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Extra profits earned through repairs

By Marcelle Dibrell

The results from this years’ Service Industry News’ annual survey indicate that pool and spa service firms across the country charge their customers about $140 per month (give or take about $20) for once weekly service.

That works out to about $36 a visit, which usually takes between 15 to 25 minutes, to test and adjust chemical levels, and vacuum or skim the pool. At just over two dollars a minute of a service tech’s time, these are pretty good wages.

However, many service firms recognize that the real profit lies in installation and repair jobs, where a single visit to a pool or spa can net over four times what they might make from the same customer in a month. Consider, for example, the average charge to install a heater. Nationwide, the average installation and repair charge is approximately $100 per hour. If it takes a little over 5 hours to install a heater, then the company has made, in one visit, about what it would for a month’s worth of service.

That’s why, for many service firms, installation and repair jobs are where the real money lies, and that is the focus of this issue.

What is the average charge to acid wash or paint a pool? How much does it cost to install a pump or heater? How much profit can be made by doing a new pool chemical start-up?

With thousands of new pools being built this year, many pool and spa service companies have risen to the challenge of tackling the sometimes intricate work of new pool start-ups, which entails a lot more than simply brushing the pool walls every day. Indeed, there are several start-up regimens to choose from, with rigorous chemical parameters that must be adhered to. This means a lot of extra work, which should translate into a lot of extra profit.

Then there are the seasonal jobs, which vary from region to region. For areas that experience an appreciable winter, there is a substantial profit to be made in both winterizing the pool and then reopening it for the season. Survey results show that pool service firms companies charge anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for these services. That’s not bad for a single visit.

And after last winter, where many areas in the southern portion of the U.S. experienced unprecedented snow and freezing conditions, pool service firms that offer seasonal closing and Spring Openings may soon expand beyond where this was done in times past. Had the pools of Texas been fully closed for the winter, for example, millions of dollars of busted plumbing and destroyed equipment could have been saved. It will be interesting to see how the industry adapts to what might become a new normal.

Meanwhile, if you happen to live in an area where the demand for vinyl lined pools is high, which tends to be true outside the sunbelt, there are thousands of dollars to be made in installing the liner.

Those little extra services can provide the bulk of a service firm’s profit margin.

How do you price your more labor demanding work?

Nationwide regional results have been tabulated beginning on page 19.

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