Reasons to be cheerful; one, two, three?

I’ve been writing these newsletters for some time now and, unlike the broadsheets, the tabloids and the telly, I’d rather be the bearer of good news than bad.

Well, looking forward to 2015, I’ve got a smile on my face. Let me tell you why.

Confidence is contagious.

“Bad news travels fast”, they say and it sometimes seems that the media try to give it as big a push as possible. The news is full of austerity and crisis. That might sell newspapers, but it does my business no good, or yours, or indeed our whole industry.

To be fair, the last twelve months have been pretty good to us, but I think more than most of us realise, this industry sinks or swims together.

Confident manufacturers bring out new products and develop new technologies. Distributors who feel good about the year ahead will promote those new ideas, they’ll be able to give dealers the support they need and carry enough stock to deliver on orders quickly. Businesses that supply and install pools, spas and saunas have the confidence to recruit and train the best staff they can, invest in marketing and expand.

Confidence is contagious.

For their part, when we are confident, the public see an industry that believes in itself. They see an industry that is vibrant, that is always looking for ways to improve what we have to offer.

Confidence is contagious, and it sells.

The public see an industry that offers them what they want; a little luxury, improved health and wellbeing, fun and relaxation. They see that and they buy into it.

So it was with those high hopes in mind that we packed our bags and set off for Coventry.

Into the arena.

SPATEX is important to us. It’s a chance to show some of our best new products. It’s a chance to meet old friends and make new contacts. It’s a chance to see what other people are doing and to get a feel for the industry as a whole.

So there’s a lot to do.

The set up went smoothly, so we were fresher for the show. Our new stand looked good and we got compliments from other exhibitors and visitors. Our sales team were looking forward to the three days, so much so that 2 people came up from Barnstaple on their own time, just so that they could be involved and have a look around.

And we weren’t the only ones who were enjoying the Arena.

The whole show felt purposeful. It felt positive and energetic and yes, it felt confident. From the conversations I had, exhibitors and visitors alike have a positive outlook on the year ahead of us. They were talking about enquiries, orders and work already lined up.

It’s rare to get orders actually at the show, but we achieved that.

SPATEX 2015 was good in terms of people, products and perceptions. And I think it’s a good indicator of the year ahead. So does it count as the first reason to be cheerful? Yes. It does.

And it leads on to the next reason, because there was something else launched at SPATEX.

Wet Leisure Industry Survey Results 2014.

This UK wide industry survey that we produce with the help and support of BSPF is in it’s 4th year.

As usual, once all the responses and data are collected, we produce a report that is made freely available to anyone who wants a copy and that report is launched at SPATEX.

Our Marketing Manager, Aren Grimshaw, made a couple of presentations in Coventry on ‘Marketing Your Wet Leisure Business for Growth & Profit’ and he made quite a few references to the insights and information that were in the survey. Judging by the number of people who asked where they could get a copy at the end of these presentations, we haven’t done as good  a job as we could have done to make people aware of this important resource.

Why is it important?

Well, it gives you an overall picture of the wet leisure industry. It points out trends and areas of growth. It gives you a background that you can compare your own business against, to see where you are winning and where you could do better.

In fact, as one respondent wrote, “I look forward to reading the results which I find are becoming a valuable indicator of the mood and direction of our industry”.

So what is the mood and direction of our industry?

According to the survey, it’s pretty good. 74% of businesses described their last year as ‘OK’ or ‘Good’ and over 15% said 2014 had been ‘Extremely Good’.

When they were asked what they thought 2015 had in store for them, over 90% of the businesses who responded to the survey were looking forward to a year that will be ‘OK’, ‘Good’ or ‘Extremely Good’.

Confidence, it seems, is contagious.

The report goes on to talk about a returning strength in the middle of the market and the opportunities for growth that are there. It highlights the importance of servicing and how that can be used as a channel to sell new products, improvements and even new installations.

But why don’t you read it for yourself and see what’s useful for your own particular business.

Does the picture the report paints of our industry today count as my second reason to be cheerful? Yes, it does.

So, what’s the third reason?

Long-range weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable, but with our industry in such good shape, we don’t need a heat wave to have a good season, I think we just need a reasonably good summer.

In the first couple of months of 2015, yes we’ve had some wild winds and some downpours, but temperatures have been consistently a little above average and the forecasters see that trend set to continue.

A mild winter going into a good spring and summer?

That sounds good, and it looks possible. I think our customers will be hoping for that and I know our industry is.

And does that make me cheerful? Yes, it does.

If there is anything that we can do to help you prepare for the season to come, then please just get in touch. Until then, let me just wish you all the best for the year ahead.