Credit: PHOTO BY TIM BOBKO / GRAPHIC BY DENISE BAKER
Concierge medical services such as WhiteGlove Health are so new to
Greg Garrett that he hasn’t yet applied the theories rooted
in the “radical concept” to his Phoenix-based
plastering business — but he’s convinced that he and
his peers in the pool industry should.
He first heard of service-driven, membership-based healthcare
through a friend. Soon after, his doctor held a meeting to
introduce a similar option to his patients, and Garrett was
“Do less. Give people more attention and treatment. And make
more money. I thought it was a really interesting concept,”
says the owner of Applied Materials Technologies. “If we can
apply that to our business, would that not just be
Robert Fabbio developed the idea for WhiteGlove when he arrived
home six hours after what should have been a simple routine
physical exam. In response to the unpleasant episode, he opened the
first location in 2006 with co-founder Dr. William Rice. Fabbio, an
award-winning “serial entrepreneur,” previously made
his mark with successful business ventures such as the integrated
service management software company Tivoli Systems, which IBM
acquired in 1996, and DAZEL Corp., an enterprise output management
solutions company that became part of Hewlett-Packard in
With a record like this, it’s no surprise WhiteGlove has
grown to serve more than 250,000 registered members in five major
markets in Texas, as well as in Phoenix and Boston — with
more expansion anticipated in the near future.
WhiteGlove’s objective is to revolutionize the way people
receive healthcare in America by reducing costs and improving the
experience, according to Michael Cohen, vice president of
marketing. In exchange for a small monthly fee, members have access
to board-certified nurse practitioners from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 365
days a year, wherever the service is available. Instead of visiting
a doctor’s office, the nurse will enter a patient’s
home, workplace or hotel room, often as soon as one hour after the
initial appointment request.
This flexibility eliminates the waiting period — and the
waiting room. Cohen says the nurses are never late to appointments,
and they always provide a wellness kit that contains chicken soup,
drinks, Jell-O, tissues and cough drops, or other over-the-counter
and prescription medicines to help ease the ailment.
“We’re removing all the hassles with getting routine
primary care. We want [people] to get through the first 24 hours
without having to move or make a separate trip to the grocery
store,” Cohen explains.
There are clear distinctions between healthcare and the pool and
spa business, but Garrett believes his industry can adopt some of
WhiteGlove’s “human health” concepts to offer
premium “pool health.” First, he suggests focusing less
on the job volume and committing to a percentage of it instead.
Then, charge a slightly higher amount per job, informing clients it
will cost a little more, but they will receive personalized
One possibility, he says, is to provide customers with a two-year
membership card and a toll-free hotline they can use year-round.
Under this model, a member could call on Christmas and have a pump
fixed the same day, without having to pay a holiday rate or wait
for repairs. During that visit, the client would even receive a
pool wellness package, with a seven-point check and other standard
preventative care information, the equivalent of the chicken soup
and Gatorade in WhiteGlove’s kit, says Garrett.
Ultimately, the goal is to work smarter, not harder, in preparation
for when the recession ends, he explains. Garrett realizes the
challenges with this business approach, especially in states where
the economies were hit hardest. But he says it’s the perfect
time for the pool industry to redefine itself, and its business
practices, to both cultivate a client base with excellent referrals
and focus on customer retention.
“People are looking for a greater meeting of their
expectations. They are looking for a good turnkey package
that’s hassle-free with minimal involvement on their part,
and then have maximum communication back with [the pool
professional],” he adds. “That’s what it’s
all about. It doesn’t matter if it’s healthcare, retail
or service. People like to be No. 1 and feel appreciated.”