Be Careful About Sharing Your Custom Pool Designs

photo of Paragon's Joe Vassallo
Paragon's Joe Vassallo

Like any smart pool professional, Joe Vassallo is protective of his custom designs, and is loathe to lend a set of plans to a prospect out of fear that they'll take the designs and shop them to other builders.

"You have to analyze the situation you're in," he explains. "If you've got a 15-by-30-foot Grecian, well, anybody can do that. So I don't know that I would potentially alienate a client over that.

"But if I put together a set of really unique designs that the client really likes? Then no, I wouldn't give those out."

The problem is all too common, and with the ubiquity of the Internet, it's easier than ever for people to steal ideas.

"I've had people call me and direct me to other people's websites and say, 'Hey, we saw this pool and we kind of like it. Can you do one like that?' I'll take a look at those, give the client my opinion then try not to duplicate anything."

Not every builder is so respectful of his or her colleagues' work, however, so a certain level of security is important to Vassallo. Of course, there's nothing you can do about the pictures on your website. You could take them down, but obviously that would do far more harm than good. But the detailed electronic plans he shares with clients over the Internet through a program called GoToMeeting are another story.

"When we use GoToMeeting, the client does not have access to copy it, take a screen shot of it or download it," Vassallo says. "They can't do anything but look at it. It's kind of a read-only file, so if anyone is a little concerned about giving somebody all that information, you don't need to be."

Some of Vassallo's clients eliminate that concern entirely by hiring him to do the design as a separate job. They'll then take the renderings and send them out for bids from other builders. Paragon is, of course, free to bid on the construction end of the job, but he knows he won't win every one, especially in today's cutthroat pool-building environment.

Still, he welcomes the work: "In this economy, I'm trying to make a buck wherever I can."

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