We all know the pool industry has been booming in spite of, and because of, Covid-19. But we aren’t immune to the havoc this pandemic is creating. Believe it or not, a lot of our Pool Problems are BECAUSE business is booming.
Supply and demand. A grueling truth about business. With the increase in people using their pools and improving their backyards, we obviously increase the need for equipment, product, and human resources. Supply chains are finding themselves back-ordered on the most popular items.
With factory production coming to a halt the product on hand was quickly depleted. The wait on parts or equipment to complete a job in near-continuous backorder. This causes frustration for us, our customers, and even costs us jobs. Personally, I try to have at least one pump, heater, and filter in stock at all times to throw in a pinch.
“Anytime I have to special order anything, I have to wait for months instead of days or weeks.” Gripes Nik Perez. “I waited 3 months to get new light engines from Pentair.”
Customer service hold times are also much greater. Forget about getting right through. If I have to call tech support, I come in an hour early and do shop work while I am on hold. Sometimes I still don’t get through. “Your business is important to us…..” Gag me.
Everyone is home and desperate for some human interaction. This slows us down and creates unneeded stress. Jobs takes so much longer with a customer up your ass. They want to “talk,” I get it, but shutting the F**k up goes a long way toward completing their job on time.
Quarantine has made them critical AF. Kim Sparks has had enough. “OMG, everyone home and bored. The second my techs leave, they go out and inspect their pool, expecting 100% perfection. I have had clients send me pictures of their pool with 3 leaves in it demanding he return.” Chas Christensen thinks, “people got meaner.” Mean people suck!
“Bored customers not respecting personal space” is annoying the heck out of Chris Williams. “They want to talk but feel the need to be 6” (yes inches) away from me. To solve this problem, Chris has a trick. “I grab my pole and lengthwise put it between them and myself.” Back! Back I say!
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Family Time, All the Time.
“Everyone is at home” does not skip over us in the pool world. Our families are at home too. With half the spouses out of work and the other half commandeering the living room as an “office,” it can be hectic at home as well. Have kids? That’s even more challenging; Out of school and daycares closed.
This is especially hard for younger kids who need constant supervision. Some of us may not even be able to get to work period, let alone the extended hours and additional jobs. Kaelen Lav is no stranger to this. “Having my foster kids home and not in daycare has taken a toll on my ability to work.”
Cancels and Delays.
A lot of commercial properties delayed their openings this season if they opened at all. This affects us where it hurts the most …in our pockets. Alan Miller does commercial/hoa pools. “Since many pools delayed opening, they stayed at off-season rates. This kept my billing down about $3,500-$4,000 per month from what it [normally would] be.”
Some commercial clients wanted to cut down service days. This is a no-no. Some of us had no choice but to accommodate. If they don’t have money, they don’t have money. We did this both as a courtesy for our long time clients and not to lose the accounts. We either compromised service or lost money on the deal. A lose-lose if you ask me.
As far as residential, many customers had to cut out “unnecessary costs” such as pool service. They canceled their service agreement and picked up their telescopic poles. This isn’t a complete loss if you have a retail store, and they come in and buy their chems.
Some folks kept on receiving pool service but stopped sending the checks. Late payments, bounced checks, and declined credit cards are becoming more common. I spend half my day chasing down payments from customers. “The voice mailbox you are trying to reach is full.”. Of course, it is.
Quite a few opportunists are taking advantage of the pandemic, faking illnesses to get a day off. BAM! A two-week self-quarantine vacation. It takes people to run a business. No one faults those who are really sick, but the lame ducks looking to take advantage of an outbreak is costing companies money and delaying jobs. If you are sick, please stay home, but you should get your ass to work if you are not sick.
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The extra $600 tagged onto unemployment isn’t necessarily helping to drive the workforce either. Help Wanted ads in 2020 might as well have been an invitation to get circumcised with the turn out we recognized. Why work when you can play Xbox all day? Humph!
Insane in the Membrane.
This pandemic and the growth it has produced is taking a toll on everyone. Those in the pool industry have unique circumstances. While a lot of people wish they could work…we find ourselves wishing for a day off! Longer hours, no days off, canceled vacations-ugh! The days are getting longer instead of shorter with daylight savings. Sure we are making the big bucks, but at what cost.
I did what is unheard of in the pool biz…I took a week’s vacation in the middle of Summer. Tsk, Tsk, if you will, but I was mentally bankrupt. I worked with a wonderful team and was confident they could hold it together while I was gone. Since I have been back, I am more focused, energized, patient, and enthusiastic. My rambling point is a mental health needs to be a top priority.
It can also be depressing even if we do get time off. Where do we go? Wait hours for patio dining? Movies? Nope. Get in a workout? No. Haircut? Not in your life. With things completely closed or severely modified, our personal time has been affected in some way.
Let’s take a moment to realize the most serious effect of Covid…the thousands of people who have been infected. They are some of us. They are our loved ones. Our neighbors. Our friends. People are missing months of work because they are ill or just tested positive. Our hearts go out to you. This is the only grave consequence of this deadly disease.
“I have got 2 employees on a 24-day quarantine minimum because their 1st-grade son tested positive 3 days after school restarted. So that is ⅓ of my employees.”- Paige Pruett-Wichern
Yes, there has been a lot of good from the stay at home orders, but we certainly needed to take a moment to acknowledge the struggles we are all going through. Have a stressor that I didn’t mention? Drop it in the comments below. As always, see you poolside.