How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business
If you like early mornings, working outside, having a flexible schedule, and being your own boss, starting a pool cleaning business might be right for you.
But there’s a lot to think about—managing clients and crews, staying on top of chemical and industry knowledge, planning your business strategy, quoting and invoicing… How do you know where to start?
We spoke with over a dozen pool business owners and experts, who shared these useful tips to show you how to start a pool cleaning business. Let’s dive in.
The very first and most important step of starting a pool cleaning business is the longest, and it’s also kind of a buzzkill—work for someone else first.
Start by shadowing a pool industry professional, or get a job or apprenticeship with a local pool service business.
Your supervisor will show you the essentials of pool maintenance services and repairs before you dive into the deep end with your own pool company.
“Get experience in the field before working for yourself. Go work for somebody so you can get the skills and learn the business before having to learn it by yourself.”
—Daniel Conley, Exceptionally Clear Pools
While you’re doing this, brush up on your pool chemistry. Learn how to apply chemicals in the right quantities so you’re keeping pools safe without wasting your expensive supplies.
You also need connections with industry experts. Ask around town, join a business meetup, attend a trade show, or walk into a local pool chemical supply store to build those connections.
“If you get hooked up with a distributor, they’re the ones selling you the equipment, the ones that talk to the reps and to other pool companies. They will lead you to a way to stay in business.”
—Rodney Cabrera, Abraham’s Pool Services and Repair
Most pool pros agree that continuing education is essential for any pool cleaning business, so keep flexing those mental muscles with classes and training.
The more you know, the more you’ll be able to diagnose problems in your own business—and become a local expert that everyone will want to hire.
Once you have the necessary experience under your belt, it’s time to dig into the research and planning behind starting a pool cleaning business. Here are just a few of the subjects you should look into.
What are your startup costs and business expenses? How much should you charge for services? And how much do pool cleaners make, anyway?
On average, pool cleaners make $13–16 (USD) an hour. So figure out how much money you’ll charge for services, what you have and what you need to invest, and plan where and how you’re going to spend your money.
LEARN MORE: Try our free profit margin calculator
Decide if you’ll be working on your own, or with a partner or team. You can ask your friends and family if they’d like to join your new pool service business.
It’s up to you (and market demand) to decide if you want to provide one-off visits, recurring maintenance, pool cleaning education, or other services.
You should also decide if you’ll be working full-time, part-time, or seasonal, and if your pool business will be serving commercial clients as well as residential ones.
Find out who your local competitors will be and what services and benefits they offer. What can you offer that they can’t? What niche can you fill? Use that information to help your business stand out.
This is the fun part—picking a name! You can choose a name based on your city, work ethic, company values, or even a pun or inside joke.
Whatever it is, just make sure you’re happy with it, because you’ll be using it for a while.
Pool Cleaning Equipment
Inventory the equipment you have and make a list of what you need, like vehicles, testing kits, chemicals, skimmers, and so on. If you plan to have multiple trucks, get a set of tools for each.
PRO TIP: Every client has different needs, so only buy items as you need them. This will ensure you have what you need for each job without creating too much debt up front. Get the high-quality stuff, too—it’ll last you the whole season, if not longer.
License, registration, and proof of insurance, please! No, you aren’t getting pulled over—you just need those documents to work by the book as a licensed pool service provider.
When you’re starting a pool cleaning business, make sure to knock these tasks off your to-do list:
- Get a business address or a PO box
- Register your business with your local government
- Establish as an LLC to protect your personal assets
- Get business insurance
- Open a bank account for your pool cleaning business income and expenses
- Set up an accounting system
- Get any required federal, state, or local licenses
Finding pool service software might not feel like your biggest problem when you’re starting a pool cleaning business.
And you’re right—it’s actually a solution that’ll prevent problems and keep your business on the right track for success. Here are a few admin issues that pool maintenance software can solve:
- Sending invoices and getting paid
- Sending quotes and estimates
- Scheduling jobs and planning service routes
- Tracking client details and chemical use
- Staying in touch with your clients
It also keeps your team on the same page, helps you keep track of important details, and tells you how much work you have on the go.
With pool cleaning software like Jobber, you can manage all the day-to-day tasks that keep your business running—all in one place.
Sort out your software before your first job; that way, you’re starting off on the right foot and you won’t have to make expensive or time-consuming changes further down the line.
Create your first pool service estimates and invoices for free. Job Toolkit makes it easy to look professional, impress customers, and get paid.
“Jobber was part of the reason why we were able to grow from three to 35 employees in less than five years. Without it, our growth wouldn’t have been entirely possible, or as easy as it has been.”
—Hal Denbar, Patriot Pools
You’re ready to start providing pool cleaning services to your clients! But how will you keep them happy and make sure they stick around?
Solid customer service is what separates the winning pool service businesses from the losers—and what keeps your clients coming back. Try these tips for great customer service:
Be on time
If you struggle with being on time, try scheduling your personal time the same way you’d plan your business time. That discipline carries over.
“Show up on time and do what you said you’re going to do. You’re going to beat 80% of the guys in this business.”
—Randy Mahler, Oceanview Pools LLC
A little effort in communicating with your clients before, during, and after a job goes a long way.
Educate your clients
Try new techniques on your own time, then tell your clients about them and offer them as part of your services. You’re more likely to stand out when you show clients that you’re a pool expert.
“If I know a product works, I can feel confident telling my customers about the product. I use it for six months, and if it works great, we’re off and running. It helps my customers put more confidence in me.”
—Bob Dunn, Cool Blue Pool Service
Know your limits
You might be tempted to jam-pack each day with jobs, especially if you buy an existing route, but remember that quantity affects your service quality.
If you can’t provide good service to your clients, word might get out—and that’s not the kind of buzz you want.
“If you have a route, I would suggest not taking on too much. Quantity doesn’t always mean quality.”
—Brittanie West, A Clear Choice Pool and Spa Services
Offer tailored service
Customer service can be as simple as asking your clients what they want and giving it to them.
If you can give each client a custom experience they can’t get anywhere else, you’re going to sell more than anyone in town.
“Forget what you think your customer wants and ask them what they want. If you do that, you’re going to sell more, be more successful, and sell pool service at a higher rate than anybody else.”
—Daniel Jantz, Pool Fresh, Inc.
It’s easy to be a pool service provider who shows up whenever, skims the surface, tests the water, and dips. After all, that’s what most of your competitors are doing.
But if you go the extra mile, you’ll stand out. It’s not that hard to do—especially when you’re using pool service software to automate those tasks for you.
You’re all set up and ready to start cleaning pools! But how do you present your pool cleaning business as a professional service provider? Easy—branding.
Branding creates a feeling about your business and shows clients what they can expect from you. These are just some of the pieces that go into building your brand:
Design a logo
If you aren’t design-savvy and have the budget, you can hire a designer or branding agency to help out.
Define your messaging
Everyone loves a good story. What’s yours? Maybe you grew up around pools and were fascinated by the science of it, or maybe your 9–5 job just wasn’t challenging you anymore.
Tell your clients why you do what you do, why it matters, and—most importantly—how the purpose behind your story can give them a top-quality experience.
Find your value proposition
There’s a lot of competition in the pool service industry, so you need to offer something that’s missing from the current market or that nobody else can provide.
It could be that you offer the best service in town, or you might have an algae-free guarantee. Think about how you can create value—and promote it in your marketing materials!
“You want to be a professional… The last thing you want is your customer looking at you like you’re the kid with the lawnmower, walking down the street, wanting five bucks to mow their lawn.”
—Randy Mahler, Oceanview Pools LLC
Marketing takes the brand you’ve created and spreads your message far and wide. Here are a few examples of ways to market your pool service business:
This gives potential clients a place where they can get in touch with you, put in a work request, and see reviews from past clients. You can also get current clients to post positive reviews here.
Go to a hosting platform like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or GoDaddy and get a custom domain (i.e., a web address) that includes your company name.
These domain hosts also have website builders to help you easily create your site. Some offer email domains, too, so you can have a branded email address that’s attached to your website.
Add your branding to your vehicle, uniforms, invoices, business cards, and anything else that clients will see.
You can design these materials yourself using Canva or Looka, or get a designer or an agency to help you. Then print them with online services like Primoprint, Vistaprint, or Customink.
Ready to start your pool cleaning business? Try these tips to stand out from your competitors and wow your clients from day one. Good luck!
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Originally published May 2019. Last updated July 9, 2021.