Jamie Albert Snyder began selling
fiberglass pools about 5 years ago.
The president of Albert Group Landscaping in Washingtonville, N.Y.,
knew it was a calculated risk. Not only was he in the heart of
vinyl-liner country, but Snyder also had to contend with
established builders who he says only helped perpetuate the
misconceptions associated with fiberglass.
It was slow going in the beginning, he recalls.
“I think it’s human nature — the gunite and vinyl
guys are going to trash fiberglass, and vice versa,” he says.
“They come up with stories about fiberglass pools floating,
or they’ll say they’re cheap-looking, or they might
crack in cold temperatures.
“I can dispel those myths when I talk to the customer,”
he adds, “but those are tough rumors to overcome. Let’s
face it, they’re effective.”
Today, Snyder says business for fiberglass pools has picked up
considerably. And it’s due, at least in part, to the
evolution of his approach toward marketing. He’s spent time
and resources on a Website that features a regularly updated blog,
as well as informational videos, customer testimonials and other
“You have to educate the customer,” he says. “The
huge benefits of fiberglass need to be touted
Snyder is among a small but growing number of fiberglass pool
dealers and distributors that have embraced this type of
education-based marketing. It’s predicated on the philosophy
that the more information you can provide on the product —
not simply about your company — the more trust you gain from
the consumer. And the more effectively you can establish yourself
as an authority in the field, the greater your chances of closing a
sale, oftentimes before even setting foot on a client’s
State of the market
In the last several years, fiberglass pools have picked up market
share in traditionally gunite or vinyl strongholds. While Snyder
and others are making important inroads in New York, Cinnaminson,
N.J.-based Artistic Pools installs dozens of fiberglass pools
throughout the Northeast once seasonal conditions
“All of the manufacturers are making different colors and
finishes these days,” says Mark Peditto, Artistic
Pools’ co-owner. “So it’s becoming a lot easier
to brand fiberglass pools.”
Traditional selling points remain their warranties — many 25
years or more, some lifetime on the shell — as well as
decreased energy use via shorter run times on filters and
Consumers also are learning that fiberglass is less prone to algae,
and typically require fewer chemicals.
The result, some say, is that builders who once shied away from
fiberglass pools are now installing them with greater frequency.
Ironically, it’s sometimes those same builders that a decade
ago spoke ill of the product.
But demand is a funny thing.
“The guys that for the last 10 years I’ve heard
spreading these myths are the same ones selling fiberglass today,
because that’s what consumers want,” says Marcus
Sheridan, co-owner of River Pools & Spas in Tappahannock, Va.
“So many people that were strictly concrete or vinyl are
doing fiberglass now because they realized they were losing money
by not offering it.”
Indeed, Reaves Newsom was among those who found a new revenue
stream in fiberglass pools. The owner of Roswell, Ga.-based RCS
Pool and Spa, a onetime gunite builder, now has dozens of
fiberglass installations to his credit.
“Fiberglass nowadays doesn’t look like it used to
— they’re built so much better than they were years
ago,” he says. “If someone doesn’t know about
fiberglass pools, there’s so much information you can give
Type “Pools and Spas Virginia” into Google, and the
first listing that appears is River Pools & Spas.
It’s no coincidence that River Pools occupies the coveted No.
1 spot on Google. After all, Sheridan operates a widely read and
frequently updated (usually twice a week, sometimes more) blog on
his company’s Website with titles such as “Are
Fiberglass Pools Too Skinny? And Does Width Really Matter?”
and “10 Things You Must Know BEFORE Signing a Fiberglass Pool
He also posts to the site dozens of customer testimonials (both
written and recorded), countless videos (topics range from
installation to maintenance to fiberglass technology and
accessories), and scores of photos.
In addition, visitors can sign up to receive a free DVD that
includes a complete installation, discussion of different pool
types, and feedback from actual fiberglass pool
For Sheridan, education-based marketing is a mantra, the key to
transforming his site’s visitors from interested to
“The concept of building trust through education
works,” says Sheridan, who also hosts The Sales Lion, a
web-focused sales, marketing and motivational blog for small
“Consumers today are smart, and they’re doing the
research,” he continues. “But people have to realize
that the blog is not about you — it’s solely about the
customer. Nobody wants to know about you until you can educate
them. If you think like a consumer, you’ll get
That’s why Sheridan practically insists that callers to River
Pools subscribe to his blog. Even if they’re not yet ready to
purchase, “I’ve got them now,” he explains.
“They’re in the pipeline — they’re going to
be an informed consumer.”
Indeed, experience shows that Sheridan has already forged that
relationship when the time does come for consumers to choose a
dealer. And, he adds, it often limits the number of other companies
customers are likely to visit.
So while regular blog updates help his site’s search engine
optimization, it’s not just about that lead position on
“You’re constantly reaching people with value,”
Sheridan says. “And when they’re ready to buy a pool,
they may have already been reading my blog for 6 months or a year.
You think they’re going somewhere else?”
Connecting with consumers
Though his generation precedes that of the digital age, Kent
Carpenter understands full well the impact of interactive and
web-based marketing. The president and owner of The Fiberglass Pool
Depot in Dunn, N.C., tries to update his blog at least twice a week
with posts ranging from pool safety to financing tips to
energy-saving opportunities. In fact, he attributes much of the
rise in education and understanding of fiberglass among consumers
to web-based information.
“Would you like to sell another six pools this year?”
he adds. “Because those are the ones you’re going to
miss if you’re not doing this.”
Still, he notes, he rarely spends more than 3-4 hours a week
updating his site, blogging or posting announcements to his
Facebook page. Which for Carpenter means the investment is well
worth the return.
“When people want to go out to dinner, or take a vacation, or
buy a car, where do you think they go for their research?” he
says. “If you’re not doing the Internet, you’re
Signature Pools & Spas recently launched a new Website. On it,
the Chicago-based fiberglass builder features everything
you’d expect from an industry leader: an updated blog, photo
galleries, testimonials and heaps of information on the pool buying
But it also includes a page titled, “Negatives of Fiberglass
Pools,” which provides frank information on shape and size
limitations, hauling restrictions, and potential problems
associated with access to a property.
“In the interest of educating our customers with accurate and
complete information,” the page states, “please keep in
mind the following negatives when considering a fiberglass swimming
According to sales and design manager Todd Emmerson, it’s
important to be honest and transparent about the limitations of the
“Let them know, for example, what could go wrong during
installation,” he says. “And educate them on quality
— all pools definitely aren’t built the
For Emmerson and others, education has become the new form of
marketing. The sales process is made infinitely easier, he says,
when consumers’ most frequently asked questions about
already been answered.
And while he enjoys building and cultivating those relationships
with clients and potential customers, Emmerson notes an additional
advantage to marketing through informational avenues like
“Some of that is just staying in touch with your contacts in
the industry across the country,” he says, “and seeing
what they’re up to.”
Snyder, for one, has good reason to follow his fiberglass
counterparts’ exploits online.
“I’m getting more calls than ever now,” he says.
“I’ve definitely sold two more pools this year simply
because of Marcus’ site. Those are huge benefits to our
Despite greater education available through manufacturers, distributors and dealers, myths surrounding fiberglass pools still persist.
Catching leaks in fiberglass pools is as simple as finding a step-by-step detection procedure that works for you ? and sticking to it.