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An Entrepreneur’s Secret to Success

When John O’Brien was travelling 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.”

john obrien by a pool with a quote

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.

WE'VE CHANGED THE WHOLE ECONOMIC MODEL FOR THE POOL INDUSTRY (1)

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 vsiibility better control

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Here's How You Can Change Your Life Today   Diving Into New Opportunities With Poolwerx The home services industry is booming despite the impacts of COVID, and this is never more evident than at Poolwerx, Australia’s largest pool and spa maintenance brand who recently announced its most successful financial results of its 29-year history. Despite the testing retail environment, turnover was 10 percent above forecast for FY21, with Poolwerx’ 128 retail stores performing exceptionally well, recording a sales uplift of 10 percent year on year. Overall, the business saw 10 percent growth year on year with a total of 5 new retail stores opening across NSW, WA, and QLD and a further 5 independent stores acquired under the Poolwerx brand. The strong FY21 results reflect a surge of Australians investing in their own backyards whilst affected by the pandemic, generating a home servicing industry boom. Poolwerx Chief Operating Officer, Nic Brill said the COVID-fuelled growth in-home services had seen the brand’s recession-resilient franchise model thrive. “With people spending more time at home than ever before, we saw our client’s priorities shift towards investing in their homes and backyards,” Mr. Brill said. “The broader pool industry were the recipients of this home cocooning trend throughout 2020 and into 2021, and it’s great to see our network of small family businesses generate incredible results and come out on top in these uncertain times. Our brand and what we stand for – maintaining healthy pools for families and friends to create lifelong backyard memories – is really resonating with clients in the current climate. “Our franchise partners exceeded their planned budgets for the financial year, a testament to both their dedication and commitment to the increased demands from new and existing clients. “Our diversified approach and business model, working across retail and servicing, provides partners with multiple revenue streams versus a single stream income franchise option. “This diversified approach creates opportunities for our partners to build a business that suits their needs – from a single van operator all the way through to multi-store empires, we’re here to facilitate and support the journey they want to take.” Mr Brill said. Getting into small business or franchising offers a chance for a secure future and helps Australians regain control of their livelihoods. Having survived five economic recessions, Poolwerx has proved time and time again that this is an opportunity to dive into. Take control of your future and join one of Australia’s most successful franchises – simply click this link to learn more.
4 Ways Footy Helped Shape My Business What 500+ Games of Club Footy Have Taught Me About Running a Business Taking the lessons learned on the footy field into the boardroom has helped build the world’s largest swimming pool and spa maintenance franchise for John O’Brien, Founder and Global CEO of Poolwerx. He’s also survived through five economic corrections in that time, so understands what it takes to build a resilient business. Beyond his passion for entrepreneurship, John’s club footy career is almost as impressive. He got his first kick as a seven-year-old growing up in rural Victoria and didn’t hang up his footy boots until 36 years later, with more than 500 games of Aussie Rules and Gaelic footy under his belt. As a business entrepreneur, he’s survived through five economic corrections and says the lessons he learned on the field have helped shape his business views and values. 1. Find the better way – only by constantly training and evolving as a player, team and business can you get ahead of the curve. “The day players or executives feel they know it all is the day they need to hang up their boots,” says John. 2. Dare to succeed – the Viking mentality of never giving up is what gets Poolwerx through adversity, such as the torment brought on by COVID-19. “When you’ve got your back to the wall late in the second half, that is when you dig deep for moves or sheer determination to find a way to win through or lose well,” says John. 3. Partnership mentality – on the field and in the boardroom, it’s always about relationships and working together as a team. “Teams always fascinated me more than individual sports – no matter who you were, once you pulled on that jumper you were one team with one goal – to win. That’s why franchising has been my career, it’s one big team,” says John. Be it Franchise Partners or suppliers, Poolwerx takes a real partnership approach – the company even refers to its supplier as ‘Partners in Profit’. John describes Poolwerx as a family business made up of family businesses. “We have this unwritten tribal language that binds us all together on one mission – from singing the team song after winning the game to making sure your franchise partners and suppliers are profitable too.” 4. People first – in a business just like on the field, your biggest asset and IP is your players, your people. “Conversely, while you’re a team, every individual is at a different stage with different abilities and motivations. The trick for me as coach these days is constantly guiding the individuals on our team to be the best they can be, the best fit for the team and peaking at the right time,” says John. This approach helped us keep everyone employed globally through both the GFC and the Pandemic and we grew strongly through both too. With Poolwerx recently announcing its most successful year to date after 29 years, John’s winning formula is helping drive big wins for franchise partners. If you’d like to join this winning team, click the link for more info.
Winning Big at Franchising Awards We made a splash at last night’s National Franchise Council of Australia Excellence in Franchising Awards with a double win! Our talented Marketing Team took out the Excellence in Marketing award while Queensland Business Development Manager Phil Colburn was recognised with the National Field Manager of the Year Award. Held virtually, the awards recognised Australia’s high-achieving franchise networks, small business owners and franchise support staff, showcasing their amazing work in the franchising sector.
COVID UPDATE: We are open for business! If you can’t get into store, click and deliver is available. Click here for all Victoria Orders. Click here for all NSW Orders.