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7 Business Trends for Pool Service Pros in 2019

In 2018 we saw the rise of the online marketplace: Facebook, Google, Amazon—the big tech players got into the game, which was predicted by contributors in our 2018 trends article.

This year we’re seeing that no one single issue is dominating the narrative for business owners in the home services. Our contributors in pool service, HVAC, residential cleaning, landscaping, arboriculture, contracting, window cleaning, pressure washing, accounting, consulting, and more, have all identified trends and priorities across a variety of areas.

An important common denominator this year is the need to take a 360-degree view to growing and differentiating your business. Everything ladders up to creating a memorable service experience for customers in a crowded landscape, and it pays to take a holistic approach.

The themes of having a strong online presence, building out a team you can trust, continuously adjusting your digital marketing, and looking for automation and efficiency opportunities aren’t new—they’re table stakes. And maybe that’s the overarching theme: 2019 is the year of getting back to basics, and ensuring your business is ready to crush the year on all fronts.

– Sam Pillar, CEO, Jobber

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1. Level up your hiring practices to attract the employees you want

One of the big issues for the pool service and maintenance industry in 2019 and beyond is making it look like an attractive industry to join. Our industry, like most service and labor industries, is really struggling to find workers.

There are so many great things about working in the pool industry—you get to work outside, take care of people’s homes, learn some really cool science and technology with the potential to have a flexible schedule and make a great living. But we do a terrible job of marketing ourselves.

– Megan Kendrick, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Pool Pro Magazine

 

There’s a real paradigm shift that I believe is felt in any industry in any type of role whether you’re employing more seasonal or long-term employees: People are not willing to stay in places where their personal values don’t align with the company. Everyone is looking to make an impact.

The majority of us aren’t saving lives, but we can still have an impact. You can put a smile on someone’s face, and they’ll tell a friend at a dinner party that they had a great experience with your pool care business.

The people you want to have as employees, who are going to help build your company, are searching for a way to make impact.

Think through the following questions:
1. Why am I asking people to be here?
2. What is our purpose as an organization?

You will win, you will scale, you will achieve revenue growth, if you take time to focus on the impact, the vision, and the culture of your business. Organizations who think those things are fluffy and don’t have a place in business will continue to operate at mediocre growth.

And customers have higher expectations than they ever have. So why not have employees that meet those changing expectations?

– Danielle Strang, Head of People Operations, Jobber

2. Implement new technologies today—and raise prices accordingly

In addition to rebranding our industry, collectively we must do a better job of educating industry members, implementing technology to run more professional businesses, and pay better wages—which means charging customers more. People are still really afraid to raise their prices, which holds everything else back.

– Megan Kendrick, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Pool Pro Magazine

 

Due to the soaring costs associated with workers compensation and automotive insurance rates in the pool service industry, we are planning to incorporate tracking and camera technologies as part of our vehicle safety plan.

Being able to monitor activity and manage appropriately is important. But far more important is the ability to defend our company in the event an unscrupulous attorney comes after the company following an accident with false accusations.

– Shawn King, Owner, Florida Leak Locators

 

The way people are paying for anything and everything, including service, is changing. People want convenient ways to pay: Most millennials want to pay by credit card and everything is online and very easy. People are looking for a specific experience—and what that experience is may change depending on your customer base so you need to do your homework.

A good rule of thumb is to automate your payment process as much as possible and make it really, really easy for your customers. Your turnaround time will be faster and your admin time will go down. Chasing payments is a lot of work that’s not adding any value to your business, and it’s probably frustrating both parties.

– Darren Wood, Director of Finance and Operations, Jobber

3. Investigate environmentally friendly technologies

This is not a sure thing, but we are very interested in Reverse Osmosis Technology. You would need to purchase an entire trailer equipped with Reverse Osmosis Filtration System. Instead of draining swimming pools completely you can run the entire body of water through the Reverse Osmosis system and then back to the swimming pool. This is a great way to conserve water, make safe, and you can do this any time of year. This is also another way to help your customers and business if your city or State goes through a drought.

– Greg Villafana and Tyler Rasmussen, Owners, Brothers Pool Service and Repair and the Pool Chasers podcast

4. Communicate on multiple channels—bonus if they’re self-serve

Recognizing and being able to communicate with your customers the way they wish to be communicated with is critical. The challenge is the range of age and adoption of the various methods of communications from homeowners, typically aged 30 to 70, is vast. Being able to communicate via phone, email, and text is essential.

And having methods of interacting with your company in a self-service process is a great way to provide increased service at low cost. As the old adage that came with self-service gas stations goes: sometimes the best service is no service.

– Shawn King, Owner, Florida Leak Locators

 

The economy might be slowing down over the next year, which means that demand for home services might be lower and competition will be higher. Small business owners in the home services industry should continue to improve on providing the best customer experience they can.

If they’re not regularly getting feedback or reviews from their customers, they should take this opportunity to implement a feedback process, whether it’s a simple survey, phone call, or Google review. Also, take note of what their competitors are doing to see how they compare.

– Quan Ly, Partner, CPA, McRally LLP Chartered Accountants

 

Email will continue to be a very important channel to stay in touch with past customers. If you’ve done work for someone in the past, don’t forget that re-engaging these customers is probably one of your cheapest channels for business. So don’t forget to reach out, especially if you’re a seasonal business, and email is a great way to do just that.

– Nick Keyko, Director of Marketing, Jobber

Gotta run?

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5. Challenge yourself to develop an engaging social media presence

We think other businesses in our industry should be taking more advantage of Instagram and Facebook. There are a lot of companies using these platforms but they are not doing a great job in creating content for future customers. They need to understand that a future customer does not understand the real technical talk and they need to create content that they will find useful and something they can all relate to.

Gary Vaynerchuck talks a lot about ‘Jab, Jab, Right Hook.’ You need to always provide value before asking for the sale.

– Greg Villafana and Tyler Rasmussen, Owners, Brothers Pool Service and Repair and the Pool Chasers podcast

 

You’ve got to get ready for the digital age and social media, so my biggest purchase for 2019 is going to be a drone. There are now drones that allow you to do Facebook and Instagram Lives while on the job site.

This will allow me to capture beautiful images and video of the services we provide—we became successful by sharing the before and after aspect of our work—and I no longer have to hold the camera.

– Greg Brooks, CEO, Brooks Landscaping

 

In 2018, Facebook made the change to their algorithm to try and only show you things you want to see. That means even if your Facebook business page has a lot of followers, your reach may not be that great to your own following.

The only way your posts get seen is if the content is engaging—if it gets people liking, sharing, or commenting. Tools like our before and after image maker can help you create engaging ways to show off your work. The trick is to make content that you would also want to engage with.

The alternative is to pay the platform to get your content in front of people. This is a solid approach even when you’re trying to reach your current following. You will likely get the engagement you’re looking for, versus organically trying to reach them.

– Rafael Valdez, PPC Analyst, Jobber

6. Remember to make time for continuous improvement

We think people need to slow down and work on their business and learn their craft. It’s difficult to grow and go back to learn.

– Greg Villafana and Tyler Rasmussen, Owners, Brothers Pool Service and Repair and the Pool Chasers podcast

 

If you’re the owner of a contracting business and you’ve been avoiding determining and learning your numbers, 2019 is your year to step up to the plate and tackle this crucial aspect of your company. If you want to go from contractor to CEO; if you want to be more efficient, organized, profitable, and less stressed, you need to know your numbers. Why? In order to quote profitably, know when to hire, know which types of work are making you money and which aren’t… the list goes on…

Whether you’ve avoided your numbers out of fear or confusion, now is your time to tackle one of the most important tasks the CEO must do. We’re talking break even margin, break even sales, and setting profit targets and budgets. Knowing how to track and forecast your cash flow and having the ability to track the percentage of hours and materials against each phase of your projects will also greatly benefit you. Turn chaos into control and start making more money without all the stress and challenges! Jobber and Profit For Contractors are here to help you today.

– Andrew Houston, Founder and Owner, Business Consultant, Profit for Contractors

 

Set specific targets and goals. Targets start with the overall big number and then reverse engineer that target to fit into daily/weekly tasks and actions that are built to achieve the end number.

Take time to work on your business. This is called CEO time. Review your business objectively. How are your initiatives stacking up to what you expected? What adjustments do you need to make? Have a set ‘core’ agenda for this review process each week and stick to it.

– Brad Halliwell, Business Coach, Halliwell Business Coaching

7. Never stop looking for automation and efficiency opportunities

Automate your business as much as possible, and keep an eye on emerging technologies that help you do this. For a long time, powerful automation tools didn’t exist for small business owners—they were targeted at large businesses with big budgets.

Small businesses are now getting access to this tech for a fraction of the price, and in some ways it’s better than enterprise level tools. Look at accounting software: at the enterprise level it’s very expensive, always needs to be updated, and it’s hard to use, with a clunky user interface. QuickBooks Online is easy to use, always up to date—and available for a fraction of the price. Software companies are now developing new tools for small businesses first, then sending them up-market, so there is more software innovation than ever in the small business space.

These automation tools are not only going to help you reduce costs, maybe you can delay hiring an administrator or a bookkeeper, they should also give you better visibility into your business so you can operate more strategically.

– Darren Wood, Director of Finance and Operations, Jobber

 

Improve your time management. Use your calendars effectively. Block tasks and have specific time allocations to them. This way you don’t spend too much time with one item. Also, keeps you on pace to complete important tasks without missing anything. This is an important process that helps to control your workflow and keeps you organized. Here’s an example:

Monday
8:30am to 9:15am: CEO time
9:30am to 10:30am: prospecting calls
10:30am to 12:00pm: onsite
12:00pm to 1:00pm: lunch/flex time
1:00pm to 1:25pm: follow up with X project
1:25pm to 2:00pm: flex time
2:00pm to 2:30pm: marketing review
3:00pm to 4:00pm: sales meeting

– Brad Halliwell, Business Coach, Halliwell Business Coaching

 

For most service companies your single largest monthly expense is payroll. Automating business processes with software can provide huge employee savings, improve the quality of your service, automate your marketing, and greatly reduce your management time. And if someone asks you “Why don’t you just make a spreadsheet for that” feel free to quietly smirk on the inside.

– Lars Kristensen, CEO and co-founder, NiceJob

 

If small home service business owners are still doing things manually or using a lot of paper, seriously consider going digital and use software built for their type of business. Their competitors are leveraging modern software to maximize performance and win customers, don’t get left behind.

Good software should be accessible from anywhere on any device, be simple to use, save you time, reduce risk, and is customer friendly (if there’s a customer touchpoint). Software like Jobber checks all of those boxes.

– Quan Ly, Partner, CPA, McRally LLP Chartered Accountants

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