7 Lightning-Fast Techniques to Upgrade Your Pool Business
Summer is officially over, and whether you’re experiencing a typical seasonal slowdown or chugging along as usual, consider this an official reminder to stop, take a step back, and work on your business instead of in it for a moment.
We know that when things are busy, getting the job done and keeping customers happy is the priority. However, finding a few minutes every quarter to make tweaks that upgrade your business can have a big long-term impact. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of 7 easy-to-implement suggestions to improve your pool care business.
How to use this article
This article is LONG and we do not expect you to consume it all in one sitting (but if you do, power to you!). Instead, we recommend bookmarking this page and working through the pointers one at a time.
We’ve broken down the content into 3 big buckets: improvements you can make for your overall operations, for your customers, and for your team.
Within each of those buckets, you’ll find a few different tips, each with an approximate time frame. This refers to the general amount of time we expect these improvements to take. We’ve tried to include a range, from quick-hit 30-minute improvements, to give or take half a day of work.
Table of contents
🛻 TIP #1: Launch Strategic Discounts to Drive Business (30 minutes)
We all know that discounts are a powerful way to attract and retain customers. We’re going to dive into a few ways you can use discounts to not only boost your pool service business but also attract high-quality clientele.
There are a few types of discounts to consider:
- Volume discounts encourage more frequent or larger bookings
- Seasonal discounts can even out cash flow in the slower seasons
- Referral discounts turn customers into advocates
Before launching any kind of discount program, make sure to consider your overall business goals and use tactics that are in line with your growth targets.
Here are some creative discount ideas to attract quality customers and enhance your business:
- Loyalty Discounts: Reward long-term customers with increasing discounts, strengthening the client-business relationship.
- First-Time Customer Discounts: Incentivize first-time customers with a discount, creating a positive initial experience that can lead to long-term loyalty.
- Referral Program: Encourage existing customers to refer new ones by offering discounts. This turns satisfied customers into brand advocates.
- Bundle Services: Offer discounts for bundled services, increasing perceived value and customer satisfaction.
- Utilize Your "Loss Leader": Consider offering a discount on pool service to secure more profitable work.
- Slow Season Activity: Encourage preventative maintenance during slow seasons with discounts.
- Clear Out Inventory: Offer discounts on seasonal items to move inventory more quickly.
Implementing discounts effectively involves setting clear terms and conditions, ensuring customer understanding, and maintaining precise messaging. Marketing discounts through various channels and monitoring their success is crucial for optimizing their impact. This data-driven approach enables strategic planning for future discounts.
💡 Tip: If you're already using Skimmer, use the Billing feature to easily apply bulk actions to invoices. This makes applying and managing discounts a breeze!
🛻 TIP #2: Review & Optimize a Route (30 minutes)
One simple and easy way to improve efficiency and save money is to optimize your routes. This is where software made specifically for pool service businesses really shines because doing this on pen and paper, or even in Excel is a huge pain in the a**. But a system like Skimmer makes it extremely easy to identify inefficiencies in your routes and correct them in order to save on mileage.
Check out the video below for an overview of exactly how to optimize a route in Skimmer, courtesy of Bryce Sirrine, Owner of Beyond Pool Cleaning. Even if you’re not a Skimmer customer (yet 😉) Bryce still has some great best practices to share.
Here are a few quick pointers from Bryce:
- Add real start and end points. Your techs don’t start the day at a customer’s home. They start at the office, at your home etc. Make sure your routes reflect the reality of the work, otherwise you won’t have an accurate idea of mileage.
- Take a look at where your techs are working– does it make sense? Is there overlap? Also consider load balance. If you’ve got one tech making 4 stops and another making 8, there might be an opportunity to even this out.
- You don’t have to make huge changes to make this work– minor tweaks can make a big difference. If you have techs that drive more than 50 miles a day and you make tweaks that cut that back by 20 percent, that can lead to substantial savings.
- You can also choose to optimize on time. For instance, in the summer if you want to maximize your time before the sun’s at its peak, you can do that. It just depends on what your priority is at that point in time.
Just remember to keep your customers in the loop if you’re updating your routes or reassigning technicians. In Skimmer, you can easily do this with our broadcast email feature, which lets you message specific customers on specific routes.
🛻 TIP #3: Analyze Your Customer Base with Tags (1 hour)
Tags are a really easy way to add customer information and segment your customer base. They let you group customers by type, including:
- Geography: City, neighborhood, subdivision, county
- Body of water: Pool, spa, water feature
- Equipment type: pump type, filter type
- Lead source: Online, referral, word of mouth
Once your customer records are tagged, you can communicate with specific groups of customers. For example, you can remind people that it's time for a certain type of filter clean, or reach out to customers who have a specific type of water feature.
This is where using software to manage your business really has a leg up. While you can definitely use tags if you’re running your business off Excel or Google Sheets, software like Skimmer makes those tags smarter and more useful for you on a daily basis.
🛻 TIP #4: Improve Cash Flow (half day)
When we talk about cash flow, we’re focusing on operating cash flow, a measure of the amount of money generated by your normal business operations. Operating cash flow is about the cash you’re receiving from your customers and the money you’re paying to suppliers tracked over a certain period, such as monthly or quarterly.
Why do you want to improve this? Well, put simply, the faster you get paid, the faster you can fund more growth. Things like trucks, chemicals and personnel all require cash upfront.
There are two surefire ways to improve cash flow:
1. When possible, don’t take cash or checks. The number of Americans using credit cards for all major transactions has been steadily increasing, while cash use has declined dramatically over the past decade. On top of offering customers the digital experience they expect, accepting credit cards is also far more efficient. With Skimmer's Billing feature, you can request, collect and manage payments easily, instantly, and in one place. Put that against the time it takes to process cash or checks and you’ll see significant time savings on top of better cash flow.
If you want to make the move to cashless, make sure to proactively let your customers know. We’ve prepared an email template that you can use to communicate the change to your customers (bonus, if you’re using Skimmer, you can do this via broadcast emails!).
💡 Tip: Managing credit card fees
Instead of adding extra credit card fees at the end of your customer’s bill, bake them into your pricing. That way, your customers don’t suffer from service fee fatigue and they know exactly what to expect.
This helps you get paid promptly for the services you perform. Here are three ways to invoice like a streaming service:
2. Invoice like a streaming service. In the same way that a streaming video or music service might charge you monthly for your usage and one-off for something like a movie rental or concert tickets purchased through the app, pool and spa service professionals can invoice a recurring amount monthly and near real-time for work orders and repairs.
- Require a payment method to be saved on file and set up auto-pay for regular service.
- Don’t wait until the end of the month to invoice work orders/ repairs– invoice for them immediately after the work is done.
- Send reminders to overdue customers. You can easily do this through Skimmer, which enables you to select multiple customers and email them simultaneously with a message about their overdue invoice.
🏊 TIP #5: Proactively Communicate with Customers (30 minutes)
Setting up consistent customer communication is a great way to keep your customers in the loop and educate them on what it takes to keep their pool clean and in top shape. Here are a few ideas for regular comms you can set up:
- Maintenance updates and service reminders: Provide regular updates on scheduled maintenance visits so customers are aware of when technicians will be on-site and what services will be performed.
- Water quality reports: Send the results of water quality tests to help customers understand the condition of their pool and any necessary adjustments or treatments that may be required.
- Equipment repairs, replacements, upgrades and improvements: Inform customers about any necessary repairs or replacements of pool equipment so they can anticipate the extra cost, and share recommendations for enhancements or upgrades to the pool system.
- Emergency situations: Quickly inform customers about any urgent issues, such as equipment failures or water quality emergencies to minimize potential damage.
- Billing and payment information: Send clear and transparent communication regarding billing details, including service charges, payment schedules, and any additional costs.
- Educational information: Offering tips, guides, or resources on pool care and maintenance that empower your customers to take better care of their pool between service visits.
- Feedback and satisfaction surveys: Request feedback from customers so you can understand any areas for improvement and demonstrate a commitment to customer satisfaction. This is also a great way to collect reviews from happy customers!
- Promotions or special offers: Share promotions, discounts, or package deals to incentivize customers to continue using your services and potentially refer others.
- Follow-up after service calls: Check in with customers after a service call, ensure they are satisfied with the work and provide an opportunity to address any lingering concerns or questions.
Watch the video below to see how easy it is to send broadcast emails in Skimmer 👇
🏊 TIP #6: Formalize Customer Relationship with Service Agreements (half day)
We know that when you’re in growth mode, the more formal aspects of customer management can fall through the cracks. You get new customers through word of mouth, add them to your routes and the rest is history!
BUT (and this is so important) service agreements are essential for your pool service business. This tip is a bit more time-consuming than some of the others on this list, but well worth it.
Service agreements can be used to set and formalize the details of your relationship with your customers in a few key ways:
- Clear expectations: A service agreement outlines the scope of the services you will offer. This includes details like the type of pool services (chemical testing, equipment checks, cleaning, maintenance, repairs etc), frequency of visits, specific tasks involved, and any additional services offered. It’s an easy way to make sure everyone– you, your techs and your customer– is on the same page about the services being delivered.
- Payment terms: The agreement specifies the payment terms, including rates, billing cycle, and accepted payment methods. This helps prevent any disputes or misunderstandings when it comes to pricing.
- General terms and conditions: It outlines the terms and conditions of your services, which can include cancellation policies, late payment fees, and any other important clauses that protect your business.
- Liabilities and disclaimers: A service agreement can include disclaimers that limit your liability in certain situations, such as damage caused by existing structural issues in the pool or any unforeseen circumstances.
- Legal protection: A good service agreement outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parties, which can be crucial in case of any disputes or disagreements, and ultimately help protect your business legally.
- Professionalism and trust: Having a formal service agreement shows professionalism and builds trust with your clients. It demonstrates that you take your business seriously and are committed to providing a high standard of service.
- Compliance with local regulations: Depending on your location, there may be legal requirements for having written agreements in place for certain types of services. This could include specific disclosures or consumer protection requirements, so make sure to read up on any specific local requirements when creating legal documentation.
Watch the video below and check out Skimmer’s service agreement template and take the first step towards formalizing your customer relationships:
🦸 TIP #7: Connect with employees (1 hour-half day)
Finally, one of the best ways to boost your business is to start from the inside. When things are busy it can be so easy to just fall into the day-to-day rhythm of getting the work done, putting out fires, rinse and repeat.
Let this be your reminder to take a minute to step back, celebrate some wins and connect with your staff. Team morale can have a huge impact on your business, and taking a bit of time to recognize your team and foster a great working environment is extremely important for your long-term success. Not only does it improve employee retention, but it can also help you attract strong new talent if your existing employees are willing to recommend your business as a great place to work.
This can be as simple as a team dinner to recognize everyone’s hard work or a friendly internal competition! Check out a few of the ideas below:
- BBQ and Games: Organize a BBQ party (poolside, if possible). Provide games like volleyball, cornhole, or team trivia. This relaxed setting encourages casual conversation and bonding.
- Cardboard boat building + race: If you have loads of cardboard boxes kicking around, consider doing a competition where you divide everyone into teams and get each team to build a boat out of cardboard boxes and duct tape. Then stick and boats in a pool and see which can hold the most weight (this is infinitely better if there are team members IN the boats too).
- Internal workshop: Conduct a workshop or training session focused on specific aspects of pool maintenance. This not only enhances skills but also promotes a sense of shared knowledge and expertise on the team.
- Customer service role play: Use role-playing scenarios to practice customer interactions. This helps your team members develop communication skills and customer empathy.
- Community service project: Engage your team in a community service project related to water or environment conservation. It not only builds team spirit but also showcases your company's commitment to the community.
- Team escape room: Visit an escape room as a team. This encourages problem-solving and teamwork in a fun and engaging way.
- Outdoor adventure day: Plan a day of outdoor adventure activities like hiking, kayaking, or zip-lining. This not only provides a break from the routine but also encourages team members to rely on each other in new environments.
- Cooperative board games: Choose collaborative board games that require teamwork and problem-solving. Games like "Pandemic" or "Forbidden Island" are excellent choices.
Bonus tip + a bit of a plug
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that running your business off pool service software (vs pen and paper, Excel or even generic solutions like Jobber) makes identifying inefficiencies and correcting them WAY EASIER. If you’re already using software like Skimmer, you’re well on your way to having up-to-date insights into your business, and the ability to make improvements in a few clicks.
If you’re not using software yet– or you’re not happy with your current solution– maybe take a second and connect with us. We’d be more than happy to chat.