By Kevin Shea
Many pool builders think of a project as a one-shot deal—build the pool and move on. Others may build the pool and generate profits from maintenance work, while some builders focus on understanding their client’s lifestyle and find ways to continue generating considerable profits by taking on renovation and remodelling work year after year. Using some specific project examples, this article shows how two savvy builders have capitalized on updating both gunite and vinyl-lined swimming pools with creative ideas that suit each client’s way of life.
Getting to know the customer is integral to exploring the potential for additional project opportunities. And, the best way of doing this is getting into their backyard.
“For us, multi-year projects typically start with pools that we originally built,” says Dan Lenz of All Seasons Pools in Orland Park, Ill. “Assuming we maintain a good relationship with them over the years, we will always service their pools and gain additional construction business from the customer.”
An evolving pool project
Taking the time to understand the customer’s current stage in life will help determine the potential for additional business on the same project.
Lenz, for example, was able to turn a swimming pool his company built 16 years ago into a multi-year construction project by simply understanding the needs of his customer’s ever-changing lifestyle.
For this particular project (‘Pann’), All Seasons installed a 5.5- x 11-m (18- x 36-ft) vinyl-lined swimming pool. At that time the client had teenage children, so the pool was designed to be 2.4 m (8 ft) deep and included a diving board, which their children enjoyed.
Since installing the pool, All Seasons has been in this particular client’s backyard on numerous occasions as they have opened and closed the pool each year as well as provided in-season service every two weeks.
In 2006, the customer called All Seasons to inquire about a new liner. Although the original liner was not torn or leaking, it was starting to show wear. On the ensuing service call, Lenz met with the customer at their home and immediately noticed a plastic, big box store ‘kiddie’ pool on the deck, next to the pool they had installed.
After inquiring, the client explained they now have a one-year-old granddaughter and have another grandchild on the way and, therefore, the splash pool was better suited for smaller children. During the same conversation, the customer also mentioned how he thought the existing deck was too narrow along the sides and that it did not provide an ideal place for sunbathing.
“In looking around, we realized we could easily increase the customer’s deck space on one side of the pool, while also providing a little extra space for lounge chairs,” Lenz explained. “Then, as we struggled to squeeze into the patio chairs and table area that was on the deck, I asked him if he would also like to have a little more room where the family could sit and watch the grandchildren. This immediately led to the idea of expanding the seating area and adding a pergola to provide shade for the grandchildren without blocking the sun entirely. At this point, he was really getting excited about a newly renovated backyard.”
With his client onboard, and Lenz now designing the expanded seating area, he never forgot about the plastic kiddie pool and the fact his client had more grandchildren on the way. With this in mind, Lenz incorporated a small, 1.2-m (4-ft) water fountain/catch pool at the edge of the seating area that could also double as a splash pool for the client’s grandchildren. It included two bubbler/foam jets and cascades from within the wall. As a result, the client was thrilled with the design concept as it met the needs of their current stage in life.