Pool Experts Share Two Incredibly Simple Tips for Starting a Pool Cleaning Business
We spoke to eleven pool service business owners about what it takes to start and run a successful pool cleaning business. You might think they gave us a mixed bag of tips and tricks––but they’re all on the same page.
Starting a pool maintenance and service business is a tough gig. There’s so much happening: expertly maintaining and servicing pools, managing crews and team members, staying sharp with chemical and chemistry knowledge, business strategy, customer service, and invoicing your services to boot!
Plus, you need to stay on top of it all––not to mention the stiff competition. How can you pull it all off and stand out?
We spoke to eleven pool services business veterans at Western Pool and Spa Show 2019 (WPSS), and they shared what it takes to run a successful pool maintenance and services business.
You might think that they gave us a mixed bag of tips and tricks. However, we learned that experienced pool pros are all on the same page.
They all agreed that there are two simple best practices that will benefit any pool service business owner and help them scale: continue your education and prioritize customer service.
These two best practices can genuinely help you win against your competitors. Continuing education and customer service both help you refine your business practices and offer better services.
These details are easily overlooked by competitors who cut corners as they attempt to cover more ground.
Here’s what these pool professionals said you need to do to build up your business game in this industry.
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The majority of pool pros said that continuing education is essential for pool service providers. It’s what turns “single polers” into experts.
A few experts suggest that your education in the industry should start from the bottom with shadowing and apprenticeship.
For example, if you’re new to the industry, it’s best to start off by learning from someone else. Shadow another professional to learn the ropes before you jump into maintenance and repairs. You’ll learn a lot about the essentials before you’re thrown into your clients’ backyards.
As you become more experienced, you should take on training opportunities and classes so you continue to flex your chemical and chemistry muscles.
The more you know, the more you’ll be able to diagnose problems and become a local expert that everyone will want to hire.
Here are their top five education tips:
1. Learn the ropes from someone else before you start your own pool cleaning business
“Learn everything from your person you’re taking over from, or who is teaching you. Just soak it all in. Don’t assume anything. It’s like the first day of class. Just learn, write down what you need, and watch.”
––Rodney Cabrera, Co-owner of Abraham’s Pool Service and Tile Cleaning
“Get as much experience in the field before working for yourself. Go to work for somebody for a while first, so you can get the skills and learn the ins and outs of the business with somebody else, before having to learn it by yourself.”
––Daniel Conley, Owner of Exceptionally Clear Pools
“Do an internship with a company or somebody that knows the industry.”
––Justin Samuels Pool Tech at Shotwell Pools and Spa
2. Build a community that you can learn from
“Talk to people who have been doing it for a long time. Learn anything you can from them. Talk to people who know more.”
––Benjamin Schmalz, Lead Pool Service Technician at Clearwater Services Inc.
3. Take chemistry classes and study
“Learn as much as you can…all the chemistry…everything. Literally everything you can. That’s why I’m at WPSS trying to just pick my head into anything I can right now. Classes have definitely have helped, or are helping me out a lot a lot with water chemistry and having to deal with algae and things like that. Learn preventative care and maintenance so you don’t get surprised by an algae bloom or an attack or something like that.”
––Justin Samuels, Pool Tech at Shotwell Pools and Spa
“Study. Study the chemistry. ‘Because if you don’t know your chemistry, you’re just going to be dumping a lot of chemicals, and that gets expensive. So study the chemistry.”
––Al Sorto, My Pool Service Guy, CEO
Al Sorto, My Pool Service Guy, CEO
Study. Study the chemistry. 'Because if you don't know your chemistry, you're just going to be dumping a lot of chemicals, and that gets expensive. So study the chemistry.
4. Train before you start building your client base
“Training, training and more training. Get yourself educated on what you’re doing. You don’t want to go out there and try and collect customers without a knowledge of the business. Online training, manufacturer training, anything you can find to get yourself up to speed on what you’re gonna be doing out there”
––Bill Andreieux, Owner of Everclear Pool Service and Repair
5. Go to trade shows to build educational relationships with distributors
“Go to trade shows. Go to classes. If you get hooked up with a distributor, they offer free services there, so, go learn from them, too. Ask them questions, because they’re the ones selling you the equipment, they’re the ones that talk to the reps and talk to other pool companies. They will lead you to a way to stay in business.”
––Rodney Cabrera, Co-Owner of Abraham’s Pool Service and Tile Cleaning
Pool service experts all mentioned the importance of customer service.
Why? Because it’s easy to be a pool service provider who shows up whenever, skims the surface, tests the water, and dips. That’s what 80% of the service providers in your city are doing.
But, if go the extra mile and offer some additional services such as follow-ups, transparent communication, or expert product knowledge, then you’ll stand out from the crowd and be the talk of the town.
The best part about this strategy is that it’s really not that hard to do.
It’s especially easy when you use pool service software that automates the majority of your customer service. At that point, you’re not even doing any heavy-lifting, but you look fantastic in your clients’ eyes.
Plus, it’s so easy to stand out when you’re the only person going the extra mile in town.
Here are their top four customer service tips:
Randy Mahler, President of Oceanview Pools LLC
Most guys in this business are not looking at it as a career. They're just looking at it as a job. And the last thing you want to have is your customer looking at you like you’re the kid with the lawnmower, walking down the street, wanting five bucks to mow your lawn.
1. Offer tailored customer and pool services
“Forget what you think your customer wants and ask them what they want. If you do that you’re going to sell more, you’re going to be more successful, and you’re going to be able to sell pool service at a higher rate than anybody else in your competition because you’re gonna tailor it to them.“
––Daniel Jantz, Owner of Full Fresh Incorporated
2. Be on time and do what you say you’re going to do
“Customers are really impressed when you show up on time. Leave a door-flyer saying ‘sorry we missed you’ when you’re done.”
––Charles Dunbar, CEO and Owner of Dunbar’s Pool Service, Inc.
“Show up on time and do what you said you’re going to do. I mean, if you do what you say you’re going to do and show up when you say it again to show up, you’re going to beat 80% of the guys in this business.
Most guys in this business are not looking at it as a career. They’re just looking at it as a job. And the last thing you want to have is your customer looking at you like you’re the kid with the lawnmower, walking down the street, wanting five bucks to mow your lawn.”
––Randy Mahler, President of Oceanview Pools LLC
3. Be the guinea pig
“Test everything on your own pool first. It’s important. Less issues means less headaches for me. So, if I know a product works, then I can feel confident telling my customers about the product.
I’m confident about how the product works instead of just throwing it out there and learning on the fly. Instead, I use it for six months, sometimes a year, and then if it works great, then we’re off and running.
It just helps my customers put more confidence in me. That’s huge. And, when I do recommend something, they’re much quicker to say, ‘Yeah, let’s do that,’ because everything else has worked in the past. I don’t have customers who leave me. “
––Bob Dunn, Owner of Cool Blue Pool Service
4. Don’t overbook your routes at the sacrifice of quality
“If you have a route, then I would suggest not taking on too much. It’s really hard to stop that behaviour, but you want to make sure your quality doesn’t go down. Quantity doesn’t always mean quality.”
––Brittanie West, Office Manager/Route Supervisor at A Clear Choice Pool and Spa Services Inc.
Bob Dunn, Owner of Cool Blue Pool Service
It just helps my customers put more confidence in me. That’s huge. And, when I do recommend something, they're much quicker to say, ‘Yeah, let's do that,’ because everything else has worked in the past. I don't have customers who leave me.
If you want to be the “it” service provider in your city and you’re not sure where to start making changes to your business to get there, then take these professionals’ advice.
Work on your customer service and do what you can to learn more about your industry.
Talk to other professionals about their experience, take some classes, and learn some chemistry. Consider where there’s room for improvement in your customer service strategy.
Ask yourself if you can make any immediate changes that will help your service stand out.
Maybe follow-up emails or on-my-way text messages will show your customers that you really care. Perhaps setting up product knowledge meetings with them before you offer your services is an easy win for you. Figure out what works for you.
Where have you seen the most success in your pool business? Let us know in the comments below!