided a place where it is safe for all to belong. That was the goal from the beginning and remains the goal today. Every member who joins makes the chain of communication stronger, and the reach one link further. Thank you for your passionate support! Onward toward 2500! The PGN Faculty
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The Friday Questions For Success Part 3

To facilitate "self examination", I have researched and prepared 150 specific questions to not only ask, but to use as a guide to closely examine your business health. Last Friday I gave you questions six thru ten, and today we will explore the next five in the series. Questions 11 thru 15 for business mastery to consider are: 11. Do we fully exploit the concept of branding for our products and services? 12. Are the values of our company considered as part of the strategic planning process; how do we ensure that the values of our company are not compromised; are our values clearly defined for all of our stakeholders, relevant to the success of our company, updated regularly, and consistently communicated to our employees? 13. Do we have a formal (written) succession plan in place - one that has been shared with the appropriate stakeholders of the company? 14. Do we routinely review and articulate the core competencies of our company? 15. How do we assess the benefits each of our customers is seeking when buying our products and services? Record these questions, then review and closely inspect your company and management style to find the answers, then adjust to make the changes necessary. See you next Friday for the next 5 in the series.
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The Friday Questions For Success Part 2

To facilitate "self examination", I have researched and prepared 150 specific questions to not only ask, but to use as a guide to closely examine your business health. Last Friday I gave you the first five questions, and today we will explore the next five in the series. Questions 6 thru 10 for business mastery to consider are: 6. How do we assess the buying power of our customers? 7. How do we assess the threat of substitute products or services and new entrants to the marketplace? 8. How do we assess our vulnerability to adverse business cycles? 9. Do we monitor and understand the balance of technology and face to face communications? 10. How do we balance authority and control within our organization? Record these questions, then review and closely inspect your company and management style to find the answers, then adjust to make the changes necessary. See you next Friday for the next 5 in the series.
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It's All About The Questions We Ask

Mastering success in your swimming pool business includes many aspects, but it always requires attention to detail and the ability to "truthfully" self examine your behavior and performance. To facilitate "self examination", I have researched and prepared 150 specific questions to not only ask, but to use as a guide to closely examine your business health. The first five questions for business mastery to consider are: 1. Do we have the ability to respond and adapt to changes in a timely and effective manner; and do we train our employees to expect constant changes and improvements? 2. Are departmental accountabilities clear and do we review these accountabilities frequently? 3. Have sufficient resources been allocated to achieve our strategic intent and are key initiatives adequately funded? 4. Have we announced our key performance metrics to all of our internal and external stakeholders? 5. Do our day to day business practices appeal to the long term interests of the company's stakeholders? Record these questions, then review and closely inspect your company and management style to find the answers, then adjust to make the changes necessary. You will then be off to a great start in building a business based upon proven methods of success. See you next Friday for the next 5 in the series.
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Most of us have entered the pool industry as "technicians" rather than businessmen. By that I mean we primarily began as either a "sales designer or manager", or a "construction super or service manager" who felt we could do the job as well as others. So in what Michael Gerber, (author of The E-Myth), calls an "entrepreneurial seizure", we became pool business owners. Specifically, we did not attend business school, do not hold MBA's, and are not professional "businessmen", but are instead "technicians". So back to the original question..., which is more important? The answer is they are both equally important. The challenge we face is this..., we spent years learning our trade, but we now enter into business and just assume knowing the trade is enough. In reality we should be spending equal time mastering business skills if we are to have even a hope of real success. But there's a catch. How do you effectively learn all the elements of business and still do the work of a technician? It's a little like the cart before the horse isn't it. In reality, it is much easier for an experienced businessman to own and run a successful pool business than it is for a technician. You see a businessman already knows he doesn't know anything about pools, so he hires talent, people with the right skills, to get the job done. He calculated the initial capital need going in, and is building a business that runs profitably. The technician generally, and wrongfully assumes he knows the business side, when in fact he is a technician. Had he realized the importance, he could have just as easily hired the necessary talent, talent like, a CPA, an attorney, an experienced and knowledgeable bookkeeper, a professional business manager, and an HR person. Not all of these need be "employees", as some of them can be "outsourced", but all of the elements are needed. These skills took equal time and experience to develop, and do not come naturally or "instinctively" but to a very few. So how does a "technician" get his business "back on track"? The answer is much easier than the application, and it requires a basis in understanding the fundamentals before you proceed. Without an understanding of the fundamentals, you will not know the type of talent or help you need. There are four distinct categories of information important to this discussion. They are: "what you know", "what you think you know", "what you know you don't know", "what you don't know you don't know". The two categories that get us into the most trouble are the areas of, "what we think we know", (subtitled "arrogance"), and what we don't know we don't know. The third category, what we know we don't know, can be equally damaging if you are not taking immediate action to discover and learn those things, or to hire someone who already knows them. There is a silver lining to this cloud. There is talent out there who have the skills, and can get it done, but you have to be willing to seek help. I have talked with hundreds of pool business owners all across America, and there is extreme frustration out there. Many, if not most have decided to remain "small", so they can "give their customers high quality and personal service". When questioned, the truth is they tried to grow at some time in the past and the business almost killed them. So they retracted, became small, small enough that they could control all the elements themselves, and they felt safe there. In reality they forfeited safety the moment they decided to remain "small" and "in control". A ship in the harbor seems safe, protected from the wind and the waves, but a ship in the harbor never performs the task it was built to do. Then one day, along comes a terrible storm, and the extreme wind and waves breech the protection of the harbor and "swamp" the ship, or drive her to the shore, and she is lost. A business is likewise meant to grow. The moment it stops growing it begins to die. It may seem "safe" to remain small, but due to the lack of diversification, of market region and or product line, the "small" business is highly vulnerable to the first storm that comes. One thing that is for sure, though it may be quiet for a time, a "storm always comes. It is time to rethink, plan, reengage, and get focused on "growth". It's time to learn what you need to know, hire the right talent, and "get out of the harbor". I would love to hear from you about what you think, and about the challenges you are facing right now.
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Like the banking and housing industries, the entire pool industry is on the edge of what may be the largest retraction in the history of the industry. Even now the sales of pools are seriously down, but the volume does not even begin to tell the story. We have just exited a period of time where credit flowed like water. But instead of water it was alcohol and we became drunk on the availability. We bought newer larger homes, we built incredible pools, we owned exotic cars. We entered a time where the average "middle class" family lived at levels only available to the ultra rich fifty years ago. But lets focus on the pool industry specifically and see what we can learn. The pool industry was born in the fifties, as post war affluence moved to the middle class. The idea of owning a pool moved from being the possession of the ultra rich, down to the upper middle class. This trend continued until by the late '70's a pool was affordable and readily available to the middle class American. In the '80's we saw the birth of the middle class residential "luxury pool" market, and the idea of "style and design" became more prevalent. So far, though there certainly had been ups and downs, (such as the savings and loan failures), the pool industry maintained the ability to continue it;s pattern of growth. In the late '90's with interest rats maintained at artificially low levels, the seeds of a "housing boom" were planted. Easy credit, (120% plus LTV on pools), made it possible for any family with two incomes to be able to afford a pool. WOW, what a boom! The industry rocketed to new levels of success, but another problem began to occur. With housing booming, there were some large pool builders who aligned themselves with home builders and built pools together with the homes. These pool companies prospered, (though not without some difficulty), as it became easy to buy a new home complete with a pool. As the "pool boom" ensued, new players entered the market in droves. As the industry had a very low threshold of entry, many of those who entered were not qualified, trained, or experienced in the sales and construction of pools. Due to the rapid "market growth", coupled with a disproportionate number of unqualified pool builders, the margins began to dwindle. Now in some ways there were benefits of this, and in a normal market the benefits would counter balance the problems. Benefits included the use of new and more cost effective construction techniques, and the availability of high quality low cost materials. Then in the heat of the "boom", with America still drunk on the flow of easy credit, materials took a sharp turn upward. Concrete became hard to find, and steel doubled and tripled in price. The events happened so fast that much of the increase in cost was not captured by a relative increase in the price of the sale, further crippling margins. Then in November 2005, at the peak of the housing boom, the "speculators" began a mass sell off of houses in Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and California. It was these "speculators who "bid up" the housing prices to a climax, then dumped then rapidly causing the market to bottom. This was the same strategy used by "day traders" in the stock market where it is affectionately called, "pump and dump". By this they mean, "pump" the price high by buying fast, knowing that the market, like sheep will follow. The market that follows drives the prices up fast, and the investors who started the trend sit back and just wait for a bit. While waiting they rent out the properties to cover the majority of the costs. Then at the right time, they "dump", selling off as fast as they originally bought. Since the average mom and dad who bought homes during this frenzy had to actually live in the home, they were neither motivated, or even aware enough of what was happening to respond to the "dump" and also sell their home. The fact is that so many investors entered the market at this time, that more homes were built and sold than there were families to house them. And the families who bought during this time thought their investment would increase just as it have in the prior three years. After the "dump", the "real value" of homes plummeted. Homeowners caught in homes worth less than they owed were stuck. So here we are, with the current crisis, now being bailed by Congress and the Fed, it appears we are entering a new period of time. But actually, we are reentering an old period of time. We are reentering the "70's. Pool sales volumes will plummet as people need a home and food far more than a pool. Though pools will be sold, it will only be a fraction of the current companies that make it. Companies will need regional and product diversification to protect against future economic swings that will surely follow. Also the market has shifted. The buyer demographic has changed, and is unlikely to return for a very long time. So now more than ever in the history of the pool industry, is the time to study and prepare. It is time to master marketing, and demographic studies. It is time to build strategic alliances to help you through this time. In deed, there will be some companies that not only survive, but will be highly successful. Will it be you?
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Frequency and Consistency, The Magic of SEO Success

Pause a moment and give some though to the idea of success. Define it, model it, consider it, what makes it "tick", how does it work? There are many elements and I highly recommend the book "The Law of Success" by Napoleon Hill if you care to explore a complete discourse on the subject, but at this writing let's just consider two specific elements. The two elements are, "frequency" and "consistency". Let's also narrow these words down to a specific topic, the topic of "SEO", or search engine optimization. SEO in itself is a vast subject, but at this time we will consider just a part, though a very important part. When a search engine looks out at the internet world it is looking for information and ideas that most closely match the subject needs of the person conducting the search. If you are looking for "pool design ideas", contrary to popular opinion, you are probably not looking for "ads for pool companies". So with regard to advertising, how do we get our message heard? The answer is “frequency” and “consistency”. You may have heard that blogging can help your search engine results, and it can, but most go about it in the wrong way and get absolutely no results. The first thought to remember is, “a blog is not an ad”. If you make your blog into an ad, the search engines will quickly identify it and basically “turn it off”. You see an “ad” does not answer the need for relevant information. Besides making the blog an “ad”, the second largest mistake is to create a blog, add a couple of articles, publish it to the net, the forget about it. This is a total waste of internet real estate. Think of it this way, the search engines only care as much about your blog as you do. Assuming the content is informative and relevant, it must also be “frequent”. By frequent I mean you must post frequently in time. So the question is, “how frequent”? The answer is, “how important do you want the search engines to think you are”? Ideally you would post articles daily. The more frequent the better the results. In fact many businesses who seriously count on the search engine rankings to promote their business hire full time "bloggers". Now I already know what you are thinking... “I can’t afford that”. The fact is it may be a lot less expensive than you think, but that will have to wait for another topic. For now just understand you can get results if you post a few times a week. More is better, and much more is much better. The thing to avoid is an abandoned blog site.
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Welcome to the "Pool Genius Network"

If you are a member of the "pool industry" community, you have found your home. This is the launch of an evolving network of pool builders, service professionals, retailers, and pool sales reps, for the purpose of openly sharing ideas, technology, and opportunities that could benefit others within the industry. Take some time to set up a "personal" space, start a thread in the forum, or post a blog comment. Upload pictures of your customers pools, post video relating to the pool industry, or just shots of beautiful pools. This site is for you! As the site grows, you will find training videos from manufacturers on new products, and the use and application of existing products. There will be invitations to attend seminars and other skill developing events as well as reports posted to increase you awareness of issues that affect you and your business. So book mark this site and check back often. You will see us grow, and you will gain an advantage just by checking back.
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