The History of Poolandspa.com (as of 1999)
Paramount Pools - The
Paramount Pools started out as a small pool service company in 1980 working out of the basement of a house in Smithtown, New York. In 1983 we moved to a pool store in Lake Grove, New York and performed service out of that location. In 1984, we became interested in the "new thing", which was selling hot tub spas. We were one of the first companies in our local Long Island area to start selling them.
Long Island Hot Tubs Store
We did so well that we opened up one of the first "all hot tub spa" stores on Long Island in Centereach, New York in 1985. Previously, we had just been named Paramount Pools, but now we added another division, Long Island Hot Tubs. Throughout the 1980’s the economy on Long Island was booming. We were selling hundreds of spas, as well as building very elaborate "spa rooms", greenhouses and decks.
Business was doing extremely well and we received the Spa Dealer of the Year Award from our local supplier for 4 years in a row, as well as receiving the Spa Dealer of Distinction Award in 1989 and the Aqua 100 award in 1990.
Bad Times - The Recession
Then the recession of 1990 hit. Times were very tough here on Long Island as well as in most other parts of the country. People were losing their jobs by the thousands on L.I., where the defense industry was hit hard. Of course, luxury items like pools and spas were the first things to be cut from people’s budgets. We went from selling over 150 spas a year to only 30 in 1991 when we had no choice but to close our store. It was very sad for all of us.
Back to the Basics - The
Luckily, we still had the pool and spa service companies to fall back on, when we moved to a small office location in Mastic, New York. We were faced with a very large problem - increase our service customer base and find a way to sell a lot of aftermarket spa products - fast. We had to make up for all the money we lost on the store, and we all needed money to live. It was a very bad time for all of us at the end of 1991. Long Island Hot Tub’s darkest hour !
When we had our retail store, most of our income came from the sale of spas and "spa rooms". We had thought of repair service as a "necessary evil" in the business and thought of selling spa chemicals and accessories as merely a customer service. Now we had to totally redesign our sales strategy to give a main focus to pool and spa service and selling aftermarket pool & spa products.
We bought a few "pool owner" mailing lists and started to advertise our pool and spa services in all the local "Pennysaver" type newspapers. We used to only send out two flyers a year for our pool service, but we boosted that up to 2 a month in 1992. We flooded our customer’s mailboxes with service and product offers. We placed classified ads in 22 newspapers all over Long Island. This greatly increased our pool service business that year. We almost doubled our customer base by the end of 1992 and had to hire more servicemen.
Opening a New Market -
"Hot Tub Life" is Born
The hot tub spa aftermarket business presented a larger problem. We had our own mailing list of over 2000 spa owners from the store, and we did not want to lose their now valuable chemical and spa service business. We figured that if they could not come to our store, we had to bring the store to them ! We started publishing the ‘Long Island Hot Tub Newsletter", now called "Hot Tub Life". The first few issues were a little crude, but people started calling up and ordering their supplies over the phone almost immediately.
The customers frequently told us that they loved their Hot Tub Newsletter, and gained a lot of information from it. They also told us how much easier it was for them to call us up and order their supplies over the phone rather than come to our store. We knew that we were on to something good.
Steady Increase in Growth
By 1994, our pool and spa repair service business had almost quadrupled from what it was when we had our hot tub store. We had to hire more office help and servicemen just to keep up with the calls. We were generating over 200 calls a day in peak season, and we had to figure out a way to more efficiently handle the volume. We invested about
$ 30,000.00 in a custom network computer system that allowed us to process repair service and product orders much more quickly. When you are running a "phone order" type of business, we quickly realized that phone time equals money, and the quicker we could process each order, the more customers we could serve per day.
Going from totally "computer-illiterate" to using a network computer system on a daily basis took some getting used to, but we all learned a lot and survived. In 1995 we started to hear about a thing called the "Internet". This immediately interested us because, at last, we could greatly expand our spa chemical and accessory mail order business nationwide for a very small investment. Previously, national advertising was totally out of the question because of the cost.
The Next Generation - The
Over the fall of 1994 and the winter of 1995, we learned all about the Internet and how to make a Web Site. It took over 6 months to plan, develop, program and create our initial 150 page pool and spa site. We called it "The Virtual Pool & Spa Store". At that point we were dealing with pool and spa owners from all over the country on a daily basis and had increased our Hot Tub Newsletter mailing list from 2000 to over 22,000 people in less than a year ! That greatly increased our aftermarket spa product sales and we could just see it getting better and better every month. It is important to note that this was way before the term "e-commerce" was even invented ! Not only were we a forerunner in the pool and spa industry, but we were ahead of most other business segments when it came to Internet marketing. Truly, this was being in the right place at the right time with the right idea !
The Poolandspa.com Era
Internet sales were increasing at a comfortable rate, so we moved to a larger location in Moriches, NY in mid-1998. This allowed us both larger offices and bigger shipping and storage space to handle the increase in sales. We decided that it would be a good idea to rename our web site from "The Virtual Pool & Spa Store" to the more generic "Poolandspa.com". We wanted to separate the content portion of our site from the online shopping area. By doing this we were able to offer advertising on the content web site while not conflicting with the shopping area.
The amazon.com of the
We believe that shopping at home is the thing of the future. With the acceptance of the Cable Value Network, Home Shopping Network and other cable shopping shows, as well as increased catalog sales and the expansion of e-commerce the Internet, this type of shopping will continue to become more and more widespread in the years to come. If all goes well, we will position Poolandspa.com in the marketplace as THE place for pool and spa owners to shop for all their aftermarket needs - the amazon.com of the pool and spa industry !