Pool Service Agreements: How to Protect Your Business (and Your Customers)
Pool service agreements are some of the most important things you can have in place to protect your business and customers. We were reminded of that when we recently read an alarming story from a pool service professional.
As the technician began a routine backwash process, he was unaware that the client's aging backwash hose was riddled with holes — a detail he could have only discovered during the backwash operation.
In an unfortunate turn of events, the salty pool water sprayed all over a luxury car parked nearby. This accident led to a significant expense as the homeowner demanded a professional car detailing and wax service to rectify the damage.
These sorts of things — the ‘what ifs’ and unknowns — are what pool service contracts help mitigate. Would a pool service contract have prevented the customer from getting angry at the saltwater on his car? Probably not.
But perhaps, with the right pool service agreement in place, the pool service pro wouldn’t be on the hook for expensive car detailing. In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about setting up a pool service agreement, including:
- The importance and benefits of pool service agreements and how they can protect your business
- Key considerations and potential pitfalls when drafting your service agreements
- Common pool maintenance service issues
- And real-world scenarios that highlight the significance of comprehensive service agreements
Let’s dive in.
What is a Pool Service Agreement?
A pool service agreement is more than just a formal contract between you, the pool service provider, and your client. It acts as the foundation for your professional relationship, outlining the terms and conditions of the services you'll provide, the agreed-upon pricing, and any special considerations that might be relevant.
These agreements serve as a clear reference point for both parties, ensuring that expectations are set and met. It encapsulates both parties' responsibilities, obligations, and expectations, making it a pivotal tool for communication and mutual understanding.
But beyond serving as a reference, a pool service agreement is a protective measure. It safeguards you and your client, providing security and predictability in the professional relationship. With the details of service, payment, and liability carefully laid out, there's a minimized risk of misunderstandings that could lead to disagreements or even legal disputes.
By clarifying the service details in writing, potential areas of dispute can be addressed proactively, reducing the likelihood of issues escalating to the point of requiring legal intervention. A well-crafted pool service agreement acts as an insurance policy, providing peace of mind to both parties.
The Benefits and Considerations of Pool Service Contracts
We’ve called this section “benefits and considerations” instead of “pros and cons.” This is because there aren’t any true “cons” to having a pool service agreement — it’s a must-have.
There are, however, some considerations to implementing a robust pool service agreement that will impact both you and your customers. These are important to understand.
Benefits of Pool Service Contracts
1. It reduces liabilities that can hurt your business
Consider a typical day in the life of a pool service provider. You're confronted with various client situations, some of which can unexpectedly impede the service you're supposed to provide.
For instance, picture arriving at a client's property only to be met with a locked fence. Maybe the owner forgot to put up their (very territorial) dog, or there’s a giant hornet’s nest near your service area. These scenarios can range from mildly inconvenient to endangering your physical safety. However, you can preemptively address such issues with a well-drafted service contract.
By including a clause for situations involving aggressive animals, unsafe working environments, or locked fences, you're setting clear expectations for your clients. This agreement can stipulate that a service charge will still be assessed, even if the technician cannot safely enter the backyard. This protects your business by ensuring you're compensated for your time and effort, irrespective of the obstacles encountered at the service site.
2. It helps with cashflow and regular payments
Pool service contracts also stabilize your business financially, contributing to a more predictable cash flow. Once a client has committed to a formal contract, they are generally more likely to meet their financial obligations.
This contract is a gentle reminder of their commitment and the expected regular payments, making your revenue stream more reliable and less sporadic.
3. It provides a legal safety net in worst-case scenarios
While it's not an everyday occurrence, the mere existence of a contract can deter non-payment and, if needed, provides the legal basis for taking the issue to petty claims court to recover the money owed. Overall, a pool service contract serves as a tool for enforcing professionalism and accountability while protecting your business's financial interests and safety.
Considerations for Pool Service Contracts
While pool service contracts offer numerous benefits, they also require careful consideration and planning to ensure they serve their intended purpose effectively. Here are some things to keep in mind as you craft your pool service agreements:
- Clarity and comprehensiveness: Ensure the contract is clear and comprehensive to avoid misunderstandings. This includes defining all parties' responsibilities, even for scenarios like the maintenance of client equipment.
- Adaptability: Circumstances can change. Your contract should be flexible enough to incorporate mutual termination clauses or adjustments in pricing or services as needed.
- Enforcement: Plan for dealing with breaches of the agreement, such as late payment penalties or provisions for resolving disputes.
- Legal review: Always have a legal professional review your contract. This helps ensure the contract is legally sound and adequately protects your business.
- Terms of Service: Some pool service providers opt for a Terms of Service agreement as an alternative to a full contract. This document outlines the general terms and expectations of service but may offer a different level of detail or protection than a full contract.
Common Pool Maintenance Service Issues
If you need more ideas for things to include in your pool service agreements, here are the most common issues that impede pool service:
Automated pool covers
These can present a problem if they're not in good working condition or left in place during your scheduled service times. They need to be removed for most types of pool service, and if they're broken or left in place, they can prevent you from doing your job.
A dog in the backyard might seem harmless enough, but an aggressive or anxious pet can risk your safety and prevent you from accessing the pool.
Severe weather conditions such as heavy rains, storms, or even extreme heat can make scheduled pool services unsafe or impractical.
Lack of Essential Supplies
If a pool owner fails to keep necessary chemicals or other supplies on hand, it can hamper the pool servicing process.
Pool equipment, such as pumps, filters, or heaters, can sometimes malfunction or fail. In such cases, servicing the pool becomes difficult until repairs or replacements are made.
Poor Water Conditions
Excessive debris, algae, or improper chemical balance can make a pool unserviceable until these conditions are addressed.
Unexpected Pool Damage
Cracks in the pool, broken tiles, or leaks can impede pool service. These issues often require repair before regular maintenance can continue.
Final thoughts: Do You Need a Pool Service Contract?
Short answer: yes.
No pool service professional should ever do business with a client without a comprehensive, robust contract. If your agreement doesn’t feel just a little bit neurotic, you’re probably not being thorough enough. It’s better to have it in place and not need it than not to have it when things go sideways — which, at some point, they will.
A service agreement is more than just a piece of paper. It's a tool that can help protect your business, manage client expectations, and build stronger relationships. Learn from real-world scenarios, anticipate the 'what ifs', and you'll be well on your way to protecting your hard-earned business, reputation, and customers.
For more information on how to start, manage, and scale your pool service business, check out these articles:
- How To Create A Pool Service Business Marketing Plan Focused On Growth
- Best Pool Maintenance Software: How To Increase Your Margins & Drive New Business (2023)
- How To Do SEO For Pool Businesses: Best Practices, Tips, & Tricks
To learn more about how service agreements can delight customers and protect your business, watch our recent webinar with the owner of Beyond Pool Cleaning and Skimmer ambassador, Bryce Sirrine, "Managing Customer Expectations: Service Contracts, Welcome Packets, and More."