All posts by Charis Tyson

Visit www.KeepSafePools.com for details and to sign the petition.
Sign the petition to keep the Department of Health inspecting all safety items on public swimming pools!

Florida is known as the Sunshine State. With the abundance of sunshine and great weather, Floridians and tourists alike flock to our pools to enjoy time in the sun. When you jump in one of the 37,000 plus public pool and spa facilities our great state has to offer, you want to know that you and your loved ones are safe. For almost a century, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has ensured that public pools are safe environments. Currently DOH provides biennial inspections checking over 40 items in and around public pools to safeguard the 100 million tourists who visit our state annually and the 19.5 million citizens who call Florida home.

Interpretation by the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee (JAPC) is removing the ability of the DOH to inspect items such as:

  • Fences and gates working properly
  • Ladders in place and working order
  • Depth markers are visible
  • GFCI protection is in place
  • Drain grates are properly covered

The Florida swimming pool industry tried to reinstate the authority to DOH during the 2015 Legislative Session but some legislators believe these inspections aren’t necessary.

1. Time it takes to build
Dig to swim: Varies based on scope of project, your contractor and things out of everyone’s control.  But it is always a good time to do it!  Keep in mind that Florida’s rainy season and holidays can cause delays.
2. Permits / Inspections
Permits will be pulled by your contractor and inspections scheduled as necessary.  A contractor cannot guarantee they can get an inspector to come out the moment they have completed a portion of the project that requires an inspection.
3. Weather
One day of rain can delay a week plus.  If forecast is for rain it can still affect progress.
4. Change orders / materials
Any time you change what you want for the project, including materials and finishes, the project will be delayed and additional costs may be incurred.
5. Production 
Should be based on weekly progress, not daily
6. Utilities 
When digging, waterline, utilities many underground, obstructions not able to be located, old sewer lines, septics, etc. – Speak with your contractor to understand what possible delays and costs could be incurred if an issue arises.
7. Access 
What is required beyond ability to get in the backyard – what is around the project?  Building a pool is a big project!
Directory

What do the membership dues you send to the Florida Swimming Pool Association do? All members should understand the basic answers to this question. If you don’t know where your money goes then it is hard to justify spending it. The majority of your dues go to your local chapter, a percentage of your dues go to government relations and an administrative fee stays at the state office.

The money for government relations (approximately 25%) covers the costs associated with Jennifer Hatfield, FSPA government relations consultant.  She spends the legislative session in Tallahassee and deals with legislative and regulatory issues year round.  Without dedicated personnel fighting these battles, legislative and regulatory changes could be made which would affect the way you build or service every pool, impacting the expenses you incur on each job. Keeping you informed on what FSPA is fighting, any changes pending, and what you need to do to comply before you are caught off guard can provide a return on your investment of more than your annual dues.  She also assists members with local issues and has relationships with the DOH, CILB and FBC.

Local chapter funding (approximately 65%) is used to help pay for meetings, local continuing education, local pool safety activities, supporting PIPAC, encouraging the community to use FSPA members through referrals, and pays for a chapter coordinator.

An administrative fee (approximately 10%) which is held at the state office covers your monthly newsletter Florida Pool Prosm and weekly e-newsletters, the consumer website promoting FSPA members, the industry website as a resource, membership processing and renewal, and many other things

The annual trade show is the primary revenue source for the association and, along with insurance dividends, provides personnel to run the association as the Board directs.  Just to name a few things, staff at the state office manage the continuing education program, production of the newsletters, updating the websites, industry promotion, printed publications, the arbitration program, expansion and management of member benefit programs, and answering your questions and consumers’ questions at the other end of the phone line.

While the above is a quick version of what your dues provide to your company, hopefully it helps makes your decision to renew your membership for another year easy.  Now is a great time for a renewed commitment to the swimming pool industry.

I have been around the industry now for more than 20 years and one of the many lessons I have learned is on customer follow-up – specifically, a returned phone call or just a personal contact to “check-in.” Over the years I have tried many ideas I came up with or learned about and there are a few points which have worked for me…maybe they can work for you.

So much of the pool business, being service or construction, is by word of mouth. People refer you because of the quality of your service or product, but also because they like YOU and/or your employees and how you interact with them and visibly go that extra mile. Building a relationship with your customer/clients is a key to future success. Here are a few ideas:

  • Return phone calls, text messages and emails to people who contact you as quickly as possible. This is a “now” society and they called to talk to you at the time and date they called, not a week from now.
  • Don’t ask yes or no questions. Ask who, what, when or how questions, anything to get the client talking. You will be amazed at how easy the rest of the conversation flows.
  • Practice a “pre-emptive strike.” There are many stages in construction or times of year when customers can experience problems with their pool – don’t wait for them to call you, get on the phone or talk to them face-to-face.
  • Give them a small client gift from time to time – a nice pen or key fob with a light, a bottle of wine or even a nice shirt – all custom with your logo. It is the thought that counts and they will be promoting your company with a smile.
  • Go the extra mile. Look for something small that won’t take much time that you can offer to do – water the yard or plants, look after something while they are up north or on vacation. Reach out with special offers with no strings attached to your current customers.

There are many ways to communicate in a personal way with your clients. It has been my experience that if you follow some of these basic ideas you can easily differentiate yourself by showing that you care about them by making the effort to follow up with your prospects and clients.

By Jerry “Splashman” Scott, Splash Man Pool Service

Visit www.KeepSafePools.com for details and to sign the petition.
Sign the petition to keep the Department of Health inspecting all safety items on public swimming pools!

As your customers are starting to use their pools more and more frequently with the warmer weather, be sure you remind them about swimming pool safety.  Give out FSPA pool watcher badges ($1 each for members) or an FSPA safety brochure (even cheaper!).  Talk to them about chemical safety as well as child safety options.  Remind them to put their safety fence back up after they are done swimming. They will be glad you care about them and not just their pool water!

Pool safety is important when you go for a swim but also when you are inside your home.

If you have a pool in your backyard it is always important to use safety precautions.  Even if you don’t have kids in your home, the neighbors might or someone visiting in the neighborhood might.  Kids can be very curious and find a way to get to your pool.

Mesh fencing should be at least four feet high and have a self-closing, self-latching gate meeting the latest ASTM standards.  Door and gate alarms can alert you to children leaving the house.  Motion alarms can be installed around the pool or in the water.  Children shouldn’t be able to get to your pool without you.  Safety covers meeting the ASTM F1346 Standard are also a way to increase safety in your pool.

Call a pool professional for help making your pool safe!

recovery fund

By: Brett D. Holland, Holland Pools & Spas, and Tony Caruso, TC Water Features

Spring has arrived and the demand for swimming pools has been steadily increasing, especially over the last several years.  Financial institutions seem to be loosening up giving homeowners an opportunity to receive financing where in the previous years it almost seemed impossible. Homebuilders are finally unloading their inventory of homes which has allowed them to create new starts (with pools). With this new demand comes new opportunity. Every month new and old pool contractors are surfacing to cash in on the “Florida dream.” Two common questions which come up between contractors and their customers are: What are the pool builder’s responsibilities? And, what are the customer’s responsibilities?

It is common for an “agreement” to include a contract, drawing and a list of options. Unfortunately the contract, at times, consists of no more than the customer’s information, the construction lien law and a payment schedule. This potentially leads to obstacles during construction, due to the gray area of who is responsible for doing what.

A “scope of work” should be either implemented into the contract portion of the agreement or it should be done on a project-specific basis as its own document. This should include any site specifics but not limited to: tree/stump removal, fence removal/install, irrigation, sod, landscaping, concrete removal, hauling/delivering fill, de-watering, access letter if required, etc.  Supply of labor and materials should also be clearly spelled out, as sometimes either the home builder or homeowner opts to perform and/or contract certain aspects of the project themselves or by other contractors they hire. In construction, water and power is a must, and the answer to who is supplying them can also be implemented into the “scope of work”, especially for home builder projects. If overlooked, the potential cost of a water truck and/or generators could sneak up quickly, not to mention the liability of leaving a generator on an unsecured job site overnight.

By having full disclosure, you minimize the chance of misinterpretation with your customers. This will hopefully pave the way for a positive building experience for your client, which will ultimately lead to a referral and more business for your company!

May is nationally and locally recognized as water safety month.  Be active in your efforts to increase swimming pool safety.  Tell others the importance of barriers to prevent children from accessing pools.  Having several layers of protection preventing access to your pool is important as the weather gets warmer and curiosity of kids runs rampant.  Explore the safety information on our website and be safe!