Every month, we chat with Thursday Pools dealers to learn more about their business and what’s trending in their area. This month, we talked to Frank DeBartolo, Jr. of Royal Pools and More in Dyer, Indiana.
Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
Well, we couldn’t be more of a family affair. My dad, Frank, Sr., started the business around 2001. Now, we have cousins, uncles, brothers and just about every other relation at some level of the business. And we’ve got 15-20 seasonal employees.
What do you love about being in the pool business?
I love that we’re in the business of creating fun. I know that sounds corny, but we take a place that’s just basically a patch of grass and we create a space where families will have fun together for many years. That makes me happy. I was in the restaurant business in Chicago for a long time, working in the kitchen. As a chef, you don’t get to see the satisfaction on people’s faces when they’re enjoying what you’ve done. In the pool business, you do. I dig that.
What are the most popular features in the fiberglass pools you’re installing right now?
A lot of pool builders will tell you the same thing–built-in tanning ledges for sure. I can’t stress enough how much people love tanning ledges. Thursday Pools really hit the nail on the head when they started adding them to several of their designs.
What trends have you seen emerge lately in the inground fiberglass pool industry?
Fiberglass pool owners are going for automation, for sure. We’re installing bubblers, laminars, deck jets, waterfalls, and even waterfalls with fire in them. Customers love that they can turn these things on and off from their phones, and they are loving the resort look and feel of these kinds of add-ons. We’re putting this kind of stuff into about 80 percent of the pools we sell.
What fiberglass pool colors are the most popular among pool buyers in and around northeastern Indiana and the southern suburbs of Chicago?
Maya and California for sure. There are a few customers out there who are starting to be interested in the grays, but most folks just want their pools to be blue. For me personally, I miss white, but I don’t think that’s coming back any time in the near future!
What fiberglass pool designs are the most popular among pool buyers in the central Indiana area?
Lil Bob and Aspen. Again, people love the built-in ledges. Also, people want pools that are auto-cover ready. Because we cross state and city lines, some of our installs require fences and some don’t, if the customer has an automatic pool cover. Whether it saves them from having to get a fence or not, people love automatic pool covers for the enhanced safety and convenience.
What do you think about Thursday Pools’ new beach entry designs?
We’ve started to have some people interested in the new beach entry designs, Grace and Sandal. They appeal to a very high-end clientele. No other fiberglass pool manufacturer can touch this trend. It gives us something to sell that no one else has.
What particular challenges do you face with fiberglass pool installations in your part of Indiana?
For us, it’s groundwater. So that’s why I believe Thursday’s fiberglass pools are the best bet. Thursday Pools are the only fiberglass pool shells we sell. The shells are strong. Fiberglass pools are a way better choice than vinyl liner pools around here.
What works for you in terms of marketing?
I’m a big believer in video, particularly blogging and educational videos. I think that if you help people understand your product, they’ll choose you when they’re ready to buy because you’re their expert. Video has really helped us get more visitors to our website.
What have you noticed changing in pool buyers’ demographics over the years?
Buyers, in general, are getting younger. Couples in their late 30s and early 40s are buying pools. Also, the home building business is booming here. This area used to be nothing but cornfields 20 years ago. Now we’re doing tons of new build installs. I’d say that new builds were about 40 percent of our business last year.
What’s the cost of an average pool installation for you?
Our average fiberglass pool installation is between $65,000 and $70,000. That’s going to include excavation, 4 feet of concrete, colored lights, heater and a standard winter cover. Almost all of our customers are going to add an automatic pool cover onto that.
What are your thoughts on Thursday Pools?
Thursday Pools has personality, heart and soul. They started around the same time we did. And they’re growing so fast, but you can still get a hold of Ed or Bill whenever you need them. If they make a mistake, they go above and beyond to make it right. I’ve tried every brand of fiberglass pools out there, and nothing compares to Thursday Pools.
The other thing about Thursday Pools is their innovation. I show their designs to customers and they’re like, “Wow. These are so cool.” The designs are exactly what they want. The people at Thursday Pools listen. Then they design. They set the bar. They are literally making the rules in the fiberglass pool business.”
What else would you like to see from Thursday Pools in terms of dealer support?
Their support is fantastic. The website is great. I love their dealer portal–I use it all the time. I also like the videos. They’re so helpful to show customers. The only thing I could use from them is more literature! I sell so many of their pools that I always run out of brochures.
What’s the secret to Royal Pools and More’s success?
There are lots of pool businesses in northwest Indiana and the southern Chicago suburbs that are bigger than we are. But we’ve got family values and we’ve got personality and heart. We like to put fun facts about us on our website so that people will know us before we get to their houses. We have fun and we put a personal touch on everything we do. People like that.
Royal Pools and More builds pools as well offering a retail store and weekly pool maintenance. They serve northwest Indiana as well as the southern Chicago suburbs. Some of the communities in which they offer pool building services include: Frankfort and Tinley Park, Orland Park and Mokena, Illinois as well as Dyer, St. John, Schererville, Valparaiso and Crown Point, Indiana.
Thursday Pools designs and manufactures the world’s most durable and elegantly crafted fiberglass pools. We are ISO 9001 certified, which means that fiberglass pool shells are made with the highest standards and from the best quality material available. We are also ISO 14001 certified, which means we are committed to environmental stewardship.
Our one-piece, inground fiberglass swimming pool manufacturing facility is based out of Fortville, Indiana. At Thursday Pools, we aspire to be the world’s most respected fiberglass pool manufacturer and to help our customers create a lifetime of memories with their family and friends. Our innovations, commitment to quality and beautiful designs set us apart. Thursday Pools is the creator of the world’s first beach entry (or zero entry) fiberglass pool. Get a free estimate on the fiberglass pool of your dreams today. With Thursday Pools, your weekend starts early!