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How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business

Do you want to start a pool cleaning business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a pool cleaning business with NO money and no experience plus a sample pool cleaning business plan template.

It is important to state that pool cleaning is a service business that is interesting and lucrative for someone who likes working outside and traveling to different locations.

Indeed someone in this business travels to homes, apartment buildings, hotels and motels, and works to make pools ready for the season, maintains them during the swimming season (year-round in some places), provides clean-up after storms and aid close down pools once the weather gets cooler.

We all know that a clean sparkling pool can move almost anyone to jump into it; and being able to see through the water right to the bottom of the pool and watch the small waves in the pool reflect the sunlight is truly an amazing sight.

Achieving pool cleanliness is not done by swinging a magic wand, it needs to be cleaned by experts who have the basic knowledge and the ability to do so. It is important to state that the cleaning process takes a huge amount of time and technique, and therefore the demand for efficient pool cleaners is high.

The process of owning a pool cleaning business rests on both the obvious as well as the sublime. Hiring the correct type of people and choosing the appropriate cleaning equipment contributes immensely to the success of the pool cleaning business.

While some marketing and managerial aspects are common to all businesses, there are some specific tips to be kept in mind when running a pool cleaning business.

Steps to Starting a Pool Cleaning Business

1. Understand the Industry

This lucrative industry is made up of companies that primarily provide cleaning services for swimming and wading pools. It is important to state that big players in the industry usually offer related services such as providing cleaning services for spas, hot tubs, whirlpools and saunas.

Pool cleaning service companies sometimes offer surface cleaning as well as maintenance work for pumps, heaters, filters and other related equipment. It is also important to say that this industry is one of the fastest growing service industries in the united states.

Also just like any other industry, this industry was hit hard by recession and low employment. As a result of that, homeowners started to clean their own pools and spas or avoided pool treatment altogether. But as the economy recovered and homeowners returned to work and have less time to clean their pools, the industry started to boom.

It is important to say that businesses in the industry compete on the basis of price, quality of service and breadth of service offerings. This industry is indeed a large industry and pretty much active in most countries of the world especially in the United States of America, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, United Kingdom, Mexico and Canada et al.

Just in the United States of America alone, there are about 51,145 registered and licensed (big, medium scale and small) swimming pool cleaning services companies scattered around responsible for employing about 69,895 people and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $3 billion annually. Experts believe that the industry will enjoy 3.8 percent annual growth within 2011 and 2016.

It is important to state that no establishment can boast of having a lion share of the available market in this industry. It is also important to state that this industry is made up of self-employed individuals who work as independent contractors or small operators with fewer than three employees.

Industry report states that since companies typically offer swimming pool cleaning services within a limited geographic scope in order to limit transportation expenses, there are limited benefits to economies of scale; consequently, there is a low level of market share concentration. Rather, the most prominent companies are franchised operations.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

Understanding the demographic and psychographic of your business will help you to pinpoint a market that is appropriate for your pool cleaning business.

This would include obtaining information concerning: age of customers, ethnic groups, occupations, income levels, size of your market (how many will be interested in your product or service), geographic region (where your customers are located), interests and what products and services does the market need? Is the concept of your pool cleaning business something people will use?

You should know that your prospective customers will likely be homeowners and owners of apartments, condominium complexes, hotels and motels, and you can also target schools and health clubs. We advise that you build relationships with pool builders in your area, leave a batch of your business cards and ask them to refer you to their customers.

The best way to sell to businesses is to introduce yourself to the manager (or maintenance manager if it is a large facility) and leave your business card and flier. But note that if you don’t get an immediate offer-which you probably won’t-check back or call to remind them that you are available.

We also advise that for homeowners, that you purchase a mailing list of pool owners in your area or check with your county tax assessor’s office–it may have a list of pool owners on file. Then send a brochure or flier–you can offer an introductory discount or a free pool check-up.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

As you strive to venture into this industry, you should know that the number of pool accounts that can be serviced in a day will rest on the type of pool service that each account receives, which can also serve as a niche idea. But you should note that businesses in this industry do not specifically channel their resources to just one niche, but tend to go generally for all activities in the industry.

There are typically two or three different types of weekly services that pool professionals will offer. The names of the services might vary slightly with each company.

  • Income Example
  • Chemicals Only Service
  • Chemical Plus Service
  • Commercial Pool Service
The Level of Competition in the Industry

We all know that swimming pools can be a haven on a hot day, a source of pride for homeowners, and a necessity for apartments, condominium complexes, hotels and motels.

But keeping them clean and healthy is not a job for the uninitiated or those with no time; apart from being unsightly, a dirty pool can be costly. It is important to state that individuals whose pools don’t meet local health department standards can be fined or have their watering holes closed down, which can cost not only money, but also customers.

But we believe that if you enjoy working outdoors with the sun on your back and the sound of water at your feet, then you can banish the pool pH blues with a pool-cleaning service. In this business, you will make weekly rounds, checking and adjusting chemical levels, maintaining pumps, skimmers, filters and other equipment, and doing routine cleaning. In addition to pools, you can service spas and hot tubs, too.

It is also important to note that the advantages of this lucrative business are that you can start part-time if you like with minimal investment; you get to work outdoors; and pool cleaners have a sort of mystique in our social consciousness.

We believe that for you to survive in this very competitive industry, you will need a good working knowledge of pool-cleaning techniques and supplies, from pH levels to chlorine tablets and beyond. We also believe that you will need physical strength to manipulate poles and skimmers through the drag created by water all day and the motivation to work quickly and efficiently.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

Becoming a well-known brand has to do with a lot of factors and even though the pool cleaning  industry is fragmented, there are those businesses that are standing out due to their activities in the industry such as their marketing and publicity strategies, how long they have been in the business and what services they offer to their customers.

Below are some of the most popular pool cleaning businesses in the United States of America;

  • Pool Service America, Inc.
  • Acquality Pool
  • Pool Depot and Patios, LLC
  • David G Pool Services Corp
  • Dadeland Pool Plus Corp.
  • Pool Cleaning Services by Preservation Pros, Inc.
  • Cool Dudes Pool Service
  • Aqua Solutions
  • Ambiance Pool Service
  • 1st Choice Pool Service
  • Nu Waves Pool Services
  • Tucson Pool & Spa
  • Luna Pool Service
  • Patio Pools & Spas
  • Progressive Pools & Spas
Economic Analysis

A pool service professional will make about $50 – $60 per hour cleaning and servicing pools. We believe that this amount will increase to $150 – $200 per hour doing minor repairs/maintenance on the pool equipment. Indeed the expenses to run a pool service business should be about 20% of the monthly service billing amount. It has been noted that the primary expenses in a pool service business are pool chemicals, gas, insurance and office supplies.

The average pool route business owner, running the route correctly should have a yearly net income (income after expenses) of $75,000 to $85,000 per year. This net income amount will vary slightly depending on the average service rates for the area.

It is also important to say that the key to running a pool service route correctly is keeping the expenses to a minimum and making sure you are charging the proper rates for pool service in your area. We advise that you help keep expenses lower by running your business out of your house, using a small truck to save on gas and shopping the different suppliers for the best prices on chemicals and equipment.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

We strongly believe that buying a franchise in the Pool cleaning industry is very much preferred than starting from the scratch.

Indeed a franchisee buys more than the right to use a Business Name: it offers you both the benefits of the franchisor’s experience and the business’s formula for success. Another basic reason why you should consider a franchise is because you might have a good business background but no experience in this particular industry.

You should know that one of the advantages of opening a franchise is that the franchisee is provided with a turnkey operation.

The  franchisor helps you choose the site and negotiate the lease, tells you how to lay out your building and where to order furnishings, provides information on what products you need to use and what your opening inventory should be, and offers you management and technical training. On the issue of cost, control, expertise and support, the franchise owners are equally split.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

Starting a pool cleaning business might look like a very hard task that you won’t be able to pull through, but you need to understand that every successful entrepreneur has made his or her share of mistakes along the road to the top. Possible challenges may include…

  • Capital
  • Hiring technicians
  • Staying competitive
  • Suitable location
  • Lack of experience
  • Employee incentives
  • Prices

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

If you are conversant with the business world, you will know that choosing a legal entity for your Pool Cleaning business is one of the major decisions you have to make when starting, and your decision depends on your individual situation and tolerance for risk. You can decide to run a successful Pool Cleaning business using any of the available business entities.

You might want to choose between a sole proprietorship and a Limited Liability Company, however, you should consider their various differences before you choose. It is strongly advised that you start your pool cleaning business as a limited liability company. This legal structure offers you so many advantages that other legal structures can’t, like…

  • Avoids double taxation
  • Limits Your Personal Liability
  • Flexibility
  • Less Administrative Hassles and Paperwork

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

Have it in mind that choosing the right name for your business is very important. Choosing a good name can help you attract more customers, so take your time. It is believed that your business name should fit the vision of what you want your business to be. Your name should be distinctive and easy to remember.

Choose a name that is easy to spell. We advise that you think of your customers writing checks to your business or trying to find your business online or in the phone book.

  • Pool Cleaning Service
  • Pool Perfection
  • Quality pools
  • Reliable pool cleaning
  • Pool specialists
  • Clean pools
  • Superior pool cleaning services
  • Pool king

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

We believe that as an independent pool cleaning business, your day to day activities are varied. Note that you may spend a lot of time managing your employees to make sure that all of your customer’s needs are met in a timely manner or you may spend most of your time talking to customers directly to further grow your business.

We also know that taking care of all of the different details involved in owning a business can be stressful and annoying. We believe that one can ease a bit of that stress by making sure you are using the correct types of insurance, to avoid adding salt to injury in your business. They include…

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

The world has been hammering on the need for businesses to protect their assets, yet a lot of business owners fail to take caution with their designs, ideas and valuable business information – the business’s intellectual property (IP) – and leave themselves at risk of theft and counterfeiting.

We believe that new changes to the law have solidified the protection of designs in the world, and the introduction of simpler patenting processes will make it easier for small businesses like a pool cleaning business to look after their IP and intangible assets. Ways to protect your business may include…

  • Know your assets
  • Find the right protection
  • Watch the competition
  • Enforce the law

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

  • Certified Pool/Spa operator
  • APSP Swimming Pool & Spa Certification
  • Qualified Swimming Pool Water Treatment Operator
  • Certified Pool technician

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

A particular area of rules and regulations that all new businesses must comply with are licenses, permits and regulations.

It has been noted that when starting a business, the entrepreneur must contact the municipality involved along with the state and federal governments. Each municipal government has the authority to issue its own business licenses within its jurisdiction.

Since there is no uniformity throughout the country regarding municipal licenses for businesses, we advise that you consult with the appropriate local officials to know whether your business will be affected by local regulations and licensing requirements.

Businesses (including home-based businesses) must also meet the zoning by-laws that control property use in their Municipalities to avoid trouble.

You should know that there may be a lot of licenses and permits needed for your pool cleaning business. It is advised that you check with your city or town clerk for any local requirements. Also, check on zoning and sign regulations that may apply to your business and location.

Examples of licenses, permits and regulations that could apply to you when starting your pool cleaning business may include, but are not limited to:

  • Contractor’s license
  • municipal business license
  • occupancy
  • vendor permit
  • health regulations and requirements
  • fire safety standards or regulations
  • Tax
  • Zoning by-laws
  • building permit
  • Police Permit
  • sanitation
  • fire safety

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Have it in mind that most banks and lenders always need you to put some of your own money into the business, and experience is a major factor for lenders.

They believe that the more experience you have, the better. We suggest that you consider taking a job in a pool cleaning and/or take some classes to help you succeed in getting the funding you need – that is if you’re a newbie in the industry. Places to get funding may include;

  • Small Business Association
  • Personal resources – Savings, IRA accounts, credit cards, home mortgages and personal assets (including family or friends).
  • Private investors – also known as “angel investors
  • Commercial finance companies, such banks and equipment leasing companies
  • Friends and relatives (be careful to arrange the loan in a business-like manner). Draw up papers stating the loan repayment schedule and interest to be charged
  • Real-Estate assets
  • Life Insurance
  • Housing and Urban Development

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

By now you should know that location is a critical consideration because it affects your ability to draw customers to your business.

It is important that your site be visible, accessible, convenient and attractive to your market. We strongly believe that how you evaluate your location will depend on the type of cleaning you are planning and the type of customers you hope to serve.

We believe that prospective pool cleaning businesses face two major choices: What kind of cleaning should I do and where should I open it?

 It is important that your location and concept complement each other. Have it in mind that different types of pool cleanings will have different location requirements. But some elements should be analysed regardless of the type of pool cleaning you are planning.

Description of Immediate Area
  • Residential and commercial profile
  • Adjacent land uses
  • Proposed developments
  • Safety
  • Special appeal of location
  • Map of area (identify sources of demand, competition and other relevant landmarks)
Proximity to Customers and Competition
  • Major demand generators (retail, offices, lodging, hospitals …)
  • Number of potential customers by segment within one-, two-, three-mile radius etc.
  • List of direct cleaning competitors
Traffic Volume
  • Street and road patterns
  • Speed limit and traffic signs/lights
  • Highway/Street traffic counts
  • Pedestrian traffic counts
  • Peak and off-peak traffic periods
  • Proximity to major streets and highways
  • Ease of entrance and exit
  • Parking (guests and delivery)
  • Pedestrian accessibility
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance
  • Visibility from road
  • Effectiveness of sign
  • Curb appeal of building
  • Landscaping
  • Exterior lighting
Other Issues
  • Zoning
  • Environmental Issues
  • Easements and restrictions
  • Growth Patterns of Surrounding Areas

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

Indeed running a pool cleaning business is not as easy as it seems. We believe that the workforce you choose will solely depend on the size of your business. Before you open your pool cleaning business, you will need fixtures and furniture for your store.

For assistance in this area, you may get the advice of a sales representative or consult trade publications and manufacturers’ web sites. Also note that in addition to your office set up, you will need display cases, counter tops, pool equipment and pool cleaning supply stands, etc. Equipment you will need may include, but not limited to;

  • Skimmers
  • Brushes
  • Vacuum head & Hoses
  • Cleaning Accessories
The Service Delivery Process of the Business

Indeed caring for pools can be simple when you have a plan for routine maintenance and you use the right products. Explained below are the 5 essential pool care procedures.

  • Circulation

You should note that pool water must be well circulated for maximum sanitizer effectiveness. This is because the more the water is in motion, the harder it is for bacteria and algae to take hold. Debris is captured by the filter too. We believe that the best time to circulate the water is during the day, for 10 hours or more.

  • Filtration

The filter is one of the most important pieces of equipment you need. It removes both visible debris and most microscopic matter.

Note that a filter should be backwashed (the removal of material trapped on or in the filter media) when the water pressure in the filter reaches 8 to 10 pounds above normal. Backwashing does not remove oils and deeply imbedded debris, so every filter needs to be chemically cleaned regularly.

  • Cleaning

Indeed a lot of swimming pools have areas with little or no circulation. This is where algae and bacteria can begin to grow. At least once a week, the walls and floor should be brushed and vacuumed to eradicate debris that the filter misses. It has been noted that brushing is a must, even if you use an automatic pool cleaner or retain a weekly service.

  • Testing

Every pool has characteristics that must be regularly measured and adjusted. Have it in mind that the most important are the pH and the level of active sanitizer. We believe that by testing these two factors at regular intervals, you will understand how bather load, weather and product application affect the water. Test the pool water two or three times per week.

We also advise that you take a sample to an Authorized Dealer when you open and close the pool, and every four to six weeks during the season. We also believe that this will help you maintain proper water balance and greatly reduce the potential for problems.

  • Apply the Right Products

Note that the last step in a total pool maintenance program is applying the right products to the pool water at the right time. Experts have noted that this will help you:

  • Provide a sanitary swimming environment
  • Balance the water to protect the equipment and pool
  • Provide brilliant, sparkling water that is inviting

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

You should have it in mind that having a detailed marketing plan will go a long way to set you apart from your competitors in the industry. But before you begin to write your marketing plan, pull together some information you will need.

Note that having the information first will help avoid interruptions in the thinking and writing process. We propose that you have the following information at hand;

  • Your company’s latest financial reports (profit and loss, operating budgets and so on), the latest sales figures by product and the records for the current and the past three years or, if less, for however long you have been in business
  • A listing of each pool product in the current line, along with target markets
  • An organization table (if you can count your employees on one hand, you can probably omit this)
  • Your understanding of your business marketplace: your competitors, geographical boundaries, types of customers you market to, latest and most useful demographic data, any information on trends in your market(s) (both demographic and product related)

17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

We strongly advise that you make it a point to limit the number of marketing objectives you take on in a given year. Indeed, change can bring stress, disorient staff and most times even confuse your target market. We recommend that you keep your objectives challenging but achievable.

It is sincerely unique to motivate yourself with ambitious but worthy targets than to depress yourself by failing at too many enthusiastic goals. Here are ways to stay ahead of your competitors in the industry;

  • Introduce new pool products
  • Extend or regain market for existing pool products
  • Enter new territories for the company
  • Boost sales in a particular pool product, market or price range
  • Cross-sell (or bundle) one pool product with another
  • Raise prices without cutting into sales figures

18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

Understanding how to keep your current customers and attract new clients will help in increasing money flow and serve as a marketing strategy for your pool cleaning business.

We believe that the first thing to do when looking to retain your customers is to analyse your pool cleaning business offerings and service quality to identify areas you can make amends. Other ways to increase customer retention may include…

  • Always Compare prices
  • Treat every customer as king
  • Expand the services you offer in the business
  • Offer other pool cleaning services like educating on pool hygiene
  • Hold an open house or special holiday events at the business to attract new customers
  • Keep a database of your customers and follow them up

19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

For those who do not know, brand awareness or having a corporate identity is very important because it is what makes you an outstanding entrepreneur in any business industry. It is also what makes people know that you exist, what you do and how you do it. Ways to do that for your Pool Cleaning Business may include…

  • Advertise a grand-opening special or offer a service at a discount
  • Leverage a digital strategy
  • Remember that Team work pays off
  • Plan to move the Pool Cleaning Business  to a higher traffic area if possible
  • Always Deliver Your Promise to Your Clients
  • Print your website and social media addresses on any materials associated with your Pool Cleaning Business
  • Display a sign-up sheet in the business for email newsletters and special offers
  • Use technology to advertise through QR, or quick response codes
  • Brand your vehicles and work clothes