Facing challenges is part of the experience of being a business owner. Entrepreneurs take pride in the personal and professional growth that comes with each bump in the road, with each barrier that is overcome. One of the best aspects of franchise ownership is that when these challenges arise, you have a strong support system to work through them with you. Whether facing economic challenges like a recession, environmental challenges such as weather, or labor challenges with the state of the employment market, you are not alone. It’s safe to say, however, that few businesses had previously experienced the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
So what has that meant for Pool Scouts? It’s meant re-evaluating and giving extra attention to every aspect of what we do – from the support we provide our franchisees as a corporate team to the services we provide our customers as a national brand.
We’ve always valued being a franchisee-centric organization, but when COVID struck it became even more vital for us to unite as a franchise family. In addition to our regular monthly system-wide “Marco Polo” conference calls, we scheduled working sessions with subject matter experts and dispersed regular emails filled with information on the latest government relation issues, financial options and more. We produced video content to share new best practices for sanitation protocols, and there were one-on-one coaching calls happening consistently to ensure our franchisees were managing their budgets and operations efficiently during the ever-changing business environment. As we all worked through this together, some of the best ideas came directly from individual franchisees as they shared their own local experiences. It’s true what they say, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
The demand for pools has sky-rocketed this year, leaving many pool builders backlogged. Pool service companies like Pool Scouts will reap the benefits of a big construction year with higher demand for service, making this a great time to be a Pool Scouts franchisee. However, today’s environment of limited travel and in person interaction has changed the way we onboard and train our new business owners. From transitioning our Meet the Team Days with franchise prospects to a virtual environment to adjusting our business training to a combination of recorded and live online sessions, we’ve adapted – all the while ensuring our franchisees have the full training and development they need to provide exceptional service in their community.
The health and safety of our franchisees, team members and customers are paramount. Deemed an essential business, Pool Scouts continued to operate without pause throughout the year. Fortunately, our operating model allows owners to manage their business remotely through cloud-based systems, and our pool cleaning services are “no contact” – requiring no in-person interaction with customers. Still, we made various adjustments to our processes along the way to ensure the service we provide aligns with all CDC guidelines and state health department protocols. These have included additional PPE, sanitation practices both with our vehicles and on site, social distancing practices and general adjustments to customer communication and interaction. The demand for pool service has increased as families are looking for safe activities to do at home, and Pool Scouts is dedicated to being the trusted brand consumers need to swim safe and enjoy their backyard oasis with confidence.
When COVID became the topic of every night’s evening news, the general public was inundated with confusing messages and conflicting information – and each local area was acting under different rules. It was very important for our franchisees to cut through the clutter and over-communicate with customers and pool owners in general for what all this meant for their pools and pool care. Our team developed materials across a variety of channels – email, social media, our websites and more – to help educate, update and address concerns. For example, it’s important to know that a well-maintained and properly chlorinated pool will not spread the coronavirus, so a proper pool maintenance plan is key. We also needed to reassure our customers that our health and safety protocols during service visits had been enhanced, with new sanitation methods and social distancing measures. Finally, with more people – and kids especially – at home enjoying time in the pool, it’s vital that we continue to educate on water safety practices. We provided some fun activity sheets and coloring pages to help entertain and educate young swimmers.
It’s not just our franchisees adjusting to a new operating environment, our customers are also changing habits as they adjust their lifestyle around COVID-19 precautions. This means the marketing plans our franchisees developed for their business at the beginning of the year may no longer reflect the best strategies for today’s world. Throughout the spring and summer we have adjusted brand messaging and revisited marketing approaches with our franchisees to ensure their dollars are being spent intelligently. While we’re bummed to be out in the community a little less with so many canceled events, we’re still finding effective ways to spread the Pool Scouts message to our communities online or through the mailbox.
Want to hear more? Contact us today and we’ll be happy to share more about how Pool Scouts has adapted and grown in 2020 and why now more than ever is a great time to start a business in the pool service industry.