Two new industry insurance programs are making quick inroads.
The California Pool Association and the Swimming Pool Pro Alliance came to the industry offering an alternative to the conventional association model: No chapters required, hence no mandatory meetings or sick route participation. Just insurance, plain and simple.
That’s proven to be a compelling hook because both groups are boasting big numbers.
Since launching in March 2015, the CPA has signed up nearly 350 businesses representing close to 600 service technicians, according to CPA President Chris Walters. Likewise, SPPA, which began selling insurance a little more than two years ago, currently has 1,000 members. That’s up about 400 year over year, said Danielle Bahr, the organization’s director.
Both groups attribute their growth to competitive insurance rates minus the extracurricular commitments that are required by longstanding industry associations such as IPSSA and UPA.
And yet both newcomers see their members forming chapters anyway.
“If our members feel like they fit best in a chapter setting, then we will help them organize and establish a chapter,” Walters said.
CPA currently has chapters in the Inland Valley, Orange County and San Fernando Valley areas of Southern California. Some of these chapters converted from another association, while others formed organically, Walters said. As for SPPA, it has formed one chapter in Southern California, Bahr said.
By and large, though, members of these groups choose to remain unaffiliated with a chapter.
Pool professionals who prefer this approach apparently make up a ripe market that is even being mined by the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association. In recent months, that venerable industry trade group launched a new affiliate membership program, allowing professionals from outside the proximity of a chapter to join. This marks a change in a longstanding and somewhat sacred bylaw that required IPSSA chapter membership. IPSSA anticipates that its first affiliates will come from the Northeast, where the organization currently doesn’t have a presence.
It seems all these service organizations have become more ambitious with their membership goals. Yes, even the California Pool Association — despite its state-centric brand — has members in Texas, Florida and Nevada.
“Initially our focus was on California, and we just had a lot of interest in other states,” Walters said. “People look at us funny because we’re the California Pool Association with a big booth at a trade show [in another state].”
Carlsbad, Calif.–based SPPA has members in multiple states, as well.
Bahr said it’s not her intention to steal members away from other organizations. She points out that some of SPPA’s members still are affiliated with IPSSA for the camaraderie and educational benefits, but get insurance through SPPA. “We’re really pushing hard to get these people to realize, hey, keep your meetings, but come on over to us,” Bahr said.
That’s been an effective selling point, she said, especially for those who have staffs. They don’t have to pay membership dues for each employee to belong to an association if they simply want them covered.
Both new groups also tout that they’re now offering insurance beyond general liability. New products include workers’ compensation, commercial automotive and extended property damage coverage.