"We're relatively synonymous with 'wet leisure," reports Craig Trusson. The "we" is Home Counties Pools and Hot Tubs, which Craig and his wife, Gill, run. "Wet leisure" is their UK industry category. And "synonymous" is restricted to their South East England market. "We've successfully created a local brand," he states, and their numbers back that up.
Now in its 33rd year, Home Counties is quickly approaching their landmark 100th Endless Pool® installation. Craig reports that, after just seven years, Endless Pools' modular pools and swim spas account for "26% of our total revenue." The remaining income derives from in-ground pools, hot tubs, service contracts, and online and in-store accessory sales.
He sees Endless Pools as "a revenue stream where the risk element is minimal" as compared to in-ground pools, where excavation can be complicated by gas mains, ground water, and boulders. "For a professional pool installer, Endless Pools represents an excellent opportunity to introduce an additional and strong revenue stream to their business."
Home Counties' success can be attributed to shrewd planning and resourceful teamwork, Craig feels. "It's only going to be as successful as you allow it to be." To that end, he offers three tips to others in this industry.
This Endless Pool, Craig's personal favorite, won the Silver in the Best Indoor Swimming Pool category at the 2015 UK Pool & Spa Awards. "This relatively humble pool was able to muscle its way in to a category usually reserved for £250,000 installations," Craig observes wryly, "and at 1/5th of the budget!" Its owner uses it to manage her arthritis, her son and daughter-in-law for triathlon training, and her grandkids for pure enjoyment!
"We decided that our first investment was to purchase an Endless Pool and a building to put it in." That was in 2008, at the start of the recession, when it was considered "quite a brave investment." He sold just four Endless Pools that year.
In the years that followed, Home Counties benefited from the global economic upturn and from one canny, high-profile marketing presence; "we took the Endless Pool to the London Olympic Games," which he now calls "a fantastic move." That year, 2012, they sold 22 Endless Pools, setting a new standard that they've maintained in the years since.
At Home Counties Pools and Hot Tubs, "the one thing we almost always insist on is a test-swim" for customers interested in an Endless Pool. Owners Craig and Gill Trusson invested in this display model at their West Sussex show centre for just this purpose. "Once we have them in the pool, we're fortunate that we have a product that goes a long way towards selling itself."
"The one thing we almost always insist on is a test-swim" in their Endless Pool, Craig emphasizes. "Once we have them in the pool, we're fortunate that we have a product that goes a long way towards selling itself. We suggest that they try the competition as well; we often find that they've already tried the competition, and it did not meet their expectations."
Craig acknowledges that sending his customers to the competition is "a calculated risk," but he's confident due to the Endless Pool's quality. "As an industry, we've failed miserably to meet expectations with counter-current swimming. So it's a breath of fresh air to find a product that does meet expectations, and that's the Endless Pool."
Of course, many customers are already "familiar with the established brand name, and they want an Endless Pool."
At Home Counties, that means not only persistence, but also a doggedly customer-oriented focus. "One of the standard questions we ask is," according to Craig, "'As bizarre as it sounds, can I politely ask you what you want the swimming pool for?'" For any given customer, there's usually more than one answer.
For instance, seniors often have multiple generations in mind, though they may not reveal that without prodding. For this audience, "the Endless Pool represents an opportunity to have something for the grandchildren and something for their own wellness," he notes.
Also to improve customer service and satisfaction, Home Counties invested in two workshops, in 2009 and again in 2014, at the Endless Pools Factory Showroom in suburban Philadelphia. "The training is invaluable," Craig finds.
The sessions included training in our sales lead portal, which lets Home Counties receive and manage leads from Endless Pools in the U.S. Craig said that it helped Home Counties' Manager Mark Daniels "understand the power of the portal and how it can be used." The in-depth assembly workshop helped Service Manager Dave Tuppen "better understand the troubleshooting and maintenance aspects," Craig says.
It's this threefold strategy to which Craig attributes their success. "There's nothing unique about us," he maintains. "We've just got an attitude towards investing in our business and our people." And with the Endless Pool in their product line, that attitude has proven sufficient for Home Counties' continued growth.