The 5 Biggest Mistakes in the Pool Service Business

Published on July 16, 2020

The pool service business is complicated, and there’s a lot of mistakes you can make. You’re working on things like… billing out chemicals, performing maintenance labor, and tracking warranties on installed equipment.

It’s a ton of work to do it right - and there are a number of “rookie” mistakes that even the pros make in their business.

By the end of this post, you’ll be able to identify these issues and know how to deal with the five biggest mistakes of running a pool service business.

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Don’t Charge Incorrectly for Chemicals

In the pool service business, along with labor, chemicals play a vital role in making sure a pool stays clean and safe for all swimmers. 

You cannot predict when a pump motor needs to be replaced or when a skimmer can get clogged. However, for the heat and busy summer months you will need to be prepared for the soaring cost for chemicals.

There are a few different options to address this problem:

  • Invoice chemicals directly with no contract
  • Yearly contracts that increase from May through September
  • Yearly contracts that divide that increased cost across all months

Whatever way you decide to structure your company, you cannot neglect the increased cost of chemicals during the summer.

Don’t Neglect to Create Efficient Routes

Whether you handle commercial, residential or a combination of both types of clients, you need to be efficient in your routing. 

A set route can help you manage your daily scheduling to help best utilize your employees.

You cannot predict the exact amount of time you are going to spend at a property for a cleaning, so it is important to make sure both travel time and overhead charges like gas for your vehicle are not being wasted crisscrossing your service area.

A set route can help you manage your daily scheduling to help best utilize your resources. 

A common route used by pool business owners is the “Circle Route.” With this route you map out all your daily properties from a starting point and basically create in which you start from the office and end at your office. Essentially hitting all clients within that circle route.

Another popular route is the “Mountain Route.” Though it may have different names, the main idea is you drive out to the farthest property from your office. Then working your way back to your office, you stop at all scheduled properties for the day as you get closer to the office.

Defining an efficient method of routing will help reduce all your vehicle costs and make your labor spend more efficient - this is important because the time spent between jobs is “non-billable” time.

You’re paying your employee (or yourself) and not getting paid for that labor. The shorter you make this time through your day by routing efficiently, the more profits you make in your business.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table during the “Off-Season”

Sparkling pools and fun in the sun are mostly associated with the summer months. 

Once the summer parties are over, it is common for residential pool owners to want to cancel their service until the next season or for commercial properties to question the need for service in a yearly contract. 

BUT as the weather changes to the winter months there are plenty of opportunities for your company to continue working.

Leaves that fall on the yard, will also fall into the pool. Depending on the area that your company is based in, you could easily schedule 5 day week services to skim leaves. 

During the freezing months, it is important to make sure the pools are still operating to keep the PVC pipes from freezing and splitting.

Working during the Fall and Winter months typically will not require as many chemicals during the summer since pools are not in use and the water temperatures run cold. However, the amount of time and labor that will need to be spent on each job will likely increase.

Full-year service contracts are an excellent way to prevent your business from falling into the trap of “seasonality” that can force annual layoffs and reduce your income during the off-season.

Don’t Miss Out on BIGGER Profits Through Bulk Pricing

There are several options available to homeowners who are needing to buy some 3” chlorine tablets or a new skimmer pole for an upcoming pool season. 

Stores like Leslie's Pool Supply or Home Depot are great locations for homeowners. 

However, as a business owner, it is more economical to purchase chemicals in bulk ESPECIALLY if you have many clients.

It is not unheard of to use up a 50-pound bucket of 3” tabs in one day during the summer months. It could be even more depending on how many properties you service. 

Commercial properties will require almost daily refills as usage goes up since pools are open and running all day. 

You can end up saving money if you order from pool supply warehouses in your area who will typically price their chemicals closer to cost or deals when bought in bulk.

It’s incredibly important to work with a supplier who provides excellent service and that you trust. Establish a connection with a good industry supplier and nurture that relationship - it will pay dividends over the course of your business. 

In addition to providing better pricing on chemicals, suppliers are typically great sources of solid employees - they know a TON of people in the industry.

When a business goes under, they’ll know who’s looking for work and who was knowledgeable and took the time to build a relationship with them. Don’t neglect these excellent resources!

Don’t Forget to Protect Yourself

This is an easy step to take for granted, but in the process of running a business and making sure you have all the supplies needed, it is easy to forget just how powerful the sun can be. 

You will need to make sure you are wearing sunblock to protect your skin. It is also recommended to wear a combination of a hat AND sunglasses to help protect your eyes from the sun’s glare.

You will need to make sure you are staying hydrated to try and prevent any heat stroke or exhaustion. And of course, it is always a good idea to have a source of drinking water in your vehicle. 

Portable ice chests, backpack bladders, and even those neon sports drink coolers are all great methods to help keep cool, refreshing liquids available. 

Serving pools is intense physical labor, so depending on the number of stops you scheduled in a day, you will want to make sure to make time to eat.

Rather than starting off the day with a protein bar or stopping for lunch at a drive-thru restaurant, you need to make sure you replenish your energy throughout the day.

BONUS: The BIGGEST Mistake New Pool Service Businesses Make

They try to track everything they’re doing in a notebook, on scraps of paper, and via random text messages with clients on the owner’s personal phone.

If you have a handful of clients, you can keep this balancing act going for a few months before you start to miss appointments, forget important details, and lose money.

If you’re growing your business and trying to run it on paper? You’re going to immediately have huge problems.

That’s why you need to get advanced software that manages all of your customer information, helps you create efficient routes, and tracks all of your chemical usage so that you can invoice customers quickly and accurately.

You need software that helps you keep track of all the little details so you can continue providing the same excellent customer experience at 500 clients that you provided at 5 clients. Service Autopilot is THE tool to grow your pool service business.

Avoid These 5 HUGE Pitfalls to Grow an Amazingly Successful Pool Service Business

Now we’ve identified five of the most common issues that pool service businesses run into. If you take the time to protect yourself, you’ll increase how long you can stay in the game.

By negotiating better pricing on chemicals, you’ll increase your profits and build a stronger pool service business. 

Remember to establish contracts or billing methods that account for the increased cost of chemicals during the peak pool season and you’ll be off to a great start in the pool service industry.

The pool service business is hard work, building a business in the industry is even harder - but with the right information, you can build a wildly successful pool service business.

Cody Owen

Cody is a copywriter with Service Autopilot. He was writing before he could read, dictating stories to his mom. Of late, he distills business principles and practices learned from his ever-increasing trove of books and his year with SA Support into digestible blog posts designed to provide maximum value to service industry business owners.


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