When is a pool store not your average pool store? When it’s the Palmetto Bay Pinch-A-Penny run by the Kavanaugh family.
Located in the Kings Bay Shopping Center at SW 144th Street and South Dixie Highway, this franchise Pinch-A-Penny is anything but ordinary. Even before you walk in, you can feel the personal service and attention to detail.
The Kavanaughs bought Pinch-A-Penny from the Miller family in November of 1994 when the store fell on rough times after Hurricane Andrew. Father Larry Kavanaugh encouraged his two sons, Chris and Kevin, to acquire the store after both had worked in the store for the Millers. Larry felt his sons could really thrive with the business. He was right. Within two years, store sales doubled.
The reason is simple: customer service. After a 20+ year career in the supermarket business, Larry knows how to treat his customers. Chris and Kevin do as well. And, they impart that stellar knowledge onto their employees. “We never sell customers things they don’t need and we make sure we greet them first… sometimes even before they walk in the door,” explains Larry. Kevin adds, “we take the service outside the store. If we have a body available, we meet the customer at the car. Carry in, carry out, whatever – if the customer needs it, we do it. We want to be helpful to everyone!”
Kevin Kavanaugh does most of the hiring and training these days. Admittedly, they hire more bodies than the typical Pinch-A-Penny store to meet the high standards the store sets for itself. He is proud of the process and his people. “We hire from the neighborhood. We are good about taking our customers’ kids and also recruiting from the various sports teams in the area,” says Kevin. “We believe in the community and I think the community believes in us.”
Kevin goes on to explain, “Every employee gets two full weeks of training and they learn about everything. We don’t have or believe in specialists because we don’t want our customers knowing more than our staff. We teach them everything, so they are never stumped on a customer question.” Larry adds, “This way our customers get consistency and superior service every time.”
The home services and repairs offered by Pinch-A-Penny are mainly run by Chris Kavanaugh. “Chris is the hard working, bend-over-backwards, how-can-I-please-you kind of guy… and he’s great at it,” gushes brother Kevin. “If you ask our customers, Chris is the guy they’ll like best.”
The business is a real family affair. Momma Debbie Kavanaugh is involved too, when she’s not running her own outdoor furniture store (Backyard Designs by Pinch-A-Penny) just at the end of the same shopping center.
Larry thoughtfully says, “I like the camaraderie. I love interacting with people. In my prior businesses, I got stuck on the phone or in a back office too often. Nowadays, I’m always out front and everyone knows the owners are on the floor and accessible. That makes me feel good.”
At this store, everyone gets treated fairly and we don’t judge anyone. Of the 200+ Pinch-A-Penny franchises in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, we feel we are one of the best and try to excel each and every day to win our customer’s respect and business. Kevin tells me he gets excited with the opportunity to teach a customer how to take care of his own pool and save money in the process. He hates hearing when anyone in the industry takes advantage.
The payoff is immeasurable. The Kavanaughs have traveled the world and in Madrid, NYC, London and countless other global locations they run into their Palmetto Bay customers… ‘Hey, aren’t you the Pinch-A-Penny guy?’ There is a real respect for the Kavanaughs.
Larry is a father to more than just Kevin and Chris. He likes to watch his employees grow too. Mostly high school students, they learn the pool business and discipline. Larry knows that the discipline will be with them for life and serve them well. One employee is now in private banking dealing with multi-millionaires. Larry smiles proudly thinking of him. “He and I just talked just the other day and I reminded him that just like selling pool equipment, don’t be afraid of your customer. They need you. Look them in the eye and treat them right.”
From the first day I owned a pool and walked into the Kavanaughs’ Palmetto Bay Pinch-A-Penny, I got treated right. I certainly wouldn’t go anywhere else… and neither do their approximately 3000+ repeat customers. I encourage you to experience the same. They’ll take care of you, teach you anything you want to know and help you enjoy your pool.