Category Archives: Love Pool Industry

By Ray Pearen, Fresh Finish Pools LLC/

There is so much work out there. The phones keep ringing and almost every caller wants ‘it’ done now. During the busiest times of the year with a shortage of workers, we are challenged to get everything completed, meet every demand and keep every customer happy. Add this to the ever-increasing demand for instant, and constant communication and you have a volatile mix for stress and burn out.

It is at breaking points, where I’m alone in my truck and taking it out on my steering wheel, that the words of one of my mentors come to mind, “Just tell them ‘No’, you have to know when to say No.” 

He simply meant that by turning away business, in favor of work you already have, we are further ahead than feverishly accepting every opportunity for new business that comes our way. It is an easy statement to say, and is logical, but goes against every natural instinct of the entrepreneur. We want to grow our businesses and shutting down income opportunities seems contrary to that vision. But having a heart attack in your truck at the side of the road is also not part of that vision.

Organization and good scheduling are the easy answers but sticking with it when your phone keeps dinging with texts, emails and calls is difficult.

Sometimes we need to obey our inner stress meters, slow the train down, and get done what is in front of us. This equates to better work flow, happier customers and a staff that isn’t over taxed. It’s a constant battle to find a healthy work life / home life balance and being content at our jobs also makes us more present at home.

Although it can be tempting to always take that extra call, sometimes it’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture. I encourage you to take the steps to simplify your business, so you can feel an increased sense of success and fulfillment in both your work and personal lives.

By Rick Howard, Howard’s Pool Service, Inc./

For those maintaining commercial pools, dealing with Health Department inspections is a way of life. In Pinellas County they have really started cracking down on both not enough flow and/or too much flow.

Commercial pools are engineered for a required flow to turn over the pool in six hours. Some pools are designed for high flow rates to accommodate a higher bathing load. A general guide is five gallons per minute per bather. So a bathing load of 20 means 100 gpm, usually anyway.

We regularly see flow meters incorrectly installed. To be accurate they must be installed as per manufacturer’s specifications. For the most common flow meters in use in our county that means 10 times the pipe size diameter before the flow meter and five times after of straight uninterrupted pipe. For example, a 2” flow meter requires 20” of straight pipe before the meter and 10” after. If the flow meter isn’t correctly installed the readings will be all over the place and not accurate.

We have seen pools approved with flow meters that were incorrectly installed. Good luck with those! All the inspectors will look at are the readings. The pool technician needs to be aware of whether it is properly installed or not. We also see flow meters installed on pool heaters to verify water flow through the units. The same rules apply. We see them installed up against an elbow. Save your money, they aren’t working and the readings are most likely totally wrong. If you see a flow meter incorrectly installed you really need to correct it.

The new permit forms that must be posted in the pool area now list the required flow. They usually accept 10% plus or minus without failing the inspection, but not always. It is best to look over the flow meters every visit to make sure they are working. Doing this can prevent possible pool closures and/or re-inspection fees!

By FSPA President Brian Kelly, Shamrock Pools / 

As the end of summer nears, many of us look forward to the peace and quiet that is finally in sight. The kids are going back to school! Yes, the youngsters are once again going back to learn the ABC’s and the routine that school brings.

But for some of us, the beginning of the school year also brings the unwanted words many of us hear – tuition! That’s right, the burden of college tuition and costs associated with an upper level education. As many already know, these costs can be substantial and ongoing. While we all are extremely proud of our children achieving the privilege of attending schools of higher learning, or extending their education with vocational training, it can come with substantial costs and responsibility.

Fortunately, as FSPA members, and through the generous contributions of many, our employees’ children are eligible to receive financial help through the FSPA Scholarship Fund. This fund, while it requires some effort on the part of the applicants, is a great way to offset some of the costs associated with higher learning. The applicants, if it’s their first time applying, must submit documentation verifying their eligibility. Returning applicants also must qualify with grades sufficient enough to prove their eligibility. In both cases, the aspiring applicants have to submit research papers on a list of subjects pre-approved by the scholarship committee. The subjects are generally related directly to the the swimming pool industry and often entice the writers to produce really thought provoking and insightful papers.  Many of our  recipients have gone on to achieve their bachelors degrees and a number have even obtained their masters degrees. And many, like our very own Executive Director, Wendy Parker Barsell, have found a lifelong career in the Swimming Pool Industry.

To make our program even more attractive and helpful to our young recipients, I am pleased to announce that beginning this year, Bill Kent, HornerXpress, has graciously decided to offer matching scholarship contributions to our scholarship award winners!  Through the Bill Kent Family Foundation, all of our members’ children who have successfully completed the process of the application will now double what the FSPA scholarship committee awards them!  As a father of four children who have all attended upper level institutions, I know personally the help that these types of awards give hard-working students!

It must be said that the scholarship program, first started by Ken Brown, Insurance by Ken Brown, and so generously supported by Amerisure Insurance and by the many chapters across our great state, have supported pool industry children for more than 30 years. It once again reinforces the strength and compassion that this close-knit association provides for its many members!

To Mr. Brown, Mr. Kent, Amerisure Insurance, and all of the chapters that have generously contributed to our scholarship program, I offer my sincere thanks for your commitment to our members, their children, and this association!

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.

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. 

Your hardwork to build an awesome pool deserves some recognition!  Customers will love to hear that you are an award-winning company.  Prepare now for the 2019 Design Awards.  Entries are due October 31, 2018.

Design Awards entry form 2019

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.

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

This rule reduces the limit of respirable crystalline silica to 50 mg per cubic meter of air averaged over 8-hour shift.

Compliance dates
Construction industry September 23, 2017 (fully enforceable 30 days later, October 23)
General Industry June 23, 2018

Requires employers to:

  • Use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure;
  • provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure;
  • limit worker access to high exposure areas;
  • develop a written exposure control plan;
  • offer medical exams to highly exposed workers; and
  • train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.

Where to get more information:

Paperless Licensing, effective 05/04/2018

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is excited to announce an advancement in how we license construction contractors in the State of Florida.
The Department has implemented an innovative way to expedite the licensing process for construction contractors. The Department will no longer be mailing licenses upon issuance, as licensees can now print their licenses by logging into their secure online account with the Department. This will allow new licensees to enter the work force at least 7 to 10 business days early, whereas, in the past, they would have to wait for the license to arrive in the mail. In addition to new licenses, this process will allow licensees to renew online and print the license at their convenience, as well as print duplicate licenses as needed without paying a fee.