Streamlining operations great for business at Combined Pool & Spa
“IF THERE’S A BETTER way of doing something, we’re going to do it,” says Tom Junck, co-owner of Combined Pool & Spa in Sioux Falls, S.D. That’s not always the attitude of an industry “lifer.” In fact, Junck jokes that the only other job he had he only lasted at a day. “This is all I’ve ever known — all I’ve ever done,” Junck says. “I always tell people that I didn’t know any better, but it’s a unique business.”
Junck worked at his parents’ pool and spa company in Iowa until he moved to Sioux Falls in 1999 to open a store as an extension of his parents’ business. In 2004, he purchased his branch from them and ventured out on his own.
With that history, it would be easy to fall into “this is the way we’ve always done it” mode, but Junck and his employees are determined to do their best.
“We have a really supportive group here,” Junck says. “Everyone in our organization has always been open to change. If it improves the way we do business, improves efficiency and customer relations, everyone has been on board.”
The company has recently undergone several changes. Combined Pool & Spa started using Evosus business software two and a half years ago and is now using knowledge gleaned from that to hone in on ways to make the company more successful.
“It’s opened our eyes to all the different aspects of our business, especially when it comes to profitability,” Junck says. “So we’ve made a lot of changes — eliminating categories, getting out of certain things and focusing more on others.”
For instance, above-ground pools were always a big seller at his parents’ store. “I used to set up 50 to 75 of those myself a year when I was a kid,” Junck says. “But as we started to analyze the numbers, it just didn’t make sense anymore. We were able to focus more on our hot tubs, patio furniture and in-ground pool business instead.”
Combined Pool & Spa has also taken a closer look at its staff. During the recession, Combined eliminated a couple positions, but Junck is now making sure his key staff are in the right place.
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“We’ve been getting feedback from our employees and moving people around based on their skill set,” Junck says. “We try to utilize the capabilities of our current staff. They’ve started doing more things they enjoy and they’re good at.”
Junck says the company has made an effort to better document the company’s processes as well so employees know exactly what is expected.
Combined also realized how crucial its service department manager is to the overall company’s success, so it looked to an outside recruiter to find the right person to fill that position. In order to get what it was looking for, Junck says it recognized the need to make a bigger financial investment in that position. “It’s been paid off ten-fold,” he says. “The service manager, Brendan Wiseman, has made a world of difference on us as owners because he’s been able to deal with it instead of us always having to intervene.”
The Evosus software gave Combined a vehicle to track its budget, purchasing and inventory. “It took the emotion out of it,” Junck says.
Longtime co-worker Jeff Carlson, a lifelong friend of Junck’s, bought into the business in 2006 and became a partner to Junck and his wife. Junck says adding Carlson to the ownership team has helped keep things balanced.
“We truly equal each other out,” Junck says. “We’re a lot stronger together than we are separate.” Carlson is more outgoing and has a passion for customers, while Junck and his wife fit better in the operational side of the business. Junck believes in partnership at his store and with his vendors, from Olhausen Billiards to Caldera Spas.
“We’ve been fortunate that the last five years we’ve been the No. 1 volume single-store retailer for Caldera, which is awesome,” Junck says. “But Caldera has a lot to be credited for because they treat us as a partner. They’re in business with us, and they’ve always supported us in anything we’ve needed from top to bottom.”
In a year when Caldera is transforming its brand, Tom is one retailer we know will take full advantage of our momentum in order to reach new customers. Engaged dealerships like Combined Pool & Spa are really the reason Caldera is growing. They continually create new business opportunities, and that’s the true measure of retail excellence. We’re so fortunate to have combined in the Caldera family. And the fact that Tom and his team are such great people to work with is an added bonus.