Tony Sargeant is a legend. He’s a former Aquascape Businessman of the Year and an 18 year customer of Aquascape. Not only was he at the first Pondemonium but he’s been at every one ever since. In every way but one we want you to be like Tony. That one is the fact that Tony didn’t submit his application to be a CAC. That’s right, one of the longest standing, most influential and certainly most humble CACs hasn’t submitted his paperwork yet because of a misunderstanding. That scares us! If Tony could almost slip through the cracks anyone could. Hopefully this piece will help continue to clear up the miscommunication so everyone who should be a CAC is a CAC by the end of the month.
First things first with the new program. Anyone can now become a CAC. That is anyone who fills out the application, passes the online classes, and submits photos from three jobs. Now, the biggest differences between being a CAC in the new program and the old are pretty dramatic. Product discounts and leads go away. Simply put, people in the new CAC program who aren’t Professionals or Masters haven’t earned our support with additional product and event discounts as well as lead referrals through our website. You don’t have to be exclusive to be a CAC under these terms either. You will have access to the CAC Facebook page though, and you’ll be able to participate in the discussions there. Why the change? We don’t want participants to feel we are demanding exclusivity, but rather let people who want the additional value to choose on their own to follow the guidelines. Of course, everyone always has had that choice before, but that didn’t stop people from choosing to be a CAC and then choosing how much or little they wanted to follow the agreement. That wasn’t fair to us or even the other CACs. We HATED playing the bad cop and calling people out who say one thing but do another. No more! Now that CACs must submit their purchases to qualify for Professional or Master Status, everything changes.
Bottom line: Aquascape has suffered, the program has suffered, and every CAC has suffered since 2006 when Aquascape opened up distribution in response to almost everyone asking for local distributors closer to their location. When we went from 72 locations carrying our products to 450 we may have provided our customers with more choices, which was great, but we also lost visibility into our customer’s purchases in the process. Gone were Top 40 and Top 100 recognitions and much of the good old-fashioned competitive spirit that was fostered by tracking sales (Steve Shinholser of Premier Ponds came to his first Pondemonium after finding out he missed the Top 40 by one spot!) Winners want to win and we want all our customers to be winners! With the new CAC program we will now be able to bring back Top Frog Awards so people can once again see how they rank compared to their peers nationally. CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH?!
In order for us to rank CACs, you will need to track your Aquascape purchases. Tracking your purchases might be a pain but so is paying taxes. But unlike taxes, submitting your purchase history has tangible advantages to you and for us. When you track your purchases you will be more likely to track your project financials too. Everyone agrees job costing is important but truthfully how many people have the discipline to do it? By tracking your purchases we will get back to learning a few valuable things we have missed that we can use to further the benefits of being a CAC. By seeing who’s buying what, we can learn who’s having the most success out there and what they are doing to achieve that success. Furthermore, being able to reward and honor those CACs who earn Top Frog status is something we loved to do and we can now do it again. Getting back to a measurable way to encourage some fun competition among the CACs will give everyone a barometer of how they are doing among their peers. From our viewpoint it’s a win, win, win scenario which is what we always strive for with whatever we do. Are you as excited as we are to bring back the old esprit de corps the Top Frog awards encourage?
It took one beer with Tony to answer his questions and concerns. As much as we would love to, we can’t have a beer with every CAC between now and the end of the month. We have around 350 CACs today. We anticipate with these changes we will lose about a third of them. We don’t want to lose any! But we would rather lose all the guys who don’t participate or play by the rules they agreed upon than to keep the program the way it was. Do you concur? We also hope that you believe as we do that a rising tide lifts all ships. The more CACs we have out there participating and playing by the rules and installing ponds done right/customers served right, the more all of us will prosper. It’s counter-intuitive to want more competition but, when that competition becomes coopetition, like the CAC brotherhood is, everyone wins. That’s not just a spin from a manufacturer that benefits from more people buying our products but rather a realist Pond Guy who still sees the MAJORITY OF WATER FEATURES INSTALLED IMPROPERLY! True or false? If 9 out of 10 people still can’t properly define what a water garden is today, and the ones who can all think they are a lot of work, wouldn’t WE all benefit from more people doing ponds done right/customers served right? Please let us know your thoughts, feelings, and emotions supporting or challenging our perspectives and how we’ve redesigned the CAC program for everyone’s benefit.
So help us help you and help the industry in the process, not to mention all the unsuspecting consumers of our goods and services. Get your CAC application in by the end of the month!!! And please, if you know some dude who’s on the fence try to talk him over his issues so WE don’t lose any more good people then we have to. If you have questions, concerns or support with anything stated, again, please state them here. There is no dumb question! Aquascape is here to help make running your business easier, help you make more money while doing all while having more fun in the process! Why wouldn’t everyone want to be a CAC, you ask? Because everyone isn’t cut out to be a CAC let alone an exclusive Professional or Master CAC.
The Pond Guy