The full-service swimming pool repair, maintenance and retail franchisor talks about his background, why the Poolwerx opportunity stands out, the vision for the future and more.
1851 Franchise: Andrew, let's start with your journey into franchising. How did you arrive at your decision to enter franchising, and what was your breakthrough moment?
Andrew Kidd: Back in New Zealand, I used to work for a company selling barbecues and hot tubs. It was initially a corporate-owned business. After finishing college, I started working there part-time while studying, but it evolved into a full-time job. Eventually, I became a manager when the business decided to offer franchises. My family and I bought one of those franchises, running it successfully for seven-and-a-half years. However, I wanted to play a role in a larger domain, so I transitioned to the corporate side. Over 20 years, I held various roles within the company, from marketing to general management.
I eventually felt the need for a change and learned about Poolwerx, an Australian brand. Recognizing founder John O'Brien's credibility, I moved from New Zealand to Australia and worked there for seven years. Later, I saw the chance to help expand the brand in the USA, which brought me to Dallas, Texas, where I've been for almost four years. Having been a franchisee, I truly appreciate working as a franchisor. I believe in the business model and concept of franchising.
Many people transition from corporate roles to franchisees. Still, few go from being a franchisee to a franchisor. My experience as a franchisee was significant. It gave me firsthand knowledge of the challenges and realities of the business. You can read and hear about the ups and downs, but living through them, handling payroll, managing people and realizing the ultimate responsibility lies with you, gives you a unique perspective. This experience aids me in understanding and relating to our franchise partners. It's an experience you can't buy.
At 26, full of enthusiasm and confidence in the brand, the idea of owning a business was still daunting. We received support from our parents, both financially and as mentors. While family business dynamics can be challenging, it worked and we remained close.
Reflecting on my initial decision to become a franchisee, even though we weren't an established brand like Poolwerx, I don't regret it. The market resonated with my values and lifestyle preferences. While data is crucial in business decisions, passion and alignment with a brand's values are equally important. These principles continue to guide me today, especially in my work with Poolwerx.
When I was considering the Poolwerx opportunity, it wasn't just about who the franchisor was. I also did my due diligence, researching the business thoroughly before deciding to join.
1851 Franchise: Were you diving into it with the same process of due diligence as you were when trying to become a leader of a franchisor?
Kidd: I believe so. You've got to have faith in what you're engaging with, truly embrace its values and understand its essence. Naturally, due diligence is the start of that understanding. But a deeper comprehension only arises once you're affiliated with the brand. It's vital to ensure both my expectations and the brand's align.
1851 Franchise: Let's pivot to Poolwerx. If someone unfamiliar with it were to ask about the opportunity, how would you present it?
Kidd: Reflecting on our most recent members and their reasons for joining, many were pool owners who experienced challenges finding quality services or retail suppliers for their pools. They saw a gap in the market. The pool service sector has limited representation, and there's a notable divide between top-notch providers and those simply clocking in hours. Our offerings are diverse, from regular pool cleaning to fixing, "green to clean" services and retail outlets. For our first 15 years, we focused solely on service until recognizing that many pool owners prefer DIY. So, we integrated service and retail into what we call the "hub and spoke" model. The hub is the retail store from which we operate, and the spokes are our service trucks. The growing pool population in the U.S. presents a vast opportunity. Every pool built needs maintenance, and we're equipped to cater to it all.
1851 Franchise: When a franchise candidate inquires about your strategies for addressing this problem, how do you respond?
Kidd: Training is paramount. We provide comprehensive instruction on water chemistry, hydrology and electrical connections. In our state-of-the-art facility in Dallas, we facilitate extensive troubleshooting and training exercises. Over three decades, we've transformed individuals from diverse backgrounds into skilled pool care professionals.
Our brand positioning as "Poolwerx for Healthy Pool People" is deliberate. We focus on promoting health, from maintaining water chemistry to aquatic fitness. Our branding, unlike the typical blue of most pool companies, is teal and cranberry. The unique spelling of "Poolwerx" also catches the eye. Our retail environments cater predominantly to women, the chief decision-makers in pool care. We're heavily investing in digital and technology to leapfrog competitors. The pool industry has been somewhat technologically stagnant, but our advanced marketing strategies and bespoke software systems set us apart. Our team's approach ensures homeowners are informed and feel valued.
As a franchisor, we are mostly made up of newcomers and seasoned professionals who've been in the pool industry for decades. These professionals often join the franchise seeking support and structure to scale. Whether they're looking for an exit strategy or ways to add new services too intricate to handle alongside their regular operations, the franchise offers them an opportunity. When long-standing industry professionals see value in joining a brand, it's a powerful endorsement. They aim to refine their existing processes, making them more efficient, effective and profitable.
Franchising in this sector might appear straightforward, but it delves deep into an industry often overlooked until a problem arises. However, once a problem does occur, the costs can mount up rapidly. Those interested in the brand often only see the tip of the revenue stream iceberg.
The franchise also offers potential franchisees a choice in complexity. They can dive deep or keep it simple, but the essence remains: a fragmented market where continuous pool care is non-negotiable. This guarantees a steady business relationship with pool owners.
1851 Franchise: Who is your ideal franchisee?
Kidd: When considering the ideal franchisee, leadership stands out as the foremost quality. The franchise attracts empire builders, typically those with prior corporate management and leadership experience. Many own multiple territories and lean into the franchise's vast geographical reach. This allows them to sometimes sell parts of their territories when they find ample opportunities in a specific area. Financially, an initial investment just above $100,000 is required for a service proposition. Shifting to retail quickly is encouraged, requiring around $150,000 — a modest sum compared to other franchising opportunities.
1851 Franchise: What is your vision for the future?
Kidd: Looking forward, the vision for the next four years includes a US expansion to 300 stores, aiming to add 30 new franchises annually. This rate is believed to be consistent and manageable, supported by the right teams and systems in place.
1851 Franchise: Overall, what would you say is the “Why You/Why Now?” of the Poolwerx franchise opportunity?
Kidd: The franchise's diversity in revenue streams is its most compelling feature. From weekly cleaning services for time-strapped homeowners to tackling sudden issues like leaks or algae blooms, to the retail side of the business, the opportunities are vast. This franchise offers a holistic solution to the pool industry's fragmented state, providing potential franchisees with a chance to dive into a lucrative and rewarding business.
While many clients may not have a preferred provider, they are actively searching for dependable guides, especially during challenging times. This presents an excellent opportunity in the commercial domain, spanning areas such as hotels, motels, apartments, condos and homeowners' associations (HOAs). We have designed programs to establish and foster such connections, while also expanding our e-commerce presence. Some customers prefer online shopping for its convenience. Our approach is holistic — beyond merely cleaning pools or offering repairs. We don't pigeonhole ourselves as just a service company, a repair expert, a store or a remodeling specialist. We provide an assortment of services, ensuring resilience in various economic climates. Our dual focus on service and retail means we can remain the go-to provider regardless of fluctuations in household income.
The profound impact of our diverse revenue streams and our impressive average unit volume of $2.1 million is due to meticulous planning. After three decades of experience across three different countries, we've gained a wealth of knowledge. This extensive background allows future Poolwerx partners to leverage our past learnings and insights to achieve success.
To find out more information on costs to buy this franchise, visit: https://poolwerxfranchising.com/