Category Archives: Love Pool Industry

By Jerry Mason, HornerXpress / jerry@teamhorner.com

Do you want to grow your business revenues and profits, but not sure how? The answers may vary slightly based on what segment of the market you serve, but there is a common theme.

Here are a few of the “easy” answers.  If you build or renovate pools – you can sell more, sell more expensive pools, add fancy features, increase your prices or explore additional revenue streams.

If you are a pool service provider you can raise your price, but what if that puts your company out of consideration? You can service more pools, but doing so probably means you will have to hire more personnel and invest in additional equipment. So, how many additional pools are needed to breakeven or gain profit considering the added expense? You can provide additional services and or find additional revenue streams.

What’s the common theme?  Additional revenue streams.  You are already a trusted service provider if your company was chosen to build / renovate their pool or provide them service. Why not capitalize on that trust? Your current customer base is a huge asset, competitive advantage, and opportunity to grow your business. Tell your clients now you can do more for them than they may be aware of. Get your company and your clients thinking beyond the pool and into outdoor living and an entertaining space.

There is a steadily increasing desire for outdoor kitchens and outdoor living spaces. Think about where you are sitting right now. How many houses are there within a 10 mile radius of you? How many of those do you think would like to have a beautiful outdoor cooking or living space?  I know it’s a very large percentage. If you don’t believe me just ask your neighbors or better yet… your customers.

Now think about your customer base. If you are a pool builder or design consultant, how many of those pools sold in the past years now have an outdoor kitchen in their backyard? Why didn’t you capitalize on that opportunity? If you are a weekly service or repair provider how many times do you go into a backyard and see a newly installed outdoor kitchen or living space? Why didn’t you capitalize on that opportunity?

Here is some data demonstrating how huge the opportunity with outdoor living and outdoor kitchens really is. 

From the American Institute of Architects:

Though the desired size of a home’s kitchen may not be growing, architects have seen an increase in demand for outdoor kitchens. “Homeowners continue to find new ways to add value to their homes by creating more functional space, which is apparent in the rise in popularity of outdoor kitchens,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Kitchens have become a hub for the home, now homeowners want to bring some of that activity to their outside.”

From the National Association of Home Builders website:

Why outdoor kitchens are so popular: This question prompted us to conduct proprietary research to discover the “why behind the what.” We surveyed several hundred homeowners across the U.S. who either had purchased or intended to purchase an outdoor kitchen and here is what we found, an outdoor kitchen is viewed as an experience, while the indoor kitchen is viewed more as a room.

Our research indicated that consumers view indoor and outdoor kitchens very differently. The outdoor kitchen is all about fun, whereas the indoor kitchen has a higher focus on functionality. When planning and selling an outdoor kitchen, get the homeowner to express their ultimate outdoor experience, and design the space around their dreams.

Consumers are willing to spend big money.

When an outdoor kitchen is included in the cost of new home construction, the median investment is over $40,000. When adding an outdoor kitchen after new home construction the median cost is between $10,000 – $20,000.

View the full article, written by David Brown, in the Fall 2016 issue of Best in American Living.

The fact is many consumers want outdoor living experiences including outdoor kitchens. If your company isn’t focused on this growing demand, you are missing a huge opportunity. You have a huge competitive advantage over anyone else they can choose because they already know and trust your company. Use your existing customer base, sell them what they want, and increase your company’s revenue and profits.

By Walter Clemence, FSPA Government Affairs Manager / Walter@FloridaPoolPro.com

There have been a few changes in licensing requirements for LP gas.

Qualifiers and Master Qualifiers:  

Effective July 1, 2018, the license types and education requirements have changed for LP Gas Licenses.  If you previously held a Gas Installer or a Gas Specialty Installers license, you should have received and applied for your Cat 5 Installer License.  While not previously required, Master Qualifiers are now required for Specialty Installers licenses.  Under the new law, licenses are renewed every three years and applicants must provide proof of 16 hours of continuing education credits. 

FSPA will offer eight hours of LP approved continuing education available at the Everything Under the Sunsm Expo in February.  Three classes will be available; they are Chapter 527, 5J-20, and Emergency and Response. 

The list of approved training courses for LP Qualifier and LP Master Qualifier can be found on the FL. Department of Agriculture Website at www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/73843/2115526/Approved_Continuing_Education_Course_List.pdf.

Training Requirements for Employees of LP Gas Related Businesses:

While not a new requirement, this is a great time to remind everyone that all employees must receive training that is appropriate for the scope of their job activities and include proper handling and emergency response procedures. Employees are required to receive refresher training at least every three years.  The initial and refresher training must be documented.  Employees at LP gas related businesses being supervised by the Qualifier and Master Qualifier (for Cat I and V license types) do not need to complete the same 16 hours required for Qualifiers and Master Qualifiers.

Examples of training:

Certified Employee Training Program available from the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC)
www.propanecouncil.org

Programs developed by propane companies

Programs developed by government entities

The term refresher indicates that the periodic training could be less intensive than the original training, since the periodic training is to reinforce initial training, rather than to repeat it.  Refresher training should review important concepts but concentrate on changes in procedures, requirements, or applications that affect the employee’s primary duties that fall within the scope of NFPA.

Documentation of the training, must be maintained and be available for inspection at the employee’s place of business and needs to include:

  • Employee name
  • Primary job responsibilities and duties
  • Date of competed training
  • Description, copy or location of the materials used to conduct the training, including topics covered
  • Name, address and telephone number of the person or organization conducting the training and evaluation
  • Signature of the employee supervisor or trainer verifying the training and evaluation

For More Information read 5J-20.060, Florida Administrative Code National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 58-See Chapter 4 and the Appendix for Chapter 4.

I am happy to speak with you if you have any questions about the LP gas license or any other regulatory topic.  My email is Walter@FloridaPoolPro.com and the office number is 941-952-9293.

By Jonathan Mosher, A & D Pool / jonathan@adpool.today

Joining the FSPA two years ago was one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to Florida.  I moved down to Florida from Ohio where I also worked in the pool industry. After working in this industry in both states for some time, I’ve realized something; the resources we have at our fingertips here in Florida are incredible. It’s amazing to see how active this industry is and even more fulfilling to be a part of its direction.

Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to these bodies of water. This ever-changing industry is often times difficult to keep up with. I am constantly updating my employees on what to be looking for in terms of violations and code changes. Whether it be repairing a faulty flow meter or replacing the tile in a pool with nonskid, we aim to guarantee that all the new requirements are met. As the contractor of these locations it is our responsibility to ensure that we are providing just that and following state codes.

The best way that we can be keeping everyone safe is by making sure we are all on the same page. I had a great talk with our local Health Department a few weeks ago. During that discussion they expressed interest in wanting to be a part of our local chapter meetings and by sending a representative so we can discuss, teach, and learn each other’s guidelines and perspectives. I believe this is critical for our industry to ensure that we are keeping our pool patrons safe and to display that we are an active organization willing to listen and willing to guide.

We must also continue to grow the pool industry with input from other organizations to provide cohesion and make us a stronger, well respected industry. I believe that the FSPA is the front runner in this industry. We have a duty to impact other organizations, specifically in the vast construction industry that is leading us into the future by pushing us architecturally. There must be a continuation of our reach outside of just this organization to the others out there who we can impact and make our presence known. When we connect to other organizations we will gain perspective and knowledge that we can use to broaden our discussion at our state Board meetings.

The FSPA has been a center point of knowledge and education for me. When I need an answer that is where I turn, whether it be to a colleague, one of the great staff members or one of the contracted legislative liaisons. To be involved in the process, growth, and direction of the Florida pool industry gives me a direct advantage to know where this industry is headed and I’m hopeful to be involved in how it gets there. I want to encourage every member to know this organization is achieving great accomplishments and to challenge them to continue to make that its focus. Thank you for all you do.

FSPA Executive Director Wendy Parker Barsell, wendy@floridapoolpro.com 

It is the time of year to give thanks for all that we’ve received in the past year.  I am thankful for many things and the staff and volunteers of this association make my job much easier.

First, outstanding team members.  Each person who works at FSPA helps to make your association the best it can be.  Strong continuing education, attractive printed materials, appealing videos, prompt and accurate membership reporting, impactful government relations representation and pleasant customer service are just a few of the things that initiate from the state level.  The chapter service team works to strengthen the association in your community and add even more value to your annual membership.

The volunteer Board of Directors.  The state Board meets regularly in person to discuss matters affecting the entire industry including legislation and regulation.  In between quarterly meetings the committees review topics needing immediate attention.

The Executive Committee.  This group of seven gives many hours a month to consider issues, come up with ideas and overall works to make FSPA the largest and strongest state wide pool industry association in the country.  I work closely with this group who become my friends during their tenure on the committee.  Each person who volunteers to move up through the ranks of leadership in your association is there for the right reasons – to advance FSPA in Florida.

Every FSPA member.  More than 700 strong, members of the association represent every segment of the swimming pool industry.  Together, we employ almost 70,000 people in Florida!  Let’s be thankful for each other and what we’re all doing to advance the swimming pool industry in Florida.

By David Griffiths, Insurance By Ken Brown / dgriffiths@insbykenbrown.com

Are you getting the most out of your Telematics/GPS system? Are you using it as a real management tool? A typical GPS system has the ability to track a significant amount of information which can be used to monitor and manage your drivers. Managing the operations of your vehicles leads to safer drivers and fewer accidents which leads to more affordable insurance premiums.
This outline is designed to be a supplement to an existing fleet safety program (we can help with that, too). The outline can assist you to define the commitment to and effective use of your GPS system.

1. Develop a Telematics (GPS system) Policy
        a. Your company should have a clear, consistent and concise message to all employees concerning the implementation of the fleet safety program supported by telematics data. The message is typically sent by the president of the organization to emphasize the importance and commitment to the program.

2. Responsibility, Authority, and Accountability
        a. An effective telematics program should designate an individual with the responsibility to implement and monitor the program. The individual should have the authority to take appropriate actions based on the telematics monitoring data and hold individuals accountable for undesirable behaviors.

3. Define Your Overall Objectives
        a. Define 3-5 outcomes that you plan to achieve using the telematics data. These are defined future outcomes (based on specific data) that improve the individual and fleet safety performance. These could include, but are not limited to;

i. Outcome – Reduction in vehicle accident frequency
        1. Speeding data
        2. Avg. speed data
        3. Hard braking data
        4. Rapid acceleration data

ii. Outcome – Reduction in severity of accidents
        1. Speeding data
        2. Avg. speed data
        3. Seatbelt use data

iii. Outcome – Reduction in non-business related use of vehicles
        1. Time of day data
        2. Geo fence data

iv. Outcome – Reduction in vehicle wear and tear
        1. Speeding data
        2. Avg. speed data
        3. Hard braking data
        4. Rapid acceleration data
        5. Idle time data

v. Outcome – Improve individual accountability for driving behaviors
        1. All of the above and more
        2. Overall driving score

4. Benchmark Data
        a. In order to create a benchmark, key data points should be identified and measured for a set period of time to determine how your fleet/individuals are currently performing. To support safety and reduction of losses, the following telematics data could be a part of the benchmarking and goal setting process.

i. Speeding
ii. Hard Braking
iii. Rapid Acceleration
iv. Non-business hour use
v. Geo fences- boundaries
vi. Average performance scores
vii. Idle time
viii. Drivers Score

Next month we will touch on four more parts of an effective GPS system for your company.

By Rob Sanger, Galaxy Pools / rksanger@yahoo.com

I have been servicing, modifying, and building commercial pools longer than I can remember (since 1975 to be exact).

Boy how things have changed.  Back then the rules were fairly lax, you would have pools with waterline tile looking more like a roller coaster than an edge that is supposed to skim, we had direct suction pools, and only roll-out gutters which are obviously better than skimmer pools.

These are just a few of the examples of the changes that have taken place over the years, some good, some not so good, but with ever-changing technology and an increasing population in Florida changes will continue to occur.  One of the changes I hope will be made is allowing a commercial pool service company using an ORP with communication to supplant the age old rule of seven day-a-week testing. Technology has made this possible and seven day testing is very onerous on our customers and in turn their constituents.  I have had many board members and property managers talk about contacting their legislators and county commissioners.  In this day of cutting regulations I hope the legislators don’t cut all of the Department of Health (DOH) like they almost did in 2016.

Florida is known to have the safest pools in the nation mainly due to past DOH vigilance, however since the repeal of the building side, things have changed.  As I speak to different contractors around the state it seems that there has been lots of turnover in DOH with some of the best people retiring.  What has resulted is very inconsistent enforcement and information distribution.

FSPA needs to stay on top of these changes and help guide DOH in the interest of the health and safety of our residents and guests to the state.

The commercial council of FSPA has been trying for some time to put together a course for DOH (similar to what we currently do for BOAF). I believe this would be a great thing for both DOH and our members.  They would get to understand the obstacles we are up against and learn some from our experience in the field and we can learn from them the problems they face as a government organization.  Open lines of communication is always a good thing and will benefit everyone in the end.

FSPA President Brian Kelly, Shamrock Pools | shamrockpls1091@aol.com

November, for most of the country, signals the true
beginning of winter. We, here in Florida, typically are
not anticipating our first snowfall for quite some time!
But seriously, November does signal a typical slowdown
in many aspects of our businesses. However in many
other aspects, it gives us an opportunity to escalate
certain parts of business that are not at the top of the
customer’s priority list.

Many of us builders are able to push for contracts on
new construction and hopefully guarantee completion
by swim season. After all, we have all had the potential
customer that will give us the job “if you can get it done
in six weeks!” This time of year allows us to close those
customers during the cooler months; and certainly the time to do residential renovations is during the winter months. The weather is more conducive to scheduling and many customers are not as concerned with the use of their pool during the cooler times of the year.

After construction projects there are also prime items to offer at this time of year. Obviously heaters and equipment package installations are easy targets for many clients. They can extend the client’s swim season and let them enjoy their pools and spas during the holidays. When the seasonal residents come down it gives us a chance for face-to-face meetings that can open up many options for backyard features. Many of our members have included backyard
kitchens and water features to their repertoire. Fire pits and fountains can add a world of ambiance to someone’s home.

Unlike many other parts of the country, we in Florida can venture to our backyard oasis during the cooler months and continue to enjoy our weather and lifestyles that most are here for. Often times our holiday gatherings end up outside. Let’s not miss the opportunity to help our customers continue to enjoy their backyards and continue the great uptick that the economy has afforded our industry!

By Roy Waldhauer, Waldhauer & Son / waldhauerpools@yahoo.com

My business, Waldhauer & Son, has built more than 2,000 pools in the community and we have been a family-owned and operated company for over three decades!  I feel confident in saying we have seen it all!  These days there is so much information out there helping the consumer to find the right builder for them.  They are given tips on checking out review sites, ensuring the builders are licensed, and looking to see if they’re in good standing with trade organizations.  They are told to ask questions like how many subcontractors will be used to build their pool.  But what about questioning your future client?  I feel the consumers have become more demanding than ever and they are educated, for the most part, because they have taken time to do their research on this home investment.

We definitely don’t build every pool that a potential client requests.  We are blessed to be able to choose the right client to ensure a win-win end result.  Here are some tips that I have learned along the way.

REALISTIC GOALS

When speaking to your potential client at your showroom or at their kitchen table, be sure to ask them about their dream pool.  Write down all the bells and whistles that they want and show them what you’ve written.  Go over lights, tiles, fountains, etc.  Tell them to dream big!  Have them identify a priority list.  What can be removed based on budget?  Then ask them what they want to invest and show them where it all adds up.

I also recommend going over mutual goals.  Discuss timelines and explain what the best case scenario would be and what they can do to be able to make the process smooth from start to finish.  Educate them on being present on a job site.  Let them know how many workers will be there and that they will be taking breaks.  Explain what happens when it rains.  Give them all the details of what a perfect client would look like.  It will imprint in their brains and they will hopefully understand the process.

VERBAL CONTRACT

Ask your potential client a simple question, “If I can make the numbers work for your timeline and budget, and you can do what we discussed, do I have your business?”  Too often, we don’t ask for the sale and a verbal commitment carries to those who are people of their word.  You can get the signed contract later.

CHECK THEM OUT ONLINE         

Definitely pull up their address to learn as much as you can about the property.  Also, I suggest Googling their name.  That way you may be able to see if they are avid reviewers and give extreme critiques on all their one star reviews.  Find out as much as you can since this is a business relationship and you want to be sure you are going into this process with the right people!

Just a few tips that have helped our team throughout the years at Waldhauer & Son.  Hope you enjoyed!

FSPA President Brian Kelly, Shamrock Pools | shamrockpls1091@aol.com

As the year winds down and the dust clears from another summer, I thought it would be good opportunity to review some of the progress that this association has made in the recent past. Often times, we as pool people, look for instant gratification and results. But typically the items of greatest value and importance often take time to develop.  Ideas must be thought of, and then planned, and then implemented. Relationships must be started and then cultivated before being fruitful. Situations must present themselves before one can act or take advantage of them.  And change, while often times difficult, is sometimes necessary for the opportunity for growth.

This past year has seen this association move forward on many fronts. Some have been the culmination of years of effort and partnerships, while others simply appeared.

The beginning of the year began with one of the best attended Everything Under the Sunsm Expos in years.  Many of our partners at the show returned and expanded space on the showroom floor while new educational classes were unveiled.  Also at the beginning of the year, it was announced that our endorsed sponsorship and affinity partners Insurance by Ken Brown and Amerisure Insurance more than doubled their contribution to our association and we have extended our agreement for three more years.

The purchase of the adjacent building to our home office at the end of last year is going to allow us to expand our working space and most importantly, enable us to create a learning center that can be used by our members and industry partners to further promote education and knowledge in the pool industry.

Our education staff has been working on the introduction of online seminars to be used as a teaching tool for members and their employees and hopefully culminate in our version of “CE Sally.”  While these goals are being chased, the FSPA is still actively pursuing the creation of an accredited program at the state college level for swimming pool and spa degrees.

The government relations initiative has been reworked to include a dedicated position to concentrate on state regulatory issues and re- established a staff person as a point of contact for our members. The plan is to give the membership greater access to answers internally while having diverse views and dedicated responsibilities on important issues.

The annual FSPA swim meet has continued to grow and has received its largest financial support in recent memory. It is rapidly becoming one of, if not the most prestigious high school swim meets in the state.

The PIPAC initiative has refocused its contribution efforts to target leadership positions and ascending legislators that can help promote the objectives of our association.  By supporting our government leaders, we are able to create willing and sympathetic lawmakers to causes that have a direct impact on the industry that we make our livelihoods in.

The FSPA and its Board of Directors and Executive Committee members have worked hard to re-establish lines of communication with other industry partners such as APSP and The International Swimming Hall of Fame.  These relationships had diminished over the years and by creating new lines of communication with these other players in our industry, the hope is to co-brand ourselves with natural partners for the betterment of our industry.

The FSPA Scholarship Program has been able to partner with the Bill Kent Family Foundation to double our support of our young people in their quest for higher education. This partnership has been a natural fit for our association, and helping our children achieve higher educational goals is in the best interest of all involved in such a wonderful program.

  As you can see, our association has been busy with many items and goals that help make us an industry leader. These fresh ideas and successes often take time to come to bear fruit. But once they do, we all share in its sweet taste of success!

By Wendy Parker Barsell, FSPA Executive Director / wendy@floridapoolpro.com. 

Last month my column was about sharing the benefits of FSPA membership with your employees. This month I’d like to encourage you to use FSPA to recognize your employees and your company. Most of you are well aware of the swimming pool Design Awards program and the recognition it brings when your company wins awards. Winners are displayed at the February Show, printed in the event program guide and magazine, posted online and press releases sent to local and national media.

Several years ago FSPA introduced a program to recognize service professionals. This award can be given to one person in each of our sixteen chapters. Take a look at your team and think about who customers are complimenting and sending in praise about their work. Simply complete the form (available on the FSPA website) and send it in. They’ll be honored at the annual awards reception in February as well as in the printed program guide, the FSPA magazine and local and national press releases. Companies have told me that this recognition of an employee boosts morale among everyone. It’s a benefit for you, your company and the employee!

And don’t forget that we have a Tops In Trucks award. Submit photos of your fleet of vehicles to be recognized statewide for great graphics which wow customers.

Winners for each of these programs receive plaques to hang in your office and special winner logos to use in your materials.

As a follow up to my column about employee safety a few months ago, please see page 10 to read about how Reef Tropical Pools is using a vending style machine to provide safety equipment to their team members. This is an excellent example of supporting employees in their jobs every single day. What is your company doing? Please share with us so other companies’ employees can benefit. The FSPA mission is “Advancing the Florida swimming pool industry.” Sharing of great ideas is one of the best ways to do this.