How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business

Published on May 6, 2021

You want to know how to start a pool cleaning business, but all of the endless information that comes with starting a new business can seem intimidating.

As you start a new pool cleaning business, you’ll have to know how to do things like:

  • Build solid business branding
  • Win your first pool cleaning clients
  • Choose the best pool service software
  • Follow all of the right legal procedures
  • Use the best marketing strategies to grow

All of these things (and more!) are important to sustainably grow your pool cleaning business.

In this article, you’ll find out how to start a pool cleaning business that’s successful. Get everything you need to know and see which steps you need to take next.

1. Get Experience in the Pool Cleaning Industry

Aside from being certified in the pool cleaning industry, you need to have experience prior to starting a pool cleaning business.

While being certified is a vital part of being in the pool cleaning industry, it’s equally important that you have experience in the field too.

When you have prior experience in the pool cleaning industry, you get to see how the best industry experts:

  • Win new, ideal clients
  • Keep great clients happy
  • Manage everyday business operations

Plus, you’ll get a general idea of how a pool business operates, and you’ll acquire the skills you need to start your own pool cleaning business.

In addition, you should build relationships with other pool service industry professionals and vendors through your place of work and conferences.

These connections can become great resources for you to lean on in the future.

2. Take Advantage of the Best Pool Service Software

By far, one of the best ways to grow a successful business is by taking advantage of the best pool service software.

While it might not seem important now, when you start out your business on the right foot, you’ll be able to fast track your success by streamlining everyday processes like:

Plus, when you choose the best pool cleaning software, you’ll have the power to quickly scale your business.

Service Autopilot documents everything you’ll need:

  • Photos
  • Job history
  • Invoicing history
  • Job and property notes
  • Important client information

With Service Autopilot, you can automate your everyday tasks so you can put your pool service business’ growth on autopilot.

Focus on building your business, and let us worry about your everyday business operations. THAT’S the power of Service Autopilot.

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3. Decide Which Pool Services You’ll Offer

Before you can get started on anything in your pool service business, you need to decide which pool services you’ll offer.

Consider what you’re certified to do, weigh that with the services clients in your area need and go from there.

Here are a few services for you to think about:

  • Pool repairs
  • Pool installations
  • Equipment repairs
  • Weekly pool cleanings
  • Will go after residential, commercial, or both?
  • Bi-annual preventative maintenance inspections

In order to avoid buying loads of expensive equipment at once, it’s a good idea to start small with a few services and expand your services when possible.

For example, you could start out as a residential pool service provider offering weekly pool cleanings.

Then, once your pool cleaning business becomes profitable enough, you can expand your services into other avenues like pool and equipment repairs, or even pool installations.

Once you’ve decided what pool services you’ll offer, you can buy equipment accordingly.

4. Focus on Building a Brand for Your Pool Service Business

Now that you’ve decided what pool services you’ll offer, you’re ready to start branding your pool service business.

Before we get started, think about who your ideal pool service client is… What’s their salary range? What’s their age? What do they care most about?

For example, if you’re targeting the average 40-year-old family parents, then you’ll want to focus on providing affordable pool services for the family.

By answering questions like these, you can pinpoint your ideal client so you know how to sell to them.

As you complete the steps below, keep reminding yourself of your ideal client.

These are the essential steps you need to take to brand your pool service business:

Step 1: Name Your Pool Cleaning Business

First off, you need to choose the best name for your pool cleaning business.

As you choose the best name for your business, keep this factors in mind:

  1. Your Audience
    • Your clients will associate your business name with your brand. For example, will Johnny’s Pool Service Repairs stick with them?
  2. Keep It Simple and Easy to Remember
    • Whatever name you choose, make sure it needs to be easily memorable and should roll off the tip of your tongue - avoid a long name of more than 5 words.
  3. Utilize Best SEO Practices
    • Google ranks your pool service business’ website based on it’s credibility. In other words, they’re looking for fresh blog content (if possible) and bounce rates (how long they stay on your page).
  4. Be Unique
    • If possible, include your uniqueness in your business’ name. For example, if you have a unique nickname like Stretch, you could name your business Stretch’s Pool Services.
  5. Keep It Appealing
    • Ensure your pool service business’ name will attract a wide variety of your target audience (i.e. homeowners, property managers, HOA’s, and etc… ).
  6. Make It Long-Lasting
    • If you plan on your business outlasting you and eventually passing it onto your family, ensure the name will stand the tests of time. For example, you won’t want your business to be named Pete and Sons Pool Service, in case your sons have daughters.
  7. Make It Permanent
    • Once you’ve chosen a name for your pool service business, stick with it. Not only is it a hassle to change everything (like your logo and website), but you also will lose the brand reputation you’ve built too.

Once you’ve chosen your name, it’s a good idea to follow up with some research to ensure no one else has your same business name.

Although most states have an online name search database, there are a few that still require mail-in submissions or in-person visits.

Step 2: Register Your Pool Cleaning Business

Once you’ve chosen a unique business name that doesn’t appear in your state’s database, it’s important you get registered ASAP.

First, decide how you want to register your business - LLC or S Corporation.

In order to protect your personal assets from your business, you must register your business as a separate entity.

It’s important to note that for tax reasons, the IRS doesn’t have an LLC classification, so LLCs are taxed as a different business type. The IRS classifies businesses as sole proprietorships, partnerships, C corporations, and S corporations.

For example, if your pool service business is registered as a sole proprietorship LLC, then you’ll have to pay self-employment taxes (i.e. social security and Medicaid).

In other words, your pool service business’ entire profit is taxed for a particular year.

For this reason, many new business owners choose to register as an S Corporation to save money on taxes.

If you’re an LLC with an S Corp, then you (the owner) will be paid a salary. As a result, your salary will get taxed for social security and Medicaid, as opposed to your company’s total profit getting taxed.

As with any major financial decision, contact a trusted financial advisor to help you make the best choice for you.

Step 3: Create a Logo and Showcase It EVERYWHERE

Now that you’ve gotten the major legal stuff out of the way, and your pool service business name is official, you’re ready to create a logo.

Since your logo is such an integral part of your business branding, I suggest hiring a freelance graphic designer to create your logo for you.

A great graphic designer can help you create a great logo with the right color values and style.

Then, once you’ve finalized your logo, you need to showcase it EVERYWHERE.

Put your logo on things like:

Just remember, the more money you spend on pool service marketing, the more you’re likely to get back on your return on investment (ROI).

Sell more work with these pool service business cards!

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6. Pool Cleaning Hiring: Do You Plan on Hiring Employees?

Do you plan on hiring pool cleaning employees?

If so, then you’ll need to fill out an online application with the IRS for an Employee Identification Number (EIN) if you’re in the United States.

Keep in mind, the process is different if you’re in Canada. You’ll have to fill out an application for a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

While, you might not plan on hiring employees right now, this process is pretty simple, so it might be a good idea to get it out of the way now.

This way, when you’re in need for new employees, you can hire them more quickly since everything will already be processed.

5. DON’T WAIT to Get Pool Cleaning Business Insurance

Before you start accepting new clients, you need to get pool cleaning business insurance.

By far, business insurance is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your business from potential financial and legal implications.

Plus, business insurance also protects the valuable equipment you’ve invested into.

At a bare minimum, these are the three policies you should consider carrying for your pool service business:

  1. General Liability Insurance protects you and your pool service technicians from property damage where you’re at-fault.
  2. Workers Compensation Insurance protects you if one of your employees gets hurt on the job. It’ll pay anything from lost wages, doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and other medical bills.
  3. Property Insurance protects anything from your pool service equipment to the computers at your office.

Additionally, a few other insurance policies you can consider are:

  • Business Owner’s Policy
  • Cyber Liability Insurance
  • Commercial Auto Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Commercial Property Insurance

Talk with an insurance agent to create an insurance policy to meet your pool service business’ needs.

7. Determine Your Pool Cleaning Pricing

In order to find out how much you should charge for your pool services, you need to know how much it costs to provide your services (i.e. overhead costs).

THIS RIGHT HERE is where so many new business owners miss the mark.

Many new pool service business owners will price their pool services too competitively low (or at random). Then, they don’t make enough profit so they go under.

While it’s important to take what other pool service businesses are doing into consideration, don’t get too caught up in it.

ALL pool service businesses are different with widely varying overhead costs, which is why it’s important you calculate your own costs and adjust your pricing accordingly.

For example, if you’re working as a solo operation to start and are charging $35 a week, and then you hire your first employee, your overhead costs WILL go up.

In turn, you need to raise your pool service prices to adjust for your higher overhead costs.

In order to build a profitable, long-lasting pool service business, these are the factors you need to consider… 

  1. Labor
    • Even if you’re starting out as a solo operation, you need to set yourself an hourly salary so you can account for labor costs in your pricing strategy.
  2. Fuel
    • You need to charge your clients for the average cost of fuel per mile for your vehicle (be sure to keep tracking this).
  3. Drive Time
    • Even though you might not usually think of drive time as paid time, it is because you’d still have to pay your employees during this time.
    • Pro Tip! This is why route density is so important. The closer your jobs are together, the less time you waste driving (you can automatically route your jobs in Service Autopilot).
  4. Equipment Maintenance
    • Your vehicles will need an oil change after a certain number of properties - make sure you track this number. In order to calculate your average cost per client, divide your maintenance costs by the number of services.
  5. Chemical and Equipment Costs
    • Track how much you’re spending on chemicals for each job and equipment, so that you can add it to your overhead costs and account for it in your pool cleaning pricing.

Always remember, you need to:

  1. Track your time on each job
  2. Keep tracking your overhead costs and re-calculating prices as needed
  3. Increase your prices on your least profitable clients first (as your test population)

These are just a few of the many factors you need to consider in determining your pool cleaning pricing.

As a reminder, it’s always a great idea to meet with a financial advisor to ensure you’re setting realistic profit goals and to adjust your prices accordingly.

8. Create a Pool Cleaning Business Plan

It’s important you start your business out on the right foot by creating a pool cleaning business plan.

A business plan is vital to the success of your business because if you ever seek outside help from investors or small business loans, they’re going to ask for your business plan.

Plus, business plans are great for streamlining your training process for new hires because they can quickly get an overview of your business operations and values.

Additionally, a great pool service business plan will help you to stay focused on clear goals, keep organized, and prepare for the unexpected.

Take a look at the example below of the perfect pool service business plan you can create:

  1. Cover Page
    • Logo
    • Business Name
    • Contact Information
    • Business Address (if any)
    • Your Role in the Pool Service Business
  2. Executive Summary
    • Company History
    • Mission Statement
    • Business Goals and Objectives
    • Company Advantages (your keys to success)
  3. Business Overview
    • Company Summary
    • Company Ownership
    • Start-Up Summary
      • Start-Up Costs
      • Long-Term Assets
      • Short-Term Assets
  4. Pool Services
  5. Market Analysis Summary
    • What does your ideal client look like?
      • List age, income, and socioeconomic status.
      • Identify their wants and desires (what they care most about).
      • Find the local target market size (how many locals fall under this category).
    • Who’s your local competition? Are they established pool service businesses, start-ups, or are you a new pioneer in this market?
      • List your top 3-5 competitors in this market.
        • Prices
        • Pool services
        • Business sizes (team sizes, company size, etc… )
        • List services (with prices) that are similar to yours
    • Why might your ideal client choose your competitors over you?
    • How can you make it to where your ideal clients will hire YOU over your competitors?
  6. Business Strategy
    • Pool Cleaning Pricing
  7. Implementation Strategy
    • Sales Forecast
    • Sales Strategies
    • Milestones (if any)
    • Competitive Advantages
  8. Management Summary
    • Your Salary
    • Labor Costs and Employee Pay
    • Number of Employees Needed (to reach your goals)
    • How Many Jobs You Can Realistically Complete in a Day (if you’re flying solo)
    • Minimum Service Charge to Service a Property (and still reach your profit goals)
  9. Financial Plan
    • The items in bold are the bare minimum you need to include in your plan (the others extras to take your business plan to the next level):
      • Balance Sheet
      • Sales Forecast
      • Business Ratios
      • Start-Up Funding
      • Personnel Planning
      • Expense Budget
      • Break-Even Analysis
      • Projected Cash Flow
      • Projected Profit and Loss

Once you’ve created your pool cleaning business plan, you’re ready to go over it with a trusted financial advisor.

9. Meet With a Financial Advisor

A great financial advisor will help you to determine what numbers need to be set in order to meet your profit goals.

In addition to your business plan being helpful for your financial advisor, it also opens the door for you to acquire a small business loan.

Even though a financial advisor might cost you a pretty penny, it’s an extremely valuable asset to your pool service business.

Your financial advisor can help you to determine how low you need to keep your overhead costs as well as what prices you need to set to meet your goals.

If you want to grow your pool service business, a financial advisor is essential.

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A Few Finishing Touches Before Officially Starting Your Pool Cleaning Business… 

Once you’ve validated your goals with a financial advisor, you can use the best pool cleaning marketing strategies to help you win the necessary clients.

You can win the perfect pool cleaning clients by utilizing the best opportunities marketing has to offer:

In addition to these essential marketing strategies, you’ve got to give your new pool cleaning clients 110% of your best work. In other words, go above and beyond expectations.

Especially when your clients are new, they’re not yet attached to your pool cleaning business - so first impressions are everything.

Once you’ve won the hearts of your pool cleaning clients, you can drop it down to 100% of your best work.

This way, when you and your pool service technicians inevitably make unfortunate mistakes, your clients will be more likely to be forgiving since you provide overall excellent customer service.

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How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business that’s Wildly Successful

Now, you have all the tools and information you need to know how to start a pool cleaning business that’s wildly successful.

Even though there are a long list of processes you have to undergo to start a profitable pool cleaning business, this article helps simplify the process.

Starting a new business can seem intimidating, but when you utilize the advice and strategies in this article, you’ll be well on your way to growing a long-lasting pool service business!

Related: How to Get Your First Pool Service Clients

Originally published May 6, 2021 5:27 PM

Alyssa Sanders

Alyssa is a Content Marketing Specialist II at Service Autopilot. Her bookworming began after she discovered the Harry Potter series. Her love of books evolved into writing and creating content. When she's not writing, you can find her watching a new sci-fi series or shoving her nose into a book.

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