Franchisee Profile: Amanda and Giorgio Lopez of Clermont & Orlando, FL

Location: Clermont and Orlando

Q: Where are you from?

A: Giorgio was born and raised in Aruba and moved to the United States in 2005.

Amanda: I am from the Pensacola area and then moved to Orlando for school.

Q: What was your career before franchising?

A: Amanda: I actually worked in franchising before we began our business adventure almost a year ago. I worked for US Lawns in their franchise sales department for almost two years which is how I learned so much about franchising and the franchise systems. Giorgio was primarily a student before opening the business and had always worked with his father in his various businesses in the area so this was really his first small business experience as an owner and operator.

Q: How did you learn about the brand?

A: We had been discussing possible work options and we were looking on craigslist ads and ended up coming across an existing pool maintenance company in the Orlando area which caught our attention. Then of course we started researching the pool industry and did a Google search for pool repair and maintenance franchises and ASP - America's Swimming Pool Company was one of the first companies that we came across. We filled out the form online and then Tom and Stewart from the corporate office gave us a call. Our process was very quick and within a few months we had the business up and running.

Q: Why did you decide to open your own business?

A: We both have always wanted to own our own business and wanted to stay in Orlando after college because we already had a house and had built a life in the area. Also, with Giorgio’s father owing different businesses, he was a true entrepreneur and that allowed us the ability to know that we wanted to open a business of our own.

Q: What was appealing to you about joining a franchise system?

A: After working in franchise sales for two years, we both understood the value of going with a franchise system rather than starting up a business on your own. The initial investment was lower and the opportunity to get started quickly was there with franchises. One of the biggest things was that the systems had been proven and it wasn’t something that we would have to come up with recording and paper work process; we didn’t need to invent the wheel over again.

Q: What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today with your business?

A: We have a day to day struggle with market saturation, especially in Orlando. There are a ton of single person pool operations that are unqualified and therefore able to undercut costs so it has been a struggle to make our brand stand out. Additionally, our age has been a challenge because we are so young, so we have been determined to demonstrate our hard work and ensure that every customer is satisfied with the service that ASP - America's Swimming Pool Company provides. We are constantly looking for ways to show new customers that even though our prices aren’t as low that we have the expertise, training and national brand recognition that has constant training and provides the best customer experience.

Q: Are there any prominent industry trends that you are experiencing right now?

A: We have noticed a spike in customers who are interested in making more economical choices when pool pieces need to be replaces and we have been installing a lot more pumps and parts that are more efficient and economical or cut back on chemical usage. We started noticing this ‘green’ trend around the beginning of the year when pieces needed to be replaces so Giorgio has been doing a lot of these repairs in Orlando and Clermont. Homeowners are interested in these pieces because they cut back on the bills and also provide a more environmentally friendly approach with pools.

Q: What are your expansion or development plans?

A: We are definitely interested in growing and developing ASP - America's Swimming Pool Company throughout the entire market but don’t have any solid plans yet as we haven’t even been owners for a year. We would like to add a store in Clermont by 2012 or early 2013 depending on the continued success and at some point would like to also add one in Orlando.