Category Archives: Love Pool Industry

Construction

Entry forms and information for the 2016 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.

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

 

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.

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

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!

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.  Join us in increasing awareness and active efforts in swimming pool safety.  The importance of barriers to prevent children from accessing pools is important as the weather gets warmer and the curiosity of kids runs rampant.  Pool watcher badges and safety brochures are available at a low cost to members, call FSPA at 800-548-6774.

If you or any company employees have dependents attending college in the fall, download the FSPA scholarship application.  This year the qualifications and requirements have changed to expand the reach this program has within our member community.   An average of nearly $20,000 is awarded each year from the Swimming Pool Education and Safety Foundation.  Download the application for all requirements.

www.floridapoolpro.com/programs-scholarship/

Only a short 14 years ago when I started in the pool business, needing to know about fire bowls, fire pits, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, sunken seating areas and sunken bars, just to name a few, would have made me laugh. We build swimming pools. Let someone else worry about those items, if anyone even asked for them back then. Well, now if you aren’t thinking about those items and more, you are missing out. We are no longer swimming pool builders, we are backyard providers.

The term backyard experience is everywhere. Lucas Lagoons, out of Osprey, FL, has its own reality series called Insane Pools – Off the Deep End. The pools they are building cost the same as a house did 14 years ago. They build a backyard oasis, not just a place to cool off. HGTV has highlighted pool builders from around the country and the backyard experiences these builders are creating for the customer. When people start thinking about a pool, they put more thought into the items surrounding and attached to the pool than ever before.

When the trend started and people began asking for other items besides pools, I know our salespeople weren’t comfortable with selling or even discussing anything but a pool, deck and screen. We mostly referred outdoor kitchens, fire pits and fireplaces to small GC companies. Now it is a must to not only be able to discuss these items, but to be able to provide them yourself. The money left on the table if you do not offer these services is significant. Do not miss out on these opportunities; if you haven’t started getting into other outdoor backyard items, start tomorrow.

Pool builder show rooms used to be tile, acrylic deck colors, some pavers and interior colors. Now they are starting to resemble home design centers. Options are what make the pool. People don’t want to just swim, they want to feel like they are at a resort. They want the experience of the backyard. Our job is to provide that.   You can see the other trends just from walking the Florida pool show last month. The number of suppliers and manufacturers carrying fire bowls and water bowls has gone up. Glass tile is more widely asked for. Arbors or pergolas around the pool area are increasing. Connecting a sunken kitchen and bar area to the pool is increasing. Sunken seating areas attached or even in the middle of the pool are increasing as well. This is why the Florida Pool Show name is now “Everything Under the Sun Expo”. We provide it all and if you don’t, you will fall behind.