All posts by Kelsey Azadian

Hurricane Irma’s path caused destruction across the state of Florida and the cost for homeowners is still piling up. While disasters can bring a community together they can also bring out the worst in people trying to profit off of tragedy.

The Florida Swimming Pool Association wants homeowners to be aware of unlicensed contractors during this recovery time. Unlicensed activity is a criminal offense and often scams the homeowner, creating more cost for the homeowner. You can verify a contractor’s license at www.myfloridalicense.com

Homeowners can also use the Disaster Contractors Network Portal where the contractors provided are verified with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) database.

Homeowners can also use the Find a Pool Prosm directory search at www.floridapoolpro.com where they can enter their zip code to find service professionals and contractors in their area.

Eva Adcock
Best Pools of Brevard

The other day a potential customer called me and asked if I have constructed a natural pool. When I told her that I had never heard of it, she asked me to research it and if we were interested, we could “practice” on her. So onto the internet I went.

So what is a natural pool? A natural pool is a system consisted of a constructed body of water that has a separate zone which utilizes biological features for water purification. Although a natural pool does have a filtration system, to be “true” in nature, there would be no chemicals. Instead, the regeneration (separate) zone would have ecological plants which would provide the biological process for water clarification.

Typically, the swimming zone is separated from the regeneration zone. This actually serves two purposes. As mentioned earlier, the plants are taking the place of traditional chemicals we use in the pool industry. Secondly, the plants also provide aesthetically pleasing results as well. The natural pools I saw were spectacular!

I have never constructed a natural swimming pool but it would seem that the cost would be increased due to the regeneration zone that is required. Typically, the square footage of the regeneration zones can be an amount equal (or close) to the swimming zone. This may double the cost of construction. Additionally, a specialist may need to be contacted to procure and maintain the proper plants in the regeneration zone. Frogs, snakes, and other creatures have always been interested in our swimming pools. I wonder if this takes on an extra level of “interesting” with a natural pool?

In an era where we are concerned about environmental issues, it is exciting to explore the opportunity of providing an alternative pool to my customers. Not only can they be safe for swimming without harsh chemicals but they are scenic and beautiful works of art.

Al Mendoza
CES

Chemistry control systems have been in daily use on thousands of Florida pools since the late 1970’s. They have been installed on pools of all sizes from the largest 9 million gallon water park to the smallest 500-gallon condo spa.

While control of pH was pretty straightforward, easy to explain, and quite reliable, the control of the oxidant (normally chlorine) was quite the opposite. Over the years there have been many thousands of very successful installations that performed reliably for years, but there have also been a significant number that failed miserably.

What went wrong?
While there is such a thing as a bad controller, a major part of the problem has been a lack of understanding of Oxidation-Reduction Potential (ORP).

Some operators could just not understand that as pH went up, the ORP would drop. Even if the pH rise was from the addition of bleach. Add bleach to a spa and the ORP drops.

Others couldn’t understand that at stabilizer levels above 70 PPM any increase in the chlorine would not result in an incremental increase in ORP. So adding more chlorine to an over-stabilized pool did not increase ORP or improve water quality.

Why not PPM sensing?
While PPM sensing, or reading the actual amount of chlorine PPM in the pool instead of the “kill power” of that chlorine, was developed years ago, it never gained traction. Why? Quite frankly, the technology was relatively expensive and required annual changes of membranes and gels. Also the readings were very flow and pressure sensitive, and sometimes not very accurate.

Why is PPM better now?
Direct reading PPM sensing deserves another look. Why? The sensors have totally changed in design. They cost much less, don’t require annual changes of tips or gel, and they provide more accurate readings at a wider range of flows and pressures. Why, you can even take the sample water back to the suction side of a pump to simplify controller installation. Finally, the actual controllers that work with PPM sensors have come way down in price and complexity from the models available 10 years ago.

Why PPM sensing works better for some applications:
First, controlling by actual PPM can sometimes beach much easier for owners, operators, and support pool companies to understand and operate. Next, knowing both the ORP and the PPM at the same time can give you an instant indication of the “health” of the pool water (low ORP with high PPM is indicative of sick water; high ORP with low PPM is indicative of healthy water.)

Finally, some pool applications have mechanical issues that don’t allow ORP to work very well. While these are actually very few in number, they do include some salt systems (many ORP probes struggle with saline processes), pool systems with terrible earth grounds (older pools or those that don’t have proper equipotential bonding circuits), or those systems with operators who can’t grasp the ORP concept and are too stubborn to learn something new.

In any event, PPM sensing done right works great and can provide years of accurate PPM readings. Check into it and you might be pleasantly surprised. But then again, you could also learn a lot more about ORP and make 95% of all treatment applications work great.

Either way, affordable and accurate PPM sensing and control is here to stay.

Entry forms and information for the 2018 Design Awards competition are now posted at FloridaPoolPro.com/programs-design.

The annual Florida Swimming Pool Association Design Awards program gives members an opportunity to enter their pools, spas and water features for judging on workmanship, soundness of design, beauty, practicality and safety. Categories customized for Florida pool construction divide the entries by size, type of construction and features.

Pools are awarded a Gold, Silver, Bronze or Award of Merit based on a panel of industry judges’ review. Each award winner receives a plaque with a mounted photo of the pool or spa so they may display their accomplishment to prospective customers.

Award winning pools are submitted to national industry magazines for publication and also distributed to the winners’ local media.

A special logo is available for the winners to use in ads, business cards and on company letterhead.

You can view a full gallery of the 2017 FSPA Design Award Winners on FSPA’s Pinterest profile.

All entrants must be current members of the Florida Swimming Pool Association. Entries must arrive at the FSPA Sarasota office by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

*FSPA membership must be paid in full to participate in Design Awards.

Ken McKenna
FSPA President

Summer is here and what has been a busy year now gets much busier. Rain is wreaking havoc on your schedule. There aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week it seems. Our thoughts seem to always be on business. However, we need to remember that life is just not our business. We need to enjoy our personal lives too. You need to find a balance between work and play.

Work provides the style of living we enjoy but what’s the point if we don’t take time to enjoy it? Take a Friday afternoon off and go golfing or fishing. Take a 3-4 day weekend and do something with the family. I’ve been thinking about this because recently several known pool builders in the Florida area passed away. It makes you reflect on how short life is and what the priorities should be. We may not be around long enough to put things off. The phrase Carpe Diem should be your mantra, meaning, “Seize the day!”

Years ago, prior to getting into the pool business, I made a decision to change my job to be around my kids more. It was the best decision I ever made. Then upon getting into the pool business I was consumed by the job. I brought my frustrations home with me too. It took a while for me to realize that this wasn’t good for me and my family. I still check emails and messages at night or on the weekend, but what I consider an emergency versus “can it wait until tomorrow or Monday” is much different.

We work in a very stressful and demanding industry. I’m not saying this to minimize the importance your business plays in your life, just balance it with a personal life. Don’t miss your kid’s ball game, recital or school event because you are too busy. Don’t put off that vacation you have always wanted to take. It is easy to say there will be time later for things, but we don’t always know that.

You should apply having balance to your staff as well. Plan an activity for a Friday afternoon and take them out to do something fun. Give them an afternoon off maybe to just go home. We decided to close on July 3 and 4 this year to give them a four day weekend. I’m sure July 5 will be very busy but the staff is excited to have that time to do things with their family and friends. There are other things you can do that really cost you nothing.

Strengthen and leverage your collective voice with the Pool Industry PAC (PIPAC)

The Pool Industry PAC

  • Assists the legislative and political efforts of the Florida Swimming Pool Association.
  • Strives for the improvement of government by taking a more active and effective role in government affairs.
  • Encourages pool professionals to understand the nature and actions of their government.
  • Supports candidates for election at the local and state levels who share the views on issues important to the pool industry.

Why give?

The pool industry has been dealing with monumental issues including the scope of work within a pool license, potentially impacting daily operations of your businesses. FSPA has been in reactive mode because of decisions being made by bureaucrats, individuals and boards who may not have the expertise of pool industry professionals.

PIPAC funds will allow FSPA to strengthen and leverage the collective voice in support of sound public policy regarding the safety of the products produced and installed by the pool industry, and create and sustain an environment in which their businesses can grow.

PIPAC funding will help FSPA to

  • Mobilize pool professionals, vendors and customers on key local and state issues.
  • Contribute to candidates who support the views of FSPA.
  • Implement PIPAC fundraising initiatives.
  • Tap into advocacy campaign support services and tools, such as state voter database to help target messages, and consulting services to help FSPA maximize their political impact.
  • Make independent expenditures on behalf of candidates who support the FSPA agenda. PIPAC members will decide how funds are spent

What you get: 

PIPAc and FSPA will protect the profitability and future of your business. Every day this organization is advocating for you on issues that impact your business, such as scope of licensure, water quality and safety of your customers. We are also fighting for policies which benefit both your vendors and customers. You need to be able to run your business without excessive government intervention.

Visit www.poolpac.com to make your pledge today!

Maurice Bushroe
Blue Ribbon Pools

The new normal for business leaders is being very busy. It’s a good problem, but it’s still a problem. Sales dollars are not the same as profit dollars and cash flow must be carefully managed even in the best of times. Be sure your investments increase productivity for the long term. A bunch of new trucks might look good but upgraded customer relationship software could be more important to your long-term success. Are you prepared for higher liability and workers’ compensation bills that are tied to your increased payroll? Consider putting a good amount of cash aside to help avoid problems down the road.

The new normal for employees: there aren’t enough trained employees available to help us meet the higher demand for commercial service and repairs. As business leaders we must make sure our people are properly trained, equipped, and compensated as we push them to deliver more for our customers. And remember, a personal word from an owner or manager might mean more to the new generation of employees than just more money.

The new normal for customers: in our digital world customers expect everything immediately and they want it for free.The reality is that it’s not 2008 and every good service and repair provider is busy. It’s awfully hard to tell your customers that what they want on Tuesday won’t be ready until Friday, or next Tuesday, or the Friday after that. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’ve worked hard for them in the past and don’t be afraid to gently remind them of that. Keep in mind what they really need is accurate information to share with their guests and management, not overly optimistic promises.

Don’t forget to take a minute to reflect on this fact of commercial service and repair: the guests at our pools have worked and stressed and saved their money for weeks, months, and sometimes years to be in Florida. We wake up here every day; let’s give them the great experience they deserve.

Larry Drumb
Cool Pools by Larry

As a service company for the past 23 years, I have developed long-term relationships with my suppliers, which I feel as a business owner is crucial. By maintaining a strong relationship with them I can provide the best service possible for our clients at Cool Pools by Larry.

I know when I have questions there is someone who I can call upon to get them answered quickly. I know when I have equipment issues I can get the solution fast. I know when I need an item for our chapter’s online auction who I can count on. The list goes on and on but it dawned on me lately that the relationship we have with our suppliers is very much like that of our own customers.

PAYING ON TIME

Whatever your terms may be, whether they are 30 days or COD, it’s important to make sure to pay your suppliers promptly; just as you want your customers to pay  your invoices on the dates due. Ensuring that your business is paying on time gives the suppliers trust in you which makes for a stronger business relationship and may open the door to specials.

PROVIDING THE BEST SERVICE

In Deland where my business is located, I know I’m not the cheapest service company, although I feel that we are one of the best. My prices reflect that confidence. Same goes for your suppliers. You pay for what you get and I recommend remembering that when you are working with them. Service, education, and communication go a long way, sometimes more than the bottom line.

TWO-WAY STREET

Just as we take care of our customers so should our suppliers take care of us. Remembering which customers of yours are the biggest headaches may come in handy when dealing with the expectations you have of your suppliers. Often 20% of our customers take up 80% of our time and that shouldn’t be the case. If you are finding the relationship with your supplier isn’t the best it can be, think about your role in that and go from there.

Those who we pay and those who pay us have a unique relationship in how our businesses grow strong. Taking care of both relationships will only help your business in the present and future.

Swimming is viewed as a fun activity, a competitive sport, and a form of exercise. We know why it’s a fun activity and the training that goes with competitive swimming. But what are the benefits of swimming for exercise?

Most people know that swimming is a great cardiovascular workout. It’s harder to move through water than through air. The resistance makes your workout harder, resulting in more calories burned. Swimming.org has a calorie burn calculator that calculates the number of calories burned based on the swimming stroke you used and the length of the workout. Dr. David Tanner, a professor at in the Kinesiology Department at Indiana University, says, “one mile of swimming burns 400 calories, on average. One mile of swimming is equivalent to four miles of running.” (This can be dependent on level of expertise.)

Swimming is low-impact exercise. Because of the buoyancy of the water you only bear about 10% of your weight when you swim. Swimming is a favorable exercise for people who suffer from arthritis and other conditions related to joint pain for this reason.

Swimming also reduces risk of diseases. Swimming controls blood sugar levels, lowers blood pressure, and reduces levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.

If you’re looking for a way to revamp your current workout regime or even looking to start one, swimming is an excellent place to start.

 

Ken McKenna
FSPA President

I worked in the banking industry for 14 years. Ten of those years were spent in retail banking. When our bank lost a customer to a competitor it was easy to verify what the other bank was offering to the customer as they were federally regulated and had to make their account pricing public. During my 15 years in the pool industry, especially the past 4-5 years, the reason for losing a pool sale is usually up for debate.

The most commonly heard answer from a consumer is the other company was much less expensive. This is the easiest and quickest answer for a consumer to give a salesperson. It’s also the most frustrating and upsetting answer to get as a business. We all feel the other company must be giving them away because how can they be lower and still make money?

Let’s think about this answer: you are the consumer and you don’t particularly like a salesperson or you just like another better. Maybe you trust the other company more or the salesperson just did a better job selling you than the other people did. Most people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings or open themselves up to conflict by insulting someone. “They were lower” is a quick and clean answer when telling a company they lost the deal.

I still hear so much talk and animosity from builders who feel companies are giving pools away. Yet we know that the term “buyers are liars” is used for a reason. I am sure most of the business owners and salespeople have probably used the excuse that something was lower to avoid further discussion themselves. Why do we focus so much on the price issue? I would bet that 50% of the time the reason for losing the pool is someone was cheaper, but that leaves 50% were for other reasons that people take as always price related.

The fact is price has always been an issue but when the pie was bigger no one seemed to be bothered by it. The fiction part is we only lose pools to lower prices now. This is just not true. I will use my company as an example. We did 300 pools in 2005 and were in the top 3 in our market. In 2009 we sold just over 100 and were still in the top 3 in our market. Our closing percentage of sales to leads is the same as it was when we did 300 pools. When I look at this, I constantly remind our salespeople that they need to focus on selling the pools that we want to sell and stop focusing on the price.

The only way to increase their sales is to increase the closing percentage by selling value better or by out-working the other salesperson. Lowering prices to increase sales is not a long-term solution. My feeling is we need to focus on what we can do better in our companies and not what may or may not be true about another.