So, you are looking for professional design? Or, at the very least, something thoughtful, creative, and well-planned?
Seems simple enough, right? Not so fast.
There is an adage that says, “you get what you pay for,” one of a few dozen similar sayings, and all of them are still very relevant to present-day products and services. The first question is always, “How much will this cost?” Well, that depends on if you are looking for the cheapest possible outcome or one that is well-thought-out with careful planning.
I always say, “bang for your buck,” and “quality” are never to be used in the same sentence, unless it is this sentence, right here.
Fortunately (from a consumer perspective), if you are looking for the cheapest possible outcome, there are an abundance of options to choose from. But don’t be upset when you see the product, or when three revisions later, you’re still not happy, and now you’ve wasted three weeks of time.
So, what are the potential pitfalls of going down the path of cheap? They can vary from minor inconveniences, to impacts on lead-times, and to issues that may result in legal action. ANY quality product has appropriate costs associated with it. When these costs are cut to achieve the cheapest outcome possible, it is never a good thing.
Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten,” which is still true today, especially when those change orders start rolling in after the contract is signed. You might think you saved 30% in costs up-front, but you should have saved 60% with the quality of the product that you got.
It’s not wise to pay too much for a product, but it is certainly worse to pay too little, or (from the design perspective) nothing at all. When clients are setting a budget for their project, there are variables such as property value and resale to consider when designing the space.
Are they going to get the best return on investment when they sell the property? Is that cheap product going to be a red flag to the potential buyer who can spot an inferior product and move on to the next property with a better-quality product (from a construction perspective)?
This stands true from design to construction. The real question is this, “Why would someone trust anyone who doesn’t care enough (up-front) to put any thought or creativity into their design work, who sends you a one-hour (if that), free “design,” to build a quality product? If they do not care enough to put time, thought, and creativity into the design up-front, they’ll never put any of that into the construction of the final product.
The common and most-talked about solutions are always determined by three factors:
- How good does this need to be?
- How fast does this need to happen?
- What is your budget?
Good, fast and cheap – pick two of the three.
- If it needs to be done fast and cheap, it isn’t going to be good.
- If it needs to be good and cheap, it probably won’t happen very fast.
- And if it needs to be good and happen fast, it isn’t going to be cheap (relatively speaking).
There are also things to consider from the designer and builder’s perspective. The client base that you desire isn’t driven by “cost,” but rather by “value.” These clients understand that quality, in any industry, takes a certain level of expertise, thought, and creativity. These clients expect to pay for your services because your diverse portfolio covers a spectrum of design styles that would fit their needs, and your range isn’t limited to “modern,” or “traditional,” or one specific “design style.” These clients also see that your work just looks better than the other 99.9% of products they have been presented within creativity, function, and form.
So, let’s get to the point – you charge for your experience and creativity, not so much your time. Never let the client dictate your fees. Clients are not paying you for the 20 hours (more or less) that it took you to properly design a space. They are paying you for the years it took you to master your craft. You must have the mentality that you won’t be the cheapest, but where you miss on competing against the cheap products that flood the industry, the client will gain in the added value that you can offer in terms of creativity, thoughtfulness, and pride you take in the details of your work.
But, yes, there will be a cost, and you get what you pay for.
It’s Time to Recession-Proof Your Pool Business
We hate to be the one to say it, but the time has come to make some changes and recession-proof your pool business. We’ve been riding a wave that’s been an incredible boom for the industry. People have stayed home during the quarantine, and the money they would have spent on vacations has become disposable income that they’ve used to reinvest into the home. Home improvements are up in general during the pandemic and the end result has been nothing short of unprecedented in terms of growth for the pool industry.
Over 94,000 pools were installed during 2020, up 21% from the previous year in 2019. The numbers aren’t in just yet for last year but as the dust still settles from 2021, the entire pool industry has boomed.
This year, the complexion and outlook does not appear to be a repeat of the previous two years in terms of demand. Right now we’re looking at high inflation. Increases in fuel costs are soaring through the roof. We’re on the brink of a recession. Hopefully, I’m wrong but I’m not the only one that thinks this way. Supply chain shortages are just ongoing and something we’ve been plagued with since the very start of the pandemic. At some point in time, the momentum is going to stop.
Some folks had disposable income and used that towards home improvement. Others took out loans and mortgages. Many feel the inevitable crash is coming, and for those who are unprepared the change in the economy will hurt, perhaps irreparably.
There are a few things that pool professionals need to consider in order to recession-proof their business. I think one may be coming within the next year. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen. Hopefully, you never need to use any of this advice in this article. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting yourself in a good position to handle a recession, and it looks like one may be on the horizon.
Ways to Recession-Proof Your Pool Business
There are different things you can do to arrange things so that you’re in a better position financially if a recession happens in our country. This may mean raising prices with customers, but you need to make certain you’re in the best position possible to survive tough times should they occur.
Split Chemicals as an Itemized Bill From Services
One great idea to recession-proof your pool business is to start billing separately for chemicals. With more price increases on chemicals looming in the near future, it simply makes sense to begin to start passing these costs on to the consumer. It’s an unsustainable business practice to continue to absorb rising costs. Pool companies cannot continue to take it on the chin the way we have.
Now is the time to explain the prevailing market conditions to the consumer and perhaps change your business practice for billing customers. In our roundtable discussion last year, we discussed rising prices. Not much has changed in the last 6 months except perhaps consumer confidence. Instead of continuing to raise prices for service, what makes more sense in this climate is to separate chemical usage as an itemized bill.
Change Your Billing Practices
Another aspect of billing that should change during this climate is charging for service after it’s been rendered. Many pool companies have their act together in this regard and are doing the right thing by billing for services ahead of time, however, there are still many professionals who do not. Billing ahead ensures that you are cash solvent enough to pay employees, for inventory, equipment, and materials. Failing to do so leaves you at the mercy of the customer.
Billing after the fact is tantamount to supplying customers with a credit line on every job you do. This is a surefire way to fall behind during a recession. As customers begin to become cash strapped during this economy, one of the first bills they’re liable to ignore is yours! Pool service professionals run the distinct possibility of becoming low priority when it comes time to pay bills, especially when the service has already been rendered.
How Do You Switch Your Billing to Recession-Proof Your Business?
One question pool professionals who bill at the end of the month is, how do they switch? How do you switch to billing at the beginning of the month without double billing? People by nature are resistant to change, they also don’t like paying in advance. So the question remains, how do you switch the way you’ve been billing without upsetting all of your customers?
The answer is – incrementally. Make the change slowly and begin retraining your customers to expect a bill earlier than they have. There’s not a recession today, there probably won’t be one this summer; but if what industry experts are predicting is true, one is coming soon and the time to adapt is now!
Get Ahead of the Game
This month coming up, instead of billing on the 30th for the service you’ve performed all month, start billing on the 3rd week. Then the next month, bill your customers on the second week. By the end of the summer, you should be caught up and now be billing all of your customers for the month of service ahead.
It’s important to be transparent to customers. Explain what you’re doing and why. Using this method of billing allows the customer to become slowly acclimatized to paying their bill earlier. In just a few months’ time, you will have effectively changed your entire billing practice and insulated yourself much better financially in the process.
Build Your Credit
Heather Linton also spoke on another episode of “Talking Pools” about building credit for your pool company. While pool professionals may be cash-rich right now, the time to start building your credit is now. Simply put, people need money when a recession hits. If you have not been building your business credit, do not wait until a recession hits. During a down economy is when consumers make the biggest run on banks. It’s also when credit is hardest to come by.
At the end of the day, when considering ways to recession-proof your business, it’s important to put together a game plan that allows you the flexibility to maneuver in tough environments. Some of these suggestions may seem hard to implement, but are entirely necessary in order to ensure you remain solvent in a down economy. In the last two years we’ve seen unprecedented growth, but now is the time to make sure that we stay in a good place financially during the tough times to come.
Listen to the entire episode on the Talking Pools podcast:
The Less is More Approach With PoolRx
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fred Schweer, VP of Sales at PoolRx on episode 30 of the “Let’s Talk About Pools” podcast. We spoke about this innovative product and how it can help pool professionals. The current economy has brought its own host of problems for the pool industry. The cost of chlorine and other disinfection products has vastly increased the financial burden to pool professionals. Thus, if the efficiency of chlorine could be maximized with the use of other pool products, this could have many benefits for the pool professional. The sustainability and maximization of chlorine disinfectants in the pool water have so many benefits for the pool, pool owner, and pool professional.
What can pool techs use to help maximize chlorine “power” in the water?
PoolRx is one of these products that can be used to maximize the efficiency of chlorine disinfectants. “It is a very unique pool product. It is a game-changer for the pool industry,” stated Fred Schweer, VP of Sales at PoolRx. It is registered with EPA and NSF Standard 60. This product is an algaecide that uses minerals like copper, silver, and zinc, which are uniquely chelated. This chelation protects the minerals at the molecular level and once dissolved, will not fall out of the solution due to things like pH fluctuations. The product comes in various sized units that can treat up to 30,000 gallons or spa units that can treat as low as 100 gallons. Booster packs are available in addition to the standard PoolRx units for pools that are greater than 30,000 gallons.
How does PoolRx work?
After the filters are cleaned, the pool tech would place the PoolRx cylinder unit in the skimmer or the pump basket. The minerals in the unit dissolve within 4 hours and form a stable residual in the pool water. The residual minerals pass over the white half of the cylinder and the minerals react with an alloy. The alloy reaction with the minerals prolongs the life of the minerals and allows the minerals to last for up to 6 months in the water.
The minerals will kill and prevent all types of algae, even the microalgae in the pool water. While microalgae cannot be seen by the human eye, it consumes much of the free chlorine in the pool water. In turn, this reduces the “working power” of the chlorine disinfectant. PoolRx allows the free chlorine to be more available and uses less chlorine disinfectant in the water. “This helps pool techs and pool owners due to the pool being algae-free, use less chlorine and the minerals last up to 6 months,” stated Schweer.
What is “sustainability” as it pertains to the Pool Industry?
The definition of sustainability as it pertains to the pool industry is very specific compared to the definition thought of in the environmental world. In this instance, sustainability could mean the environmental responsibility of the pool industry by using fewer chemicals and less chlorine. PoolRx allows the use of fewer chemicals and it also helps the chlorine last longer in the water.
“This is a game-changing product for the pool industry because of the less is more approach,” stated Schweer. Economically, it helps with the current chlorine shortages and increased cost of specialty chemicals. In addition, PoolRx is also environmentally-minded. It is composed of natural minerals that are mined and the plastic shell is recyclable. Regional areas of the country deal with water conservation and restrictions. The use of PoolRx in the water allows the “water not to be aged.” Reduction of water draining of pools helps these regional areas with water restrictions and increases “environmental sustainability.”
How does PoolRx help Pool Techs?
Pool techs will obtain many benefits from the use of PoolRx. First, it helps chlorine last longer in the water and this will save money on the amount of chlorine disinfectant that will have to be used. Another cost-saving advantage comes from the product’s prevention of algae and lower use of chlorine in the water. The quantity of specialty chemicals like phosphate removers, clarifiers, enzymes, algaecides, and other shock treatments is vastly reduced and thus saves money to the consumer and the pool professional.
Cost-saving advantages extend to saving time for the pool professional by not having to return to pools that need extended time for specialty treatments to treat algae problems. The pool water is maintained clearer and it becomes easier for the pool tech to maintain. “It’s a chemical saving story, a no-brainer to use for your business,” said Schweer.
Listen to Pool Magazine Op-Editorialist – Lauren Broom & Fred Schweer VP of PoolRx discuss sustainability and how PoolRx is playing a part on the “Let’s Talk About Pools” Podcast.
Featured Photo Credit: Pool Magazine Supporter – Gregg Sample – PoolYoda.com
Getting Your Pool Deck Ready For Summer
Summer is rapidly approaching. That means pools are once again making a splash as the season starts to change and the weather heats up. As homeowners focus their attention back to their backyards, they might find their pools look a little different from the end of pool season last year and it could be because their pool deck is no longer level.
Your pool deck may have foundational issues. Perhaps there are cracks in and around the pool leading to potential leaks. Or maybe you’re just looking to give your backyard a refresh with new paint or pool tiles. Whatever your reason it’s essential to make time for pool deck repairs so you can get back to swimming, all season long.
Level Up Your Pool Deck
Does your pool deck need a facelift? While the aesthetics of your pool are always important, leveling out your pool deck goes far beyond an initial glance. Sinking concrete can create a dangerous tripping hazard if left unrepaired and can even affect your home’s insurance. Uneven concrete is likely due to the soil under your deck settling and compressing over time. This can be fixed by lifting and leveling your concrete with a minimally invasive foam. When it comes to fixing your pool deck foundation, leaving it to the professionals is always the route to go. Within a day, your pool can be leveled and functional again.
Redirect Runoff Water
As the weather starts to heat up, the rain starts to fall harder in some areas of the country. That’s why as seasons begin to change it’s important to address water drainage in your backyard. Redirecting water from your roof can help keep your pool functional and safe from erosion. This will help keep your pool deck level and keep your pools safe from potential contaminants. In areas with heavy rain, we recommend sitting on your porch during a rainstorm and watching the flow of runoff from the roof to find a solution that will make a difference for you pool and yard.
Control Your Landscape
Keeping your landscaping intact not only makes your backyard look nice, but also keeps your pool deck in line. Overgrown vegetation and impeding landscaping can cause plants to grow over your pool deck causing your concrete to deteriorate prematurely. Consistent cleaning and landscaping updates can allow you to stay ahead of these problems before the solution is ripping up your entire deck for repairs, leaving your pool out of commission.
Fixing Cracks in Your Pool Deck’s Foundation
Cracks in and around your pool not only affect your water bill, but also the foundation of your pool deck. Water levels can take soil out from under your pool causing earlier erosion than you might anticipate. If you’re starting to see sand underneath the water, it’s time to call out the professionals. As a pool’s foundation starts to settle, you could find coping problems that include cracks or loose tiles or bricks along the edge of the pool. Not only are the cracks very sharp causing potential abrasions or cuts, but this can also pull the coping away causing the liner of your pool to start to sag, erode the soil, and cause moisture within the liner of your pool. That’s why it’s important to get ahead of cracks you see on your pool deck before damage is generated that causes a larger bill to fix.
Choose a Permanent Pool Deck Repair
When it comes to keeping your pool deck up to par, call in professionals that can offer a permanent solution rather than a DIY band-aid fix. An expert can offer solutions to all of the issues you might see this season with your pool deck’s foundation. Many foundational pool deck issues can be addressed on average within a half to full day’s work, saving you time, money, and the headache of repairs.
Getting your pool ready for the summer doesn’t have to be a hassle. While there are jobs you can do yourself like redirecting water through your lawn from runoff or keeping your landscaping in control, it’s essential to call in professionals for bigger fixes, especially to your pool deck and foundations.
Contributed by Brent Pearson – Alpha Foundations
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