“You can’t cut corners…yes to delegating and scaling and growing the business, but get your hands dirty first.”
Add To Cart Podcast
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In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Tom and Natalie Hintze from Mr Pool Man. These two siblings have taken their dad’s pool store and transformed it into an eCommerce powerhouse which has disrupted the very slow moving world of pool parts and accessories. Tom and Nat discuss everything from split testing free shipping to manufacturing their own product to qualifying for B Corp status and share heaps of coal-face tips on what it takes to transition bricks and mortar to an eCommerce model. They are hilariously honest about their mistakes and see these as an integral part of their journey to success.
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Questions answered in this episode include…
- How did you make the transition from a traditional bricks and mortar family business to an eComm model?
- Which marketing channels are working for you and why?
- How did you navigate the impacts of Covid19?
- What have been your biggest business mistakes?
The Mistakes That Made Us: How Mr. Pool Man Transformed the Pool Industry
“You can’t cut corners…yes to delegating and scaling and growing the business, but get your hands dirty first.” – Natalie Hintze, Mr Pool Man
Making business mistakes can be very stressful. They can cause the business to lose valuable manpower, business hours, and company resources to correct the mistake or at least prevent even bigger problems in the future. Therefore, some entrepreneurs avoid them like the plague or just stop trying after they make a big one. But there are also business owners who refuse to give up and use their mistakes as learning opportunities and leverage to improve their products/services, allowing the business to regain the trust of their patrons.
In this episode of Add to Cart, Tom and Natalie Hintze from Mr Pool Man Australia will tell us the story of how their family business transitioned from a bricks and mortar store to an eCommerce model. The siblings also share how they used their mistakes to rise and continue to grow the brand.
How Mr. Pool Man came to be
Tom’s and Natalie’s father, Hardy, started the business 25 years ago using an old van. He drove around offering a range of pool services to customers who wish to relax in and enjoy their pools. Tom and Natalie joined the team later on and started looking for opportunities to grow the business. Their father approached Tom one day and asked if he could put a leaf rake online to see if they could sell it. To their surprise, the item was sold the following day.
The business grew from a small shop catering to more than a hundred customers to a well-known online retail store serving more than a hundred thousand customers Australia-wide and overseas. Later on, the family decided to close their physical shop and instead open a warehouse after noticing that the foot traffic was significantly lower compared to their online retail store. It was also during this time that Natalie took control of the brand’s marketing.
Which marketing platform works best for Mr Pool Man?
In the conversation, Natalie mentions that Paid Google or paid ads are working very well for them in terms of conversion, but she also discusses how email marketing and SEO are helping their conversion rate as a whole.
According to Natalie, 20%-40% of their total revenue comes from their email marketing efforts. For this to work, they use automated email flows and segmented campaigns to make sure they deliver the appropriate message, based on various factors such as where the users are in their purchase journey, their interests, age range, demographics, etc. She also said that as a business, they prefer to be more proactive than reactive in marketing their products to their customers. For this to work, they tracked their customer’s purchase journey to determine the best recommendations to send to their customers.
“Don’t be afraid to continually stay in touch with them, without annoying them.”
The pair added that SEO is also helping them get their desired results. Thomas added that while they have regular blogs, their website content focuses more on providing their customers with more in-depth guides for homeowners who are interested in cleaning and maintaining their pools.
Natalie also recommends monetizing blog pages by putting add-to-cart products throughout the blog to encourage website visitors to click and make the purchase.
Their biggest business mistakes
Our guests had quite a laugh when asked about the biggest mistakes they have committed while running the business, but their answers can provide valuable lessons that other young professionals out there might find useful.
The pair shared the story of some of their biggest mistakes; from ordering too many supplies and setting campaign budgets that are too high to not knowing how much it really costs to keep the business running and make a profit.
From Tom, we learn that the best thing to do after realising that you made a mistake is to be accountable for it. Instead of pointing fingers, start looking for ways you can address the mistake as soon as possible, without causing more damage to the company.
The pair further discuss how trying to wear all the hats and not knowing the numbers of the business can really hurt its growth. Tom recalls how they had to put everything on hold to figure where things went wrong and how they could avoid making the same mistake in the future. Natalie added revenue is not the only number that business owners should focus on. Instead, they also need to look at other factors that come before in order to generate the business’ revenue. Otherwise, your business might end up getting only enough to break even, or worse, going broke.
About the Guests
Tom Hintze is Head of eCommerce & Operations at Mr Pool Man and Co-founder of Water TechniX. After following his father into the pools industry, Tom became a licensed E1 pool certifier and qualified pool builder, but since 2013 he has focused his energies on the digital channels of the business. Passionate about exceeding customer expectations, Tom is no stranger to change and thrives on leading teams through the complexities and difficulties of the ever changing eCommerce environment. Tom loves a warehouse and a beer – isn’t that what eCommerce is all about?!
Natalie Hintze is Head of eCommerce & Marketing at Mr Pool Man and Co-founder of Water TechniX. With no previous eCommerce experience, Natalie’s interest in psychology and ‘why humans do what they do’ led her down the path of all things marketing. Self taught, Natalie is now head of digital marketing at Mr Pool Man while collaboratively driving the brand direction and development as a whole.
If Tom’s and Natalie’s success story changed your outlook on making business mistakes (start seeing them as opportunities for growth and learning), our podcast on “How to make sense of the financial metrics which rule your eCommerce business” will give you further insights into how to make sure you’re across your numbers.
Nathan Bush is the founder and lead strategist at eCommerce consultancy, 12HIGH. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.
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