Lead Landslide

How dealers are navigating the query surge

While the pandemic brought many industries to a screeching halt, the pool industry has seen an unprecedented boost in leads. Whether it’s a need to shake off stress, create a vacation at home or stay active, customers are flocking to pool companies. For many, it’s been a welcome change — but it’s also come with challenges.

Kristan Hart, senior account manager at The Get Smart Group, a pool industry marketing firm in Angels Camp, California, says one of her pool company clients received 2,000 leads in a single month this summer. “That is not a typo,” she says. “Their phones were constantly ringing, and they had so much foot traffic they had to lock the door to limit occupancy. Even 25% of that response would overwhelm the most well-oiled sales department.”

Many pool companies hired extra people. Kelly Michael Skelton, director of marketing for South Shore Gunite Pools in North Billerica, Massachusetts, says hiring right now is complex due to the fact that no one knows how long this increase will last. Hiring too many means some will lose their jobs once the industry levels out.

Hart has also seen pool companies hiring to accommodate the added load. The pool industry being a niche market is another challenge, she adds, because pool companies don’t see immediate benefits of more employees until they are fully trained. 

For David Carleton, owner of Spa Pool Marketing Success in San Diego, staying ahead in unparalleled times is all about follow up. “It’s not about what’s convenient for you but for your customers — for your prospects,” he says. “You should have email; you should have phone; you should have texts; you should have chat; you should have chat bot; you should have messenger — all of the things that people are using.” Carleton advises clients to engage with leads right away, even if it’s just a chat bot, so potential customers have a way to get some questions answered until you can talk to them personally.

Hart echoes the need for quick follow-up. “Businesses see the best results when a lead is contacted within five minutes,” she says, “but salespeople are simply too busy for that right now. An automated email follow-up system means the lead receives an email within moments of reaching out.”

Stacy Nelson, owner of Triquetra Marketing LLC in Charleston, West Virginia, advises her clients to start by presenting a more targeted picture of what they do. By doing so, you cut down on leads that don’t go anywhere.

“I’d rather get 10 highly qualified leads where I know I can close eight of them, as opposed to getting 100 leads and I can only close eight,” Nelson says, adding that the more details you put out there about the work you do, the more targeted your leads will be. “The contractors who put up a price range or ‘if you’re looking for a small pool, this is what a small pool is considered,’ received fewer leads that were just looky-loos.”

For Pam Vinje Isbell, president and CEO of Small Screen Producer in Sedona, Arizona, using marketing tools that give leads the information they’re seeking ahead of time means staff are not inundated with queries. She designs interactive video tours for clients, where potential customers can click through for answers to initial questions before contacting the company. She also creates website tools that allow potential clients to see product comparisons tailored to their interests. “We’re educating in real time and creating a consumer resource,” she says, “for the here-and-now person at 9:30 at night with her slippers on and a glass of wine.” No matter the strategy for keeping leads from falling through the cracks, the added industry interest requires adjustment. “We’re certainly not complaining,” Skelton says. “We’ve had years where nobody’s quite ready to pull the trigger on a pool, and that’s a lot different now.”

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