Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dive In And Enjoy!

On Jun 6th I posted to the blog about Bluewater Pools & Frank Vazquez's dive into the world of social media.  It has been exciting to watch their Facebook page activity over the past 2 months.  What I have seen are dozens of pictures of families & friends enjoying their pools.   There has been no lack of posts of beautifully constructed designs by Bluewater Pools but, the customer photo posts frame the company posts in a way that leads the Facebook Page visitor to begin to think "Bluewater Pools is important to these families"  &/or  This is a "community."  There are also the occasional posts about holiday's or events that are important to Bluewater Pools.  Not just a "sale", looking back there has not been one "sale" or "today's special" post on their page, but posts like a holiday "I'm proud to be an American" or to the soliders a "Thank you for what you do."  Posts of Fireworks on the 4th of July or even posts of what's cooking for dinner that night at Frank's.  Not a single post with a negative tone exists there.  Bluewater Pools Facebook page is a happy, inviting celebration of life in and around the pool.  Who could possibly pass up the opportunity to join in this fun?  No one!  Certainly not me.  To those of you who are planning social media/Facebook strategies for next season, take a look at Bluewater Pools Facebook page.  Jump in & enjoy with the rest of us!

I can't end this blog entry without sharing with you, the post from Bluewater Pool's Making Memories Grand Prize Winner:

Blue Water Pools:

“Party at our house this weekend, bring a swimsuit and towel!” As of August 2010, this has been our mantra. We have now become the home that hosts all the gatherings that knits our friends into family. Our once deserted backyard, has blossomed into an oasis for hearted connections, an exhale from the constant go, and simple child-like fun.
Our desire to build our pool was with hopes to have early morning swims, moonlight swims, to simply be able to stay home and open our house to the joy. Yet, as a homeschooling mother, I had no idea the true beauty our pool would bring to our lives, and studies. Our “mental math” has taken on a new life. We have now evolved to “water math”. We dive out the multiplication tables, we estimate the height of cannonballs, we swim three-fourths the length, the possibilities and motivation, is now endless.
In so many aspects of our lives, our pool brings such beauty. We are blessed with the gaiety of romping, diving, swimming children, poolside BBQs, as well as the serenity of a relaxing swim in the evening. Our home, and our memories couldn’t be more full.

"Thank you blue water pools"

Dana, Dana, Chase, Sage, Shai and Cruz Gordon

Monday, June 20, 2011

Poolside Memories...

Take a minute & join me for a quick video on how swimming pools are used today.  It just might make you think about where & how your family spends their time.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Being Who and What You Are In Today's Transparent World of Social Media

I have been talking about the value of social media for a while now.  Many in the pool & spa industry agree with my message and realize that this new form of communication is way past the fad media is here to stay.  It is the new norm.  Let me share with you another example of social media at work...I recently received this email:
"Hey Vance, Frank the pool guy in Miami. Taking your advice on the social media exposure. When you have a moment check out the company Facebook at please give us a "like this". Also, created a new webpage, check us out at http//"
So, I went to check out Frank's Facebook page & his website & one thing quickly became apparent to me..."Frank gets it."  I encourage you to take a minute & visit Frank's website.  Clicking on "About Us" takes you to a page that discusses his "core values" - integrity, dependability, and excellence.  Throughout his website he uses phrases like "environmentally friendly, highly efficient, easily maintained, lowest cost of operation".  Those are "values" important to Frank and values shared by today's consumer.  His message moves seamlessly over to his Facebook page where you find a client post that reads: "I hired Frank/Bluewater Pools to resurface a pool and build an infinity edge on a $5 million home for my most important client. I worked with several other contractors  in Miami and none kept their promises and none were accountable.  Frank was the opposite.  Frank delivered on time, kept his word, and created a gorgeous glass tile pool surface with Infinity Edge.  He made me look good.  In addition, I was a bit of a pain and Frank dealt with me with the patience of an old pro (no offense Frank!)  Call me for a reference - John Gee - Realtor - Miami Beach Sotheby's."
WOW!  It doesn't get any better than that.  A few minutes on his website and a couple of minutes on his Facebook page, you start to feel like you know who Frank is and what his company, Bluewater Pools, is all about.  The dots are connected!  Then, Frank takes it a step further and adds a contest he calls "Creating Unforgettable Memories" with prizes like an IPad, digital camera & underwater camcorder.  Frank's website asks the question "Who Is Building Your Backyard Paradise?"  By the end of this season it is a safe bet to think many people will be answering "Frank Vazquez."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tis The Season To Make A "Splash" With Social Media!

With our season in full swing there has never been a better time to use social media to build relationships and strengthen your business.  I wanted to start the week by sharing this letter.  Another great example...

May, 26, 2011

Vance Gillette

2620 Commerce Way
Vista, California 92081-8438

RE: Zodiac Pool Systems

        Business Development Programs

Dear Vance:

Both Bob Jehle and I cannot thank you enough for all the valuable support you and Jason Anderson have given to our company PoolBuilders, Inc. over the past few months.

Your recommendation that our company begin working with the fabulous people at Small Screen Producer, specifically Brie Romere and her incredibly efficient staff members, has produced results that neither Bob and I could have imagined.  Because of the addition of social media tools that were introduced to us by Brie via your recommendation, we were able to develop a contest that is returning valuable information and new sales leads that we could not have imagined were available in this recession arena we are all experiencing. 

Please accept our heartfelt thanks to both Jason Anderson and you yourself for a wonderful job well done. We look forward to our next innovative idea having come from you invaluable service to our organization.


Richard B. Clements

PoolBuilders, Inc.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Passing The Passion This Season

Memorial Day weekend is upon us and in the past several weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with several individuals I consider both friends and industry icons.  Every conversation centered on a discussion of where our industry is headed this season.  In many ways, we find ourselves where we were a decade ago; competing with a variety of leisure-time activities that tend to siphon discretionary dollars that could be invested in the total backyard environment.   On the other hand, we are standing on the threshold of a new and exciting opportunity this season!  The opportunity to use new channels of communication in social media to reconnect with our existing customers who will help us connect with new customers.  Those same channels allow us to educate the public on new technologies available for our pools.  Most consumers are totally unaware of the last decade of changes in our industry and how these technologies have impacted the swimming pool experience.

The industry icons I  met with, over the past several weeks, share a passion for their work.  They live it daily, passing their passion to all those who cross their paths.  I challenge you to go into this season doing the same.  Show your customers your love for your product.   Explain to them the benefits of converting their backyard into the resort their families will "live in."  Our industry has the power to positively impact so many families this year.  Let's all keep our focus on passing the passion this season!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Not What You Say But HOW You Say It...Customer Experience WOW

The WOW Factor in Customer Experience
Heading home from Seattle, I got this sinking feeling when I was checking in for my Continental flight back to Austin when the terminal check-in kiosk message read "No record found." I had been wondering why the automatic "Check in for your flight now..." email hadn't arrived..but assumed it was because I changed my seats at the counter in Austin. It suddenly occurred to me that I might have a bigger problem, that I might just be at the airport on the wrong day. In over 50 years (literally) of flying it would be a first for me...but as they say "There's a first for everything."
I quickly searched for my itinerary on my Android, and sure enough, instead of 4/13 the departure date was 4/14. Oops. You might be wondering "C'Mon Dave, you've traveled before...didn't you look at your itinerary? Answer, "yes, but..." My 30-day travel schedule is as follows: Seattle, San Francisco, Delhi, Mumbai, Toronto, Amsterdam, New York, and then Chicago. All travel is on Continental, btw.
I walked up to the counter, where Continental agent Trini M was standing. She asked "How can I help you." I explained that I had specified the wrong date when setting up my travel (in other words, I took full responsibility for my mistake). I asked Trini what my options were. She smiled, pressed a couple of keys, and handed me boarding passes for the same flights, today. No fees, no questions. Just a smile. As I stood there not knowing what to say (other than "Thank You," which was immediate) I asked if it was normally this easy.

 She said "No. I just did it for you you.

A friend sent me that article & I re-read it often. It always leaves me with one thought..."WOW"!
Think about the customers you have the opportunity to interact with today & sieze those "WOW" opportunities!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Changing the Industry's Focus

The time has come for a major change in the pool and spa industry: Time to think differently about how we promote and market our products; time to recognize that our products bring more happiness and excitement to people than anything else they can buy; and especially time to dump the negativity of the past and greet the future with enthusiasm, because our products offer experiences everyone desires.

Consider the fact that when you see an ad for a Marriott resort, a Hyatt Regency hotel, Sandals or any other vacation destination, the companies express the joy our products bring by showing water in the form of luxurious pools and spas. They don't highlight the lobby or the rooms they show the remarkable pool experience. They don't spend time with the restaurants or shops. The imagery is mostly dominated by fun around the pool — people living the good life, making memories and enjoying the richness of outdoor aquatic experiences.

The reason for this is obvious: Pools and Spas provide experiences that people remember and cherish, and more important, that they anticipate. For reasons we all know (or at least should), people of all ages and all walks of life simply love pools and spas. They associate them with fun, family togetherness, luxury, parties and even freedom and sensuality — all in and around water.

Yet when you look at what we talk about as an industry, none of this comes through as the primary point of discussion. Instead, we discuss safety, child drowning, suction entrapment, diving accidents, the toxicity of chlorine and an array of other issues that, while they deserve attention without question, mostly serve to distract and drive people away from the amazing benefits and experience we offer our clients.
Seeking Experiences
Right now, we need to drop the overall downbeat tones and attitudes. Both individually and collectively, we need to passionately market the experiences that make our products so amazingly desirable.

Yes, we need to be as technically competent as possible. Yes, we need to be up to speed on energy and water conservation. And yes, we need to make sure our products are as safe as humanly possible. That’s all true and important. But we also need to step back and look at what people are really buying when they pursue pool and spa ownership. In a word, what they're doing is seeking experiences.

Look at it this way: If you care about the car you drive, the first thing that comes to mind is the brand. It’s a BMW, a Mercedes, a Lexus, an Audi, a Ford or a Chrysler — the make is all that matters. But do you ever really stop to think about who made the spark plugs, the radiator or the transmission? Ferrari doesn't design its cars with the transportation needs of Los Angeles commuters in mind. It designs its cars with their DREAMS in mind.”

What we do know about our cars these days is what the experience of driving them is like, especially if it’s enjoyable. Maybe you love your Mercedes’ interior, your Audi’s amazing ride or the raw power of your BMW.

People think of pools and spas in the same experiential way. In truth, nobody cares at all about the variable speed pump other than to appreciate the fact that it makes running a pool more affordable. Nobody cares about the specifics of the filtration system or the chemical feeder or the pool cleaner. All they know is whether they like the water quality. Way beyond all that, what people really do know is this: “My pool gives me enjoyable experiences.”

When you look at the psychographics of our industry and the psychology of our clients (not their demographics and their age and gender), you quickly learn that what characterizes our clients is their desire for the experiences they can have in and around their pools and spas. And this surfaces in lots of ways. Some crave pride of ownership, others are drawn to aesthetic beauty, and still others want a place to hang out with family and friends, or a place to play in water, or an opportunity to luxuriate in a spa.

Everything they're after – everything! – comes from positive past associations and the lifestyle preferences they create in the present and for the future.

To that point, let me add that I believe the term “swimming pool” is antiquated. Most people do not swim or exercise in their pools. While some do strive to achieve transforming health benefits (and we would be in an even stronger market position if more people did), the fact is that the majority don't. So when you talk about motivating people to buy — notice I did not mention selling (more on that below) — we're not really there to educate them about health issues, but rather to amplify, reinforce and exploit their desire for the experiences they do already have in mind.

Backyard Entertainment

When we consider this concept of experiences, I like to say that the best thing about memories of pool and spa ownership is..... making them. When you think about the experiences of pool and spa ownership, you should immediately consider the fact that you are no longer in the swimming pool business but are instead in the “backyard entertainment” business.

As has been discussed for years in WaterShapes and by other progressive voices in the industry, water is just part of an overall picture.  (Banquet for the senses) Yes, pools and spas might be the most significant investment and sometimes the most prominent feature in a backyard, but they exist as parts of overall environments that may also include outdoor kitchens, dining/entertainment areas, fire features, landscaping, lighting, shade structures, outbuildings and purely decorative watershapes such as ponds, streams, reflecting pools and fountains.

It’s all about the experience. That’s our business, fulfilling our clients’ desire for the overall backyard entertainment experience. That’s why we should be the world’s most vocal proponents of the excitement and unabashed joy of owning a great outdoor environment.

And make no mistake: I'm not talking about selling here, but rather about an absence of selling. Our clients are already sold on the types of experiences they want. That’s why they called you in the first place. They don't need to be convinced that owning a beautiful setting for fun, entertainment and relaxation is something they want. They already know it — which is why, both as individuals and as an industry, we need to develop the communication skills required to translate visions into realities.

We haven't been helped by the economy during the past two or three years: It’s done little to inspire visionary thinking, let alone optimism. The numbers may be argued, but roughly speaking, about 200,000 new pools were built in 2006. For 2009, that number dropped down below 50,000 — a decline of more than 75 percent in just three years.

That’s enough to darken the outlook of even the most optimistic among us. Even so, as we move toward a recovery at glacial speed, most of us (with regrettable exceptions) are still here. Each of us should be proud of having persevered. But we also must be sublimely aware, more than ever, that we can't allow opportunity to pass us by simply because we're shy about embracing the amazing set of benefits we offer and are ready to provide.

Bouncing Back
Indeed, being ready — right now — is what’s important because there are strong reasons for redoubled optimism. Consider, for example, the wealthy households that are prime targets for luxurious backyard treatments. We should all be encouraged to know that households worth more than a million dollars (excluding income from property ownership) grew by 16 percent in 2009. Families worth more than $5 million grew by 17 percent and now are more than 980,000 strong.

Further consider that in many cases those people have held onto their money the past two years in fear of the rough economy.  Although their spending habits have temporarily changed, that has done nothing to separate them from positive thoughts about pools and spas. I'm among those who believe that all this amounts to is tremendously pent-up demand.

On top of that, we know that banks have been ridiculously reluctant to lend money for home improvements or purchases, even to qualified borrowers. Recently, however, we've heard noises from the financial community (including statements from financial mogul Warren Buffet) predicting that banks are poised to begin lending again.

Combine these macro-trends with an improved and more focused message from our industry — one that can be proclaimed by industry leaders as well as the rank and file   ready for a dynamic resurgence. But we must be ready with that message. Be prepared with lines of discussion that zero in on all those experiences we know people want.

The great thing is, we already know what those experiences are because  we share those desires with our clients. What designer or builder doesn't share a sense of the value of living with a well-designed, beautiful space made for spending time with loved ones, having fun and feeling relaxed? So we know what to say; the trick is being ready to say it, over and over again, without hesitation, fear or compromise.

As for the means of disseminating these messages, we need to consider marketing campaigns, product literature, promotional videos and all sorts of aggressive marketing vehicles. We need to get involved in social networking and turn our existing contact lists into collections of friends, past clients, colleagues, current clients and potential clients.

There is simply no excuse: We must make the case for our products and let people know we can deliver on their dreams. To do that, we must start believing again in the value and benefits and joys of what we offer and provide. We must leave behind any sense that pools and spas are second-class citizens of the design world, leave behind attitudes of defeat and failure, and instead declare ourselves to be professionals who give clients what they want the most in life..... great experiences.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I’m sure pool professionals all over the country expe­rience the same frustration I do each year at this time. As the season begins, many local media outlets highlight a tragic accident that occurred in their areas. The story al­ways carries the same message:

Swimming pools are danger­ous and having one in your backyard is inviting tragedy.

Though I have the deep­est sympathy for the individ­ual families involved, these news stories always bother me. I believe they do more harm than good. They might achieve their goal of reducing the number of pools built, but in the long run, these stories actually cost more lives than they save.

Here’s why:
The year is 1965 and I’m a teenager. My brother and I are in a canoe on a large lake near Yellowstone Park, no more than 50 yards offshore. Without warning (or maybe we just aren’t paying atten­tion), the wind whips up and the big lake is suddenly cov­ered in whitecaps. The canoe starts rocking and my brother tries to stabilize it by standing up and leaning. In a flash, we’re both in very cold water. Unable to tip the canoe upright, we decide we have no choice but to swim ashore. We do.

To this day, I am con­vinced I could have drowned in that lake. But I survived for one simple reason: I knew how to swim. And I had learned that skill in a back­yard pool.
So, my own life experi­ence taught me just the opposite of what the annual springtime newspaper and TV stories would have us believe. I know in my heart that pools actually save lives by reducing the number of deaths due to drowning.

This year, I decided to do something about this chronic misinformation by trying to scientifically prove how many lives are saved annually be­cause people learned how to swim in backyard pools. There must be a way of cal­culating the number of chil­dren who are taught to swim each year in pools, and com­pare that with the number of aquatic accidents. I won­dered: Are these statistics available anywhere?

I checked the Internet for clues and found a study by the Journal of the American Medical Associate, which stated that 73 percent of all drownings occur in natural bodies of water. An earlier report by the Centers for Disease Control found that only 10 percent of drownings occur in swimming pools.

I spoke to a professor of statistics at University of California-Berkeley and asked him if it would be possible to scientifically prove my point. His first response was to say that yes, one could make some assumptions about the number of lives saved. But because it involves a guess about what might have hap­pened, the results would always be disputed, even by those with good intentions, such as advocates of swim­ming pool safety.

But the logic of my point is irrefutable: If 73 percent of drownings occur in natural bodies of water and if most swimmers learn the skill in pools, then many, many lives must be saved by giving our kids time in backyard pools.

Let’s have some articles this season about that. And let's take it a step further.  Let's teach every child to swim! Pool builders, don’t be shy. If a homeowner hesitates about starting a pool-building project this summer because of their children and safety … remind them that there is no better reason to build a pool and remind them that swimming is a life skill.  One of the gifts a parent can give a child that will truly last a lifetime.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Earth week...a time to contemplate the beauty of the earth.  Isn't it amazing how we try to recreate or recapture the natural beauty of water with the “Pool Experience?”  The sights, the sounds, the feeling, all special portions of this incredible banquet for the senses.  The healing experiences of your soul.  The peace of mind and inspiration we find in the swimming pool environment will nourish your soul for a life time.  So while you contemplate how to bring your family closer to Mother Nature, sit back quietly and remember the last time you sat beside a pool, felt the warmth of the sun on your skin, listened to the magical sounds of the water.  Maybe it was your last vacation, you last trip to the spa, or if you are extremely fortunate, maybe it was today.   I would bet you can remember it because each time we are there is a special time a special "experience" and after all, we all know "it's all about the experience".