Over time, technology has dominated all areas imaginable. Today, this innovation is in sync with luxury, specifically in new pool construction for high-end owners. The capability of managing pool, spa, lighting, and landscape operations from the comfort of one’s home is becoming irresistible for many homeowners. Conversely, middle-class pool owners still prefer operating their pools mechanically due to management costs. With the expansion of the pool industry, more opportunities are created for construction and remodeling companies.
Closing The Gap In Pool Automation
Even with the rising trends in technology, a more significant percentage of pools lack automation. For instance, in the United States, where there are over 10 million existing pools, the total number of automated pools remains unclear. At NAPCO Media, Patrick McCarthy, senior editor CT Lab, acknowledged pool automation as one of the largest markets in the recreational industry. Based on current studies, worldwide pool equipment and maintenance market are anticipated to pull in $17 billion in the next two years.
Organizations like Alan Smith Pool Plastering & Remodeling finish over 800 orders yearly that require a wide range of installations, hence indicating a gap in the industry. Additionally, Jeff Smith, the sales director of the organization, visualizes a wide range of opportunities based on a large number of unautomated pools.
Approximately 60% of pools still lack automation and require renovation.Owens Pools and Spas, David Owens
Modernizing the past
In the face of significant increases in proceeds accompanying automation, some pool constructors are oblivious to the market. On the report of vice president of All Seasons Pools and Spas, Dan Lenz, not all pool owners lodge automation systems in their pools. Undeniably, this may be due to the existing generation gap; most pool owners belong to the older generation and primarily show disinterest in pool automation.
The Younger Generation of Homeowner Demand Pool Automation In Their Inground Pool
On the other hand, the younger generation particularly desires the ease and enjoyment of controlling their spas from the comfort of their homes. Sadly, the majority of homeowners are older, although there is hope for the future. Young homeowners fascinated by automation are anticipated to emerge in the coming years, thus leading to a massive expansion of the industry. Lenz concurs with this since currently, there’s a spotted age group considered more than tech-savvy purchasing houses and managing organizations. Consequently, automation, specifically app-based applications, is expected to increase in the coming years.
Automation involves a massive classification of products that are progressing continually with regards to performance amidst various manufacturers. Based on Lenz, identifying locations where existing pools gain from automation while delivering this information to potential customers is vital for an organization’s prosperity. He adds that the service team is well equipped for these conversations; that’s why a flat rate exists for all activities enjoyed in a pool through automation. Furthermore, the company is not only concerned about selling their products but also establishing and maintaining a long-term relationship with customers.
Promoting Pool Automation Through Awareness
A powerful aspect of improving sales is through educating target consumers on the existence, availability, and functional nature of these products. There is a high probability that when a target population is aware of the product, they will not hesitate to make their purchase.Apart from merely switching the pump and lights on and off, pool automation entails an extensive spectrum of improvements.
Both the variable-speed pump and chemical automation have their control systems to ensure comfortability and easiness. However, some clients usually prefer upgrades while some are not so mindful; preferences vary from one customer to another.The majority of people possess inadequate information on LED lights, thus anticipating a lot of ease in regulating colors just as one would operate a standard white light. As this is not the case, people have to know that a control system will be required to control the lights automatically while explaining the inconveniences of manually alternating colors in the LED lights.
More to come
As seen in this article, automation is a broad area, and letting customers know of their control alternatives, and upgrades is a useful marketing strategy. For instance, when winterizing pools last year, we sought to point out anything in the pool that could be incorporated into our marketing strategy by targeting potential customers. We consider our customer’s budgets and never force people to purchase against their will. Ultimately, it is evident that the market is ready for expansion, and with a thought-out plan, we can significantly increase our sales and achieve tremendous success.
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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