All posts by Charis Tyson

By Mickey Sigmon, Pool Pro, Inc. / poolproinc@yahoo.com

Swimming pool season in Florida is year round as water temperatures only vary slightly from month to month. On the service side of the pool industry, the “winter” months provide the opportunity to get caught up from the busy fall season, experiment with new ideas, and plan our spring/summer attack for algae season – the poolkeeper’s nemesis.

Algae can sneak up on even the most diligent pool professional at the first sign of rising water temperature. The problem usually starts in the shaded, southern side of the pool. It can take days or even weeks to deal with this mess. It’s no picnic.

There is hope, however. A few simple preventive measures can reduce or eliminate our algae woes before they even begin. These three simple tips will save you time and money to enjoy springtime (and maybe even visit a few of those lush, green fairways).

  1. Change your pool filter. Algae grows in cold, dark filter canisters at night and is dispersed into the pool when the pump activates the following morning. Remember, a dirty filter makes a dirty pool. Make sure to clean it at least once a month.
  2. Brush tiles and walls at least once a week. This practice releases algae from its base preventing further growth. The chemically balanced pool water will finish the job before the pesky algae is sent to its watery grave in the pool filter.
  3. Test your water for phosphates. The magic number for phosphates is 0.0. If you have anything higher, you will grow algae. Phosphates are for lush, green fairways not sparkling, blue pools.

By Rick Myers, Team Horner /  rmyers@teamhorner.com

As I teach commercial pool classes, I always ask the question to pool technicians; what are some of the biggest challenges you face on a daily basis?  Undoubtedly, one of the top three to four answers are a property’s refusal to fix or address a leak.    In all of the 16 hour courses there is a math question that deals with a leaking pool and how to figure out how many gallons the pool is leaking on a daily basis.

However most times we just tell our customer that the pool is losing two inches or three inches a night.  In point of fact, the customer does not relate to two inches because they do not pay their water bill per night.  So what does a three inch leak cost the customer, or just as important what does it cost the pool company?  Let us say that a pool has a three inch leak on a 20×40 pool.  That means that every night, the pool is losing 1,500 gallons.  That also means that in one month the pool has lost 45,000 gallons.  That is 45,000 gallons on a pool that is only 27,000 gallons to start.  So what is the cost?  To the property, the cost of water in the water management district they live in they are paying each month for 45,000 additional gallons of water.  Even if they only pay half of a penny for water, that is an extra $25 per month for water, plus sewage.  Also it is important that they understand the other costs involved.  They are paying electric or propane or natural gas to heat basically 72,000 gallons of water, not 27,000.  At a minimum the heater or heaters may not be able to keep up, and at a maximum, they are paying to heat 2.5 times the amount of water they thought.   You can easily see that this will run into thousands of dollars of additional cost to the property.

Now let us consider the cost to the pool company.  You are charging a monthly price for maintenance and chemicals for a 27,000 gallon pool, but you are really paying the chemical cost of a 72,000 gallon pool.  Are you really making your standard profit margin on this pool, if this pool is even profitable to you?   At some point you will deem this pool unprofitable, and if the customer hires someone else, then they will probably suffer the same problems.

This is not even mentioning the environmental impact of that water either ending up in the city sewer or somewhere around the pool.  At some point there will be an environmental impact.

How can this be avoided?  By acting on a consultative basis to your property and showing them exactly what the cost is in dollars.  Everyone may not understand three inches, but they do understand the impact in dollars.  At the end of the day, they will hopefully see the light and view you and your company as a valuable resource.

Scott Amundsen, Aqua-Brite of Florida, Inc.

Welcome to a new year – 2018! We are inching closer to a new decade.  The world we live in today, as pool repair and cleaning specialists, is a much different world than it was 20+ years ago.  I remember, the year is 1995, a customer calls the office to schedule a service call.  The process usually took about 5-7 business days to get the customer on the schedule.  The tech would call in to “base” (the office) on the Motorola two-way radios to see if they could reschedule a customer because they were running behind that day.  Or the office would check in with the tech to see if he was still picking up parts and was going make it to Mr. Smith’s house before Friday to fix his pump.  The best part, the homeowner was happy to see the tech and have them complete the repair two weeks after their initial call.

Three days ago, I ordered a pizza from Uber Eats and watched on my smart phone as the order was processed, the driver picked up my order and then watched her little car on my app map.  In real time, it showed the ETA, in minutes and seconds, as to when she would arrive at my home with my food.  What does this mean to us?  Times are changing, and so are customers’ expectations.  Unfortunately, most small pool professional companies do not have the resources to use a sophisticated, web-enhanced software products to track all of the projects’ progress, check on the techs every move via GPS tracking, and use expensive dispatch software, or some other elaborate product, to artificially enhance our customer service abilities.

All we must do, as an industry, is go back to our grassroots.  Customer service was not lost, instead, customer demands have changed.  Expectations have increased in today’s society.  We all need to step up our game.  Almost every one of us has a smart phone these days.  If you search calendar programs and use the free apps, you can find many ways to keep in touch with your customer throughout the whole sale/repair/cleaning process for very little cost.

We all lose customers, for varying reasons.  However, the times are changing and the demand for communication is even greater.  If you communicate and “touch” your customer every day/week, throughout the process, they feel more involved and more connected to you through their experience with your company.  They feel like they are part of the process of getting their problems resolved.  They feel you care about the end results, you care about their pool problems and like they are your only customer.  Most customers who get angry with you (yell, cuss, get downright belligerent) are not mad at YOU.  Most of the time, it is based on their fear.  They fear that they wrongly hired you and you are not coming back.  They fear they are going to have to try to find someone else to fix their problem. They fear the quality of the new maintenance tech that will be cleaning their pool and caring for their equipment will not be the great communicator the last one had been.

Change is hard for some people.  When you coddle the customer with every move, even if there is no movement today to get their problem fixed, they do not feel like a number and they do not feel like they have been forgotten.  Example: June 2017 we had a customer call us to repair their portable hot tub. The spa was apparently one of the last to come off the assembly line before the manufacturer went out of business. Most of the parts, jets and pumps were scraped together from several different manufacturers to make a 45 jet tub. To date, we have NOT completed the job.  We continue to reach out and reassure the customer that we are working on finding suppliers for their tub’s parts.  Occasionally we will go out to the home to install some new parts we found.  As bankrupt companies liquidate parts and new companies buy pieces of the old, we find the jet insert or circulation pump we need and inform the customer.  We have received seven referrals from this project!

You may not be able to go out and finish each job in 30 minutes or less.  But spending 30 minutes every day, to update ALL of your customers, will win you more projects and make you a five-star company on a beer budget.

The Everything Under the Sun Expo is almost here!  Visit www.UnderTheSunExpo.com for all the information and to register to attend.  Don’t forget to register for education seminars, they are filling up fast!  All FSPA member company employees take classes for free!  Be sure to dress in your best 70’s gear  during the Gettin’ Groovy Friday Night Party as we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the show.  Contest for best outfit is at 7:30 p.m.!

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention reminds you to enjoy the outdoors safely. They have named the Friday before Memorial Day Don’t Fry Day.Don't Fry Day poster

In the same way we teach kids to wear bike helmets, we can also teach them to wear wide -­-brimmed hats.

 

What You Can Do to Be Safe in the Sun:
  1. Do Not Burn
    Overexposure to the sun is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.
  2. Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Beds
    Ultraviolet (UV) light from tanning beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you’ve been in the sun, use a sunless self-­-tanning product instead.
  3. Cover Up
    Wear protective clothing, such as a long-­-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-­-brimmed hat, and sunglasses,where possible.
  4. Seek Shade/Use Umbrellas
    Seek shade when appropriate. Remember that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  5. Generously Apply Sunscreen
    Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin using a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 that provides broad-­-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  6. Use Extra Caution Near Water, Snow and Sand
    Water, snow and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
  7. Check the UV Index
    The UV Index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent overexposure to the sun. Developed by the National Weather Service (NWS) and EPA, you can find the UV Index for your area online at: www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html
  8. Get Vitamin D Safely
    Get vitamin D safely through a diet that includes vitamin supplements and foods fortified with vitamin D.  Don’t seek the sun or indoor tanning.

The DBPR is responsible for licensing and regulating contractors in Florida.  Read what they want consumers to know about swimming pool cleaning, repair and building.  When is a license required for work on a pool?  Find the answers here!

By Brett D. Holland, Holland Pools & Spas, brett.hollandpools@gmail.com

Due to the constant advancement in technology, pool builders now have design tools made available to them that they did not once have in the past.  Although there are a few designers who still design on graph paper, the majority of the industry is now taking full advantage of the 3D software tools available.  With 3D replicated products from pool industry vendors, landscape options, and the ability to fully customize the pool/spa, deck, and house stages, designers now have the opportunity to give a presentation to the client like never before!  Being that 65 percent of all people are visual learners, this approach is extremely powerful.  We can now visually show the client just how tremendous their outdoor living environment can truly be from the click of a button.

Over the years a few friends/co-workers have been a little hesitant to take the plunge into this new idea of design, either due to the fact they weren’t too tech-savvy or were just complacent in the way they have been designing for years.  However over time I was finally able to persuade them into dedicating a few hours a week to get familiar with the work flow of 3D design.  The software I use is Pool Studio by Structure Studios
(www.structurestudios.com) which has a great tutorial library to assist with this transition.  The way the work flows is in stages.  There are house, pool, spa, fences/walls, terrain, steps/benches, planter, and custom shape stages.  Each stage has their own parameters where you can fully customize your project.  This gives the designer endless options, where the only limitation is their imagination.  Over the course of about two months of giving several hours/per week to learning it, my co-workers started to finally become comfortable with designing in 3D.  I remember one colleague telling me, “I wish I had started using this program years ago.  It would have been a totally different experience for my customers.”

Besides the sales benefits, another major benefit of having your project digitized is the ability to seamlessly convert it into a detailed construction plan.  If you have an engineer do your drawings, you have the ability to send them an AutoCAD file (.dxf)
of your project which allows them to import it into their software program.  If the plan is done in-house, templates are available within Pool Studio for you to use or customize to meet your specific needs.  By creating your own templates as you go, the workflow begins to get faster while you are in the construction stage.  Familiarity comes as you utilize the program more frequently, and eventually you feel comfortable designing in front of the customer rather than between appointments.

So whether you are already using 3D software or if you just haven’t had the courage to make the plunge yet, have faith in yourself, continue to invest time and expand your knowledge.  Take advantage of this powerful tool and leave it up to your imagination to do the rest!

recovery fund

From the eyes of a subcontractor

By Jon Temple, Tempool, Inc.

When I started in the pool business in 1986, I was employed by a shotcrete subcontractor. At that time, the only subcontractors that performed work for a pool builder were for the shotcrete, electric, and plaster phases. The pool builder did all the other phases in-house with foremen overseeing employees in each phase, including starting up the pool and turning it over at completion to the homeowners. Those are what we call “the good old days” of our industry. What we have now, is reversed and most pool builders subcontract out most phases of the pool construction, sometimes even the sales department is a subcontractor working leads for multiple pool builders!

As subcontractors, we get a lot of feedback from our builders’ customers. And many times it is negative. As an example, homeowners often say to us, “We haven’t seen anyone from the pool company on our job since we signed the contract.” And along with that statement we hear, “I should have just hired all the subcontractors myself and cut the builder out as the middle man.” These are definitely not comments we like to hear, and it puts us in a very uncomfortable situation.

Our goal should be to build more confidence in our industry. We need to work together by strengthening our communication with each other, not only with scheduling, but also about issues that affect our particular scope of work. Knowledgeable and professional subcontractors are rare in today’s labor force. It is important to form a good working relationship between the subcontractors and the foreman for the pool builder. By working together you will be able to resolve any problems and achieve the best quality swimming pool for the homeowner. It is important that the pool company foreman make a point to meet with their customer on each phase. The customer needs to know you are engaged with their project, and that they are important. This takes face-to-face contact with your customers, even if it is only for a few minutes during each phase of construction. If it is not possible to meet face to face, a phone call from the Foreman will do wonders to build confidence with your customer. We are all in this together, so let’s work to make it a great experience for everyone!