If you were to look at the four Patio Splash stores on a map, you’d notice they make a diamond of sorts, says operations manager MJ Morrill. Each store is about 45 minutes from another, optimizing customer reach along Interstate 25 and Highway 85 in the Front Range urban corridor of southeast Wyoming and north-central Colorado.
Owner Rick Smith started Patio Splash Hot Tubs & Spas in 2014 with the opening of the Cheyenne, Wyoming, store. Smith came from the electronics industry; after graduating high school in 1985, he started working in his father’s TV and VCR shop.
“The TV shop provided a lot of experience helping customers decide if fixing their electronic item or replacing it would be the best choice for them,” Smith says. “As big-box stores started to open, the cost of new electronics started to lower and meet the cost of repairs. The throw-away world of electronics began.”
Smith could see the writing on the wall and knew he needed to find a different career. In the mid-’90s, he got a job as a salesperson at a hot tub store. “I quickly noticed the same system of electronic service and sales could be applied to the hot tub industry,” he says.
After several years as a salesperson, Smith went out on his own with the opening of Patio Splash. Morrill says Smith’s reputation and experience were helpful in the success of his venture.
“Rick has always had very good business sense,” Morrill says. “Knowing where to market, how to market, where to put stores. We just built our integrity from there. That was really the biggest thing for us: Being different in the industry and not having that typical salesperson attitude in a showroom, but taking pride in what we do and making sure our customers know they’re taken care of at all times.”
The rapid growth of Patio Splash proves the value of the team’s approach, with a second store opening just a year later in Greeley, Colorado. The Fort Collins store came in 2016 and the Firestone store in June 2019.
As the operations manager for all four stores, Morrill answers the phones nearly 24/7 — day, night, holidays and weekends. All calls to Patio Splash come to Morrill’s cell phone, then she patches the caller to the appropriate store.
“Our customers always have someone there for them,” she says. “They don’t have to worry about leaving a message and someone losing a sticky note. They’re always getting to talk to the same person, get the same answers — the same expectations for the same customer service every time.”
Morrill came to Patio Splash from the corporate world and says she finds far more enjoyment working for a small business. “You’re not a number,” she explains. “Every little thing you do, you’re appreciated for, and that’s really where it counts. People want to be appreciated for to their hard work. Rick is very good at making sure every one of his employees knows that.”
Smith loves to watch the business grow, and his team members succeed and excel. “We all understand that not one employee or department is more important than the other,” he says. “Yes, we need a sales team, service team and delivery team, but many times the delivery team is the first step to the next sale and the last impression of the overall buying experience.”
The idea of another location and continued expansion is on the table, Smith says, if it’s in the best interest of the company. The priority, he adds, is staying humble and striving to do their best every day. “We are in an industry with unlimited opportunity to grow professionally and personally,” he says, “while surrounded by great people and customers.”