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Navigating The Waters with Advance Pools Inc.

Advance Pools is a premier custom pool builder in the Dallas area. 

Brian Prince, owner and CEO of Advance Pools, sits down with Scott Berry, host of the Contractor Marketing Podcast, to discuss how Brian built a successful company in a hyper-competitive area.

Intro

SCOTT:  Hey fans, it’s Scott Berry, host of our Contractor Marketing Podcast and welcome! We have a special guest for you today, Brian Prince of Advance Pools. Hi Brian.

BRIAN: Hello, how are you?

SCOTT: Welcome. Thank you for showing up today. It’s going to be a good one.

BRIAN: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Company Background

SCOTT:  Brian is a second-generation custom pool builder and has built quite a company that entrepreneurs of any kind would be proud to hear this story and can learn from you. Tell us a little bit about the firm.

BRIAN: A little bit of the back story it is a family run company. My father Richard started this company in the early 90s so essentially I was in my teens I grew up in the business when I became old enough to become a laborer I started at the bottom. Especially as soon as I got my license my summers were spent working in the business.

SCOTT: Did you get paid?

BRIAN: I did get paid.

SCOTT: OK good.

BRIAN: I did get paid.

SCOTT:  My dad was actually a general contractor, so in the summers that’s how I got started. I was working for him, and I did get minimum wage. So, we were legal, but it wasn’t necessarily the best assignments.

BRIAN: You’re right. I was best definitely the bottom rung. I started doing cleanups so he would send me the jobs that were just gunite, or it just depends on where they were and the construction of the job but you, bet I spent my summer sweating and getting dirty.

SCOTT:  But learning it from the ground up.

BRIAN: Learning it and as I got older I started learning different aspects of ‘what is the plumbing?’, ‘what is electrical?’ and all the things that go with that and meeting my father on jobs and kind of going through ‘what do you see son? what are what are we looking at? what do you see?’ and then he would tell me what he would see and then you know learning ensued.

SCOTT:  He’s a boss but he’s also a mentor.

BRIAN: Very much so.

Working with Family

SCOTT:  This is kind of a personal thing I experienced a little bit, but what’s it like having your father build a successful custom pool business and then deciding that you could successfully work with him?

BRIAN: Well, working with family is definitely a double-edged sword. You have to navigate that line of where father ends, and boss begins. That was difficult, especially in my younger years. I had to turn a switch in my head, as I got into my 20s and graduated from college and that transition was a big growing up phase of my life. We did a pretty good job of separating those two but watching what he was doing and being successful and failures as well. Learning that side of the business is just as important. You can’t win all the time, but it was an interesting dynamic that still goes to this day in a certain capacity.

SCOTT: The other side of that coin is if you make a comparison to sports right a lot of these quarterbacks and stuff and they’ll say why is he so great well his dad was a coach he’s a coach’s son right so if you’re able to have that relationship you can build something really special.

BRIAN: You’re right. Especially as I started morphing into sales. That was a big learning curve that took years of honing. This man would ask me about every meeting I had. I would go through the entire meeting ‘what did you say? what did they say?’ and that went on for years and years.

SCOTT:  So that you could constantly improve.

BRIAN: Yes. ‘present this to me before you go’.

SCOTT: So here we are today yeah and you’re on a massive force behind the business now

BRIAN: Yes you can put it that way. yeah running the business yeah

Service Areas

SCOTT: So, when someone when you are talking to a homeowner that is trying to make a decision about the backyard trying to make a decision about the pool, who is an ideal customer for advanced pools today?

BRIAN: That’s a good question. We don’t cover a huge area. So, geography, Collin County is where we work mostly and tend not to go out to Fort Worth too much. It tends to be business professionals, CEOs, lawyers, doctors, it runs the gamut, but they tend to be a little bit higher up.

SCOTT:  They’re fluid cause they’re getting a custom pool.

BRIAN: Yes, you’re right. In so many words you are correct. They are those professionals that are living in a certain price point of home.

SCOTT: And they can afford to create a vision and to see that come to life. Not everybody’s able to do that, so you’re able to do that for people that can pull that off.

BRIAN: Yeah a lot of times we’re tackling some of the harder projects. I do simple stuff don’t get me wrong. The easier projects we have an ability to do those, and we can do really difficult projects. Every situation is different.

Custom Pool Design Trends

SCOTT: I’m curious or are there no two projects that are the same? How custom is this?

BRIAN: Listen the design trend and the last 15 to 20 years has when I first began working it was can you do a curve line natural looking pool with boulders and so on and so forth it has definitely turned it back to linear straight line looking pools the rectangle, the clean lines, the rectangle is something that will never go away. They they’ve been doing it for years, and the kind of the retro modern.

That is very much the trend. Less is more. And then you have people that want to go super elaborate, doing Infinity, perimeter overflow, fire features, incorporated in the water, outside of the water, next to the pool.

Top Projects

SCOTT:  Can you think one of your more fantastic projects that was really beautiful and challenging and super custom? And what would that even look like? What was one of the projects you’re super proud of? Help us visualize it.

BRIAN: This one recently on Preston hollow. All the customers made the job what it is and they’re really nice, sweet people. We did some spilling some Infinity esque looks to the both the spa and to the pool. So,  it’s more of a terrace to spa to pool to basin and not to mention they lived on a beautiful pond, and we had elevations. Anytime you get to work with elevations with walls and fireplaces and kitchens and covered areas, and it had all the bells and the whistles. The customers were great to work with and that’s always fun when you have that meeting of the minds. There was a designer involved on that one as well, so working with that and even the landscape company it just came all together

SCOTT:  So, when someone’s got an interesting property and a great vision and a designer and some really cool elements you can incorporate like multiple levels and terraces and integrating landscape and landscape lighting, the more those elements exist you guys are right at home with that.

BRIAN: You know given the team that that has put together I have certain designers and architects I like to work with and landscapers and so on and so forth so when you had the ability to pull those certain aspects together it could be fun. there’s always going to be hiccups and little speed bumps along the way and figuring out of different things that come up but that’s what makes it fun. That’s what drives me.

Lessons Learned

SCOTT:  Thinking about the business and how it’s grown and the second generation for all the entrepreneurs out there can you think of a couple of things that you thought went really well lessons learned?

BRIAN: You’re as good as the people you surround yourself with. I know that’s probably been said before but it’s really true. From the people in in your office, especially the subcontractors that I use, the installers, you’re as good as those guys. That’s a big thing, you can find those people you can be successful as long as you know what you’re doing, and you know all of those guys need checks and balances.

SCOTT:  There aren’t that many contractors that can do a job from beginning to end without having staff and teams and subcontractors. Your point is you know you could be great, you could be best in class, but everybody’s got to be best in class if that’s how you want to be perceived. That’s a valuable lesson.

Marketing and Client Acquisition

SCOTT:  Tell us a little bit about because you have I think of niche clientele and so kind of one more question about the businesses, how do you find the people that need or have projects like you’re a good fit for like how do you find them? How do they find you?

BRIAN: We’ve been around quite a while. The  number one way that people find us is word of mouth from former customers or current customers that are under construction if you are a larger company and you say you do 100 pools a year and 90 of them you knock out of the park, but ten of them or horrendous you’re still at 90%. You’re doing good. I don’t do that many pools a year so since I do a lower quantity I have to make sure that I deliver on all of these projects.

SCOTT:  You can’t be 90%. You got to be at 100.

BRIAN: I try to. We really try to. So back to your original question, word of mouth is huge I’ve done two and three projects for the same customer because they will move. You know people in Dallas and Frisco, they like to move around. Sometimes they’ll start here, and they’ll become more successful and go up and in the price point of home and stuff like that. Yeah, I mean word of mouth is huge and networking you know. Knowing the builders and architects that work in the areas that we work in is a huge thing.

SCOTT:  I guess one of the advantages of having a firm that’s lasted so long is you built a lot of friends and a lot of relationships and have a lot of happy clients so it’s not a big surprise that you can now leverage that this many years later.

BRIAN: And it’s still evolving, but yeah that was a big thing that that father of mine taught me is get out there and meet those people. That was the scariest part is making those connections and reaching out especially when you’re younger but glad I stayed with it and did it because a lot of those people I’ve known for years and years and years now.

Closing Remarks

SCOTT:  Brian Prince thanks for sharing a little bit about your success story and about the business and sharing some advice for those up-and-coming entrepreneurs and contractors that are just getting started. You remember where you were. It’s not the best time when you’re just building but hopefully this will help some people and inspire some people to see that you can build something and grow something and keep something of value for a long time. By the way congratulations on what Advance Pools has done. The reputation in the marketplace, most people should know by now, small businesses usually don’t last a couple years so to be doing this at the level you all are doing it at is extremely impressive.

BRIAN: Thank you for having me. Yeah it’s been a wild ride.

SCOTT:  Tell people how they can get a hold of you how can they find you. If someone wants to ask more questions or if they want to talk to you about a project.

BRIAN: Calling our office anytime is one way, or website, and we also have a presence on Facebook as well. You can find us there.

Advance Pools specializes in custom pool builds and pool renovation in the Dallas area. Call or fill out a form on the website to get a free consultation and start your pool building project today!

Contact Advance Pools

Step into a world of awe-inspiring aquatic artistry and outdoor living elegance by visiting our gallery. 

Here, you’ll find a curated collection of our proudest creations — custom pools that exude luxury, spa installations that promise relaxation, and outdoor features that redefine outdoor living.

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