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News From The Pool Store

by Dennis DiPaolo
I’m writing most of this at home during an ice storm, in front of the wood stove.  The electricity keeps flickering, but I have a candle ready.  I hope, by the time you’re reading it, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and you can’t wait to get the pool opened.  We’ve been busy all winter so that we’ll be ready for you.  We have lots of new products and services, better training, sharper prices, and more efficient systems.  Plus, a vastly improved website.

Taking Care of You
You are going to see way more daily and weekly specials.  There are bargains spread throughout the store, with a pretty good list of them as you walk in the front door.  Even as the new owners of our largest competitor have been raising their prices, we’ve been lowering ours.

We spent two months this winter creating an annex to the Parts Department; in the back room.  Everything has been rearranged in both parts areas, now, so that we can find things faster.  Kip put a lot of work and thought into this project, and it should improve our speed by an easy 50%.

I’ve been able to take time this winter to learn more about how to improve ourselves.  The buying group that I run has financed cross-training and cross-education for us all.  We spent two days this winter with owners of New England’s best pool and patio stores teaching each other how we handle advertising, insurance, personnel problems, retaining good help, credit card security, and more.  As independent, mom-and-pop stores, we need to have the same expertise as the national competition.  It’s no longer enough for us to have better ethics, more technical expertise, and a closer relationship with our customers (which we all have).

We have hired professionals to shop our own stores and tell us what they think in order to help us improve.  You just can’t see yourself as well as an outsider can.  As soon as I read the first report on how we handled ten phone calls, I created a mandatory uniform way for us to handle calls.  On average, I expect to get you the right help in four fewer sentences.  We’ve even scheduled road trips for the senior staff members of several stores throughout New England.  Victor and Patrick are representing our store.  They are spending a day together visiting pool and patio stores and trading ideas.

What does all of this mean to you?  At least better service and lower prices due to increased efficiency.  Hopefully, you believe that a store like ours should remain around for years to come.  We intend to do so, by constantly striving to improve.