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Entries in Swimming Pool (5)

Thursday
Nov292012

Part 2: What is the Value of Loyal Retail Pool Customers? (From: Inside the Mind of the Loyal Retail Pool Consumer)

 

 

By Larry J. Bloom

In our previous post in this series, we provided evidence that 55 percent of consumers indicate they purchase most of their pool products from a single specialty retail store. We coined the term Loyalists for this group. If Loyalists are real, then retailers ought to be able to identify who they are and what they are worth. But most swimming pool retailers have not analyzed their sales data to sufficiently understand Loyalist value. So we set out to see how real store data correlates with survey findings.

Measuring Loyalist Value

In 2012, we analyzed five years worth of customer data provided from multiple swimming pool retail stores that included well over 150,000 customer records. As a first criterion for loyalty, we screened the data to identify those customers who made purchases for four consecutive years. As a second criterion for loyalty, we screened the same data to identify customers who made at least three purchases during the most recent season. Here is what we found:

• 54.6 percent of pool customers made purchases every year for the prior four years and accounted for 71 percent of total sales.

• 54.6 percent of 2011 pool customers made three or more purchases during the year and accounted for 83 percent of total sales.

Loyalists are real!

Our research confirms that more than 80 percent of retailer revenue can come from 55 percent of their customers. These are Loyalists who purchase three times per year or more. While we are careful to point out this sample cannot be generalized beyond its respondents, these results leave little doubt that Loyalists (in terms of annual customer frequency and multi-year longevity) are real and extremely valuable to the pool retailer. Here are some other facts we uncovered about Loyalists:

• On the average, Loyalists purchase 6.7 times as much per year as Nonloyalists.

• Every Loyalist is worth on the average approximately $515 per year compared to only $80 for the Nonloyalist.

• The top 10 percent of four-year Loyalists averaged $1,770 in 2012. What’s more, they represented 25 percent of total Loyalists’ purchases.

• 72 percent of Loyalists have shopped at the same specialty retailer for at least 6 years with the average being 10 years.

• The average Loyalist has a lifetime value of $4,120; the top 10 percent have much more.

While not the only important customers, Loyalists are the lifeblood of every specialty pool retailer. Loyalists have purchased most of their products from one specialty store in the past and are likely to purchase from that store in the future. That is, unless specialty retailers fail to maintain the advantages these customers respond to. Our research confirms that getting and keeping Loyalists is extremely important to the success of a specialty retailer. Future posts will address how well retailers are actually doing.

Your turn!

Whether you are a retailer or not, what percentage of your business comes from loyal customers and how do you maintain their business over time? 

Thursday
Nov292012

Part 1: How Well Do Pool Retailers Understand Their Customers? (From: Inside the Mind of the Loyal Retail Pool Consumer)

 

 

By: Larry J. Bloom

How well do you know your customers? Many swimming pool retailers would say, “I know them very well! I’ve been helping them with their pools for years."

However, we beg to (politely) differ. Most retailers do not fully understand their customers’ expectations, nor do they appreciate what makes them stand apart. While busy retailers may see very little difference among their various customers, the little differences that exist will make a big difference in the success of their business. Unfortunately, retailers who don’t pay attention may find themselves littering the bankruptcy landscape.

How can we make such audacious assertions?

It’s because they are based on evidence. With the help of P.K. Data, we conducted a ground-breaking survey of pool owners and correlated the results with real-world pool consumer purchase data and one-on-one interviews. This multidimensional study was the first of its kind. Our goal was to understand the characteristics of pool owners that are loyal to a single specialty retail store compared with those that are not — a subject that’s been largely uncharted. This article is the first in a series that will share the results. 

Is there such a thing as a loyal customer?

Who and what are loyal customers? Are they really out there? Will they identify themselves and share what makes them tick? We took a novel approach to find the answers — we asked them! A representative sample of the approximately 5 million in-ground pool owners were asked to categorize themselves by this question: Where do you shop for most of your pool product needs? Here is what we found:

• 55 percent purchase from a single specialty retail store. We call these Loyalists.

• 15 percent shop at more than one specialty store. We call these Specialty Channel Shoppers.

• 30 percent shop mainly at other outlets. We call these Multi-channel Shoppers.

What do retailers know about Loyalists? 

On the average, 55 percent of a retailer’s customers are Loyalists. Loyalists have purchased most of their products from one specialty store in the past, and it is reasonable to expect them to purchase from that store in the future. That is, unless pool retailers fail to maintain the advantages these customers desire. 

But exactly what advantages do Loyalists seek and respond to? And how are retailers doing in providing these advantages? Are Loyalists worth the effort? What is the potential for Loyalist defection? How can a retailer win? What about the Nonloyalists? If you are a retailer and have all the answers, you are way ahead of the game. Unfortunately, our research confirms that there is a huge gap between what Loyalists desire and what retailers are providing. 

We will answer these questions and more in upcoming blog articles derived from our research. And we hope to stimulate discussion, debate and crowd-sourced solutions for the benefit of the industry along the way.

Your turn!

In fact, let’s start here. Whether you are a retailer or not, how well do you think specialty pool retailers understand their customers, and how do they use that knowledge to help their business? 

>> Read the next post in this series: Coming Soon

Thursday
Dec012011

Swimming Pool Retail Academy launches online basic training course: How Pools Operate [News Release]



Helps dealers maintain their competitive advantage as a trusted, credible source of pool advice.

Every North American pool business gets one free seat before May 1, 2012.

Atlanta, GA – Nearly three-fourths of pool owners are using the Internet as their primary source for pool product information. To help specialty pool retailers better compete, Swimming Pool Retail Academy has developed a brain-science-based training course which gives employees the basic knowledge to be a more effective resource for customers. The company is giving every pool business in North American one free seat for the entire course. 

Called How Pools Operate, the training course offers six online interactive lessons covering basic information on pool operations, including types of pools, circulation, filtration, cleaning, testing, and basic chemistry. The lessons also contain self-guided activity worksheets to perform in the store environment, a comprehensive glossary, digital note cards for review, a final exam, and a certificate of completion. Employees can complete the online courses at their convenience, outside of store hours.

“While a majority of pool owners have traditionally viewed knowledgeable staff as the leading virtue of specialty pool retailers, recent data shows that the Internet has become the pool owner’s number-one source of pool information,” said Larry Bloom, co-founder of Swimming Pool Retail Academy. “This is a big, bright, red flag for traditional specialty retailers. They have to find ways to win back their competitive advantage as the primary source for credible pool information to ensure they keep their loyal, brick-and-mortar customer base.”

Bruce Bagin, owner of B&B Pools and Spas in Chestnut Ridge, NY, agrees. “Loyal customers are one of the keys to my business success for 40+ years. All of my customers demand that my staff is knowledgeable. Educated employees build trust and credibility with our customers to keep them coming back, while uneducated employees cause customers to leave. We found Swimming Pool Retail Academy useful with new as well as more seasoned employees. If my team doesn’t have the fundamentals down, I certainly cannot expect them to do a great job selling to, servicing, and building loyalty with customers.”

The Swimming Pool Retail Academy training program was built to help retailers do a better job of getting and keeping loyal customers. Developing the program incorporated feedback from several well-known U.S. pool retailers and filled needs not met by current training approaches: 

  • Some training programs from manufacturers focus on their specific brands and products rather than basic understanding of pool operations.
  • Other programs deliver more generalized pool knowledge but do not focus on basic information regarding how pools operate.
  • Retailers often do not have the time or budget to create their own training programs. Teaching new employees is time-consuming, and it’s often not the best use of store managers’ time. Expert resources are limited.

Kathleen Carlson, an owner and executive with Aqua Quip in Seattle, WA, said “If an under-informed employee gives bad advice to a customer, that customer may never spend another dime with that store -- even if he or she was a loyal customer for years. Everybody that works for a pool and spa retailer, builder, or service company should have basic knowledge and training on customers and products. The Swimming Pool Retail Academy program is excellent. Every employee should take this program because training by ‘ad-hoc osmosis’ just doesn’t work.”

Swimming Pool Retail Academy’s training is designed to help every employee reach a basic knowledge threshold quickly, giving them the confidence to attract and maintain customers as a trusted, credible source of information, ultimately improving loyalty. After taking advantage of their free seat, pool businesses can purchase additional seats for employees at $99 each. For more information, visit www.SwimmingPoolAcademy.com

About Swimming Pool Retail Academy

Swimming Pool Retail Academy provides consulting, education, and productivity tools for the retail swimming pool industry. Its initial product, How Pools Operate, is a brain-science-based, cost-effective, full-day online training course, which includes five hours of training covering six web-based lessons and several tools to help pool retail employees provide better sales and service while improving customer loyalty. Swimming Pool Retail Academy is a business unit of Xmente, LLC, a media and software company focused on better thinking for a brighter planet. For more information, visit www.SwimmingPoolAcademy.com.

Media contact:

Cathy Levendoski

Constant Communications

314-725-2594

clevendoski@constantgroup.com

 

Thursday
Dec012011

Swimming Pool Retail Academy and P.K. Data research changing business climate of specialty pool retailers [News Release]



Atlanta, GA – According to new market analysis by P.K. Data and Swimming Pool Retail Academy, Internet purchases of pool products have increased from 1 percent to 9 percent of all in-ground residential swimming pool products sold in six years (2004 to 2010), representing $288 million in sales. Given that 68 percent of pool owners have traditionally purchased from specialty pool retailers, this rapid shift in market share threatens pool retailers disproportionately. P.K. Data and Swimming Pool Retail Academy have joined forces to compile a new series of research reports examining the threats facing the business of specialty pool retailers.

Results will be published as a series of helpful insights and analysis on www.SwimmingPoolAcademy.com between November 2011 and June 2012. They will also be part of P.K. Data’s larger body of syndicated research.

In addition to the nine-fold increase in online purchases of pool products, initial research results highlight changes in the traditional customer base of specialty pool retailers:  

  • A growing number of pool owners are more comfortable with ecommerce. Half of all pool owners are younger than age 55, and nearly half have college degrees (up from 40 percent in 2004).
  • 71 percent of pool owners view knowledgeable staff as the leading virtue of specialty stores, yet 72 percent of pool owners now use the Internet as their leading source of information on pool products.
  • 85 percent of pool owners who use the Internet recommend one or more online pool retail sites to their fellow pool owners.

Bil Kennedy, president of P.K. Data said, “P.K. Data has done research in the pool industry for over 20 years. If the rate of this change continues, specialty pool retailers may see a significant shift within their customer base. Retailers who are unprepared for the changes ahead could potentially lose 25 percent to 50 percent of their business over the next 10 years. Our new research aims to dive deep into this major change in consumer behavior, and we’re pleased to partner with Swimming Pool Retail Academy on this project.”

Larry J. Bloom, co-founder of Swimming Pool Retail Academy and former CEO of BioLab, said, “In my experience of working with pool and spa retailers, I see this trend as a major consideration for business strategy and planning. Traditional retailers must vigorously protect their current base of loyal customers to survive.” Larry and the other co-founders of Swimming Pool Retail Academy have helped thousands of specialty pool retailers achieve growth and business success throughout their careers.

About Swimming Pool Retail Academy

Swimming Pool Retail Academy provides consulting, education, and productivity tools for the retail swimming pool industry. Its initial product, How Pools Operate, is a brain-science-based, cost-effective, full-day online training course, which includes five hours of training covering six web-based lessons and several tools to help pool retail employees provide better sales and service while improving customer loyalty. Swimming Pool Retail Academy is a business unit of Xmente, LLC, a media and software company focused on better thinking for a brighter planet. For more information, visit www.SwimmingPoolAcademy.com.

About P.K. Data

P.K. Data has tracked the swimming pool and hot tub industry since 1992. Since then the firm has completed over 300 studies including consumer surveys, industry valuation analyses, channel opportunity assessments, competitive reviews and geographic market development studies. The firm also provides counsel as a component of merger and acquisition due diligence. The firm’s analysts are frequent speakers at industry symposia. P.K. Data studies have been referenced throughout the industry trade press as well as the popular media such as the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Fortune and major newspapers and broadcast outlets. For more information, visit www.pkdata.net.

Media contact:

Cathy Levendoski

Constant Communications

314-725-2594

clevendoski@constantgroup.com

Thursday
Dec012011

Former BioLab Executives Form Company [News Release]

Atlanta, GA – New research from P.K. Data and Swimming Pool Retail Academy clearly shows a growing threat for specialty pool retailers. Nearly three-fourths of pool owners are using the Internet as their primary source of pool information. This eye-opening data highlights the immediate need for pool retailers to protect their status as the leading source of pool information -- or risk losing customers.

To help specialty pool retailers address a challenging business environment, a group of pool industry veterans have formed Swimming Pool Retail Academy (www.SwimmingPoolAcademy.com), with the goal of helping pool retail employees jump-start their basic training to improve knowledge and job performance – ultimately creating customer loyalty.   

“More and more pool owners are turning to the Internet to research and purchase pool products,” said Bil Kennedy, president of P.K. Data. “Our research shows that 72 percent of pool owners say the Internet is their leading source of pool information, and 85 percent of pool owners who use the Internet recommend that their fellow pool owners shop at one or more online pool retailers. We are seeing a fundamental shift in consumer behavior, threatening the stronghold of specialty pool retailers.” 

Larry Bloom, co-founder of Swimming Pool Retail Academy and former CEO of BioLab, Inc., said, “Before forming Swimming Pool Retail Academy and building our first product, we asked a large group of leading pool retailers and industry colleagues about their key business concerns. They helped us understand where we could make a difference in their businesses and where the industry was struggling to provide answers. With a strong trend of pool owners turning to the Internet for product information and purchases, we realized that traditional, brick-and-mortar specialty pool retailers faced increased risk of losing loyal customers.”

The founders of Swimming Pool Retail Academy have a combined 100 years of pool industry and Internet experience. They include: 

  • Larry J. Bloom, former CEO of BioLab, Inc.
  • Tresa Kenny, former VP of Marketing Services at BioLab, Inc.
  • Steve Carlyle, former Director of Business Development at BioLab, Inc.
  • Adam B. Bloom, Internet software and media product marketer

About Swimming Pool Retail Academy

Swimming Pool Retail Academy provides consulting, education, and productivity tools for the retail swimming pool industry. Its initial product, How Pools Operate, is a brain-science-based, cost-effective, full-day online training course, which includes five hours of training covering six web-based lessons and several tools to help pool retail employees provide better sales and service while improving customer loyalty. Swimming Pool Retail Academy is a business unit of Xmente, LLC, a media and software company focused on better thinking for a brighter planet. For more information, visit www.SwimmingPoolAcademy.com.

About P.K. Data

P.K. Data has tracked the swimming pool and hot tub industry since 1992. Since then the firm has completed over 300 studies including consumer surveys, industry valuation analyses, channel opportunity assessments, competitive reviews and geographic market development studies. The firm also provides counsel as a component of merger and acquisition due diligence. The firm’s analysts are frequent speakers at industry symposia. P.K. Data studies have been referenced throughout the industry trade press as well as the popular media such as the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Fortune and major newspapers and broadcast outlets.

Media contact:

Cathy Levendoski

Constant Communications

314-725-2594

clevendoski@constantgroup.com