Market segments that weren’t strong before are increasing, which are our highest-margin, highest-profitability sectors, which is always a great thing.
We look at the average deal amount very closely, and we’ve increased [that figure] tremendously, which is good. We monitor that on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis, and it’s been maintaining, so it’s not like you have one or two really good deals in the mix that are throwing our averages off.
I wouldn’t say we’re getting higher margins. I wish! I would say we’re maintaining margin. People with money are negotiating less and buying more things like infloor cleaning systems, higher-end heaters, fire bowls and things along those lines. We see a lot of either very entry-level or extremely high end projects — there seems to be no middle ground.
Price competition is still very tight in some segments. I think with the items that are easy-in/easy-out for competition, such as liner replacements, safety covers, mini-renovations, the price competition is tyrannical and getting progressively worse in my opinion.
Items such as new-pool construction, where it’s a big undertaking by the consumer, I think there’s a lot of value proposition there. Most people are not willing to bet a $50,000 backyard improvement on somebody who’s got six months in their track record.