By Marcelle Dibrell
With just a few days until the official start of spring, pool service professionals are ramping up for what is promising to be an exceptionally busy year.
With an abundance of new pools and spas and a shortage of pool professionals to clean and service them, the industry is going to have its hands full this season.
The last two years of the pandemic have boosted new pool construction to near record levels. The Pool and Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) has yet to publish their 2021 Market Report, but the numbers were astonishing for 2020, and by all accounts, 2021 was as exceptional if not more so.
According to the 2020 PHTA Market Report, new inground pool construction was up 24 percent, and hot tub sales rose 7 percent. That translates to 96,000 new inground pools for 2020, and 249,000 new hot tubs. Similar to inground pool construction, sales of aboveground pools soared during 2020, with almost 230,000 units sold. All of these numbers would have been higher, too, had anyone been able to keep up with demand.
The numbers of new pools were highest in Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona, which were responsible for two-thirds of inground pool construction. More than 50 percent of new pool sales were in southern states.
And now it’s spring, and hundreds of thousands of new pool owners are getting ready to open their pools for the swimming season.
They don’t have a clue what to do. They’re going to need help. They’re going to call you. If you work in pool service, it’s a fairly safe bet that after spring and summer, 2022 will prove to be the busiest year of your career.
Meanwhile, the explosion of pool construction has shown no signs of abating.
According to a recent report by Redfin, an online real estate website, the pandemic-driven shift to workfrom- home has allowed white-collar workers to relocate from high-priced regions to cities with a lower cost of living. Out-of-town buyers typically have 30 percent more to spend on a home than existing residents. Furthermore, in 2021, 30 percent of those homes were purchased with all-cash offers, and in some cities, such as West Palm Beach and Naples, Florida, more than 50 percent of home purchases were all-cash deals.
All these new homeowners have the money to put in a pool, so if the backyard doesn’t already have one, you can bet that it will soon.
That means that in addition to opening an exceptionally large number of pools that were closed for the winter, pool service firms will also have their hands full with new pool start-ups.
And starting up news pools is a time consuming, labor-intensive process that, done properly, requires 30 days of daily service.
Experts disagree on the best approach for how to start up a brand-new pool, but they do agree that it takes a month to ensure that a new plaster finish remains durable, smooth, and aesthetically pleasing.
Among the two most popular and totally different methods concerning how to best start up newly plastered pools are the “traditional method” endorsed by the National Plasterer’s Council and the “bicarb start-up” by the pool consulting group onBalance.
Go online to the National Plasterers’ Council at www.npconline. org and to onBalance’s webpage at www.poolhelp.com for their exact methodologies.
So stand back and get ready: If you’re in the pool service business, you are about to embark on a seriously wild ride!