Congratulations!! Joe Mitchell from Pool Pros great article in News Press

09/27/2010

Pool Pros manager Dan Sheppard was on site Wednesday as pool tech Jose Wolmart cleaned a pool PoolPros built at a home in the River District of Fort Myers. Pool Pros has survived the downturn by letting clients make whatever payments they can and by acquiring new companies. (Terry Allen Williams/news-press.com)

Success story: Company stays nimble

Working with customers on payments and more training for staff pay off.

The slowdown in new home construction was a warning signal to Joe Mitchell. He had developers and real estate agents funneling service work to Pool Pros, his pool maintenance, repair and renovation company in Fort Myers.

In the beginning of 2009, customers began to call in -- about 150 in all -- to cancel their pool service because they couldn't keep up with payments.

He started taking calls from troubled customers who had lost their jobs or were trying to cut costs, and worked with them to find a payment plan that met everyone's needs.

"We tried to make things more about the relationship than the money," Mitchell said.

James Shaffer, a south Fort Myers resident, hired PoolPros in 2005 to install a new set of pumps and controls for his pool and spa, which he had remodeled.

Since then, Shaffer has kept them on to maintain his pool and replace a faulty pump, and appreciated the company's recommendation to upgrade to a variable speed motor system to pump less water during the day and reduce energy costs.

"He gets personally involved," Shaffer, 67, said. "Whenever I call I get a good response."

Taking care of his customers, calling to keep them updated and informed on their service has helped Mitchell keep Pool Pros steady through the downturn.

In the first quarter of 2010 the company collected $578,680 in gross revenues compared to $567,470 for the same period a year ago -- almost a 2 percent increase.

From January to August 2010, PoolPros collected $1,411,042 in total sales compared to $1,357,818 for the same period in 2009 showing a 4 percent increase in sales.

Mitchell said his business has held steady because of his dedicated staff, membership in business networking groups and hiring of a business consultant.

PoolPros had grown primarily by word-of-mouth since it first opened in 1991, Mitchell said. But he made necessary changes to survive the down economy.

Joining the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and Quality Service Pros, a network of businesses focusing on licensed and insured professionals, helped him come across new clients.

He hired Internet Services Group, a Fort Myers-based web and graphic design company, to modernize his logo, revamp the company brand and build and maintain its website.

Mitchell also worked with Knapp Consulting, a business consulting group, to host monthly meetings with his staff to help them focus on how to wow customers and give him opportunities to share positive feedback with staff.

"When you get something like that going with a team, it's very contagious and every body wants to do a good job and do their best," said Lee Knapp, owner of Knapp Consulting.

Mitchell also focused on his employees, letting them know how important they are to his team, and making sure they knew he was all in for the business, to know "that my family and my mortgage rides on this business too," he said.

His staff's efforts in customer service helped PoolPros improve on its exceptional customer service and attract new customers, even at a time when Lee County residents are cutting their maintenance services.

"When you get out there and you touch the customer and you see them again, they have their trust factor there and they know you're going to deliver," Mitchell said.

Joe's Tips for Success

Professionalism is key: have company shirts, clean trucks with logos to market the brand, and keep the workspace clean.

• Be honest with your customers.

• Build relationships with your customer so they can trust in you.

• Educate your staff about the latest trends.

• Praise your staff for their good work and motivate them.

Joe - thank you so much for sharing in true "Pay it forward" fashion, I hope this article can help others succeed as well. GREAT JOB!!!

Contact Joe @ joe@poolpros-inc.com

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