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“A new season, new products at SPATEX and doing business in new ways. How do you feel about that?”



helped build my first pool in the summer of 1976. That’s right, England’s rose- tinted, perfect summer.

’76 was a summer of cheesecloth shirts and denim shorts, car-rugs spread on sun- browned lawns decorated with bikini-clad girls. 1976 was standpipes in the streets, bad haircuts, flared trousers and Michael Fish in a paisley shirt telling us that this was the hottest summer since UK records began. In short, ’76 was the perfect summer for a young man starting out in the wet leisure industry – although, of course, we didn’t call it that back then – and now here we are, 38 years later in the middle of a complicated, challenging and fast-moving industry.

So are we looking forward or are we looking back? Well, if we pop our rose-tinted specs on and look back, what do we see? Better weather, a booming economy, no competition from cheap imports and perhaps even a world without the web. And to see that world we are simply using our memory. Looking forward is a bit more difficult and we have to use our imagination. The picture is not so clear. But of course there is a problem. No matter how fond we might be of yesterday, we are all going to live in tomorrow.

I enjoyed ’76 a great deal but I’m looking forward to 2014 even more. Why? Well, let me go through a few reasons. This month sees the 18th year of SPATEX. OK, so we all go to meet old friends but mostly we go to make new contacts and discover new products.

New is good. I like ‘new’. Just think of some of the new things that we can offer our customers. Basement pools, pools with moving floors, pools with counter-current machines, pools that purify the water with UV light and pools that are lit with LEDs. Back in ’76 these would have been things out of science fiction but all of these things now represent some of the biggest growth areas in our industry. At SPATEX you’ll see robot pool cleaners and apps for your smartphone that will tell

42 February 2014 SPN

Dive into the digital world

I know that some people would look back on a world before the web and smile. That’s fair enough but we can’t turn back the clock.

you all about the water balance in a pool that might be miles away. You’ll see these things in Coventry, not on Tomorrow’s World. Hot tubs arrived, spent a decade being a lifestyle fashion statement and are now back at the top of national surveys for ‘must- have’ products in the home but this time the reasons given are hydrotherapy and the ‘spa experience’ in a hectic world.

Saunas have evolved from being a wooden box in the garage to being a sleek piece of glass and aluminium bathroom furniture. New is good. I like ‘new’.

New products mean new customers While we are all pleased to grow our businesses with new customers and new clients, can we really expect them to think and behave in the old ways? From my own point of view, people used to phone Golden Coast to make their orders, they would fax us or make their orders by post. Well, the phone still rings, of course, but the fax is being used less and less and the only orders we get via the mail are email ones.

Does that mean our business is shrinking?

No, it’s growing. We’ve opened a web shop, we use social media, in fact we are constantly updating and improving our online presence. Our new customers are behaving in new ways and that is something we appreciate and respond to. When you are planning for tomorrow, you should remember that old adage, ‘the customer is king’. What that means in planning terms is that you have to follow the customer rather than try and lead them or worse, ignore them.

People spend more and more time on the internet. Increasingly they are using tablets and smartphones to explore the web and that changes the very way that they use it. They look to Pinterest for ideas on what sort of pool or spa they would like, they look to Facebook for recommendations on the businesses and products to trust and they use mobile devices to navigate their way to your showroom. Even a customer who has heard of your business through good old-fashioned word of mouth will almost certainly look online to find out more about who you are and what you do. And tomorrow that is just going to be more so, more true.

Tomorrow is what you make it The thing about tomorrow is that you can’t really predict what is going to happen there. You can use some imagination and some research and some common sense. You can look at trends and listen to what others are saying will be true.

But all businesses are different, all people are different.

So I think you need to have an open mind and think for yourself. I think you need to respond to your own business environment and do what is right for you. I think you need to see every challenge and every opportunity as new and therefore respond to them in a new way. And I think you need to enjoy tomorrow because one day you will look back at it through rose-tinted spectacles. SPN

Jamie Adams is Managing Director of Golden Coast, the current Chairman of Pool Industry Promotions (PIP) and a board member of the British Swimming Pool Federation (BSPF).

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