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It's hard to believe that the 2020 pool and spa season has finally come to an end — and what a whirlwind it was. It was an emotional year, as everyone had to adjust to a new normal: isolation, inconvenience, social distancing protocols … the list goes on and on.

But there were a lot of positives, too, and not just the record-breaking sales numbers. The pool and spa industry came together to not only support each other but their customers, too.

We asked pool and spa retailers to share with us the GOOD that came out of their 2020 retail season. They responded with stories depicting the heart and grit that make the pool and spa industry what it is — the best place there is to make a living.

So below, dive into customer testimonials, staff stories and positive standouts from a year we will never forget.

TEXSUN POOL & SPA

Houston, Texas

Written by: Carlos Gonzalez, Retail Store Manager

As the lockdown continued, our maintenance department started receiving calls from customers requesting to be removed from the service route. Typically, there are three reasons why someone decides to cancel: bad service, sold the house or can't afford it. In this case, our customers were facing hardships due to layoffs, furloughs and income reductions from COVID-related business closures. For example, one of our customers owned a movie theatre. Well, the theatre was forced to shut down, so he had to cut back on expenses.

In the 80's and 90's, Texsun offered a bereavement program for its maintenance customers. If there was a death in the family, Texsun would offer their condolences by covering the cost of their maintenance for a set period of time. It was our way of being a part of the community, not just a retail store.

That program sparked the idea of changing our standard service offer of "buy three months and get one free" into "buy one month and get three months free." The idea behind the promotion was that it would give customers enough time to get back on their feet while allowing us to cover our costs of operation.

The feedback was unexpected. While our customers were astounded that a company would offer something like this when everyone was hurting due to the pandemic, and they expressed their gratitude at the thoughtfulness, ultimately most turned it down. Most of them said they would be taking advantage of us by accepting that kind of deal. In the end, only three customers took us up on the offer.

The work didn't stop there. We wanted to find another way to help our customers out, and we weren't going to stop until we felt we had exhausted all of our resources. We had been there for them during natural disasters, and although this pandemic was unprecedented, that wasn't going to stop us.

Through our retail locations, we decided to offer a discount on a startup kit tailored toward helping people maintain their own pools. We put together a list of essential pool care equipment and chemicals. Maintenance customers facing hardships could take this list to any of our retail stores and receive 50% off the items mentioned. With this promotion we were able to find a way to assist our maintenance customers without making them feel as if they were taking advantage of us.

If you're deemed essential, you have to do your part. Some might think it's silly to consider a pool store essential, but we take that distinction seriously. We wanted to ensure we showed our gratitude towards our customers for their continued support of one of their local businesses.

A company went above and beyond to help their customers during the pandemic, with service professionals dropping off groceries for their older clientele. See story: Poolwerx Forest LaneA company went above and beyond to help their customers during the pandemic, with service professionals dropping off groceries for their older clientele. See story: Poolwerx Forest Lane

 

POOLWERX FOREST LANE

Dallas, Texas

Written by: Rachel Fernandes, Marketing & Administration

On our weekly cleaning service route, several of our clients are elderly. Upon speaking with them, we learned they were scared to leave the house because of the pandemic.

Our team put together a plan.

Since we were going to clean their pools weekly, we reached out to these customers to see if there was anything they needed (i.e. groceries, laundry, etc.). They were so grateful that we were able to help — even if it meant our service manager would spend the day checking off several lists, we decided to do it.

It was amazing to hear from our clients who poured their hearts out to us and were so thankful. They felt at ease, as many did not have local family to stop by and help. But their local pool store did. Our brand value has always been, "People First...Always!"

I also feel that all of our team members have become a lot closer over the last season. Everyone jumped in to see how they could help each other and our clients. In the beginning of the season, we did not know what to expect with our hot tubs and swim spas. I remember sitting in a meeting and discussing how we had ordered 90+ models for the big State Fair (which, of course, includes paying for them), and we were very concerned how that would play out. But even with the State Fair closing down this year, we have sold every single model. We feel very blessed and grateful.

ALL SEASONS POOLS, SPAS & OUTDOOR LIVING

Orland Park, Ill.

Written by: Dan Lenz, Vice President

To identify one great moment is simply impossible. Every single one of my employees had countless moments — from curbside pickup and the perils and hard work that created, to getting pools and hot tubs operating that had not been used in years, to even having our technicians pickup household supplies for a few, long-term elderly customers who were afraid to leave their homes.

It seemed that every day caused a new concern, a new precautionary measure, the need to figure out ways to continue operating while being socially distant, protective and so much more. But at every turn, my staff was there. Rolling with the punches, making suggestions, reaching out to help one another or to offer support, bringing their kids to work when daycare closed down, caring for other employees who were quarantined. But all the while, continuing to give our customers their typical 110% to keep them in their pools and hot tubs, and working more overtime than ever before.

We had so many customer experiences, from those who thanked us for helping them with their pool or hot tub issues, so they could have them as outlets for relieving the stress of social distancing, to those who thanked us for the way we conducted business in the safest manner possible.

As a result, we were amazed by the increase in reviews through Google and Facebook. In 2020 our average Google rating was 4.9 stars, and our overall lifetime review count increased by 40%. In a year when people had a lot of time on their hands, they were taking to the internet to express their confidence in All Seasons, and that meant a lot to us.

After a pool and spa retail store was damaged in a Derecho, the community rallied around the business to help clean up and offer their support. See story: Hillside PoolsAfter a pool and spa retail store was damaged in a Derecho, the community rallied around the business to help clean up and offer their support. See story: Hillside Pools

 

HILLSIDE POOLS

Fort Wayne, Ind.

Written by: Chris Hill, Owner

On August 10, a Derecho (straight line wind event) started in Iowa and ended in the Fort Wayne area, where our store is located. Unfortunately, our retail store and construction barn took a direct hit. It completely demolished the construction barn, and our retail store was badly damaged. I know — this does not start out as a "feel-good" story. BUT…

The outpouring support from our staff, family, friends and customers was very overwhelming. With their help, we only stopped operations in retail for one day, and then we went to curbside service. If there is one thing that COVID taught us, it's how to operate curbside.

RICHARD'S TOTAL BACKYARD SOLUTIONS

Houston, Texas

Written by: Cristina Nikolov, Social Media Marketing

This past year was a rollercoaster year, for sure. From factory shutdowns, material shortages, gunite delays and simply getting products to our customers as soon as possible, what else could 2020 throw at us?

Well, it was delivery day for the Nitz family, and they were super excited to finally get the Hot Spring Spa that they had been waiting for. As our delivery team was preparing to hook-up the spa, the city happened to be onsite that morning and noticed a conflict that would have stopped the delivery altogether that day — and would require us to reschedule the delivery for another day.

However, our amazing Delivery Manager Kristen Barrow took immediate action and contacted the city while our delivery was on stand-by during the install. Kristen received some additional paperwork the city was requesting in order to proceed with the hot tub install (which was very rare) and got it submitted and approved within one hour. The client was beyond excited Kristen got her hot tub delivery back on schedule and took her out to lunch to say thank you.

Our team went above and beyond during this delivery to ensure nothing would stop this family from enjoying their well-deserved hot tub that day. Mrs. Nitz visited us a few weeks later to thank us in person again for getting her spa installed, as they use it every day to help with her husband's shoulder. We are truly "...Changing Lives!"

In addition, to further help our community, we have been hosting lunch packing parties with our entire company throughout the year for the non-profit Kids' Meals. Since, we have donated over three thousand healthy lunches over the years and continue to do so to ensure Houston's hungriest preschool-aged children never go hungry. It was more important than ever to do so this year, and we continue to provide and support them during the pandemic.

A couple decided it was time to splurge on a hot tub and swim spa, which was a welcoming reason for their family to spend time together. See story: Patio Pleasures Pools & SpasA couple decided it was time to splurge on a hot tub and swim spa, which was a welcoming reason for their family to spend time together. See story: Patio Pleasures Pools & Spas

 

PATIO PLEASURES POOLS & SPAS

Sun Prairie, Wis.

Written by: Rene Huston, President

When the pandemic began, a family came into the store in search of a hot tub. That's common enough, but what was unique about the scenario became clear as we discovered the purposes and motivators in choosing now as that time.

Initially, Brenda and Ken came in just as prospective customers. Brenda, a community swim coach, was naturally interested in a swim spa that was on our floor after her daughters tested one out at a national swim meet. She asked typical questions about the power of the jets and therapy of the resting seats, but it was the foundation of their interest that drew our attention.

With kids getting older and one back home from college because of the pandemic, the family decided it was time to make their "big ticket" purchase. What Brenda explained that touched us so dearly was that for much of their life they didn't make big purchases, outside of their home many years ago. They had been putting money aside, but didn't know what the money would be for.

What they both knew is they wanted to create a welcoming reason for their family to spend time together. We have all become accustomed to spending more time together with our loved ones lately, but between the rush of our daily schedule and children leaving... time is always fleeting. Brenda and Ken decided it was time.

Aside from their love of water as swimmers, Brenda and Ken wanted something the two of them could enjoy together as they approached their upcoming empty-nester lifestyle. Ultimately, the decision was made to purchase a hot tub for their relaxation and a swim spa for their family. They picked out the best swim spa we have on our show floor, for what Brenda said was to be their "once in a lifetime, fun purchase." We are very proud to be a part of what is now their Endless Weekend experience.

MIDWEST POOL AND SPA

Springfield, Mo.

Written by: Jeff Currier

This year, due to the pandemic, everyone was interested in an aboveground pool. The demand was very high. But I remember how patient, kind and happy customers were to wait in line for a presentation to see which pool they would like to purchase.

It was madness, really. We doubled our aboveground pool sales, and at one point, we had a line out the door just waiting for pools — that's not including everyone else in our store. Our parking lot was full. The parking lot next door was full, and people were parking in the grass behind our neighbor's lot. However, throughout all the craziness, people were calm and relaxed. It really helped everything run smoothly.

DESROCHERS BACKYARD POOLS AND SPAS

Shorewood, Ill.

Written by: Mallory Bjekich-Wachowski, Retail Operations Manager

Last year brought many challenges for everyone, and DesRochers was not alone in dealing with shutdowns and shortages in the industry. With customer service being our top priority, we had to find ways to cater to our guests even when we could not get some of the supplies they requested. Rather than let them down, we began to think outside of the box.

When reflecting on the many examples of the creative lengths we took to accommodate our customers, one particular "Dad" comes to mind. His family, long-time customers who have turned to us for everything for their pool, came in to pick a surprise hot tub hoping for delivery by Father's Day. With every available unit in our store already sold, and new arrivals not anticipated until fall, I was not willing to let the pandemic ruin a special moment for this family. Surely, there had to be a way to make Father's Day unforgettable for one of our unforgettable dads.

In our showroom sat a functioning, promotional, pink hot tub. It is quite a conversation piece in our store, and that particular Dad was known to joke about buying it whenever he came in. Wouldn't it be funny to have it delivered for the surprise, and on loan until fall when their order would be scheduled for delivery? It was the perfect way to make a Father's Day miracle with a side of practical joke: love and laughter.

The hot pink hot tub was delivered in plenty of time, and to our delight, a video of his reaction was captured by the family and shared on our Facebook page for all of our customers to be part of a very joyful, feel-good moment. It was definitely a morale booster for all involved, and we are proud that we helped to make it happen.

The tub they ordered is due to be delivered in a few weeks, and we can't help but wonder how sad it will be to see the pink tub go? We just got word that our Dad decided to purchase that hot pink hot tub and pay it forward to one of his friends. And, well, we think that is the very best part of this story.

This article first appeared in the January 2021 issue of AQUA Magazine — the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.

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