By Deidre Bedford, West Coast Pools, Inc. /

You’re probably saying to yourself, “We can’t stop unlicensed activity, there are just too many of them out there”  Well,  with that attitude we will never stop them. 

How does this affect our industry and why should we care?   I’m glad you asked.

Some fun facts about unlicensed activity:

  1. Unlicensed activity affects law abiding state licensed professionals by taking their business and causing personal and financial harm to consumers (I know, boring fact but kinda important).
  2. The DBPR spends $1.5 million a year on outreach, education, investigation, enforcement and prosecution of unlicensed activity.
  3. The cost to contractors is over $2 million per year in unlicensed activity fees that we pay when renewing a license, this doesn’t include lost business.
  4. There are more than 168,000 complaints registered with the DBPR on unlicensed activity, that’s 168,000 jobs that we, as licensed contractors, didn’t get.  That is a large amount of lost revenue!
  5. Many of these idiots post their work on Facebook… turn them in when you see it.
  6. There is a hotline to report unlicensed activity that is completely anonymous: 1-866-532-1440.
  7. The DBPR app is now fully functional on all phones and really easy to use. 

Get involved with your local ULA!  Contact your local building official in the licensing and enforcement division and ask to be included in monthly meetings.  You can also find your local ULA by searching ULA and your city name on the internet.

A great way to remind your potential customers that a license is essential in choosing the right person for the job is to always provide your license and insurance information along with your proposal.  Set the standard for what they as a customer should be asking for when getting proposals.

For many pool owners, weekly service visits from a trusted, licensed pool service company are a commonplace occurrence. But besides the noticeable result of the pool being cleaner, what else is happening when your service technician comes by? And what does a day in the life of a “pool guy” look like? We caught up with Cody Smith, Service Manager for On-Time Pool Service, Inc., to get insight into what service technicians are looking for and what they offer for the maintenance of your pool so you enjoy many years of relaxation.

Working for a pool company is rewarding work, plus the views aren’t bad either!

With his truck loaded with the necessary supplies, Cody is off to complete his route of about 20 pools all over Siesta Key. He’ll start by checking the chemicals, then skimming, vacuuming, and any others tasks requested by the customer. The jobs are completed whether the customer is present or not, which makes it easy as the home owner to go about your daily routine. On-Time also leaves a note behind with the time and date of the visit and exactly what tasks were completed. “I like when people recognize the notes I leave,” Cody said. “I really try to go the extra mile and make things personal, so it means a lot when they look at the note or come out while I’m cleaning to say hello.”

The first step of each of stop today was to check the chemical level and make the proper additions.Water chemistry is very important part of pool maintenance. Healthy chemical balances prevent scale, stains, corrosion, and algae, plus help the water itself stay crystal clear.  “I always make sure to look around for signs of kids,” Cody explains. “Young children and babies have much more sensitive skin than adults, so that’s always something to be careful about.”

The remaining cleaning steps can be tedious, but are a necessity for a clean pool. Depending on the previous week’s weather, how many people have used the pool, and the location, there can be a lot of work to get the pool looking its best.

“A pool like this that is uncovered and has a lot of people in it every week will usually get dirtier,” Cody explains.

Skimming removes debris off the surface of the water. Anything under water that is too big for the vacuum needs to be removed as well. Cody recommends that pool owners all have a skimmer net so they can remove objects in between scheduled service appointments.

If you’re worried about falling in the pool, vacuuming is the step that might cause that. “I’ve fallen in a few times!” laughs Cody. “When you start to get comfortable around a pool that’s when it happens.” He makes sure to vacuum from all sides of the pool to ensure a complete clean across the pool floor.

Brushing the pool sides will help any creeping algae formations to be forced into the water and removed, as well as prevent staining.

“Brushing is a very important and often overlooked aspect of pool cleaning,” Cody says.

You may also need to have your filter cleaned. Filters are removed and hosed off to keep the filtration system—and your pool water—in the best shape.

Cody cleans a pool filter.

For most people, keeping a pool serviced themselves is simply not possible to fit into the busy day or perhaps not realistic to complete because of limited mobility. Never fear! With the help of a Florida pool company, your pool can looks its best and you don’t have to worry about maintenance details falling through the cracks. Companies like On-Time Pool Service provide a wide range of service packages to fit everyone’s needs. Visit our website or call 941-952-9293 to find a pool company near you. Don’t have a pool yet? Contact us to find a reliable, licensed contractor in your area!

By Rick Myers, Team Horner /

Recently I had the pleasure of teaching the FPPS class for one of my customers, and they had 14 of their service techs, managers, and office staff there.  The experience level in the room ranged from people just new to our industry to service techs who have been in the field for close to 20 years.  However, they all had one thing in common, their desire to learn more about our industry. 

Why is this so important, especially for some people who have been around so long?  They either know everything, or at least they believe they know how to perform their jobs at a high degree of competence.  The answer is of course that learning is a lifelong process, and the minute we believe we know everything or don’t need to learn anymore is the exact same minute we are now behind.

In today’s pool industry, technology moves so rapidly that the total extent of your learning may just be to keep up with changing technology.  Products change, codes and laws change, and even the way we have become accustomed to doing business changes.  If you do not keep up, you will be lost in the shuffle and be just another company, just another salesperson or just another pool technician or service company.  However, the good news is that knowledge is available everywhere, in most cases it is at low cost, or no cost.  In many cases if the person you are getting your knowledge from is as invested as you are in personal and company growth, they will learn as much as you do and they are the teacher!  I know whenever I teach a FPPS class, I always learn about some new product or new way of working that is better than the way I thought before.

   We all belong to a great organization that promotes knowledge and learning as one of its key mission statements.  From the annual trade show which has three days of education, to each chapter offering meetings throughout the year that are about some type of business help or product knowledge, to our distributor members that offer counter days on a regular basis, it is almost difficult not to find some type of personal enrichment learning or class going on weekly.   And to top it off, we can read and study on our own to help ourselves.  

If you are truly invested in yourself, your employer, and your industry you will always have in your heart a desire and a thirst to learn more.  If you have that, success is not about knowing the right people or being in the right place at the right time, but success will find you.  It has been said that if you are the smartest person in your group, then you need to find a new group.  I challenge each and every one of you to continue to grow, and success and self-pride will follow.

By FSPA President Brian Kelly, Shamrock Pools / 

This time of year we start to see print and television ads reminding us that it’s time to start thinking politics. While many of us are consumed by our businesses in our busiest time, we cannot forget to exercise one of our greatest rights in this country. Our right to vote. Millions and millions of people the world over unfortunately do not have the same rights and standards that we, as Americans, hold dear to our hearts. At the top of that list is our right to vote for our leaders and representatives. It is a right guaranteed to us by our forefathers in the United States Constitution, and the one right that separates us from millions throughout the world.

The FSPA understands this privilege and the process that is associated with choosing our leaders. We spend a great deal of time and resources vetting our future leadership and supporting candidates who hold the same priorities as we do.  Many in our association feel that government relations is one of the most important benefits offered to our membership.

With this process in mind, the Executive Committee recently has voted on expanding our government relations initiative to include an additional staff person to help with coordination of meetings and events to give us and our members greater ease in which to meet with potential leaders.  We have also retained Bruce Kurshner, former lobbyist with UPSA, to help with our regulatory presence at CILB and DBPR meetings. Bruce will also assist our current lobbyist, Jen Hatfield, with her lobbying efforts in Tallahassee and at the FBC meetings. These additions, along with outside consultation on PIPAC and PIC contributions will hopefully prove fruitful for our FSPA initiatives.

But at the end of the day, the real movement and greatest contribution comes from you, our local membership. It is the grassroots actions that truly make a difference in vetting our future leaders. Meeting these legislators on their home turf, actually YOUR home turf, is where we get the most bang for our buck. Talking with these representatives and senators in their own districts in a relaxed environment helps clarify their direction, identify their stances on important issues and helps us determine the FSPA’s future support. Visits to their home offices with a few members of the FSPA in tow shows them our strength and unity as an association.

Each of our local chapters will be asked to meet with the local candidates in the near future. Many will be asked to hold a GR meeting where multiple candidates can attend. Please do your very best to engage these hometown politicians and show them our commitment to the process. The grassroots approach to government relations is the root of our political process. And now is the time to start meeting our future leaders. Please do your best when called upon to help us make good decisions on supporting these candidates.

By Brett D. Holland, Treasure Pools /

Over the last three months I have been asked a few times on my approach to new potential clients.  So for this month’s article I have decided to share my design schedule.

When a new lead first makes contact with our office we ask for the typical information:  customer name, address, phone number, email, and what type of watershapes they are interested in, pool/spa, features, etc.  This information is then passed on to the designer to make first contact.  This is the first of many opportunities in the design schedule for you to separate yourself from the competition.  The sooner you are able to make contact the better.  The old saying of “the first impression is the most important” definitely comes into play here.  It is imperative to make contact that first day even if its an e-mail at the very least that you received their info and will be in touch the following day due to appointments etc. 

During the initial contact as a designer it is important to “pre-qualify” the customer.  Making sure the client has realistic expectations of what pools cost prior to your site visit will save you time and money!  Most designers in today’s market are pretty busy.  The last thing you want to do is block a day/time out for someone, spend several hours designing their project to then find out they have a $20K budget.  However, you have to be careful not to sell yourself short and scare them with price.  You don’t want to waste a lead that you may have been able to close by getting in front of them.  This is a delicate process, and if done correctly will be extremely useful.  I suggest focusing more on starting price and not address any options at this time.

The site visit…. If you’re not 10 minutes early you are LATE.

Upon pulling up to the site, I am immediately looking at access/obstacles etc.  I will inspect both sides of the house from the front prior to walking up to the door.  The appointment will often start with a conversation in the rear yard, listening to the client on how they envision their outdoor living experience.  While listening I am usually already designing on my tablet.  Creating a design based on if they are leaning towards geometric or a freeform watershape.  This is yet another opportunity to give a lasting impression.  Being able to show a customer a rough draft of a design before even sitting down at the table will separate you immediately.  There are programs available for this.  Look into “Augmented Reality.”  This is the way of the future for many different industries, and in the next 3-5 years will be used by most consumers on a daily basis. 

Prior to going inside the home I make sure to take several photos of the site:  both sides of house, pool equipment location, back of the house etc.  I then will transfer the rough design from my tablet to my laptop for the main design consultation inside.  Designing “with” the customer not “for” the customer is the single most important part of the design schedule.  It is our job as designers to share our experiences with the client and give them different scenarios to think about.  Leading them to decisions and making the design “their” design is critical.  Pay attention to the house orientation, north, south, east or west.  Where will the sun be in the morning/afternoon?  This is important for sun bathing placement,  either in the pool or on the deck.  Discuss if and how they plan on entertaining on the deck area.  This question needs to be asked to make sure the proper amount of deck is provided for their needs.

It is not uncommon that only one out of four designers will actually design with the customer.  If you find yourself spending 5-10 minutes on a site visit, then sending a design “for free” along with an estimate to your clients, you may want to consider a different approach.  In most cases, your design is being shopped out to other builders.  Rather than spending your quality time doing designs/re-designs for free, I would recommend spending your time learning your tools so you are able to design “with” the customer. 

The relationship built with your clients during this design schedule will place you in the best possible position to close the sale.  They will appreciate you spending the necessary time with them and covering all the aspects for their project.  We are one of the few industries that sends out designs for free.  In my opinion we need to work towards not doing that and spend more time designing with the clients.