In this exclusive Q&A, we learn more about the Pinch A Penny Pool Patio & Spa franchise from its chief development officer, Michael Arrowsmith.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Can you tell us a little bit about how Pinch A Penny’s position as a niche retailer has not only allowed the company to survive, but also thrive, during the “retail apocalypse?”
Michael Arrowsmith (MA): As you correctly point out, we’re niche specialists, not mass-market merchandisers. Pinch A Penny customers don’t come to us for commodity products; they come to us because we’re experts in water chemistry and swimming pool care – areas where most consumers need expertise and guidance. We’ve been the trusted providers of that expert advice and care for more than 40 years, and we stand behind everything we sell.
Additionally, each of our stores is locally owned and operated, which is powerful for a brand like ours. We believe a local owner running their business is much better for customer service. Our owners are actual neighbors of our customers, and very visible and active within their local communities. We believe these unique attributes of our business are why we have performed contrary to this recent industry trend that you mention.
We’re confident in our position because our numbers reflect it. In 2018, we saw significant growth in our system. We signed 30 franchise agreements, opened 10 new locations – expanding into two new markets – and we tallied another year of positive same store sales in our existing locations!
FC: In today’s modern retail market, shoppers choose brick-and-mortar stores when looking for a shopping experience to accompany their purchase. What are some ways Pinch A Penny has created experiences for customers?
MA: Quite simply, our customers come to us because they’re looking to consult fully trained experts in water chemistry and swimming pool care. Functioning in our market with a network of owners has allowed us to focus on being the best experts in our field. Our owners undergo extensive initial training prior to opening their stores and our continuing education program for both them and their employees is unparalleled.
On top of that, when our customers enter a Pinch A Penny store, they’re gaining access to one of the most complete lines of best-in-class pool chemicals, maintenance equipment, parts and accessories available anywhere, as well as a vast inventory of games, toys, floats, grills and more.
FC: What sets Pinch A Penny apart from other concepts in the retail and service industries?
MA: We are family owned. Our CEO, John Thomas, is our founder’s son and has been at the helm for over 20 years! We take a family approach to our business, treating our franchisees as such. We believe that in doing this, we have happier employees and, ultimately, happier customers. We take responsibility in providing every individual that’s a part of our business with all the necessary resources to carry on the tradition of quality, reliability, and expertise in a fun, family-oriented atmosphere.
These family-centric values have allowed us to develop a reputation for delivering best-in-class customer service and expertise while offering the highest quality in products and supplies. As a result, we’ve been awarded in top industry rankings, including the 2019 Entrepreneur Franchise 500, Franchise Times Top 200, and Franchise Business Review’s 2018 Franchisee Satisfaction Awards.
FC: What qualities make Pinch A Penny a strong business opportunity for its franchisees?
MA: With 40+ years in business, Pinch A Penny is the turnkey retail and service franchise where you become a trusted member of your community while investing in your future. We’re a need-based business that has grown from a single small warehouse in Clearwater, Florida to more than 250 locations across the Southeastern U.S. and Texas – despite fluctuating economies and various competitors. Not to mention, the pool industry is rapidly growing – worth an estimated $15 billion today – so there’s enormous growth opportunity.
In addition to this growth, we have a strong average unit volume (AUV) of $1.2 million and have had positive same store sales for more than a decade. Pinch A Penny is a full business, not just a retail store or pool service. Our franchises have three revenue streams through our best-in-class proprietary retail products, repair and installation service, and pool maintenance. To help our franchisees scale their business, we provide on-going training and exceptional, turnkey support that extends far beyond their initial training.
Another quality that makes Pinch A Penny a unique and versatile business opportunity is our conversion process. We’re constantly seeking existing pool store operators who are looking to take their businesses to the next level, and our turnkey process is designed to be as efficient and seamless as possible to ensure that those operators who make an investment with us will see a return on it very quickly.
FC: What do you look for in the ideal franchise candidate?
MA: The main characteristic we look for in franchisees is the desire and passion to provide an exceptional pool care experience. Many of our most successful franchise owners have backgrounds that span across various industries outside of pool service, including executive management, retail management, marketing, communications and the military, just to name a few. Regardless of their backgrounds, the common thread they all share is a commitment to providing an exceptional customer service experience, as well as a passion for the business.
We don’t expect our new franchisees to know the ins and outs of the pool business, which is why we’ve developed a comprehensive training and support program to help prepare them before they set foot in their new store. Once their store is open, we offer on-site support throughout the grand opening process, provide continuing education opportunities, and other tools they need to operate and grow their Pinch A Penny business by taking care of the customer in the best way possible.
FC: What can we expect to see from Pinch A Penny in 2019 and beyond? Where will the brand continue its expansion efforts?
MA: The success we’ve experienced over the past 40+ years lays a blueprint for our continued expansion in Texas, where we recently opened our 16th store, as well as other key states throughout the Southeast. Looking forward to 2019 and beyond, we’re eager to extend this momentum and accelerate our growth plans.
Pinch A Penny currently has franchise opportunities available in markets throughout Texas and the Southeastern U.S., including Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, and is actively looking for qualified candidates, including existing pool operators, to join our brand. For more information about franchising opportunities, prospective franchisees can visit https://pinchapennypoolfranchise.com/ to learn about startup costs.