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Buying a Pool Route – Pros & Cons

I have written and deleted this article at least five times. So I’ve decided the easiest way to convey my opinion on this is to relay details of actual conversations I’ve had with people. I will omit details of the encounters I’ve had with people with zero experience in the pool industry and are looking to change careers. That’s a whole other subject. Let’s assume we are all in the industry already and have basic knowledge of how things work. I’m not going to say something like, “you know what a Pentair Quad DE filter is, right?”.

So you’re thinking of buying a route. Why? Most often, it’s because circumstances have changed. Maybe a new financial burden has appeared. Perhaps an old friend is in hard times and reached out to you for a job. What can you do to “fix” the problem, and fast? Buy a route. Have that instant income on your books and move forward. Is it that simple? Well, it can be, yes. You have to be a particular type of person, though. It may be the best option for you if you do not want to create an advertising campaign. Believe it or not, there is an incredible amount of people in the pool service industry that HATE sales! It’s usually a combination of the person being shy by nature, or they have had little to no success in advertising in the past. In this context, buying a route is very appealing. But you may ask me now, “how can you hate sales and be in this industry?

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Buying a Pool Route

No matter what, we always have to sell ourselves and our services. And if you buy a route, you still have to sell yourself to the homeowner as the new pool service!?”. Everything you just said is spot on! And you’re right; we still have to sell ourselves to the customer no matter if we purchased it or advertised and bid to get it. I will go back to my previous comment…there is an incredible number of people who HATE sales! This does not mean they hate getting new accounts. There is a difference between buying accounts and bidding on accounts. When purchasing an account, what are you getting? A customer that is already familiar with pool service. A customer that already has the price for service in place. A customer with an address you already know—a customer you may only have to meet briefly to introduce yourself as the continued service. EVERYTHING is the same…except the face in the back yard. And this is why thousands of pools are bought every single year.

Let’s hop to the counter-argument for a moment. “But the route is so expensive! I could take those thousands of dollars and spend on advertising and get twice as many pools!”. Bully for you guy…bully for you. I’ll remind you…you don’t have a problem with sales, advertising, marketing, uncertainty, etc. Please understand me; I’m not against you; I am one of you! I love sales! Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I am personable and like meeting new people. And for a certainty, I like saving money!!! “Ok, Joe, so you’re one of us, cool. But there’s no certainty in buying a route! Everyone knows you end up losing on average about 10% or so of the accounts you buy. So in a way, it’s riskier. What’s your counter-argument to that big shot!?”. Well, I don’t have one. You’re again spot on with what you just said. If a route sale is made the correct way (there is a right and wrong way to do it, it’s all about risk management), there are guarantees in place to protect the buyer and the seller. Usually, it’s a 30-90 day pro-rated money-back arrangement. If a customer sells their house 30 days after I bought the account, I should get some money back. If I make a mistake and damage something on the property and get fired, I probably won’t get my money back. These details are all sorted out between the buyer and seller, usually on a per case basis. May I remind you, Mr. I’ll never buy a pool account? You get no guarantee of any kind. The money you spend to acquire the understanding through advertising is gone no matter what.

What About the Money?

So let’s now shift the attention to the advertisers. Are you saving that much money? And before all of you, “I don’t spend money on anything! I do word of mouth and free social media sites”. I’m not speaking to you. This article is for those that spend money to acquire new accounts.

To all those that say, “I would take that money and spend on targeted ads, and I would CRUSH it. I’d get five times the customers doing it that way”. Guy…really. First of all, you’re not going to drop $30,000 on ads, so let’s take the tough guy tone down a notch. If you were spending that, you’d be a multi-millionaire, so why are you arguing with people on FB when they’re asking about their small-ball business decisions? Ok, my rant is over; let’s get serious. To those who make a sound argument for buying a route, let’s say they spend about 1/10th the customer acquisition price. So if an account costs $1000 to buy, they spent $100 to acquire through advertising. It seems like a no-brainer, right? Does that account only cost $100? So you paid $100 for the ad you’re running. How long did it take to make the ad? How long did it take you to get that customer? If you didn’t get any bites on that ad the first month, are you going to spend another $100 the next month and hope to get two customers? Ahhhhh. Catch my drift here? These are things the route purchaser doesn’t have to think about. He spent his money, has the accounts, and is going about his business freely.

Our mission is to have every pool company work together to maximize profit, minimize travel time between stops and be kind to the planet. We do this by enabling the swapping of accounts to build efficient routes.

Joe Wilmot, President/CEO of Pool Trader

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