Pool Route Purchase

Before I even start, I need to clarify something. You have to think of a pool route purchase. In this context…you are buying a business. Does that bring a little more weight to the situation? But this is precisely what you’re thinking of doing. This subject is talked about very casually within the industry. And a lot of the time, there are more who are against it than for it. They claim, “I can take that same money and advertise to build my business for way cheaper.” And these people aren’t wrong. I have done this personally! But is it that much cheaper?

Let’s tell a hypothetical story and timeline of 2 pool pros. Their names will be Rudy and Joe. Rudy has decided to purchase a route of 40 customers while Joe has decided to build from the ground up by advertising only, but his goal is also 40 customers. In this story, I’ll use others’ real-life details in the pool industry while some made-up but realistic information. Like Rudy and Joe – excellent fake names 😊

Pool Route Purchase

Rudy goes online and searches for a pool route for sale. He gets “routed” to a pool broker. He finds the 40 pool route in the general area he wants to operate, and the price is $50,000. The broker provides the details, paperwork, notary, escrow, warranty (90-day pro-rated money-back guarantee if the customer is lost at no fault of Rudy), etc., and the broker makes a 10% fee for this service. (this usually comes out of the seller’s side) Rudy doesn’t need any training, and he’s fully knowledgeable in the pool industry. He starts working right away and has a monthly income of $4,000 for service. Repairs and additional services are extra per our industry standard. So let’s leave Rudy for the moment and meet Joe.

Pool Route Purchase

Joe is going to advertise and build from the ground up.  He thinks he can do this for 1/10th the cost and get just as many customers. Joe set’s aside $5,000 and begins to create his ad campaign. He spends two days getting everything in order, logo, wording on the ads, FB marketplace account, Google account, etc. He even creates a profile on a couple of other social media platforms to advertise for free! The ads launch, and the posts are made. One week passes, Joe has zero accounts. The second week goes by, and the traffic has started to come in.

The phone is ringing, and Joe is going out on bids and estimates. End of week 2, Joe has two clients on the books. Week 3 comes, and the traffic has dipped just a little bit, but Joe ended up getting two more customers for a total of 4. Week 4 is here. Joe continues to have the ads run every week. He is making posts almost every day on the free sites. The best week yet, Joe gets 3 for a new total of 7 at the end of one month. The monthly income on the books is $700 going into month 2.

Buying a Pool Route lll

At the end of the month, Rudy lost two customers. One was his fault, he left the gate open, and the dog got out. The other wasn’t his fault; the owner sold the house, and Rudy couldn’t keep the account. Rudy decides he will give a couple of customers an incentive; if they advertise word of mouth for him, he’ll compensate with a month of free service if he gets new accounts. So his monthly income is down to $3800, but he did get a credit back for the one customer. Joe did the same thing as Rudy, and he gave them an incentive to all his customers to help him grow and compensate with a month of free service.

Let’s move to month two now. Rudy ends up getting one new customer and ends the month with 39 total. Nothing else to report on Rudy; let’s visit Joe. That’s far more exciting!

Joe is hitting his stride! He tripled his business and now has 21 accounts. He decided to double down the amount on the ad spend each week, and he also doubled the amount of time he spends on social media. But, he has not increased his original amount of the $5,000 ad spend, just increased the weekly spend to speed things up. And a few customers referred him to new clients to have some free service coming once the new customers have stayed on for at least a couple of months. Joe is no fool. In a previous venture, he would promise free service before verifying an excellent new client. Not this time. End of month 2, Joe has $2100 incoming on the books. Half his ad spend is gone at this point.

Month 3 – Rudy is unchanged. He has 39 accounts and $3900 on the books. Back to Joe

Joe decided to keep the higher ad spend in place. He is confident he will get to 40 accounts this month but doesn’t hit the goal. He got a few new customers, but he also lost one because he left the gate open. These darn gates are hard to remember to close when you’re so busy. And that customer had also referred Joe to one of the new clients, so Joe lost that one too because they want to use the same pool service. Lame. But Joe stays positive, and he ends the month with 28 accounts and $2800 now on the books.

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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Buying a Pool Route – Part ll

You are on the hook, Mr. advertiser. You are always waiting for the phone to ring in the hopes it’s a new potential client. Then you have to get their info. Then you have to make the bid. Then you may have to wait until they have gained two other offers from other services before you know if it’s going to be you. Don’t forget…I am one of you, Mr. advertiser. I’m not bagging on you. I’m just saying out loud what no one else seems to say. So did that one account only cost you $100? What is your time worth? Are you keeping track? This is Buying a Pool Route – Part ll

Buying a Pool Route
Buying a Pool Route – Part ll

I’ve Done Both

In my decade-plus in this industry, I have both bought and sold pool accounts. I’ve also advertised throughout my career. What are the pros and cons I’ve personally experienced? In buying a route, while it is more expensive out of the gate for these accounts, the peace of knowing it’s done is precious to me. Knowing I don’t have to advertise because I’m instantly booked is a beautiful feeling. And although the stress of the financial obligation is real, I would have that anyway being in business for myself.

While advertising to fill your route may not hurt your wallet as bad out of the gate, it can add up over time. And you’re always in “sales mode.” I don’t mind that, and thousands of other pool pros feel the same. I’m in business for myself, so I’m in sales mode anyway most of the time. It boils down to what type of person are you? Would you rather have the company in place for a higher price? Or would you instead build it from the ground up for less out of pocket but more time involved?

Buying a Pool Route – Part ll

Some of the things not mentioned above. When a route purchase goes bad! Does it happen? Yes. Why? Usually, the purchase didn’t involve due diligence. There are some nasty people out there, even in the pool industry. Shocking! No matter what you’re buying, don’t just take people at their word! That is the number one complaint on these transactions; the seller wasn’t honest about it. Could it have been avoided?

In most cases, yes! No one held a gun to your head and made you buy that route. Was it a good deal, right? And the guy has to move out of state in 2 weeks because of some emergency, so you need to act fast and with cash. Or even worse are the stories that involve a broker. Now, these can be gut-wrenching. You go through an entity that you are supposed to be able to trust. You sign the paperwork, you have things notarized, you even have the money go through escrow! Is it a concrete safe transaction, right? LOL… no more than a car dealership, my friends.

Similar Article Buying a Pool Route – Pros & Cons

They Didn’t Even Kiss Me First!

Do you know someone that’s said, “I’m never going to a dealership ever again!”? Pool pros say the same about brokers. Does that mean brokers are bad? No. Does that mean you should never buy a route through a broker? No. But if you do go that “route,” know what the potential risks are. Like you would with any purchase, right?

On the advertising side. You could spend a lot of money and get zero accounts. Knee jerk response usually is, “well, you should expect that you dope, no one uses door hangers anymore” or “they didn’t know what they are doing. I know how to make killer FB Goog ads, and my phone rings non stop”. Again…bully for you, guy, drive for you. This doesn’t make my statement false. People will lose money on advertising, FACT. Does that make it the wrong choice? No. Does that mean I shouldn’t advertise and buy a route? No.

The Good, The Bad, and The WTF Did I Just Do?

It means there are risks on both sides of the pool. You have to decide what kind of person you are and what your risk tolerance is. There is no right or wrong way, and there are pros and cons.

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

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?

Similar Article Increase Your Pool Knowledge

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

How To Compete With The Internet

Maybe we shouldn’t…

Maybe those Mother Fathers should compete with us

Somewhere along the way, when these e-commerce powerhouses first came about, they managed to convince us that we would need to compete with them to maintain market share. So we did, and in doing that, we fell right into their trap. The Internet giants had tricked Mom & Pop companies into not being Mom & Pop companies anymore. They lured us into a head to head battle on their playing field, and we found ourselves in the unfamiliar and potentially unprofitable territory, in an attempt to compete with internet pricing ?

Compete with internet pricing Photo Credit: Dave Tisch Tischhauser

Who are they to think they can hold us at gunpoint with a price gun?

Competing on price is a war we can’t win. Their path of destruction already includes retail goliaths such as Toys R Us and K-mart. Others that are fighting to keep their heads above water include: Sears, Macy’s, JC Penny’s, Nordstrom’s, and the list goes on and on. If these mega-retailers are getting their asses kicked by Amazon Prime, how is a pool service company or a pool store going to survive?

“How to” Compete With The Internet

I have seen dozens of “How to” articles covering everything from suggesting that we refuse to install, to adding an “Amazon Tax” on equipment. Others have suggested offering same-day delivery and focusing on quality, and we should focus on quality, but with online companies now offering pool service and equipment installation, is that going to be enough? It is a huge problem and a heated subject for pool service companies when their customers can find items on the internet at better prices than they can get from distribution.

Feeling Froggy? ? Go ahead, Leap!

If we intend to hold our own, we are going to have to make e-commerce fight our fight. We need to offer something that the internet cannot, no matter how hard they try. We need to kick it old school and compete Mom & Pop style. I’m not talking about merely focussing on customer service, I’m kinda hoping that we are already doing that. I’m talking about that old school turn of the century general store experience that made a consumer feel as if they were your only customer in every interaction. Not just customer service but Personal Customer Service. This is how we win.

compete with Internet Pool Stores that have no overhead costs

There is research available that supports this. A study conducted by pwc-consumer-intelligence shows that 86% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it is accompanied by excellent customer experience. Yes, I said experience. This goes beyond customer service. We are starting to see that we are on the cusp of a turn back to a desire for Personal Service over a low price, and it looks as though this trend is gaining momentum.

Similar Story: Afraid to Raise Your Price for Pool Service? ?

People don’t want to do business with a company, they want to do business with a person, so be a person. Heck, I’ve even been considering taking a step from the realtors and adding a picture to my business cards. I know a bunch of y’all just said “ef that!” in your heads, or maybe out loud, but times are changing, and folks would rather see a face than a logo.

REPRESENTATIVE!!!

I know that the guy that services my ac unit is married with two daughters and a son because they use a family picture for their Christmas cards. Post a picture every now and then of your kid up to bat, or with the fish, they just reeled in. Join local “Word of Mouth” groups on social media and post about when you have a great customer experience (Also find the “search this group” prompt in the left sidebar and type in the words “Swimming Pool” to see how many questions you can answer and offer your contact info to help.)

Are you Sterile?

Don’t create a sterile web presence. You should have your name on your website. Don’t limit a picture of yourself to the “About me” tab alone. Add a photo that welcomes someone to the page they just pulled up. The same holds true with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Pools are not all you do, post pictures of things people can relate to. Think of your customer base. Mirror your market. Stay away from stock photos, use your own. Post things that state you can do things the internet cannot!

If you meet with a Manufacturer’s Rep Poolside, Let people know that you do that ? Rudy Stankowitz (Me) and Tom Perugini (BioLab rep)

Know your customer as you would know a friend. Learn your customer’s names, if you have a ton, learn as many as you can, and greet them by name and like your happy to see them. Ask how their son did in that curling tournament they told you he’d be in. Did you buy the boat you were talking about? People like to talk about themselves, and what people talk about are things that are important to them. Shut the F**k Up & Listen‼ If you listen to what they are saying, they will tell you exactly what they want to purchase and the essential things in their lives that you should ask them about at your next interaction. Obviously, use some common sense here. Asking someone how their colonoscopy went ?‍♂️ just because they mentioned it to you is one where you may just want to pass.

Are you patronizing me?

If they’re doing business with you, you should be doing business with them. Does your customer own a local business? When you need whatever product or service it is that they offer, you should be securing that from them. This scores buku points in building loyalty. If you just thought in your head “yeah, but my customer charges more than other stores.” – please go back to the top of the article and read your way down again. ?

Internet Companies can be many things, but they cannot be you.

 

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?Talking pools is a drama-free group that focuses on recreational water as a whole vs. a single “niche.” The goal is to broadening the knowledge base. Peo…

Top 30 #SwimmingPool Hashtags

#swimmingpool

Top 30 #SwimmingPool Hashtags

WARNING: You’re Losing Money if You’re Not Using #Hashtags

According to Twitter, Tweets with hashtags can increase engagement by almost 100% for individuals and 50% for brands. Try not to use a category too broad. Although hashtags like #water will put your post in front of a vast audience, keep in mind that you will have a single post buried in a mass of thousands. You’re more likely to get lost in the mix than noticed. Top 30 #SwimmingPool Hashtags on Instagram & Twitter

Top 30 #swimmingpool Hashtags

How Many Hashtags?

Two #hashtags per tweet seems to be the magic number on Twitter. Choose wisely, it may take some experimentation but remember… the lifespan of a tweet is roughly 15 minutes.

Top 30 #swimmingpool Hashtags

The rules of Instagram are a bit different. I think the engagement stats are similar, if not the same, as above. Adding #hashtags will likely double your engagement, but Instagram is where #hashtags reign supreme. Here, more is better. Much more is much better. 10 or more per post seems to yield the best results.

Feel Free to Cut & Paste from the Hashtag list below: 

#swimmingpools by @CPOclass : #swimming_pool  #swimming  #swimming_time  #swimminghole  #swimmingday  #swimmingfun  #swimmingtime  #swimminglessons  #swimmingcoach  #swimmingpool  #swimminglesson  #swimmingpooldesign  #swimmingisfun  #swimmingtime    #swimmingpooltime  #swimmingtime  #swimmingsuit  #swimming_pools  #swimminggirls  #swimmingtraining  #swimmingdog  #swimmingislife  #swimmingcostume  #swimmingsuits  #swimminglife  #swimmingwear  #swimmingpoolparty

 

We ask that you kindly tag our handle @CPOclass when you paste the list above that we have assembled for you. TYIA

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How You Can Help a Friend’s Small Business Grow

#SmallBusinessEveryday ?

How To Help a Friend’s Small Business Grow

It would be great if everyone patronized the small businesses that were owned by friends. If you have a need for whatever product it is that they offer, you definitely should. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Would you do more to help your friend’s business whether you need their product or not? What if it didn’t have to cost you a dime? Here’s how to help a friend’s small business grow 4 ?

What’s the Gimmick?

No Gimmick! There are actually quite a few things you can do to help a friend’s small business that won’t cost you any money, or take any real-time. That’s the beauty of the world today. With everything so device-oriented, you can really help someone to grow their business for free.

Be a Patron

Karambit by Hand Forged by Mike Scandiffio

Okay, I know. I said for Free. But, this seemed like a good place to start. I’ll explain. If you do actually need the product or service that your friend offers, please indulge. Even if you could get the item a few dollars cheaper on Amazon, or whatever, support your friend. Support local businesses.

This is just one example. I collect knives. I have for some time. Honestly, it was my Dad that got me into this. Through the wonder of Facebook, in reconnecting with folks from my past, I learned recently that a friend from High School had a side business as a forge. How effin cool is that? So, when I decided I wanted to add a kuku bima ? to my collection it was a no-brainer. It took a little bit longer and cost a few dollars more than if I were to have purchased it online, but for me, it was totally worth it. My friend Mike forged this amazing Karambit, which for me adds tremendous value that it was custom made by a kid that I used to hang out with back in the 80s.

Like it! Comment! Share it!

I Liked it on Facebook

Liking or sharing a friend’s post on Facebook, or any other form of social media (Twitter, Instagram, etc) is an amazing way to help. Heck, you’re on Facebook anyway and you do see these things pop up if you have Liked their businesses page. You have liked their business’ page, haven’t you? When you like, share, or comment on a business-post you are helping to create awareness for that brand. Did you know that the more activity there is on a post, the more people the powers-that-be at Facebook will show it to? It’s true. Something as simple as clicking the FB Like will help your friend’s post reach a larger audience, although the FB algorithm does give move value to reactions ?❤??, so use one of those instead. ?? How cool is that?

On top of that, you can just share something on your own without waiting for your buddy to post something. See what I did above with the Karambit? When I received the knife ? that Mike had made for me, I took a photo and posted it to Facebook and made sure to link it back to his business page. I didn’t purchase it with the intent of doing that, however, that is exactly what I had done when it arrived.

Like it! Comment! Share it! Write it!

Sharing is Caring

Does your friend maintain a blog for their business (Hint, Hint)? Sharing, commenting, or liking a blog post will have the same effect as mentioned above, but in a one-two punch. Killing two birds with one stone so to speak. What do I mean? If your friend has created a blog for their business they have done so with the hopes of that blog increasing traffic to their website. So, in addition to creating awareness benefits, we have mentioned above in taking these actions with Facebook, here we are also assisting in improving their SEO. That’s huge!

Do you maintain a blog? Why not do a product review or an interview. Folks are always looking for a means of creating content. I can’t think of a better means of doing this and I cannot think of any other that is a Zero-sum Game. A win, win. Take a look at what I did above with the knife my friend Mike had made for me. This post isn’t even a product review or anything like that. Heck, I actually was utilizing the story as an example of something I did. Yet, there is a picture of his product along with all of his contact information. (fyi: his craftsmanship is pretty badass if you are looking for something custom for yourself).

I had even written two paragraphs in this post that speak briefly on the history behind the decision and the added value I believed the knife ? to have. I also linked his company name in the caption back to his company’s Facebook page. Why not write about your friend’s business if it is not too far a stretch from your niche.

How To Help a Friend’s Small Business

Telephone, Tell a Friend

Know the service that your friend offers and listen for opportunities to promote them. The same as you would do with any service you would have had a great experience with. I’m not saying you have to vouch for them if you have never used their company. I’m not suggesting we fabricate things. However, if you hear of someone that is looking for something that happens to be your compadre’s specialty, why not recommend them/ if you don’t want to testify to the quality of their work, then don’t. You can still say “Hey, I heard you were looking for XYZ. I have a friend from High School that does that.”

You better believe that if I hear someone say that they are looking for a custom knife I am going to recommend my friend Mike. Who do you know that operates a small business and what can you do on social media to help them to grow? Maybe you know someone with a pool blog ? Just saying ?

How To Help a Friend’s Small Business Grow

Be the Difference, Spread the Word, Share this Post!

 

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Why Fire Your Customer?

Sometimes The Customer is Wrong‼

 

and, sometimes your customer is an absolute Asshat, a treacherous snake ? in the grass that makes your life a living hell ?… Not all of them; in fact, most of your clientele are awesome, but there are bad apples. ?

“The Customer is always right” is an old school philosophy regarding customer service, ingrained in the masonry walls of the brick and mortar buildings of businesses; conjuring images of clientele who seemingly possessed more authority than the CEO of the establishment.. Heck, Stew Leonard’s has even had the words chiseled in stone (literally) in front of one of their supermarket locations. It does make perfect sense; after all, we do want happy customers. We are not mind readers so the thought process involved was solid in assuming that the only person who could tell us how to provide a patron with a satisfying shopping/purchasing decision was the patron him or herself.

 

It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person.” – Bill Murray

I would like to think that people are good and honest only seeking solutions that are a zero-sum game. Everyone involved desiring a resolution that is a true win/win where all parties involved achieve a mutually beneficial resolution. Like I said, I would like to think that; but I cannot. The truth of the matter is that sometimes you will come across a customer who is a real nudnick. No matter what you do, you are not going to be able to please them. They whittle away at your time, your patience, and ultimately at your profits. These parasitic abysses of discontent will eventually suck the life out of you and your business if you allow it.

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” -Bruce Lee

Match.com boasts that they can match an individual to their potential mate. Pairing a customer to a product or service takes no less skill. Bait and switch could be a factor in a failed coupling, though it could also be a much more honest error resulting from poor communication on the part of the service provider. It is essential to provide a clear expectation to those would be occupants of our accounts receivables lists. A well-written service agreement stating who is responsible for what, what your service includes and does not, as well as specifying what responsibilities are those of the customer should aid in minimizing misperception.


You’re Fired!” –  President Donald Trump

Okay, so we did all that. Signed service agreement in hand, but my customer is still a major PIA (Pain in the Arse). If they are demanding more and more of your time and are continually asking for items, or tasks, that your agreed upon level of service (What they are paying you for) does not include, they may not be your customer. An individual who continually requests applesauce is not going to be happy if you specialize in citrus and your offerings are grapefruits and oranges. If you are unable to sell them on the benefits of the higher vitamin C content, it is in the best interest of everyone involved to thank the singleton for visiting your grove and wish him or her luck in his or her search for a suitable orchard.

“Sign, signs, everywhere signs” – The Five Man Electrical Band

Did you see the signs? Does the customer seem squirrely? To avoid potential future issues we should establish a practice of vetting potential clientele. There are always indicators at the beginning of every relationship, no matter how subtle, that serve as clues providing insight into the path that a marriage will take. We are not talking about the traditional husband and wife ceremony, but the marriage between a company and its customers.

  • Did you have “Pre-service” Jitters?
    • Something just doesn’t feel right from the very start
  • Does the customer have a history of “divorce”?
    • Have they gone through a series of service companies
  • Do they complain nonstop about their ex?
    • Happy to tell you everything they hate about their last service company (Every chance they get)
  • Is your customer coming into the relationship with debt?
    • Do you remember the Creditreport.com band?
  • Are they always right, meaning that you are always wrong?
  • Do they cheat on you?
    • Asking friends, neighbors, or competitors for advice on your service
    • Compare you to…. youtube????
  • Control Freak?
    • Monitoring and watching every move, you make.
  • Consider other key factors: Property appearance, unkempt lawn, dilapidated home, Late Payments, etc…

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“Nobody loves me but my mother, and she could be jivin’ too” – B.B. King

You just started your business and you need to build a clientele list if you are going to survive. I get it – we need to get money coming in. Maybe we are too excited to vet our new addition to the family, or maybe at this point it just does not matter. In either case, we somehow end up with the customers that nobody else wanted. We put up with a lot more than we would be willing to deal with if we were not just starting out. This is normal, but you have to go into this knowing that this is your “starter” customer and “starter” customers must have an expiration date. Remember, if you keep something beyond the expiration date, it will spoil and rot.

“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.” – Vince Lombardi

You started your company and built your service routes, but you notice that you are covering quite a large area and have accumulated a fair amount of “satellite” customers. A “satellite” customer is a client whose home or business is a good distance from that of the clusters of locations on your routes that have formed creating your service areas. You are now functioning as a “Star” service company. This is not a good thing. A “Star” service company operates in a logistical nightmare traveling great distances accruing vast amounts of windshield time in lieu of servicing accounts. You cover several counties in a single day to reach your clientele (One over here, than over there, another that way) in a giant star pattern across a county (or several counties), becoming the profitless “Star” service hobo.

☝ Does your service route look like this?

Rectifying this can all too often can involve “downsizing” and eliminating what would be the ideal customer if not for location. Sadly, a service pro does not make money while sitting in his or her truck. Understanding that Mel Gibson is the only one who can make money as a Road Warrior (Yes, I know Charlize Theron did it too and my comments do only apply to service routes), sometimes you will have to make tough decisions in order to reduce the amount of time and distance in-between customers, thus tightening your route. This comes down to basic customer management and segmentation. Identifying and eliminating customer locations that no longer make sense is essential.

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Don’t Undercut the Market ✂

Value-Based Pricing

A service priced below market value is often perceived as a low quality service

This is Dick. Dick wanted to own his own business and decided he would start a pool service company. He was determined to do everything the right way.

He set up an account with the local distributor and purchased all the needed supplies. He made sure that he had insurance and would get the proper licensing. He got his first few customers quickly, but word of mouth would be slow to develop, and he did not think advertising would be a wise decision.

Dick had failed to establish a marketable point of difference that added worth to his brand. He did not have the experience or knowledge that his competitors possessed. Instead of investing in education and increasing his skill set, Dick came up with an idea.

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Dick decided that the best way for him to compete with so many other pool companies would be to cut his prices drastically below what everyone else was charging.

His plan worked! Dick quickly amassed a large group of customers. He was very proud that his business had grown so quickly. Dick thought of himself as a marketing genius.

In competing on price instead of competing on value, Dick acquired quite a few customers that no one else wanted. He built a clientele that was only with him for price, and they nickel and dimed him every step of the way. These were not really Dick’s customers. They were customers of the lowest dollar. Building a clientele based on price would prove to be a dangerous strategy.

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Dick’s schedule was full. He had pools to clean from dusk till dawn. Still, something didn’t seem right. Dick found his customers to be challenging and demanding. They were reluctant to approve items necessary to maintain their pools (O-rings, baskets, gauges, etc.). This made his job harder, and he was having trouble keeping up. He was going to need some help.

Dick ran an ad in the local paper, and the results were less than promising. He wasn’t able to offer a very high wage. Although Dick had many customers, he had undercut the market so drastically that he could not afford to pay much. He could not offer any benefits. No one wants to work for Dick.

 

Dick didn’t know what to do and was quickly becoming overwhelmed. His phone was constantly ringing, not a bad problem, but many of the calls were complaints. Unable to find help, he would start to cut corners to make his company profitable. This caused his pools to suffer. Some of the other Pool Service companies in the area gave Dick the nickname “Splash n Dash,” others called him “Dump n Run,” potential customers didn’t call…

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It wasn’t long before Dick began to avoid his phone calls from the customers he still had. He started skipping pools on his route to catch up. He was receiving bad reviews and was damaging his company’s name.

 

Dick was broke. His truck was in the shop, and he could not afford repairs. He owed the local suppliers money, and they began to refuse to fill his orders. Dick had run his company like an employee, not an entrepreneur. There was never much left after he paid himself.

Dick’s company eventually went out of business. He was deep in debt and unsure of how he would recover; phone calls from collection agents had now become the norm. The stress had taken a horrible toll on his family. The handful of good customers that Dick had on his route were now left with a bad taste in their mouths toward swimming pool service companies altogether. The pricing Dick had set for his company lowered the value of pool service in his area and severely damaged the market.

-The Moral of the Story-

When you charge a Fee for Service below the market value, you diminish your business’s worth and erode that service’s value for everyone in that area that offers it.

Don’t be like Dick. If you own a company or are considering starting one, do your due diligence and determine what the market will bear before you begin. Make sure that you allot for the necessary certifications, insurance, and licensure (where required). Ensure the profit margin is high enough on each job that it supports all the expenses necessary to be a business, plus unexpected vehicle repairs and maybe an employee down the road if needed.

If you do not have enough education in the field, there are many resources throughout the industry available to you. Many of the manufacturers offer training on their products at no cost. Trade organizations are a tremendous resource for educational opportunities. Invest in and attend a CPO Certification class for starters (That would be a good one!). If you still do not have the skillset you need, work for someone for a couple of years before venturing out. If you do not believe you bring enough to the table to compete on value, step back and wait until you do. If you are not valuable enough to charge the going rate (or more), the product you are offering is not of value.

⁉if the above is not the case, and you have the skills, why, for Pete’s sake, would you not charge what you are worth??

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How To Raise Pool Service Prices

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Raise Pool Service Prices

If your customer base is with you because of price, you are doing it wrong! ?

Raise Pool Service Prices

Price increases are just part of the business. Everybody knows this, and nobody likes it. They do not have to like it, but they do expect it – whether they will admit it or not. The majority of folks will be fine with it, no matter how much they grumble at first. Look at yourself as an example: You are notified, as most swimming pool service companies are from time to time, that your pool supply distributor is looking to increase pricing. Ugh!!! ? Your initial reaction is to bitch, moan, and complain. You’re pissed off, but that eventually, that fades. You understand that this is just part of doing business. Did you price shop other distributors in your area? Probably not; most don’t. Unless the increase was completely ludicrous (not the rapper, that’s Ludacris), you probably just sucked it up and moved on. After a while, the whole thing fades from memory, and you do not even think about it anymore. Raise Pool Service Prices.

What will the market bear?

You will have to do your homework here. It’s a simple question “What do your competitors charge.” Whether you like it or not, this is something that you will need to take into consideration. Price shopping your competition periodically is a good exercise in determining how much people in your area are willing to pay for the service type you offer. It should also provide a little peace of mind in subduing your fears of your clientele flocking to a competitor upon announcing an increase in rates.

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Be mindful of current inflation rates.

People tend to be more accepting of increases in line with the current rate of inflation. Of course, this is assuming that your current price structure is already in line with the market. You’ll need to keep tabs on this and adjust your pricing accordingly. Inflation rates change every month, but altering your pricing monthly is a bit absurd. Adjusting your pricing regularly will be more in line with increases from other vendors that your clientele already face. This will make your upward adjustment easier to swallow. The forecast inflation rate, according to Forbes, for 2019, is 3%.

Timing is everything! ⏱

Let’s take a lesson from retail here. Most big box stores implement price increases heading into the Christmas holiday, October-ish. In the swimming pool industry, our Christmas is Memorial Day Weekend. DO NOT wait until May to implement a price increase – this will make you a Jerk. Please give it a couple of months. I would look for this to take effect in the first week of April. Far enough away from the official start of pool season and most likely unnoticed due to tax season’s crunch.

Never Never Ever let the invoice announce the price increase ?

Don’t forget the 80/20 rule. 

Like most companies, 20% of your customers (give or take) account for 80% of your business. You need to identify who these customers are if you do not already know. These folks deserve a phone call alerting them of the impending increase in service rates. If you’re nervous, get over it. You’ll need to put on your Big Boy/Big Girl pants for this one. If you’ve done your diligence in fostering a good relationship with your top 20, most will be understanding and appreciate the phone call. Don’t be a Chooch and leave the word of your increase on a voicemail; this will be perceived as what it is – a frightened little boy/girl who doesn’t believe they deserve the money they are asking for.

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Give plenty of notice.

If you are planning to raise your prices in the first week of April, you should let them know by the first week of March. Thirty to forty-five days notice on a price increase is more than sufficient notice; I wouldn’t go beyond that. Sending an email is an excellent method of communicating this message to the 80% that are not your top 20. I would not email those I spoke with verbally (the top 20); the phone call was sufficient. I am a big fan of handwritten letters; they have their place, but not for this. Email notification allows you the opportunity to request a read receipt, which most will approve. Track this and followup with those you had not heard back from within 7 to 10 days. I would forward the original message with a “Just wanted to make sure you got this” versus a resend.

What if you lose customers?

You may lose a couple, but if you handled this tactfully and did not ask for a ridiculous increase, the fallout should be minimal. Let them go! Of course, this philosophy depends upon your business’s size, but ultimately you do not want to have the clientele that is only with you for price. This customer is not really your customer anyway; their allegiance is to the dollar – not the service level you offer. With this customer, the question is not “if” they will cancel your service; the question is “when.” Or, do you want to end up with a customer base that hasn’t seen a price increase in ten years and bitches about the price of an O-ring when it is needed?

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