An Entrepreneur’s Secret to Success

When John O’Brien was traveling the world looking for a franchise to launch, he was very particular about the type of business he wanted to run. “I was specifically looking for a services industry that already existed, yet had strong growth potential, high gross margins, and most importantly, was totally disorganised,” O’Brien says.

During a visit to California in the early ’90s, the Brisbane native noticed that the swimming pool maintenance business was driven by a lot of one-person-and-a-van operations. “I’d finally found my business.”

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International Expansion

Now more than 20 years later, Poolwerx, the company founded by O’Brien, has nearly 350 franchises operating globally and is strategically located in warm-weather cities throughout Australia, New Zealand, and the US.

To join its ranks, prospective franchisees can convert an existing service vehicle or retail pool supply business to Poolwerx branding or purchase a new Poolwerx franchise. Globally, Franchise Partners  now operate more than 550 service vans and 160 retail stores, which stock pool maintenance equipment and supplies.

New Economic Model

Poolwerx upended the traditional pool service contract. Typically, a pool cleaner would for weekly services, testing and adjusting chemical levels. “With three or four service visits each month, that wasn’t a viable business,” O’Brien says.

O’Brien developed a premium monthly service for the same cost and delivered it for close to what clients were already paying. To do that, he had to convince pool owners to upgrade their equipment. And one big selling point for that equipment upgrade: lower energy costs.

With greater cleaning equipment automation and chemical-level monitoring, the company claims to have helped its customers cut the amount of energy their pools use by two thirds, halve pools’ chemical consumption, and move to a single monthly visit for about the same price as they were paying for weekly service.

“We’ve changed the whole economic model for the pool industry,” O’Brien says, who boasts that the company’s franchisees’ gross margin dwarfs the swimming pool services industry’s 35% gross margin substantially.

changed the whole economic model

Time for a Life Raft

But while Poolwerx’ growth prospects were taking off; the company’s accounting department was struggling to stay afloat.

After looking at 10 different cloud-based software packages, Poolwerx chose Oracle Suite, in part because of its franchise module. That platform provides dashboards that track the performance of each franchisee’s retail, finance, and service operations, which can be rolled up by region and the company overall. “We’re able to help build our Franchise Partners’ —whether they’re a young entrepreneur starting out, or a family business looking for an exit,” O’Brien says.

With Oracle NetSuite, “all of our Franchise Partners can log into their accounts and see their own average transaction value at any time, and then use those figures to forecast sales targets or calculate bonuses.” Additional visibility has also helped increase the company’s average monthly contract among its 300,000 service clients by 3.5%.

Real-Time Management

By having a real-time view into route schedules and in-transit status, the company can also schedule more visits and increase its per-day mobile service revenue for its 550-plus vans by 3%. Getting this kind of insight used to take six weeks to produce, but using NetSuite, “we have better visibility, better control, and it’s live,” O’Brien says.

Such efficiencies have helped Poolwerx focus on revenue growth, which rose 14% in 2018. As it looks to expand across the US Sun Belt, from California to South Carolina, O’Brien sees the commercial sector as its prime market.

For hotels, schools, fitness centres and retirement homes, O’Brien thinks he now has the right pitch thanks to Poolwerx services and the visibility and insights Oracle NetSuite can offer.

better visibility better control

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Poolwerx gains two entries on the exclusive AQUA 100 list Poolwerx Forest Lane, Poolwerx Union Hills and Poolwerx Beaches are among 10 US pool and spa retailers honored for industry excellence. Three Poolwerx locations have earned accolades from AQUA Magazine. Poolwerx Forest Lane in Dallas, TX, Poolwerx Union Hills in Phoenix, AZ, and Poolwerx Beaches in Jacksonville, FL are proud to announce they have been inducted into the AQUA 100, an exclusive honor bestowed to just 10 North American pool and spa retailers each year. The AQUA 100, presented by AQUA Magazine, is an industry-leading competition designed to honor excellence in pool and spa retail. In light of the adversity specialty retailers of all kinds have faced over the past decade — the rise of online shopping, the pressure of a recession and, this past year, the global pandemic — the AQUA 100 honors the diamonds of excellence that have not only survived, but thrived, proving once and for all the spirit of brick-and-mortar businesses will carry on. "To win an independently judged, national contest like the AQUA 100 is a real achievement,” says AQUA Magazine Executive Editor Scott Webb. “It is the highest honor in pool and spa retail." “We couldn’t be prouder of our teams in Dallas, Phoenix, and Jacksonville,” said Chief Operating Officer at Poolwerx, Andrew Kidd. “As a franchise system, it’s our local partners that truly make the difference and exemplify all Poolwerx stands for; top quality pool service at a fair price from a friendly face.” The application process was rigorous, requiring entrants to provide detailed information on company history, customer service, store design, digital presence, marketing and community involvement, complete with supporting documents. Applicants were judged by an independent panel of retail experts. “As a small business owner, I pride myself on viewing customers as more than a transaction. They are my neighbors, friends, family and colleagues,” said Franchise Partner/Owner of Poolwerx Beaches, Nick McAbee. “I’m thrilled that my team and I are being recognized amongst these industry leaders for simply doing our best to serve our community.” Click here to read more at Aqua Magazine
Poolwerx Franchise Partner Selected as Pool Pro Magazine Panelist   We are proud to announce that Frank Disher, Franchise Partner and owner of Poolwerx North Richland Hills, has been selected as a 2021 pro panelist for Pool Pro Magazine! Pool Pro Magazine is a leading pool industry publication serving the hundreds of thousands of professionals in the swimming pool and spa industry in the U.S. and abroad. This panel was created by Pool Pro Magazine with the aim to share the opinions and expertise of knowledgeable professionals in the industry from around the U.S. Each edition of the magazine poses questions to the members of this group. Frank is known to be a leader at not just at Poolwerx, but around the industry as well. He is very opinionated and vocal in calling for higher standards in education, ethics, and professionalism for pros in the swimming pool and spa industry. In 2019, Frank and his incredible staff at Poolwerx North Richland Hills were awarded the Poolwerx Franchise of the Year award, which Poolwerx grants one U.S. location each year that demonstrates excellent performance among their peers. Click here to read more at Pool Pro Magazine
Poolwerx growing internationally, opening 11 stores in 11 months Poolwerx USA would like to congratulate our Australian counterparts on opening one new international store for every month this year! Poolwerx is continuing to grow even in these difficult economic times, both in the U.S. and abroad. Franchise Business Executive reports, "Poolwerx opens 11 stores in 11 months, with conversions and new outlets in the mix. The openings are evidence, says founder and CEO John O’Brien, of the demand for home services. The pool care chain has acquired five independent pool servicing stores across Australia and New Zealand-- in Baulkham Hills in New South Wales, Kings Park and Hampstead Gardens South Australia and another two due to open on New Zealand’s North Island. John O’Brien said “In all of these acquisitions, we’re helping long term industry veterans with their exit strategy. I’m also buoyed to see our existing franchise partners continue to grow their business and open new retail locations, which speaks to the resilience of our business model, even in the midst of a recession. “The home service industry has proven time and time again to be recession-resistant and this has become particularly evident during Covid-19,” O’Brien said. Click here to read more at Franchise Business Executive
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