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Swimming Pool Retail Academy launches online basic training course

Every North American pool business gets one free seat before May 1, 2012

Swimming Pool Retail Academy has developed a training course to give pool and spa dealers the basic knowledge to be a more effective resource for customers. The company is giving every pool business in North America one free seat for the entire course.

Titled "How Pools Operate," the training course offers six online interactive lessons covering basic information on pool operations, including types of pools, circulation, filtration, cleaning, testing and basic chemistry. The lessons also contain self-guided activity worksheets to perform in the store environment, a comprehensive glossary, digital note cards for review, a final exam and a certificate of completion. Employees can complete the online courses at their convenience, outside of store hours.

"While a majority of pool owners have traditionally viewed knowledgeable staff as the leading virtue of specialty pool retailers, recent data shows that the Internet has become the pool owner's No. 1 source of pool information," said Larry Bloom, co-founder of Swimming Pool Retail Academy. "This is a big, bright red flag for traditional specialty retailers. They have to find ways to win back their competitive advantage as the primary source for credible pool information to ensure they keep their loyal, brick-and-mortar customer base."

Bruce Bagin, owner of B&B Pools and Spas in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., agrees. "Loyal customers are one of the keys to my business success for 40-plus years. All of my customers demand that my staff is knowledgeable. Educated employees build trust and credibility with our customers to keep them coming back, while uneducated employees cause customers to leave.

We found Swimming Pool Retail Academy useful with new as well as more seasoned employees. If my team doesn't have the fundamentals down, I certainly cannot expect them to do a great job selling to, servicing and building loyalty with customers."

The Swimming Pool Retail Academy training program was built to help retailers do a better job of getting and keeping loyal customers. Developing the program incorporated feedback from several well-known U.S. pool retailers and filled needs not met by current training approaches:

+ Some training programs from manufacturers focus on their specific brands and products rather than basic understanding of pool operations.
+ Other programs deliver more generalized pool knowledge but do not focus on basic information regarding how pools operate.
+ Retailers often do not have the time or budget to create their own training programs. Teaching new employees is time-consuming, and it's often not the best use of store managers' time. Expert resources are limited.

After taking advantage of their free seat, pool businesses can purchase additional seats for employees at $99 each. For more information, swimmingpoolacademy.com.

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