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Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Pool and Spa Industry

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Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Pool and Spa Industry

The first time the government announced a lockdown in California, Javier Payan, a pool/spa service professional, was on his way to the Western spa and pool show. Payan says,” At the time, it was crazy to think that the pool industry would still thrive in the middle of a pandemic and a rainy spring season.” Surprisingly, the sales in the pool and spa industry increased tremendously. Homeowners were looking for innovative ways to make their ‘summer lockdown’ worth it. The demand was high hence we encountered a staff shortage.

Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Pool and Spa Industry

Pool building services

In 2020, many people were stuck home and could not go for their annual vacation. Of course, this left them with a lot of money that they had saved up for vacation. Consequently, homeowners started looking for ways to enjoy their summer holidays and keep their children engaged.

Almost every homeowner wishes to install a pool in their backyard.

President of Monogram Custom Pools, Tony Caciolo

We receive numerous calls requesting for our installation services.” Even so, the biggest challenge that came with the pandemic was handling sales leads. On ordinary occasions, companies in the pool and spa industry received several sales leads a week. But this time, most companies received a dozen of leads a day. “Even so, it was hard to increase our labor force since they were less people to work with,” Master Pools Guild executive director, Dick Covert, says.

Pool repairs and maintenance services 

Payan reports. “From the start of the pandemic, we have been gaining more customers than we expected.” Pool repairs and maintenance services are now in high demand compared to before. Also, the fact that pool loans were now more available made it easier for homeowners to proceed with pool replacement and repairs. “Currently, pool companies are spending their money to purchase pool equipment and vehicles. And it’s funny almost everyone in our company got a raise this year; contrary to popular belief.”

The increased demand has indisputably led to a rise in prices in the pool and spa industry. However, H&H Pool Services CEO, David Hawes, says, “I’m also contemplating on raising my prices. But I don’t intend to lose my loyal customers. Even so, our services are on high demand and it would be best to take advantage of this.”

Nonetheless, if you plan to increase your prices, come up with a strategy. Don’t just raise your price because your competitors have. Carefully analyze what works best for you and set a specific price. Of course, the price should match the quality of your products and services.

Hawes says, “Raising prices is so much easier at this time due to a significant increase in demand. If you’ve established excellent brand loyalty with many customers, you have nothing to lose. Also, if your products/services stand out, customers will always come to you with the hope that you’ll deliver nothing but the best.”

The retail sectors

The pandemic led to a shutdown of most pool and spa stores for a couple of weeks. But pool companies could sell their products online and make deliveries. And this was challenging and difficult at first. At this point, pool professionals who already had an online shop and payment system found it much easier to continue with business as usual. On the other hand, other pool companies had to try keeping with this new lifestyle’. At the start of summer, most companies had already adapted to the new norm. They were making massive sales than ever before.

What were the challenges encountered by the pool and spa industry?

The rise in demand has led to a shortage of supply, which is a problem faced by most pool companies, Caciolo says.

  • Hot tub season is now approaching, and it isn’t easy to get these products. Hot tubs are one of the most challenging products to be found. So, until now, we have no idea when we will get our main line of hot tubs, says vice president of All Seasons Pools & Spas, Dan Lenz.
  • Aside from hot tubs, pool heaters are also tough to find. This year, most homeowners are looking to extend their swimming season. Thus, there is a high demand for pool heaters. Covert says, “Our staff has not had problems getting these products; maybe because of the delays in obtaining permits and inspections. So, by the time they were getting an inspection done, they would already have the equipment.
  • There have also been shortages in various pool equipment like filters and pumps. Cover says, “Nonetheless, we have never purchased as many products as this year.”
  • The labor shortage was one of the major problems during the pandemic. “It’s funny how the rate of unemployment is high and we couldn’t seem to find the right workers,” Payan says. A lot of people are not motivated to work when receiving stimulus money. And others want to stay home and spend time with their families.

Now, companies in the pool and spa industry are thinking of stocking up in excess before the start of summer just to be safe. They are worried about lacking some products in the next peak season and a price increase in these products. All in all, pool builders are afraid of the unknown. Pool experts forecast that the increased demand will continue through this year. So, it would be best if pool owners came up with reliable strategies.

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.

Industry News

Automatic Spa Covers

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Automatic Spa Covers

Over the years, automatic pool coves have increasingly become popular among most homeowners. These safety features protect pools from dirt and help pool owners save energy. At present, there is an increased demand for automatic covers, especially among spa owners. Indisputably, spa owners are also looking to protect their investments. Automatic spa covers are therefore becoming popular in the pool industry. The best thing about these features is that they are user-friendly; you can operate them with the simple touch of a button. Ultimately, homeowners don’t mind spending on these features.

Automatic Spa Covers

The increased demand for automatic spa covers

Several states make it compulsory for all pool owners to have safety covers. Consequently, almost every pool owner is familiar with automatic pool covers. Once spa owners see how this feature works well, they’ll always want to purchase one for their spa. Allan Horwood of Pool Patrol in British Columbia concurs, and he states, “Before, using safety covers in spas was quite odd. However, it is now common to protect your spa using a cover.”

“There has been a steady rise in demand for automatic pool and spa covers in the United States.”

VP of sales for Automatic Pool Covers, Mike Shadoan

Nonetheless, Shadoan says that automatic pool and spa covers are costly. But people are always willing to buy products that offer value for money. There’s, therefore, a golden opportunity for pool professionals who wish to sell these safety features.

Is selling automatic spa covers a good idea?

A good percentage of pool owners love automatic spa covers because they are simple to use. I mean, no one wants to struggle to remove the automatic pool/spa cover after a grueling day. With auto covers, you can open and close the pool using a remote.

A unique opportunity for pool contractors

Last year, the industry experienced a surge in demand for pool services. Homeowners were looking for ways to upgrade their backyards. Consequently, they installed swimming pools, among other outdoor features. Automatic pool and spa covers were therefore in high demand. Pool contractors who sell these safety features are often privileged. When they go onsite to provide installation services, they will most likely sell other pool products and water features. For example, high-end customers may request an additional water feature like a spa. And this helps pool contractors to increase their revenue. Ultimately, there are so many golden opportunities that come with selling automatic pool covers.

Installing automatic spa covers

Is there a difference between automatic pool covers and automatic spa covers? Well, yes. The major difference between these features is space and aesthetics. Automatic spa covers are more versatile since they are smaller. Thus, they tend to provide more aesthetics. Pool contractors can install auto covers on spas that are above the deck or flush with the deck.

Suppose the spa is above the ground; you’ll have to raise it by approximately 20 inches above the deck. It would help if you also placed the cover box above the deck. Nevertheless, note that the installation process is different for existing spas. In such instances, there’s usually limited space to work with. Consequently, there might be insufficient space to install the housing for the cover mechanism.

Dealing with such projects requires you to be innovative. You may decide to flush mount the safety cover on the paver. Doing this helps you create a nice, clean look. You can also add a storage space along the edge of the spa; here, you can store your cleaning equipment, among other products. Subsequently, you end up making the most out of your space.

Balancing between functionality and aesthetics

You have to find the perfect balance between aesthetics and functionality when installing an automatic spa cover. Most clients prefer using concrete lids on their pool covers so that they can walk around the cover. Also, concrete lids are more popular because they provide more aesthetics. Meeting the customer’s requirements will require you to use a heavy-duty bracket. This way, it can handle the weight of the concrete lid. Even so, always tell your clients to minimize their movement on the cover. At times, the stone can move, and this can lead to serious accidents.

Shadoan says, “Pool contractors should explain how these features work. They should inform their clients that lifting the stone from time to time is important. Also, let them know that walking, standing, or sitting on the lid can lead to serious accidents.”

Are automatic spa covers worth the purchase?

Currently, there is a broad spectrum of automatic spa cover designs. Therefore, every spa owner can find something that caters to their needs. Needless to say, automatic spa covers are not for everyone. They are ideal for pool owners who want to match their pool cover and spa cover more often than not. Ultimately, automatic spa covers offer excellent functionality and aesthetics.

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Industry News

Large Format Pool and Spa Tiles: Installation, Advantages, and Disadvantages

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Large Format Pool and Spa Tiles: Installation, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Large-Format tiles have increasingly become popular among most homeowners. They come in different shapes and sizes. Besides, these tiles offer exceptional aesthetics. Nonetheless, installing large-format pool and spa tiles is relatively complex. This article outlines a few tips that help with large-format tile installation.

Large Format Pool and Spa Tiles: Installation, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Choose non-slip pool and spa tiles

Large-format tiles should be slip-resistant. Keep in mind that a slippery pool surface can lead to severe accidents. Swimmers can fall and break their body parts. Even worse, they could die. The most recent award-winning poolscape by Chafey incorporated large dark tiles that had a blend of various surface materials. Some were textured, glossy, and matter. Chafey used the glossy finish on the vertical pool surfaces. He did, however, use the matte for the horizontal surface to add extra safety.

Come up with a solid plan before installation

Every pool contractor should have a solid plan of how the pool and spa tiles should fit the surface. It would be best to know all the surface measurements since you’ll be dealing with bigger tiles. Plan how you want to layer the corners and steps. Doing this helps you know if you have enough material.

Select a flexible material for easy installation

Another thing to consider is the adaptability of the material. At times, you won’t be able to fit full-sized tiles across the whole pool. Some sections might require you to cut the large tile into two. For example, if you are using a 12 by 24-inch material, you would have to cut it into a six by 24-inch material to fit the waterline areas. On the flip side, areas like the back of a vanishing edge wall would need full-sized tiles.

Use a blend of large-format tiles and mosaic for best results

Incorporating a blend of mosaic and large-format pool and spa tiles makes the pool more appealing. The mosaic design is often meant to underscore water features or any other breathtaking areas of the pool. Co-owner of Alpentile, Amy Denny, says that they usually combine large format with mosaic in a variety of numerous projects. Doing this is also cost-effective since you get to balance your costs.

Through-body tiles are the best

Selecting a through-body tile is also essential. These pieces often have a consistent color. And this makes it less challenging to surface the pool, unlike glazed tiles. Subsequently, through-body tiles simplify the installation process.

How do you install large-format tiles?

The process of installing large-format pool and spa tiles is more or less the same for different designs. Co-founder of National Tile and Stone Authority, Greg Andrews, states, “It would be wrong to think that installing larger tiles takes a shorter time.”

Allow sufficient time for proper curing

During installation, you should always give large-format pool and spa tiles enough time to cure. Ensure the thin-set cures properly before you proceed to the next step. Typically, thinset needs air to cure Thinset typically requires air to cure. While the area between the separate tiles can quickly cure, the area behind the tiles will need more time. Dealing with larger pieces is actually worse because they need more time to cure. Pool experts report that the back center of the tile can take months to cure. Even so, experts don’t give it as much curing time. On average, large-format tiles will need 21 to 28 days to cure. “It would be best to inform the pool owner that they will have to wait 3 to 4 weeks for the tiles to cure,” says Amy Deny.

Prevent the formation of voids

Large-format tiles are more vulnerable to getting voids. So, be careful when applying the thinset. Use the correct troweling methods. Installers should not use the spot bonding method. This technique can form a lot of voids beneath the material. Voids often act as a travel medium for water, among other fluids. In turn, they affect the pool’s structure.

Reduce lippage and work with the warpage

Large-format tiles are more susceptible to warping. Luckily, you can use spacers to protect the tiles. Spacers regulate the elevation of each tile; in such a way, one tile piece is higher than another. This helps in preventing lippage. Pool pros advise offsetting the pool tiles by not more than a third of the tile. Remember, you don’t want the end of the tile to connect with the highest point of the crown.

Pool and SpaTiles

Large-format pool and spa tiles offer excellent aesthetics, functionality, and durability. As a result, they are becoming a popular tile option among most pool owners. However, before purchasing these tiles, there are several factors to consider. Also, during installation, ensure you prevent voids, control lippage, and allow proper curing.

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Industry News

Trichlor Shortage in the Pool Industry

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trichlor shortage

Trichlor is essential for maintaining clean pools. Unfortunately, trichlor is in short supply in the industry. The main reason for this trichlor shortage was the factory fire in Lake Charles that happened a while back. The fire damaged the only primary source of trichlor production. But does this affect the pool industry?

Trichlor Shortage in the Pool Industry

Fortunately, most pool companies will remain unaffected. The majority of pool owners use other pool sanitizing options, like sodium hypochlorite and baquacil. However, some pool owners will be affected by this shortage. As we speak, manufacturers are increasing the prices of chlorine tablets. And this poses a considerable challenge to commercial pool owners since the peak season is approaching.

How to deal with trichlor shortage

Pool supply companies and service providers came up with several strategies to help them deal with the situation. President of Patio Pleasures Pools & Spas, Rene Huston, began piling up on tabs. She says, “Immediately we heard about the tragedy, we bought tabs in excess, and we continue to do so. At some point, everyone is going to need chlorine, and the supply will probably be limited.” Well, piling your stock is not such a bad idea. However, you have to find a safe storage space for the stock. Moreover, you need a lot of cash to pay your suppliers.

The first sign of trichlor shortage

Before the global pandemic, trichlor used to cost about $70 to $75 per bucket. The prices started increasing gradually from 2019 to 2020. At this time, pool service techs bought this chemical for about $85. However, all this changed from around year August. The market prices rose to $125 per bucket. And this was frustrating for most pool owners. Trichlor prices are still expected to increase this summer. On the flip side, suppliers are placing a limit on all their purchases.

Preparation for the upcoming swimming peak season

The owner of Richard’s Pool Service, Richard Garnai, says that trichlor shortage is not a major problem for them. He has a solution to the problem. He states, “Based on my supplier’s report, I’m sure there will be enough tabs to make it through summer.” And even if things go south, Richard is not worried. He plans to make his mix manually. “If the shortage becomes too much, I’ll use chlorine and cyanuric acid to achieve the same results.” He also recommends limiting tab use during this period so that you can have enough during summer. Although bromine can be an alternative, this chemical is susceptible to degradation when exposed to sunlight.

Keeping it real with customers

All pool service techs need to educate their clients. By now, most pool owners are already bothered by the surge in trichlor prices. Be honest with your customers and explain to them exactly what’s happening in the industry. But don’t stop there. Tell them how you plan to handle the situation. Also, assure them that you will do your best to support them this summer. Most customers will respond well to this.

Customers are starting to stock up as early as now. Pool experts advise that it would be better to purchase the tabs as early as now because there’s a possibility they won’t be available from July. The same goes for pool equipment. Pool companies are now encouraging pool owners to conduct all their replacements and repairs before the peak season.

Consider using non-chlorine pool systems

Aside from stockpiling, there are other ways to deal with trichlor shortage. Consider using chlorine alternatives. Fortunately, you don’t have to use chlorine to keep your pool clean at all times. Furthermore, by maintaining balanced water chemistry and using preventative algaecides, you can reduce your use of chlorine. Keeping all your pool equipment in good condition also helps you reduce the pool’s dependence on chlorine.

Moreover, consider using UV light systems to operate swimming pools. This helps you lower the demand for chlorine in pools. Salt chlorinator systems also enable you to reduce the use of chlorine tablets.

Luckily, most pool owners are embracing these systems positively. All you need to do is explain to them the benefits offered by these systems. Some companies send email campaigns to inform clients about salt and UV systems. Installing these pool systems helps pool owners save on energy and provide a safe swimming environment. As a result, putting up UV and salt systems is a great way to deal with the trichlor shortage.

Trichlor Shortage

Nobody knows how long the trichlor shortage is going to last. But pool professionals report that the shortage is likely to increase this summer. Generally, 2021 will be no different from 2020. Nonetheless, things should start getting better next year. Industry veterans say that there won’t be any shortages in supply and labor in 2022. Things will start going back to normal gradually. Even so, everyone in the pool industry should prepare themselves for the 2021 summer.

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