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The Pool and Spa Industry: Dealing With Rapid Expansion of the Industry

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The Pool and Spa Industry: Dealing With Rapid Expansion of the Industry

The global pandemic negatively affected almost all economic sectors. Conversely, the pool industry came out in one piece. In fact, experts say that the covid-19 pandemic led to the expansion of the pool and spa industry. Amid the travel restrictions, homeowners were looking to create mini staycations in their backyards. As a result, there was an increased demand for pool services.

Pool and Spa Industry

Currently, pool contractors have a lot on their plate. Everyone wants to revamp their pool and outdoor spaces. Owner of H&H Pool Services in Dublin, David Hawes, says, “We’ve never had a high demand for our services before. Indisputably, this is going to be our best year.” Moreover, the Owner of Payan Pools, Payan, states, “December has been the best month we’ve had since we started the business.”

However, pool business owners say that a surge in demand leads to increased risk in the pool and spa industry. As much as it’s tempting for firms to hike prices, not all companies qualify to do so. It would be best if you considered several factors before you think of capitalizing on the surge.

Pool and spa industry: Will hiring more employees pay off? 

One of the major challenges brought about by an increase in demand in the pool and spa industry is a labor shortage. Increased demand causes a shortage of labor. In turn, it forces pool companies to employ more people. But employing more people is very costly. Remember, you have to consider all the taxes, compensation, and insurance costs attached to each employee. So, is hiring more laborers worth it?

Well, hiring is worth it in the long run. But it will take some time before you benefit from it. Generally, employing more people is a considerable risk, but it will definitely pay off at the end of the day. So, if possible, hire more employees.

Nevertheless, it can be challenging to find someone passionate about your business as much as you are. Nowadays, finding someone willing to deliver their best efforts in your company is challenging. Moreover, there are few qualified people. A good percentage of people are still getting paid well while working from home.

Payan, therefore, says that company owners have to devise a strategy to be more productive. For example, they can deal with more extensive and complex projects during off-peak seasons. At this time, there is not much going on. Thus, pool contractors have more time to concentrate on larger projects. You can always ask the client if it is possible to do this. Most of them will be perfectly fine with this.

At the end of the day, it’s all about working smart to achieve all your goals. You can always keep up with the demand, even with a few laborers. However, give all your team members’ adequate time to rest. Otherwise, they would burn out. In turn, they will have low energy levels and perform poorly at work.

Devise a strategy to grow your business 

All pool company owners should develop a strategy to expand their business at this time. Below are some of the questions you should ask yourself if you plan to grow your company.

  • Do you have enough trucks? Or do you need more?
  • Is your warehouse spacious enough to accommodate all your equipment? Is it necessary to have a second or third, or fourth warehouse in a different service area due to increased demand?
  • Should you recruit new team members to deal with the increase in inquiries?
  • Should you incorporate advanced technology to monitor your stock, sales, and revenues?

Every question comes with an opportunity and a risk. For instance, if you need another warehouse, this will mean more costs and more business at the same time. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that the returns supersede the risk.

How long will the surge in demand last? 

More often than not, independent contractors receive more returns. Come to think of it. They only need to pay their suppliers and a few laborers. This justifies that sometimes, bigger is not always better.

However, the increased demand is now forcing independent pool builders to grow. Since they have to deal with multiple projects, they have to employ more laborers. Although it’s relatively risky to expand their business, it is beneficial in the long run.

But before expanding their businesses, is it worth it to go the extra mile? Remember, this surge in demand in the pool and spa industry arose from the covid-19 pandemic. What happens when the global pandemic is over? Will things go back to normal? Well, there’s a good chance that things will remain as they are for a pretty long time. Employers say that employees are still productive even when working from home. Besides, children are now used to having swimming pools around; it is undoubtedly hard to take their minds back to the old norm.

Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Contractors and Builders

When Customers Don’t Want To Pay For Their Pool, Don’t Do This

These guys give contractors everywhere a bad name

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When Pool Customers Don't Want To Pay Their Bill, Don't Do This

Every single builder in the pool industry has encountered that one problem customer, the perpetual goal line pusher that is constantly moving the bar and making it almost impossible to finish their pool construction project. Quite often, it’s easy to get frustrated when a customer refuses to pay for work that has been performed on their property. There have been many times when I’ve heard pool builders say over the years “Man, I wish I could just go back there and jackhammer everything out.” What they don’t do, is actually act out their fantasies of getting even. No matter how frustrated a builder gets on a job site, there is always a better recourse to take than willfully destroying someone’s property and immediately opening yourself up to a civil and potentially criminal penalty.

Recently a video went viral featuring a contractor destroying a customers bathroom for refusing to pay the balance of their bill. The video itself elicited plenty of cheers from fed-up contractors on Facebook who have probably faced a similar situation themselves.

We’ve all been there and have been confronted with a customer that you just can’t make happy. It can feel like no matter how hard you work or how much you’ve done that they are impossible to please.

Destroying a Customers Property is Probably The Worst Way to Settle a Contract Dispute

Contractor Terry Gregory went viral this week for his rather unorthodox way of settling a job that went sideways with one of his customers. He was caught on camera destroying his customer’s bathroom after she refused to pay the balance of a bill he had submitted.

Obviously there are tons of folks who can empathize with said contractor getting stiffed on the bill and “taking back” his work product. Like many who saw the video that was my first gut reaction, however there are always two sides to every story.

The homeowner Amber Trucke, had been documenting her experience in a variety of Facebook Groups and was receiving feedback from ongoing work on the progress she was posting to the group.

Trucke’s complaints stemmed from the fact she had paid $3,000 down on a tile remodel for her bathroom but that as work progressed she noticed that her bathroom tile renovation was beginning to look like amateur hour on her dime. She posted photos of work that contractor Terry Gregory had performed to date. The reactions she got from the group left her with serious reservations about paying the balance of her $7,500 bill.

Many Facebook Group members told her that based off of the photos she was showing, that in their opinion the job was substandard and was a complete do over. Hundreds of homeowners advised her that the work was not up to snuff and told her not to pay the remaining balance.

Trucke had been going back and forth with Gregory and his business partner Jordan Cazares over the project and had been presented with a bill for $4,225.00 to which she stated the she was not prepared to pay yet because she had not had time to inspect the final work product and was not happy with the overall work based on what she had last seen.

The company she hired Dream Home Remodels of Colorado, released a statement to the news regarding the incident. “After several weeks of work for a customer, communication broke down at the end of a project. There was no displeasure expressed, and we proceeded to ask for payment on the project by the end of the day. Communication broke further after that and resulted in our company repossessing a tile shower.”

‘Repossessing’ the tile caused considerably more damage to both the homeowners property and the firms reputation. On camera Gregory was recorded saying “Is someone going to pay me? Let me tell you something. No contractor in the state of Colorado will fix that when they found out that I took it back because she refused to pay me. No one!” and continued to demolish the bathroom.

That turned out not to be true. After witnessing the video three local area contractors offered to fix Trucke’s bathroom for free. The behavior was all documented on camera and can probably be used in a civil suit against Dream Home Remodels of Colorado at some point. It’s important to note at the end of the day the contractor did not get paid the balance on the work they performed and may have caused future irreparable damage to their reputation for acting in such a fashion. Ultimately it may prove that there may not be a homeowner in the state of Colorado that wants to work with the firm after watching how they resolve conflicts with customers.

What Can Pool Builders Learn From This?

The lesson here as it applies to the pool industry is that no matter how angry a customer may make you, or how justified you feel in your frustration with their behavior and ingratitude, that there are often two sides to every story. Personally, after having seen the photos the homeowner posted, I would not have been eager to pay my final bill either.

A builders first impulse may be to say, “oh that customer is crazy” or “they’re just being difficult”. There are some who immediately shut down to criticism and refuse to accept that their work may not be their “A” effort and could be sub-standard. Not allowing for customer feedback and insisting they pay for work they are unhappy with is a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully we don’t hear stories of unpaid pool contractors acting out on their impulse to destroy a customers backyard. That’s probably the best way possible to go out of business. However, what this whole story can teach us how important it is to listen to the customer and work towards finding the best resolution that satisfies them.

It’s important to note that there are a few huge social media groups that cater to homeowners that are building a pool as well as existing pool owners. For pool builders to ignore the fact that their work is being posted on Facebook and Instagram and being critqued by homeowners is tantamount to living in a vacuum.

It’s a fact that homeowners are giving customers feedback on the pool construction process. When a homeowner encounters an issue that brings quality of construction or build decisions into play, they will often head to one of these groups to get feedback from others.

In some instances the comments they receive may lead to pushback on paying their final bill. How builders handle that criticism and proceed in satisfying their customers are what separates them from the Terry George’s of the world. At the end of the day, it’s probably better to file a mechanics lien than it is to act on impulse and harm your reputation.

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Contractors and Builders

How to Hire a Pool Builder

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How to Hire a Pool Builder

A swimming pool can modify your backyard into a first-class haven. Even so, constructing a pool is not a walk in the park. This process consumes a lot of time and effort. Thus, you have to be careful and employ a reliable pool builder. Keep in mind that they can either make or break your project. Moreover, swimming pools cost thousands of dollars. Subsequently, you cannot afford to hire an unreliable pool contractor.

How to Hire a Pool Builder

What is the cost of hiring a pool builder?

Pool construction often varies depending on the pool builder you hire. But on average, it costs $36,700 to $66,500 to build a pool. Most professionals charge approximately $50 to $125 per square foot for pool construction. The labor costs vary depending on the type, size and design of the pool. Pool contractors usually charge more for complex pool designs and landscapes.

Hiring a professional pool builder vs. conducting a DIY project

Some homeowners prefer building their own pools. Constructing a pool is a tedious process, especially if you have no experience. So, you would rather leave this work to a professional pool contractor. Although it might be cheaper to conduct a DIY pool construction project, you might end up spending thousands of dollars in the long run. Remember, any mistake made during pool construction can take a toll on your budget. So, unless you have extensive experience and knowledge of pool construction, always hire a reputable pool company.

How can I find a reliable pool contractor near me?

Generally, it can be hard to find a reputable pool contractor. So, conduct thorough research on the best contractors near your area. From there, compare quotes and narrow down to your best option. Below are some ways that’ll help you settle for the best pool contractor near you.

Getting referrals

One of the best ways to find a reputable pool contractor is to ask for referrals from your neighbors, friends or family.

Check customer feedback

Never forget to evaluate all customer reviews and feedback about a company’s services. Pool contractors with the highest ratings are more likely to deliver quality pools. Also, read all the customer reviews. Doing this helps you find the best pool contractor who caters to your needs.

Check pricing, terms and conditions

Different pool installers charge differently. Thus, it is essential to know how much a prospective pool professional charges. Keep in mind that your pool contractor should cater to your requirements and your budget. Also, it is crucial to understand all the terms and conditions of construction before hiring a pool builder.

Is the business legal and licensed?

Get to know a brief history of the company you plan to hire. Check whether they have a valid license and insurance cover.

What are the services offered by pool builders?

Typically, there are many aspects involved in pool construction. Most are always willing to provide all kinds of pool construction services. Some of these pool services include:

  • Coming up with the pool design. A good company will always recommend the best pool designs that suit your requirements.
  • Obtain all the pool construction permits for you.
  • Excavating and setting a good foundation for the pool.
  • Putting up the rebar framework.
  • Installing all pool equipment; pool filter, pump and heater.
  • Installing additional features in the pool.

Do you need to hire a pool builder?

After knowing the pool type and design, you wish to install, decide whether you want to hire a pool builder. A pool builder is undoubtedly necessary if you have zero knowledge of pool construction. Pools incorporate a long construction period. Thus, it would be best to hire a professional pool contractor to handle the project.

What should you tell your pool builder?

Once you find a reputable pool professional, ask them questions to get clarification on everything concerning pool construction. A good percentage of reliable pool contractors are always willing to address all your queries, fears and doubts. Below are some of the questions you should ask your pool contractor.

  • Are you the one responsible for coming up with the pool design? Do you give recommendations based on my requirements?
  • Is my landscape fit for excavation? How do you deal with problems with my landscape?
  • Are there any challenges that are likely to show up during the pool construction process?
  • Do you offer any pool financing options? If you do, how can I apply for the pool loan?
  • Do you recommend the equipment and materials I should use for my pool?
  • Do you have a valid license and insurance cover?
  • Do you offer warranties?

Final thoughts

Before hire a pool builder, there are several factors you need to consider. Generally, your contractor should have a valid license, extensive experienced and exhibit professionalism. Remember, pools cost a fortune; so, you have to hire a dependable pool contractor.

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Contractors and Builders

Jimmy Reed Is One Of The Elite

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Jimmy Reed is One of The Elite

Jimmy Reed is unquestionably one of the top experts specializing in glass tile interiors today. A master artisan, he is definitely on a short list of A list installers. When it comes to tile, Reed is often sought out for his expertise in that particular realm.

We had the opportunity to catch up recently on the Pool Magazine podcast and discussed his impressive body of work. Working with a veritable who’s who in the swimming pool industry, Reed’s work has taken him from coast to coast working on some of the most jaw dropping pools in America.

Reed’s expertise is highly prized, consequently he’s become a frequent collaborator with luxury pool builders like Dave Penton.

Jimmy Reed Has a Reputation

A native of Southern California his entire life, Reed first began building a reputation on the West Coast for his incredible mastery at installing glass tile interiors. That notoriety has spread over the years to catapult Rock Solid Tile as a premier consulting firm providing expert pool tile installation all over the country. Today he is widely considered by many to be one of the best of the best.

With almost 50 years under his belt, there isn’t a whole lot about glass tile Jimmy Reed doesn’t know about.

Reed first got his start in tile almost 5 decades ago and has become a permanent fixture in the pool industry. A humble and unassuming person, you’re almost lulled into the false security of believing he’s just a regular guy. In fact Reed is without a doubt one of the crème de la crème when it comes to tile and an important resource for veterans who value his craftsmanship and wealth of knowledge.

Mosaic tile interior Reed installed in a collaboration with elite designer Shane LeBlanc – Photo Credit: Jimi Smith Photography

“The first important job I ever had the opportunity to work on was for Jaqueline Bissett” who costarred opposite Steve McQueen in the 1968 classic “Bullitt”. Over the years, Reed has worked on tile interiors for a laundry list of Hollywood celebrities and famous athletes.

Skip Phillips and Dave Penton collaborated with Reed on this stunning custom luxury pool.

First getting his start as an assistant in the 70’s, Reed would spend years learning the trade and honing his craft. “I inevitably wound up hiring most of the guys I used to work with” said Reed, discussing his progression to starting his own firm Rock Solid Tile back in the early 80’s.

First starting with luxury tile interiors for kitchens and bathrooms, as tile interiors began to become more popular in swimming pools, Reed would eventually focus on making that a bigger part of his repertoire. “It was kind of a new thing back then, especially in L.A. to be doing an all tile pool interior.” said Reed. Over the years glass tile would become a mainstay with him. “Glass tile really began to take off around the late 80’s” said Reed, “over 85% of the pool interiors we do today involve glass tile”, he explained.

Seeing as though he’s collaborated with some of the most well known designers and builders in the pool industry, we wanted to know Reed’s process for consulting on a high end glass interior.

“Every project is different and I get called in at all different times,” said Reed, “Often, I’ll get the call before the pool is even built and be the first one called in to consult with a client who doesn’t have a pool or they have an existing pool they want to add tile to.”

This was certainly the case on a major remodel Reed worked on with Dave Penton, Alison Terry, and David Peterson for one luxury home owner in San Marino, California. The homeowner had the budget and the desire for a complete pool and landscape makeover.

While elite pool builders know to consult with Reed when it comes to glass tile, Reed likewise knew to tap his resources in the industry to consult when adding on all of the extras the client was asking for to compliment the $250,000 glass tile interior he was installing.

“Sometimes I’ll come in and recommend that we create a team with a landscape architect, and a legitimate viable pool builder to really take on the project and make it what they are ultimately looking for.” said Reed.

Jimmy Reed continues to impress builders with his amazing eye for detail. – Photo Credit: Jimi Smith Photography

Advice For Those Aspiring To Learn Glass Tile Interiors

“Learn the techniques and the trade from the ground up, don’t take any shortcuts. It’s not just about putting tile on a pool. There is so much preparation involved. If you can master that, by the time you get to the tile installation part, that should be a breeze.” said Reed.

However when it comes to actually pulling off luxury tile interiors, Reed admits the number of installers capable of doing high end work at that level are far and few between.

Personally, we have seen our fair share of glass tile installations posted to social media showing evidence of catastrophic failure. Consequently, we asked Reed to weigh in on what folks may be doing wrong. Some of the failures have occurred in areas of the country where tile typically experiences more expansion from season to season. Reed stressed that proper surface preparation can account for expansion even in cold environments which aren’t traditional markets for glass tile interiors.

Builders sent a snapshot of the mosaic tile installation Reed did standing up to another harsh Wichita, Kansas winter.

Reed’s best advice for those tempted to take on glass tile if it is outside of their wheelhouse; “Don’t do it, or hire someone that’s experienced in those types of installations” he explained. Suggesting that because of the high price tag associated with glass tile interiors, doing one wrong could be prove to be extremely costly. “Homeowners doing a project of that nature typically have no problem taking care of themselves on an installation that goes wrong. I’d either go into it with the utmost confidence or not do it at all”, said Reed.

Many builders would love to be doing more glass tile interiors but there is a limited number of skilled tradesmen capable of taking on high end work. Many contractors are unwilling to learn how to properly install glass tile. We asked Reed if he saw a lot of that going on in the pool industry. “It’s very true, they don’t need to do the training because they are very busy as it is. It’s like learning a different trade. They don’t see it as learning how to do their trade better, it’s something completely foreign to them.”

For those that want to do high end glass tile interiors Reed explained that there is actually a really short list of installers that specialize in the types of installation work he does, mentioning Tributary peers like Danilo Bonazza and Ray Corral who frequently work on the East Coast.

A Return To The Norm

Although Covid-19 has seen unprecedented demand for inground pools, the pandemic has brought it’s fair share of challenges for many folks in the pool industry. This has also been true for Reed, who has had to scale back his operations. “We’ve been busy, but not as busy as we’re used to. We scaled down so our overhead is lower, our workforce is smaller. We’re still very busy though. This season has been nuts (referring to demand).”

We asked Reed if he expected a return to the norm soon, now that the demand associated for pools due to Covid-19 has begun to taper in the market; to which Reed responded “I do, at least we’re certainly seeing that on our side.”

Listen to our entire interview with Jimmy Reed on the Pool Magazine podcast

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