Pool & Spa News is accepting entries for its Masters of Design competition, a comprehensive program spotlighting projects in every industry segment, from concrete pools to portable spas.

“The program allows us to showcase some of the finest pools and spas in the world, and I’m so glad we have the opportunity to honor them,” said Erika Taylor, editor of Pool & Spa News.

As in previous years, the publication’s editorial staff, along with a panel of judges, will narrow hundreds of submissions down to a few outstanding projects in each category: Concrete pools, package pools, fiberglass pools, spas and waterfeatures. Each of the winning projects will be profiled in a special issue of the magazine.

The submission process, which depended on mail-in entry forms in earlier years, has now been streamlined to accept all entries online.

Past winners have found that the contest bolstered their businesses in several ways. For one, they said, it’s been a powerful motivator for internal competition. “A win makes you want to keep topping your past performance,” said Michael Giovanone, owner of Concord Pools & Spas in Latham, N.Y., a Pool & Spa News Top Builder. “Each of our crews wants to be the one to build that next award-winning pool.”

The contest has also proved helpful in winning bids. “When we show customers photos of our winning project, it helps them visualize a design like that in their own yard,” said Melinda Dalacas, sales and design manager at Southwest Spas in Mesa, Ariz. “I’ve closed some sales recently that I probably wouldn’t have made if we hadn’t had those photos.”

Giovanone took the photographic presentation a step further, and had one of his vans “wrapped” with a photo of the winning project. “So now when they pull into a customer’s driveway and the customer says, ‘Hey, that’s a nice pool on your van,’ my guy can say, ‘Yeah, I built it. It won a national award,’” he said.

Not only does this spread the word about his company, Giovanone added, it also increases each customer’s sense of security about his or her own project.

Perhaps most valuable of all, however, is the sense of accomplishment and confidence that a winning project can bring to a whole company. “It’s motivation, it’s elevation, and it’s certainly gratification,” Giovanone said. “Having awards around the office with our own employees’ names on them — you just can’t put a price on that.”

To enter, fill out the 2011 Entry Form, which is found online.