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Webinar Recap: From 0 to 1000 Pools in 365 Days

March 14, 2024

When it comes to growing a business, there is a LOT of information out there. And with so many different ideas floating around, it’s hard to know just how to go about it. To give pool pros some actionable ideas to help fuel growth, Skimmer recently chatted with Casey Graham, CEO and co-founder of Yummy Pools, and author of ‘The No BS Small Business Book’ to get his tips for growing your pool service business.

This blog provides a really quick recap of Casey’s session, but we highly recommend watching the whole thing on demand

First things first: What’s your intent?

Your first step needs to be determining what you want out of your business.

Most business owners can talk for days about what they don’t want, what they’re tired of… that’s an easier question to answer. But what you do want is even more important because, ultimately, business growth is there to serve you and your life.

Casey shares the 5 growth motivators he’s encountered over his career:

  1. Personal profits
  2. Working less and enjoying life more
  3. Providing opportunities for other people
  4. Wanting to sell the company one day
  5. Leaving a family legacy, or leaving something for others

Regardless of what your growth motivator is, remember this advice:

“Don’t let people ‘should’ on your business… ‘you should do this,’ or ‘you should do that.’ That is up to you to decide. If you want to stay smaller in size or keep doing what you’re doing, that’s totally fine. But then don’t ‘should’ on people who do want to grow.” Casey Graham, CEO and Co-Founder of Yummy Pools

5 strategies for growing your pool service business

1. Focus! Do a few things really well

One of the roadblocks to growing a pool service business is doing too many things. You might start off cleaning pools and then do a small repair that leads to a renovation for a customer. Maybe someone calls and asks you to build a pool… The reality is that very few pool companies can do all the things and do them well.

Doing too much and offering too many services can create distractions, stretch your team too thin and stop you from doing one thing really really well, which can impede business growth.

But, if you focus on recurring revenue (the customers that need something done every week/month as opposed to one-off jobs), then you’ll be better equipped to hire and train staff and grow your business. According to Casey, recurring revenue allows you to have predictable revenue streams to make the hires you need to get you out of doing all of the day-to-day work.                            

So, how do you decide what to focus on? Simply put, it’s what you’re best at. According to Casey, the best way to start narrowing it down is to create a list of things you aren’t going to do. This can be things like one-off repairs, liner changes, cleanings etc, that you no longer want to do because they’re preventing you from focusing and gobbling up your time, effort, and energy.

When you offer fewer services, it’s easier to recruit people and train them to be specialists. It then becomes easier to measure, easier to bill, and easier to fire bad customers.

“The way for you to grow, the way for you to have more free time and the way for you to create a more valuable pool business [is] to kill certain service offerings that you have in your business that are taking a lot of your time, effort and energy. Often times they may be short-term profitable, but they're draining the long-term value of the business because you stay so busy doing all those things you don't focus on building the recurring revenue or the recurring growth inside the business,” says Casey.

2. Don’t be afraid to give up control

“You’ve gotta give up to go up. There’s always a trade-off of giving something up to be able to grow,” says Casey.

As a small business owner, it’s very tempting to control every single aspect of your business. And this isn’t a bad thing– it’s your reputation on the line, after all. But Casey cautions that you cannot control 100% of the things and still expect to grow. 

This is where you need to start bringing in folks that you trust to work in the business and get comfortable with letting go of certain tasks. 

According to Casey, your first hire should be someone to answer your calls, especially if you’re the one always out in the field. You don’t even have to hire someone full-time– there are call answering services available (Casey mentions Call Ruby as an example) to do it for you.

Your ultimate goal should be to focus on your team– building the team, training them, and trusting them with their area of the business– so they can focus on the customer. This frees you up to plan, strategize, network and work on the business instead of in it. 

3. Think creatively about customer acquisition

Casey knows a thing or two about leveraging paid marketing for growth. He grew Yummy Pools from 0 to 1000 pools in short order by thinking creatively about customer acquisition — growing by acquiring companies and routes and by leveraging Google in ways that very few in the pool industry are doing. 

Casey attributes a decent portion of Yummy Pools’ growth to his use of Google Local Service Ads. Local Services Ads are paid Google ads that will show up specifically for customers in your area. When a potential customer Googles “pool care near me” (or any similar term), your ad will pop up with a Google Guaranteed check mark, and an option to book, message or call your business. Unlike pay-per-click (PPC) ads, where you pay every time someone clicks on your ad, Local Service Ads are pay-per-lead, meaning you only pay when someone actually gets in touch with your business. 

“It is pure gold, and it is pure money waiting to be made,” says Casey. 

The catch, according to Casey (and likely why very few pool pros are doing this) is that it’s not easy to set up. You may be asked questions about your business license and insurance or even be asked to provide pictures of local street signs to verify your location. 

But Casey says it's well worth it once it’s set up. 

“It costs me $20 [per lead] on Google Local Service Ads. And our close rate is about 55% to 60% of all of those phone calls that come in. Think about the ROI on that. If I'm selling 40 new pools a month at $325 to $350 a month, and I'm only spending $2,000 a month in ads, I literally have positive ROI in month one." 

Casey goes on to say that reaping the benefits of Local Service Ads isn’t difficult, but there’s one thing you MUST do to make it worthwhile: 

“Answer the phone. The reason most pool professionals don't answer the phone is because they're doing the pool work. So if you want to grow your business, step away from the pool, step away from the customer, focus on your team, do Google Local Service Ads, and you're going to get calls in.”

4. Take care of your employees

“People quit bosses, not companies.” Casey Graham, CEO and Co-Founder of Yummy Pools

According to Casey, pool service companies have a problem when it comes to finding and keeping great employees. 

“I call it the hologram carrot,” he says. 

“Pool company owners are famous for getting a new technician, or a new service tech, or a new construction manager, and they put this hologram carrot out there to say, 'oh we're gonna allow you to start here, but you can go be a repair guy and make this much money, and you can do that one day.' And that's the conversation. 'Now go clean your pools.' And then they have to bring that conversation back up again with you about, hey, where's that pay or where's that advancement.” 

One surefire way to get ahead of this is to use formal job letters when hiring. This will make you stand out from other companies and also serve as a contract with that employee. In this letter, you can map out rates, job descriptions, and growth paths for the employee (and it also protects you if an employee isn’t fulfilling their job requirements). 

Understand employee motivation to support growth 

Casey says that overall, people are motivated by one of three things: Advancement, money or freedom. And it’s up to you as a manager to understand your teams’ motivations. 

Advancement people 

Advancement people are the ones who come in and say, “Hey, what can I do next and when can I do it?”. 

Casey says that only about 20% of your employees will actually be the advancement type. To find these people, look for certain behaviours. People who want to advance will be the ones to call you and say, can I go ride along with that person to learn that skill? How does this work in the company? 

The biggest thing you can do for these folks is help them understand what advancement will look like and when it will happen. Give them a schedule that serves as a commitment from you (in writing, of course) and includes things like pay, additional duties etc. 

Money people 

Casey says that you should be trying to pay your people as much as you can. This might sound counterintuitive if your goal is growth, but if you’re constantly battling employee turnover, you’re never going to grow. You’re going to spend all your time hiring and training. Whereas if you strive to give your employees more, they’ll be more likely to give more to you. 

But how do you know if your people are driven by advancement or money? 

It’s pretty simple– money people are always asking to work more. When you need folks to work on Saturdays or Sundays, they're the people who volunteer. 

Casey says that retention bonuses are the best way to motivate and retain these people. When new employees start at Yummy Pools, if they show up 100% of the days for the first 60 days, they get $500 cash and a $1 per hour raise. When they make it to 90 days, they get a $250 bonus just for being employed after 90 days. At six months, they get $1,000, and then $1,500 after a year. 

Freedom people 

The third category is freedom people — folks who value independence. They want to show up, get their job done, and go home. 

The biggest way to keep these folks happy is to not ask them to do extra. And it’s not that they’re not team players, they just highly value their time — specifically their time not spent at work. 

Understanding what category your employees fall into will help you create customized retention plans for everyone. Retaining employees, instead of being in constant hiring mode, creates consistency and quality service for your customers and ultimately benefits your business.

5. Don’t be afraid of technology

“It isn’t the future. It’s the now. Pen and paper will only take you so far,” says Casey.

“I can't tell you how many owners I meet with that have everything in their head or on a sheet of paper. You’ve got to get it out of your head and into the right technology. It’s impossible to grow without that,” he says.

6 benefits of great pool service software:

  1. Fewer errors thanks to automation.
  2. The ability to track service history and maintenance schedules for your client’s pool ensures you don’t miss client appointments, stay on top of your maintenance, and keep your client happy.
  3. Improved customer satisfaction as you can enhance the customer experience through features that allow for easy appointment booking, automated reminders, and quick issue resolution.
  4. Better team collaboration thanks to messaging and chat features for real-time communication, shared access to information, and collaborative scheduling.
  5. Increased profitability and better cash flow due to billing and reporting features and optimized scheduling and routing that minimizes fuel costs and maximizes daily jobs.
  6. Centralized data allows technicians to find and access the information they need quickly, reduces errors that may occur when data is stored in multiple locations, and improves decisions as you can access a comprehensive view of your business.

Finding software that becomes your partner in growth and is there to help support you is key. Casey credits Skimmer as a great software that helped him scale, thanks to the support of the Skimmer team.

Check out the full webinar (including Q&A) on-demand here. You can also sign up for Casey’s pool tips newsletter for even more helpful tips on growing your pool care business!

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