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What do you charge for labor & services?

By Marcelle Dibrell

The results from this years’ Service Industry News’ annual billing survey indicate that depending on where they work, pool and spa service firms are currently charging their customers anywhere from $130 to $420 a month for once-weekly service.

But many service firms understand that additional profits lie in installation and repair jobs, where a single visit to a pool or spa can net more than four times what they might make from the same customer in a month. Consider, for example, the average charge to install a heater. Averaged nationally, service professionals charge approximately $115 per hour. If it takes about 4 hours to install a heater, then the company has made, in one visit, about what it would for about 4 months’ worth of service.

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

Every year, Service Industry News publishes three issues that explore the results of a survey made available to 10,000 service professionals. The survey asks a variety of questions pertaining to business practices.

It is an effort to take the industry’s pulse. The survey asks questions about billing practices and services offered, about the types of equipment pools are outfitted with, and about the types of chemicals that are used.

For organizational purposes, the results of the survey can be broken down into three main categories: How do service professionals bill their customers; what types of services do service professionals offer; and what types of equipment and chemicals are service professionals using.

This, the second of the three survey issues, is dedicated to labor and analyzes the results of answers about types of services offered and how much service professionals charge for these services.

What is the average charge to chemically start up a new pool? How much does it cost to install a pump or heater? How much can be profited by acid washing a pool? What can you make to install a vinyl liner?

According to survey respondents, these jobs are quite lucrative, ranging in the thousands of dollars.

For example, if you happen to live in an area where the demand for vinyl lined pools is high, which tends to be true outside the Sun Belt, liner installation results in about $4,000 for what amounts to a day’s work.

Seasonal jobs, which vary from region to region, can provide the bulk of a service firm’s profit margin, which is crucial because these pools are closed for half the year. For areas that experience an appreciable winter, there is plenty of profit in both winterizing the pool and then reopening it for the season. Survey results show that pool service companies charge anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for these services.

Not all regions of the country respond to this survey section at the same level, but those that did will find these pricing guidelines useful in evaluating their business practices.

The data that inspires the most confidence is based on higher participation and came from both halves of California and the Southwest.

This issue presents a regional breakdown for standard services, with percentages of firms that perform them.

We also include the “Average” price charged for the service as well as “High” and “Low” charges whenever possible: How do you price your more labor demanding work? Nationwide regional results have been tabulated beginning on page 18.

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