Mike the Poolman


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September 15, 2012

My goal when I started my business in 1995 it was to make money to eat and pay the rent. My goals today are pretty much the same except now I have a wife, three kids and a house payment. I work to earn money, plain and simple.
I run a business not a charity. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that anyone reading this wouldn’t be too excited about going to work all day and not getting paid. The reason you go to work is to make money. I feel the same way- the reason I go to work is to help people and be compensated for the expertise and value my experience brings to them.

I am in a service business and I still get great satisfaction from seeing a customer stoked about how their new pool repairs make their pool easier to operate/ save energy, safer etc. I also get great satisfaction in getting paid for the value I bring to those customers. I have always believed that if a business relationship is healthy and is to last it must be a win-win situation for all, buyer and seller. If one wins and the other doesn’t someone feels bad and there probably won’t be any more business between parties.

This brings me to a growing trend in the pool business- and let me set the stage: pool owners contact me because they received a referral from a friend or read great reviews about us on-line or read about all the classes I’ve attended over the years and feel confident that I really know my stuff (of which I do). Unfortunately it is becoming almost common place for people to contact me for free advice with no intention of purchasing product form me. They know I’m the man to talk to because of my reputation; they explain their situation and ask what products will be best in their pool. I am flabbergasted that more and more people don’t understand: I AM IN BUSINESS TO MAKE MONEY, NOT GIVE FREE ADVICE SO YOU CAN UNDERCUT ME AND BUY IT FOR LESS ON THE INTERNET. How do people have the gall to call me for free advice and take advantage of my time so they in turn can purchase it on the internet (I still can’t believe I even have to take the time to write these basic principles of business…)?

I understand everyone wants to save money (I do!) and I have no problem with people doing their research on-line and making a purchase over the internet. I do it all the time, I just do my research on-line and make an educated purchase and hope for the best. If it doesn’t turn out I realize that’s the chance I took.
What I do have a problem with is people calling me and expecting free advice and then getting angry when I won’t share it. Why oh why would I help someone buy from someone else???
Why would I help someone buy a product for less somewhere else? I mean, when you go to the appliance store to ask the salesman which washing machine to buy do you do it just to find out the model so you can buy it for less on-line? If this is you are unethical and I do not respect you.

Also, I don’t care what it is, you can buy EVERYTHING cheaper on the internet than you can from a retail store or service business like me. In many instances you can buy it cheaper on-line than I can buy it through my wholesale distribution. If you know what product you need then absolutely buy it on the internet, but, if you’re not sure DO NOT CALL ME to answer your questions so you can buy it somewhere else. This is a no win for me and I’m not interested.

What would you do if you were me: offer great products, service, and labor and warranty it all at a fair price or just show someone where to buy it for less?

My goals are still the same, help people while being compensated for doing so.

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