9 Winning Characteristics of Highly Successful Pool Service Companies
Running a pool service company uniquely marries the need for administrative finesse with in-depth knowledge of the art and science of pool maintenance. One moment, you're wearing the hat of a skilled technician troubleshooting a complex filtration issue. The next, you're playing administrator, managing invoices, and projecting cash flow.
Amidst all this, you're also expected to stay on top of industry trends, explore business growth opportunities, and ensure customer satisfaction. This dynamic and multi-faced profession calls for broader skills and knowledge not necessarily inherent in other fields. As a pool service software provider, we’ve spent many hours studying and speaking with pool service business owners to determine what makes them successful.
Let's explore nine winning characteristics commonly shared by highly successful pool service companies nationwide and uncover how these can foster sustainable growth and success in this unique industry.
9 Characteristics of Highly Successful Pool Service Companies
1. Practice intelligent hiring, training, and retaining of employees
Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. But in all businesses (especially service-based businesses), hiring and retention are some of the most challenging obstacles. To avoid the expensive and inconvenient revolving door effect, utilize these best practices when engaging with your employees.
Striving for success starts with the team you build. To attract and retain top talent, competitive pay is crucial. Offering a fair wage and a robust benefits package demonstrates your commitment to your employees' livelihood, enticing better talent to your ranks and encouraging their long-term commitment to your company.
Support and training
Equip your team with the right skills to excel in their roles with comprehensive training, including certification courses or training from vendors. Don’t forget about the possibility of cross-industry hires. Prospects from similar technical jobs, like HVAC or plumbing, can often transition smoothly into the role of a pool technician.
Establish the possibility for upward mobility within your company. This could serve as an additional incentive for ambitious employees, thereby promoting a culture of constant improvement.
Setting high standards is a sign of a successful business. Doing so instills a sense of responsibility within your team members to live up to these expectations. Clearly outline job responsibilities and expectations from the outset to set a baseline for performance.
Encourage employee productivity by rewarding top performers. Recognition and tangible rewards like bonuses motivate employees, fostering a more productive and committed workforce.
2. Leverage the right tools
The role of the business owner is to constantly hunt for the cheapest investments that make the largest impact. In the modern business world, we call this leverage, and it’s most often attained through software. That's where Skimmer comes into play as the ultimate all-in-one pool service software. Skimmer can optimize every aspect of your business, namely:
- Maintaining positive relationships with your customers
- Getting paid promptly with in-app payments
- Scheduling and managing your pool pros’ routes
- Understanding your profit/loss and cashflow at a moment’s notice
Monitoring and improving tech performance
Finding the right people for your team is only half the battle. Ensuring they remain organized and tuned in to your customers' needs requires regular performance tracking and development. This could range from tracking customer feedback and service pace to specifics like the amount of chlorine used per gallon of water. Using Skimmer makes it easy to manage and track metrics like these.
3. Focus on data
Another defining characteristic of successful pool service businesses is not succumbing to “gut-level” impulses to make business decisions (especially ones not proven out by data). These companies know that the best way to ensure growth and sustainability is to keep a pulse on key indicators, using this data to inform strategic decisions.
These key performance indicators (KPIs) include:
- Chemical usage - Thanks to the recent pool chemical shortage and significant price hikes, keeping a close eye on your chemical usage is more important than ever.
- Cash flow - Cash flow lies at the heart of all business operations. A good cash flow position allows your business to operate more efficiently, plan finances better, appear more favorable to lenders, and be ready to seize growth opportunities.
- Operational costs - Data can also indicate when to adjust your pricing strategy. If you notice an increase in operational costs due to a labor shortage or more expensive chemicals, a price increase may be necessary to maintain profitability.
Skimmer customer and Nevergreen Pools owner Kyle Peter details how his Service Manager uses Skimmer reports to respond to customer service questions and make more informed decisions.
“My service manager can look at data by the week and say, ‘Wow, this tech is putting in twice as much chlorine as they should. What’s going on?’ He looks into it and realizes they need to increase their CYA or test for phosphates. Stuff like that is super helpful. We can catch patterns and make corrections.”
For a deeper dive into this topic, check out our webinar on how to raise prices with industry professionals.
4. Keep routes tight and techs efficient
Highly successful pool service companies understand the value of time, especially when it applies to a maintenance or repair tech’s time at site visits. Minimizing travel time between jobs, often called "windshield time," can directly contribute to business efficiency and profitability. Effective pool cleaning software can help optimize routes, improve service delivery, and increase the number of pools your technicians can service daily.
Tools like Skimmer can efficiently manage the logistics of your service routes, making it easy for techs to know exactly where they need to be and when. Using Skimmer, you can provide your techs with route details, customer information, and other job-related data at their fingertips (even in places with poor cellular connections).
5. Be willing to let go of customers who aren’t a good fit
It’s tough to admit that not every customer is a good fit for your business – especially when you need new clients. But successful pool service companies recognize that a poor customer fit is often more detrimental than a good customer is beneficial. And that's okay. Ideally, a business relationship should be mutually beneficial. Here’s how to handle customers that don’t align with your goals.
When you decide to part ways with a customer - perhaps due to late payment issues or refusal to adopt preventative maintenance - it's crucial to communicate your decision professionally.
One effective way to lay the groundwork for this is by setting clear expectations with a Service Agreement or Welcome Packet upon onboarding the customer. Since they are legal documents, they should be in “plain English” and understandable to your reader. These documents help establish the pragmatic boundaries of your business relationship.
In addition, here’s an example email you can send to part ways with a customer:
It was a pleasure meeting you and learning about your pool’s needs and your desire for pool care.
We understand that certain components of our service agreement and expectations are not amenable to you. Based on our years of experience, we do not negotiate on these components as they are critical for effective, sustainable pool care.
There are several other pool service professionals who could possibly be a better fit for the level of care you desire. I list them here: Pool Pro XYZ - link, Pool Pro ABC - link, Pool Pro MNF - link.
Do take a little time to think about it, and if you reconsider, we’d be happy to resume service. If not, we wish you the best of luck and we’re a phone call away should you wish to speak again.
Bob and The Riverside Pools Team
Moreover, don't shy away from using friendly, informative broadcast emails to remind customers of their service agreement details and relevant updates.
Making room for good-fit customers:
By willingly parting ways with customers who aren't a good fit for your business, you're creating room for customers who align better with your services. These customers are more likely to appreciate your value, adhere to service agreements, and ultimately contribute more positively to your business. Also, remember to ask for referrals whenever possible. Customers who fit well with your business model will likely know others who would, too.
6. Invest in marketing
Successful pool service companies know the importance of marketing in acquiring and retaining new customers. Marketing is beyond the scope of this article, but we’ve written extensively about it on our blog. Here are the most important things to cover in your marketing strategy:
- A marketing plan
- Reliable sources of pool service leads
- A professional website
- Consistent review generation from happy customers
- A referral marketing strategy to help outsource your lead generation to your clients
We understand this is intimidating (and quite a bit of work). Here’s our suggested roadmap:
First, read our post on creating a pool service marketing plan. Then, check out our post on the top pool service marketing ideas and strategies. If you’re ready to start paid advertising, check out these 29 pool service advertising ideas. And don’t neglect to practice good SEO for pool businesses. Follow these best practices, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a household name in your community for reliable pool service.
7. Offer repair services, warranty work, and specialized services
Expanding your service portfolio isn’t only enticing to customers but also presents additional income opportunities and diversifies your business. Offering a wide range of services can set your company apart from competitors. It also provides extra training and career development opportunities for your staff.
These can include:
- Leak detection and repair
- Vinyl liner replacement
- Pool cover installation/repair/replacement
- Defined service level agreements (SLAs) for commercial and rental properties
8. Maintain and grow your network
“Your network is your net worth.” The saying is a bit cheesy, but it wouldn’t be a cliche if it weren’t true. Successful pool service companies can create various business opportunities by building and maintaining a robust network.
- Attending industry trade groups, like the Independent Pool and Spa Service Association (IPSSA) and United Pool Association (UPA)
- Joining online communities of pool service pros on Facebook, Reddit, Quora, Twitter, and more
- Forming relationships with builders and other field service providers
- Maintaining positive relationships with vendors
Your network can be more than just a source of referrals. It can provide an opportunity for learning, collaboration, and growth.So put time into nurturing these relationships, and they could reap dividends in the smoother operation of your business and potentially lead to additional business opportunities.
8. Be consistent and reliable
A wise construction company owner once said, “If someone can show up on time and hold a hammer, they can work in construction.”
The field service industry, pool service included, has earned the unfortunate reputation of being late, unpredictable, and unresponsive. Simply being reliable (doing what you say you’re going to do) and consistent (not flaking on client service visits) will set you apart from many of your customers’ previous experiences with pool service pros.
Skimmer customer and CEO of Claropool, Stephen Little, echoed this advice to pool service companies that want to become and remain successful.
Providing a service agreement protects your business by outlining the specifics of your service. It can prevent customer misunderstandings and disputes as they know what to expect from your service. Consistency and reliability play substantial roles in building a loyal customer base. Successful pool service businesses understand the value of making promises and keeping them.
9. Invest in continuous learning
Successful pool service companies know that knowledge is power. Staying abreast of industry trends and new techniques is crucial to maintaining top-notch services that set them apart.
This includes leveraging things like:
- Books on various business skills (some classics are Good to Great, The E-Myth Revisited, and Built to Last)
- Industry-related blogs (like the one you’re reading now!)
- Interviews with industry experts (check out this playlist to start)
- Coaching sessions
Running a successful pool service company requires more than just technical expertise. It combines strategic business management, commitment to continuous learning, customer-centric services, and progressive practices. Launching or growing a pool service business in 2023 may seem daunting. But we’re confident if you follow these best practices, you can differentiate your business in a competitive market.
Tools like Skimmer can assist in many of these areas, from streamlining communication with customers to managing billing and improving the efficiency of service routes, all in one central location.
To learn more about the specific ways Skimmer helps pool service businesses succeed and grow 16 times faster than the industry average, check out our video walkthrough of the platform.