It’s not hard selling the dream when you’re practically living it
The swimming pool industry today in Sweden is relatively traditional and unstructured, with many small players and now a few larger ones too. When Johan Westerdahl was offered the opportunity to step in as CEO at company PoolKungen, it felt like an exciting challenge to seize. Under new ownership in Beijerinvest the company was set to enter a growth journey – the type of journey that an entrepreneurial soul like Johan had dreamed of.
Over the past two years, much of Johan Westerdahl’s time has gone into doubling the number of stores and ensure efficiency at all levels. As CEO at PoolKungen, he has contributed with an understanding of the importance to have structures and processes in place, in order to lay the right foundation for growth.
“PoolKungen is one of the major players in the market and therefore have a whole other set of opportunities than many of the smaller companies in our industry. Right now, we are on a journey of change that has required us to ensure a framework that will enable our continued growth. It is important that we put in place processes and systems that let us all work smart and in the same way to ensure, among other things, consistent quality.”
Challenges and success factors
The industry is today in a positive situation with growth. This obviously means that new competitors are constantly emerging that have a completely different cost basis and can compete on price in another way. But at PoolKungen they can take a long-term perspective, one of the major benefits of being a big player. They are also able to add much more value in that it’s possible for them to contribute to product development within the swimming pool industry. At PoolKungen, there is a strong belief that customers appreciate and will notice their sustainability focus and the greater responsibility that they take for the whole customer journey and the products they sell. Because they are not dependent on merely selling what the suppliers have in stock at the moment, PoolKungen can help to continually help develop and drive the industry forward.
“PoolKungen is one of the industry’s strongest brands and with reliable products. Buying a pool today is a much more complex decision than many consumers think, and I think that our customers appreciate our advisory role”, says Johan Westerdahl.
Quite differently from a house or car purchase that most people understand with it entails, purchasing a pool is associated with a lot of different and complex decisions. When buying a pool, it is important to be able to understand the differences and understand the benefits of the various options. At PoolKungen, they work actively to advise and educate their customers so that they will be satisfied in the longer term.
“We prefer to see returning customers who come back because they trust us and feel confident that we keep what we promise,” adds Johan.
According to Johan Westerdahl, having an owner like Beijerinvest is of strong value, as it provides a stable foundation and enables larger strategic investments. It is one of PoolKungen’ s largest advantages and quite unique in the industry because they own the entire chain and have room to make investments that give greater growth and benefit in the long-term. In addition to the financial aspect, Johan now also has a fantastic team in place with different individual skills and personalities contributing to the whole.
According to Johan, it is a bit of an internal joke, that if you once enter into the industry, you never leave. “It’s hard not to feel at home here when we actually get to work with selling the dream! A dream of something better and a more luxurious everyday lifestyle. Or as PoolKungen’ s tagline says – a source of quality of life.”
PoolKungen is a stable employer who is investing in the long-term. They have worked a lot to clarify the values that permeate the organisation, and now include “respect” in those core values.
“If we respect each other, between ourselves as employees, the customer and the preconditions we operate in, we mean that we capture everything that we want to stand for here at PoolKungen. We stand for quality, honesty, pride and commitment. We have talked a lot about the importance of doing the right thing from the beginning. Throughout the process from having a sales lead, to not selling more than we can promise, to placing orders correctly in the system and getting the delivery right. If we get it right from the start we can ensure less logistical problems caused by for example returned products and more satisfied customers”, says Johan.
When it comes to people competence, PoolKungen has chosen to increasingly employ people on attitude and then train for skills. At PoolKungen we believe that if employees have commitment and energy, the results will be good, no matter what position they are in.
“When we recruit sales people, for example, we are almost never looking for product knowledge, as that would limit ourselves far too much in our relatively small market. The knowledge our salespeople often bring with them is related to understanding the importance of doing right from the beginning, being able to see the whole picture and respecting the importance of structure and process. It is important that you can listen in and accept best practice and trust that we have found the path that will take us to our goals”, concludes Johan.
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