The period after construction of a pool and handing over to its owners is vital. To make the handoff a success, contractors have to plan it from the beginning. Brad Renken, CEO and owner of Hearthstone Luxury Pools + Outdoors in Roswell, Ga., states that when he first entered the pool industry business, he realized that the handoff process needed much consideration. In the past, the transition process was not a big deal. The contractors would give the owners the key and tell them, “Here is your project.” Currently, the situation is different. The clients expect a better way to have their long-awaited projects handed over to them. It is a big deal for them as it is a huge investment. Contractors are also improving on ways to transfer pool ownership to the clients.
Here are tips for a smooth transition process:
Advice on the prospects
Clients are usually well versed with information before they consider doing a project. It is normal that they do their research and have their expectations. They also have lots of questions, design ideas, and anxieties. Builders need to guide their clients and lay down expectations from the beginning. This is a step towards a successful project and the prevention of future problems. Nathan Caldwell, a construction superintendent, states that clients can try to inform you how to construct their pool at times. As a builder, it is okay to decline respectfully and guide the client depending on their budget. Educating the customer is part of the start-up process. The earlier, the better it will be, to help avoid conflict, and a smooth transition process. Handing the consumer’s pool instructions and the building schedule, makes them feel like they are a part of the pool ownership process, and can use these guides as future reference. The key lesson is the builder ought to be patient with the customer.
Withholding the final bill
The builder should leave the account open until the transition process is complete. This move can get the builders nervous, but it shows commitment to the consumer. The consumer can clear the bill after one month of service. This is an assurance to the consumer that the builder is still available for them. That is the time to help the client with their concerns before the project comes to an end. The client will then pay when satisfied and confident about the project.
The Support Team
After construction, the construction company should provide the consumer with a service team for any help they may require for a minimum of one month. A company may choose to provide their service team or partner with another company to provide the services. It is challenging for a new owner to maneuver their way through the maintenance of the pool. Rowen says that he partnered with 2 companies to provide consumer service and even pays the first month. This makes the consumer happy and paints a good picture of the construction company.
Caldwell introduces the client to a service company and offers to pay for the first month. If the client is anxious or is experiencing trouble after, he can choose to extend the payment for 3-6 months. Most consumers opt to contact with service companies to save them the stress of handling their pools.
Maintaining a pool is a hard task, especially for new owners. Confusion sets in with the mention of ‘water chemistry.’ This niche led to the start of pool schools. Contractors use this platform to educate consumers all about their pools. The first 2 weeks, it’s all about getting to understand the “water chemistry,” after which they come up with a schedule for the pool school, Caldwell says.
Rowen holds a similar view. He further adds that the school provides an opportunity for consumers to have their questions answered and guided on how to run an effective pool. Moreover, they provide emergency contacts in case of any problem. In school, they also tackle safety measures, especially for parent consumers with little ones. Video tutorials and brochures act as a bonus to help with the lectures.
The Independent Consumers
They are also known as DIY consumers. These consumers prefer doing service for themselves. This does not mean business opportunities for builders will stop; it’s an opportunity for future retail store opportunities. Caldwell says he introduces his client to retail stores before handing over the project to them. The client will be comfortable enough to go to their store for water testing and chemicals. He still offers the one-month free service even to the DIY customers. This leaves them confident in measuring chlorine, PH, alkalinity, and cyanuric acid. He, however, advises that other elements to get tested in a water station.
After the completion of the project and pool ownership, it is good if the contractors reach out. This makes the client even happy for their concern and availability. It is a sign that they do matter, and you are thinking about them, as Caldwell said. You can let them know that you are still willing to offer the free pool school experience. It gives the client a comfortable space to even reach out for follow-ups. Such good skills will have the client refer you to others as the best construction company, helping you build your name.
Chlorine Prices Going Up… Tablet Shortage Continues
Homeowners can expect to pay up to 58% more for chlorine tablets this summer say experts.
Millions of homeowners can expect to pay more to clean and sanitize their swimming pools this summer. According to financial analysts the chlorine shortage we first reported on in September has not improved in the slightest. The fact is that the outlook looks bleak through the summer for the situation to improve.
Why are Chlorine Tablet prices so high right now?
Kate McShane of Goldman Sachs warns in a recent research report released Monday that the chlorine shortage in the United States has not improved. Shortages and price increases stem from an enormous fire at the BioLab factory, one of the country’s largest chlorine tablet manufacturers. The fire put an additional stress on already dwindling supplies.
McShane indicated that prices for chlorine have gone up roughly 37% year over year due to the ongoing shortages. Prices are expected to spike 58% year over year through June to August. This coincides likely enough with the height of pool season. Homeowners are sure to be looking at much higher prices than in previous years.
“Of the 26 pool shops we spoke to, 15 expressed uncertainty or doubt when asked about whether they will have enough chlorine for pool season. Adding to the pressure created by the chlorine shortage, respondents called out a plastic bucket shortage, driven by COVID-related manufacturing slowdowns, which has made procuring certain volume sizes of chlorine more difficult for retailers, and has led suppliers to deliver chlorine in either bags or in buckets with different colored lids, according to respondents,” McShane said.
McShane continued, “When asked about whether the cost and availability of chlorine have improved in the last month or so, several respondents noted that while the supply of chlorine has improved somewhat, cost has not.”
Commentary from the industry’s main pool equipment supplier Pool Corp. on its recent earnings day underscores the severity of the chlorine shortage.
Recent comments from Pool Corp. the industry’s leading supplier of pool equipment emphasize how badly the supply chain has suffered in recent months.
“I mean overall, I would tell you the price on dichlor and trichlor [chlorine tablets], which is the product that was impacted by the shortage, they’re up about 60%. So if you think about how that’s going to shake out for the balance of the year, it will probably remain at elevated level because I believe that the industry is going to be short for the season,” Pool Corp CFO Mark Joslin explained to analysts on a recent earnings call on April 22.
Homeowners Looking for Chlorine Alternatives
Homeowners are bound to look for creative sanitization solutions due to the shortage, Joslin said.
“Now that simply means that people are going to move their method of sanitization to another product, either a granular product or a liquid product. But there’s no shortage of ways to sanitize the pool. It just simply means at a certain point people will shift. We’ve also seen certain parts of the country accelerating the use of salt as a method of sanitization too,” Joslin added.
Despite the increasing prices, shares of Pool Corp continue to rise. Shares this quarter are up 11% as Pool Corp continues to absorb market share in a market where seemingly everyone is looking for a pool. First quarter sales and profits rose 57% and 165%, respectively.
Fairview, TX based Orenda Technologies summarized this years price hikes when they stated “Between manufacturing shortages, health and safety protocols and shipping delays, costs in all aspects of the supply chain are higher than ever thanks to COVID-19. This is not just in the pool business, it’s pretty much the entire global economy. Unique to pools, however, is the catastrophe of losing a major chlorine manufacturing plant, responsible for over a third of domestic trichlor production. That hits everyone hard.”
Pool Metals and Metal Staining
Metals are naturally existing elements found in every place; in water, soil and stones. Metals in soil and stones dissolve in acidic rainwater, which is then carried to surface water and groundwater. Through this, the dissolved metals find their way to pools and tubs when filled. Exposure of metals to water cause staining on pool surfaces and equipment. This article discusses the techniques to control the presence of pool metals. It also discusses the different kinds of metal staining and the relevant chemicals to eliminate and hinder stains.
Metals in pools and hot tub water
There are 91 existing metals, but only 6 are problematic to hot tubs and pools. The 6 metals include magnesium, copper, cobalt, iron, manganese and calcium. Here we will only discuss 4 that are cobalt, copper, magnesium and iron.
Fill water, inclusive of almost all municipal and well water supplies that fill hot tubs and pools, contains a few metals. It is advisable to test for metal concentration in source water before filling the hot tubs and pools.
Tests for iron and copper are easily accessible, though the majority only measures the free form of the dissolved metals. They also do not test the sequestered and complexed forms of dissolved metals. A two-phase metal test containing adequate reducing and releasing agents give better results on free, complexed and some oxidized metals.
Sources of metal contamination in the pool and hot tub water are plaster and pebble surfaces, water features, decking materials, metal equipment, galvanic corrosion, chemicals and runoff.
In addition, flagstone, marble and stone contain iron that leaches into the pool after every rainfall. Imbalanced water may cause the introduction of copper from heat exchangers found in gas-fired water heaters. Moreover, copper-based algaecides and mineral-based water treatment may be a source of pool metals. Plant fertilizers can also introduce metals when incorrectly applied or due to uncontrolled flooding. More sources of metal include irrigation methods with well water.
Avoid using untreated water with high metal concentration (higher than 1ppm) in hot tubs or pool. Treat the water when the metal concentration is higher than 0.2 ppm. Sediment filters (10 microns or less) eliminate the majority of the bigger oxidized particles. Use filters that have metal adsorbents to treat water, to minimize dissolved metals concentration.
Primary Sanitizers and Stabilizers
Maintain proper concentration of primary sanitizers and other similar stabilizers to prevent organic contaminants. These include; pathogens, non-hazardous bacteria and algae minimizing the need for a copper-based algaecide.
Bonding of Metals and Water
The majority of the pool and hot tub equipment are metal-made. For example, electrolytic halogen generators, the heating core of electric heat pump, gas-fired pool and hot tub heaters, ladders, light rings and handrails.
To enhance chemical and electrical safety, install a bonding system in the hot tub or pool. The bonding system involves joining the copper wire with all the metal elements and water combined. This minimizes electric potential difference. Lack of this system, enables dissolution of pool metals, causing staining that damages the equipment. This is the process known as galvanic corrosion and can heighten due to several factors such as salt water, stray direct current as well as its power supplies. Anodes (zinc metal) reduce the damage on the equipment but don’t deal with the cause of corrosion. Test the bonding system every year, or any other time there is corrosion.
Pool & Hot Tub pH
pH is the most vital yet most ignored factor in preventing metal release in water. Low pH water (below 7) is acidic and corrosive. Acidic water dissolves metals from the pool equipment.
Improper water chemistry harms pool surfaces and machinery. Always ensure to maintain an accurate pH, alkalinity (carbonate) and calcium (hardness). If inadequate, water draws carbonate and calcium from cementitious surfaces, discharging metals into the water.
Sequestering agents join with the dissolved pool metals to reduce oxidation hence reduces staining. They chelate the metals, not eliminate them. They require a complex modern ultra filtration system to remove sequestered metal particles as the particles are too small for the pool filtration system. Add this agent on a regular basis, as a secondary disinfection and primary sanitizer systems keep on destroying them.
Ways to reduce metal concentration in hot tubs and pool water
- Bind the metals using polymer and water-insoluble natural adsorbents
- Filter the water through a reverse osmosis system
- Remove and replace a part of the water with fresh metal-free water
Removing stains from the pool and hot tub surfaces
1. Metal stain removal from the surface
2. Chelation of the dissolved metals in the water with a sequestering agent
3. Elimination of the metals from the water.
To get rid of pool metals and metal stains, add oxalic acid, ascorbic acid and citric acid or a similar product into the pool water. An experienced pool service expert should only execute the use of Muriatic acid in the removal of metal stains as it can lead to permanent damage to the pool surface. Chelation of dissolved metals and minimizing concentrations of dissolved metal have been earlier tackled.
Figuring out the difference between metal stains and those by organic contamination can be difficult. For evaluation, establish the origin of the stain, asses the water chemistry and test the stain with either citric acid or ascorbic acid.
Note: Some organic stains, similar to those brought about by iron bacteria, vanish after treatment with ascorbic acid but return with the introduction of chlorine residuals.
Selling Automatic Pool Cleaners Online
Amidst the pandemic this summer, Rene Huston, president of Patio Pleasures acknowledges an increase in their sales, of up to 10 pools in a day, if available. The unanticipated pandemic that led to the cancellation of travel plans had people invest that money for their backyard luxury. This is no wonder; there is an increase in the sales of automatic pool cleaners, especially high-quality robotic models. Clients also opt to invest cash they would have used elsewhere to enjoy the benefits of the long-term, cost-efficient APC’s.
Since their introduction in the 1950s, automatic pool cleaners have become part of pools in North America due to their personality and efficiency. They move around the pool on their own, cleaning the pools, hence minimizing the need for manual vacuuming and sweeping.
Jeannie Pearcy, owner of SwimFun Pool & Patio in Olathe, Kansas, United States, tells her clients a pool cleaner is similar to a Roomba for your pool.
Recently, online competition affected APC sales at brick and mortar vendors. Reacting to retailer’s complaints, APC producers began making ‘trade-only’ products. These products are only physically accessible through pool and spa shops. These products come with extra features like additional supplies longer warranties or refundable offers. Furthermore, you can access and depend on service from the vendor and manufacturer. Discussing with pool and spa vendors, there are varying opinions on the sell of automatic pool cleaners.
Store manager for Outback Pools & Spas in Wichita Falls, TX., Jimmy Cooper, appreciates manufacturers for looking out for their welfare too. Clients get to experience what a brick and mortar can do. Customers can purchase these pool products online though you can have horrible encounters with them. This gives the stores a chance to enlighten clients on what they can do.
Online vs Retail stores
It may seem like the ideal service to request for a robotic automatic pool cleaner from your home and have it brought within two days. However, their satisfaction can be short-lived either with the delivery of the wrong product or early failure of the product.
Most clients come to Huston’s store, complaining of an ineffective online product. They use this opportunity to explain the advantages if they had bought it from them. Such discussions and encounters build the confidence of customers in brick and mortar vendors.
Moreover, when online clients take their automatic pool cleaners to Cooper’s store for maintenance or service, he cannot do anything about it because the product is not from his store. He instead offers to sell them a similar product from his store. To ease their frustrations, he explains the benefits of buying from stores.
With this approach, Cooper believes he has changed the opinion of half of the online buyers to in store clients.
For years, Huston has avoided servicing online bought goods. However, now her opinion has begun to change. At times, it depends on how busy they are at a particular time though she’s still unsettled. She’s a bit receptive, taking into consideration the profits they could earn.
One of the significant selling points of an automatic pool cleaner is its ability to somehow get rid of the pool guy, as Cooper states.
Cooper calculates with his clients an hour service each week for a year in comparison to purchasing a cleaner. They realise a $1000 or $1500 cleaners operating two or three hours in a day for a year is cheaper than they thought.
The service crew is not always there, and the pool requires cleaning between their visits. Even with an automatic pool cleaner, manual work like scrubbing the pool walls requires the service crew. Depending on the water environment, manual vacuuming may also be necessary.
Selling Game Plan
Since APCs are more virtually intriguing compared to other pool equipment, retailers depend on popular displays in the store to start a discussion with a client.
After capturing the customer’s attention, Huston urges would-be buyers to go with a unit home and try it out. This program at Patio pleasures permits clients day access to the unit. When returned, they do a far check to ensure the unit is clean, the baskets and other pieces still in place.
The program, try before you buy, has also worked for Pearcy. Even if the Client does not purchase the unit, then, they include it in their purchase wish list and save up for it. Furthermore, SwimFun sells the season’s trial unit at a cheaper price with a limited warranty.
Cooper recognizes that persuading clients on the advantages of an automatic cleaner has become simpler. This is due to the increase of dependence and convenience of technology though some purchasers are still ignorant.
With a number of sales strategies in place, verbal means is the most powerful convincing method in the sell of automatic pool cleaners. This is the reason the product will remain a powerful sale in the retail sector.
Huston notes that pool owners are seeking ways to maintain their pools happy and healthy. Time is of the essence; get an automatic pool cleaner as it is the ideal choice for your pool.
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