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Comments from the 2011 Pool Show:
“What Does the Future Hold?”

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

If you’re a regular attendee at the International Pool Spa and Patio Show, then you probably hear the same question I hear whenever I get back: “So, how was the show?”

In a word, “sobering.”

Two years ago, I shared my comments and observations about the 2009 Pool Show. Ironically, I see that the overriding message from two years ago was “HOPE.” (Boy, does that sound cliché today!) Back then, I was echoing phrases such as:

  • “The worst is over…”
  • “We’ve turned the corner…”
  • “We’ve got nowhere to go but up…”

Hmmm…that certainly wasn’t the message I got last week in Las Vegas.

No, I heard and absorbed an entirely new and different message last week. One that I don’t remember anyone predicting a year or two ago. The new, sobering message sounded more like:

  • “It’s a new reality.”
  • “It’s not going to bounce back anytime soon.”
  • “We’re looking at at least another 5 to 10 years of this.”
  • “Remember the BOOM times? Well, you can forget about that.”

Hey, I’m sorry to bring you a “downer” this morning. The usual goal of my writing is to inspire and encourage you, and ultimately help you make more money. And that’s still my goal here, even though this may feel a little heavy and not very pretty. So let’s see if we can uncover some GOOD NEWS (or at least some HELPFUL news) in all of this.

  1. Rich people are going to continue buying swimming pools. So if you’re targeting the high-end homeowner, you’re probably in the safest place possible.
  2. Non-rich people (i.e., middle class) are going to continue to dream and lust for a pool. And some of them will find a way to buy one, even if that means using non-equity “consumer financing” at rates in excess of 15%.
  3. There are more than 5 million swimming pools in the ground right now, and most of those are more than 15 years old. Thus, there is still a huge, under-tapped market for renovations, upgrades and remodeling.

Bottom Line – the pool industry will survive. It just won’t be as big as it was. And (sorry for the blunt truth here, but) not all of you are going to make it. Which I think leads us to the REAL message from the 2011 Pool Spa Patio Show:

If you’re in this for the long haul, then you should forget about “hunkering down.” You should focus instead on CHANGE. IMPROVEMENT. LEARN MORE. GET BETTER THAN YOUR COMPETITION. EXPAND INTO OTHER AREAS.

Ironic, isn’t it? One of the smartest things you could have/should have done was to attend the Pool Spa Patio Show in Las Vegas last week. Not to hear the “sobering messages,” but to pick up the new secrets and information that would help you improve, change, expand, and not just survive, but thrive and make more money.

My parting message/advice? From this moment forward, keep your eyes open for opportunities to move beyond the status quo. Become a sponge for new ideas, markets and techniques. “Turn on” your learning machine, for at least the next six months. And whatever annoying thing has been getting in the way of you improving and expanding your business (crappy website, lousy follow-up, low closing ratios, etc.), get it fixed NOW, while you still can.

To your success,



PS – You may find (yet another) irony in yesterday’s cover story from Pool and Spa News: “Industry Growth Predicted for 2012.” While it may sound contrarian to my message above, take a closer look. Pool Corp. (the source of the predictions) actually says…looking up – or at least leveling off…“. It also predicts that most of the new construction money will be commercial.

I’m sorry, but I did warn you the news was “sobering,” didn’t I?

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