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Pool service is really a terrific business

By Marcelle Dibrell

You’ve been in the pool service industry for a few years and you’ve learned the ins and outs of water chemistry. You’ve become knowledgeable about equipment troubleshooting and repair. You’ve developed efficient cleaning techniques. You know how to talk to customers. You feel you are ready to go out on your own.

You get to set your own schedule. You get to be your own boss. You’ll be making more money doing work you already know you love.

Of the various startup ventures, the pool and spa business has among the lowest startup costs. Experts say that it takes between $1,000 to $2,000 and a truck.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in starting a pool service business lies in developing a route. The first question is: should you buy or build a pool route?

There are pros and cons to each. Building a pool route takes time. It can take between six to twelve months to build a route, but with a little marketing know-how, and a lot of grit and determination, many pool pros recommend this approach.

“If you are a scrappy hustler, you are probably better to build,” says Max Maher, owner of PoolsMax, in Gilbert, Arizona.

Maher has successfully built two services businesses in this way, and in pool-plentiful Arizona, he hasn’t lacked for work.

Printing flyers and leaving business cards with pool supply stores and pool builders are some tactics that can generate leads, but most people agree that word of mouth referrals are among the strongest marketing tactics. So, ask for feedback. Have existing customers fill out surveys. Ask casually but directly what you can do to improve your business. Seek reviews on Yelp and Google.

But just as importantly, stand out by going above and beyond being an excellent pool cleaner who shows up on time and does professional level work. Little customer service gems will help your company stand out so that the customer is more likely to refer you to their friends. Leave small gifts over the holidays. Bring in empty trash bins. Doing small things like this will wow your customers and get them talking to their friends which will build your business organically.

Buying a pool route is a great option for those who have the money to invest and need full time work immediately. Service routes cost between 10 to 12 times the monthly service rate on each account. So, a route that generates $6,500 a month may cost between $65,000 and $78,000. For those looking to purchase a route, there are several things to look for.

One of the first things to look for is a tight route where the pools are in close proximity to one another or at the very least, close proximity within each service day. Another thing to look for is autopay. This means that you won’t have to spend any time hunting down payments. Furthermore, clients on autopay are much less likely to cancel service because they simply aren’t thinking about the payment.

It’s a good idea to meet with multiple sellers to get a better idea of what a good seller looks like.

Make sure they are willing to train you about the services they offer for each client, even if you are already a skilled and experienced service tech.

They may have tailored their services to their particular clients and you want to be able to match the little intricacies of the route.

Whether you start your pool service company by building it or buying it, the route is its bread and butter.

But starting a small business involves a lot of other little steps.

There’s also choosing a business structure, obtaining the proper licensing, registration and much more.

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