How to start a pool service business
Starting a pool cleaning service business isn’t easy. A pool service professional is expected to travel to customer’s properties -homes, apartment buildings, hotels, and motels – to provide the services. On top of that, the pool cleaning process takes a lot of time and technique.
So, if you are thinking about starting a pool cleaning business and looking for a one-stop resource to get answers to all your questions, you are in the right place.
Why We Wrote This Post
Old posts, incomplete videos, or case studies focusing only on selling, you name it. In essence, there is so much stuff out there about starting a pool cleaning business that you can go on forever and still end up not finding anything useful.
We thought it would be useful to have one in-depth, step-by-step resource to guide new pool service companies. The idea is to help them focus on the fundamentals and in laying down a solid foundation.
We couldn’t find one, so we wrote it ourselves.
How You Can Use It
The step-by-step plan we share in this post focuses on the fundamentals to help you get all your bases covered for your pool cleaning service business. Think of it as a launchpad for a zero to a six-figure pool cleaning company.
So if you’re ready to turn your dream of owning a pool service business into a reality, read on… In this post, we are going to lay the foundation to make it super easy for you (it’s as simple as flipping switches).
These first few steps are essential for your pool service business to have a rock-solid foundation.
1) Why Start a Pool Cleaning Business?
Do you know how many pools are in the United States?
According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP), there are 10.4 million residential and 309,000 public swimming pools in the United States.
If we dig deeper into other statistics:
- Swimming is the fourth most-popular sport or activity in the United States.
- 36 percent of children aged 7 to 17 years and 15 percent of adults go swimming at least six times annually in the United States.
- According to IBISWorld, the swimming pool cleaning services industry is a $3 billion industry.
Different types of pools in the United States:
- Above-ground pools
- In-ground pools
- Hot tubs
As far as earning possibilities are concerned, According to Spring Board Pool Route Brokers in 2019, professional pool cleaners earn $50 to $60 per hour and up to $200 if they do equipment repair and maintenance as well.
You see, the idea behind sharing all these numbers and statistics with you is to showcase the opportunities you have with a pool cleaning service business. Once you prove you can do solid work and establish some accounts, a pool cleaning business also provides a potential for consistent, recurring income.
2) Your Pool Cleaning Business Essentials
There are a few essential things that you need to handle when you go to start your pool service cleaning business. I know these things are not exciting, they don’t make money—they actually cost you money most of the time—yet are important for your pool cleaning company’s success in the long run.
So much so that you need them in place to operate a legit business.
A) Choosing a name for your pool service business
A good business name is short, distinct, and memorable. It should:
- Give customers an idea about the services you provide.
- Help you stand out from the competition.
Along with all these, you should also consider adding SEO signals to your business name to get a push in organic rankings.
Here are the things you should consider while choosing a name for your lawn care business:
- Include ‘pool service’, ‘pool cleaning’, or ‘pool cleaning service’ in your business name.
- Your business name should be between 12-25 characters in length.
- If possible, your business name and website URL should be the same.
- It’s not a MUST, but we recommend you to pick a business name that has .com domain available. You can use Name.com for this.
- Availability of social media handles for your pool service business. You can use a third-party tool like Namechk to check for the availability of social media handles for a specific business name.
- It should be easy to spell, remember, and pronounce.
An example of a good name for a pool cleaning service company is – All Pure Pool Service. Here’s what we like about this name:
- It has the term ‘pool service’ in the business name.
- The business name is 18-characters in length.
- It is super easy to spell, remember, and pronounce.
- The business name and the website URL are the same.
- Business Name: All Pure Pool Service
- Website URL: www.allpurepoolservice.com
To have a solid foundation, choosing a legal entity for your Pool Cleaning business is one of the major decisions you have to make when starting.
You might be considering a sole proprietorship and a limited liability company. However, you should consider the differences between the two before you choose – your decision depends on your individual situation and tolerance for risk.
It is strongly advised that you start your pool cleaning business as a limited liability company. It offers you so many advantages such as:
- Avoids double taxation: Most states view the LLC as a disregarded entity for tax purposes – meaning that an LLC’s profits and losses flow through to the owners’ personal tax returns.
- Limits your personal liability: An LLC is its own legal entity, and the liability of the owner is very limited. That means if someone sues the business or the company, the owners’ personal assets are protected.
The process of registering an LLC company varies from state to state. You can find more information about the detailed procedure on each state’s official website. To do so:
- Go to www.google.com
- Search ‘how to register an LLC in [enter your state].’
- Look for the state’s official website.
Here are the results I got when I followed the above 3-steps to search for Florida state’s official website.
If you would like to learn more about starting an LLC, here is a great resource.
C) Licensing and certification
Do you need to be licensed in order to operate a Pool Cleaning business?
Usually, pool cleaning service businesses are not subject to any state or local licensing requirements. That being said, you must still obtain generally applicable licenses required for all businesses operating in a jurisdiction. This includes:
- State registration,
- Local business licenses, and
- Tax registrations.
If your pool cleaning company only provides water treatment services and does not install, maintain, repair or replace pool equipment, you are not subjected to any licensure requirements.
However, if you decide to offer commercial pool cleaning services, you are required to obtain a certification or technician certification. Generally, these certification programs consist of 14-16 hours of education and one examination.
If your pool cleaning business wishes to provide pool repair and replacement services such as pool railing, piping or filters, you will need a contractor’s license.
Note: Each state requires different levels of licensing at the state, county, and local levels. For instance in Florida, companies are required to obtain a contractor license or a specialty contractor license depending on whether they wish to provide general pool maintenance or pool construction.
To learn more about the pool maintenance licensing, please visit this link.
3) Decide On Your Service Areas and Services
There are different kinds of pool cleaning services:
- Maintenance Services – Focus only on cleaning and maintenance of pools and hot tubs.
- Repair and Replacement Services – Focus on repair and replacement services such as pool railing, piping, and filters.
Each one of these services has different skills you will have to learn, master, and continue to develop if you want to be successful in the pool service industry.
While deciding on what all pool cleaning services to offer, a few more things you should consider are:
- Your experience with a service. If you are new and don’t know anything about the pool service industry, experts recommend that you start by offering pool maintenance services. The maintenance services will help you get your feet wet (no pun intended) and from there on you can branch out in offering more specialized pool cleaning services down the line.
- Your area or location. The location or the service area of your pool cleaning business plays a major role in the services you provide because it affects your ability to draw customers to your business.
If you’re in Florida, for example, you can provide maintenance services for all three types of pools – In-ground pools, above-ground pools, and hot tubs. However, if you are located in a place like New York, you may not see a lot of demand for above-ground pools maintenance.
Please note that different types of pool cleaning services will have different location requirements. We strongly recommend that you decide your services based on the area and the type of customers you hope to serve.
Getting your pool service business off the ground…
Okay, once you’ve nailed the basics of starting a pool cleaning service company, it’s time to get it off the ground.
1) Building Your Pool Service Business Website
Once you have your business name, business license and decided on the services you are going to offer, it’s time to establish an online presence for your pool cleaning business.
A professional looking website is a must for you to start booking new services and generating revenue – but you don’t need to spend too much at the beginning.
When you’re starting out, your primary focus should be on getting the essentials locked down:
- Website domain for your pool service company.
- Example: www.yourpoolservices.com
- Hosting and SSL certificate
- Basic branding assets.
- Your pool service company logo.
- If you don’t know or have any experience with creating a logo, there are pretty affordable services out there to help you with it. In case you plan to outsource your logo work, you can check out 99 Designs.
- Media assets – You don’t need a lot of media assets initially. A couple of pictures of team members and technicians performing services on-site are enough to get going.
- A legit business email address.
- Having a professional email id as [email protected] adds a lot of trust and credibility over a general Gmail or Yahoo email. Here is how you can get a professional email id for your business.
- A business phone number.
- When you are just starting, it is ok to use your personal phone number as your business number because you are the only one running the show. However, if you are someone who prefers to keep personal and business stuff separate, here is a detailed article on how to get a business phone number.
- A business address.
- When you are just starting, it’s ok to use your home address as your business address. However, if you decide to get an address, make sure to get it in proximity to customers and competition or in a 5-8 miles radius from the city center in your main service area.
Your business’s proximity to customers, competition, and main city center play a role in where your pool service business ranks on Google My Business.
2) Set Smart Goals
Setting goals for yourself is important, no matter where you are in life. It becomes even more important if it is about business.
When you set goals for your pool service business, you need to ensure they are SMART.
For example, having the “best pool service company” as a goal is way too vague and you have no way to track your progress. Simply put, if your goals aren’t quantifiable, you will be shooting in the dark without learning about what’s working for you and what isn’t.
So, how can you ensure your goals are well defined and measurable?
SMART goals are the answer. SMART stands for:
SMART goals ensure you not only know what you want to achieve, but you have a road map to get there as well as a way to measure your progress along the way.
Here is what a SMART Goal looks like for your pool cleaning service company:
Generate $80,000 in revenue by selling pool service services in the first 12 months.
A) Specific: Generate $80,000 in revenue.
B) Measurable: With an average $50 hourly rate, you need to work for 1600 billable hours in the next 12 months. That’s around 134 billable hours per month.
C) Achievable: 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.
D) Relevant: The # of new service inquiries and the customers you win every month directly contributes to the goal of $80,000/- revenue.
A better way to handle this is by breaking down your yearly new confirmed job bookings goal to monthly. For example, if you need to work for 1600 billable hours in 12 months to hit the $80,000 revenue goal and on average you take 3 hours to complete one job, which means you will need 535 confirmed job bookings in the year or 45 confirmed bookings every month.
If you are getting 45 bookings every month, you are on track to hit your yearly goal. But if you are not, you know you need to find ways to increase your monthly bookings, or else you will fail.
In case you want to have more control, we recommend you to go a step further and break down your monthly confirmed bookings goal to new leads. For example, if you get 1 confirmed booking out of every 4 leads/inquiries you receive, to get 45 bookings/month you will need 180 leads.
E) Time-bound: 12 months time to generate $80,000/- in revenue.
You can break down the yearly revenue goal to monthly goal as well. It will help you keep track of your progress. For example, to achieve 80,000 in the annual revenue:
- Your 1st month revenue goal is: $4000
- Monthly revenue growth rate: 10%
If you hit these two metrics month-on-month, you will easily get to your annual revenue goal.
3) Pricing Your Pool Cleaning Services
How much should you charge your customers for your pool cleaning services?
When starting off, many pool businesses make this mistake of charging too little for their services in an attempt to beat the competition and drive more jobs.
However, very soon they realize that it is tough to sustain and make profits by charging less. So, instead of charging too little to attract those initial customers, you should consider different factors when pricing your pool cleaning services. These factors are:
- How hard is the pool going to be to take care of?
- Does the pool have unscreened “leaf-pits”?
- Are equipment ineffective or completely broken?
As there are so many external factors, we recommend you to offer a free estimate – go, inspect the pool and equipment before quoting a price.
You can also use a proven method for pricing your pool cleaning service. This pricing method is known as cost-plus pricing.
Cost-plus pricing – also known as markup pricing – strategy is a simple pricing method where a fixed percentage is added on top of the total cost incurred to provide a service or manufacture a product.
The first step for you is to calculate the cost you are going to incur to provide a service. This includes:
- Material/Chemical cost
- # of technician hours to finish the job
- Operational costs:
- Average fuel cost
- Drive time
- Equipment maintenance
- Vehicle maintenance
- Insurance cost
Once you have numbers for all these above points, you will have your baseline. In simple terms,
Baseline = Salaries + Material Cost + Operational Costs
Once you have the baseline, you are one step closer to deciding your final pricing. It is the sum of your baseline, marketing/sales spend, and the profit or markup you would want to make on each service.
Final Pricing = Baseline + Marketing/Sales Spend + Profit or Markup
The average pool maintenance price is $80 to $150 monthly/pool or about $960 to $1,800 yearly. The annual pricing to manage a pool is $3,000 to $5,000, which includes maintenance, repairs, electricity, and water.
The maintenance cost to open or close a pool ranges from $300 to $500 on average. Maintenance pricing depends on the size and type of pool customers have.
4) Marketing Your Pool Service Cleaning Business
Like any other local service business, the #1 challenge for a pool service business owner is:
How to market your new pool business effectively with a shoestring budget?
When it comes to marketing or advertising your pool cleaning business, there are so many different strategies and channels you can use. However, at the start of your business, you just need the top 2-3 channels that can bring in new customers for your business. These are:
A) Your network – family, friends, and beyond!
One of the easiest places is to start with your existing network.
Talk to the people you know and the people they know. It may not yet be a huge amount of people, but enough to get you the initial customers.
Try to get a hold of the good and bad these people are experiencing with the current service provider (if they have any).
- What’s great about the current pool service provider?
- What sucks about it?
This will give you an idea about where you can make a difference and easily replace their existing pool service provider. In the process, aim to expand your existing network. To do so, you can try out the following ways:
- Meet in-person with each and every pool seller and pool contractor in and around your service area. Build a reputation with them.
- Visit the government office to obtain the addresses where pools (in-ground, above-ground, or hot tubs) had been built during the last 12-24 months.
Bonus Tip: If you are willing to go the extra mile, you can use Google Earth to search for where pools exist in and around your service area and make note of them.
B) Google Local Service Ads
Google Local Service Ads are a godsend for pool cleaning service companies.
It helps you connect with the people looking for your services in your service area. These ads are so laser targeted that you can avoid the searcher and the service mismatch that often happens when a user searches:
- For broad terms like pool service software, pool service equipment, or
- From outside your service area.
Another good thing about Google local service ads is that you pay only for the legit leads, and it costs you between $6-30 per lead depending on your service and location. Use this lead cost calculator to get a more precise idea about how much you will have to pay for each new lead in your area.
To be eligible for Google’s Local Service Ads, you first need to confirm your eligibility by providing your pool service business license and insurance documents. Once you’re eligible, you can get started with Google Local Service Ads in three simple steps:
- Sign up as a service provider
- Set your budget
- Set your ads on Google
To learn more about Google Local Service Ads, check out this resource.
C) Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is an easy and cost-effective way to make your pool cleaning business more discoverable online – both in search and maps.
A Google My Business listing allows you to:
- Manage your information, such as:
- Business name
- Business hours
- Contact information
- Business phone number
- Business address
- Connect & Interact with customers: With a Google My Business account, you get more than a business listing. Your free business profile lets you easily connect with customers. You can post photos and offers to your GMB profile to show what makes your pool service business unique, and give customers reasons to choose you every time. Your customer can interact with your business by using direct messaging or calling features.
Your Google My Business listing is an asset you are building for your pool service business. Like any other good thing, it takes time (around 3-6 months) before you start seeing any results for your business. So, you need to be persistent and not just give up, because once it starts rolling new calls in, there is no looking back.
To learn more about Google My Business, and boost ranking & leads for your pool service business, check out this free local SEO course.
The back-of-house essentials
1) Pool Cleaning Service Equipment
One of the benefits of opening a pool service business is you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment compared to other service businesses. Here is a list of the most basic equipment you’ll need to start your pool service business.
- Water-testing kits
- Skimmers and brushes
- Leaf rakes
- Pool cleaning chemicals
- A service truck
- Company branded T-shirts or hats
- Computer or a laptop
- Business Cards
- Accounting software like QuickBooks
- Pool service software like GorillaDesk to manage scheduling, routing, invoicing, payments and customer information.
If you are wondering why you need accounting and pool service software so early. The answer is simple. You need these software if you:
- Are a business owner with a growth mindset and don’t want to spend hours manually entering data after your work hours.
- Want to spend more hours working on your pool cleaning service business and not in the business.
- Don’t want to miss appointments.
- Want to be on top of daily operations and respond to unexpected job changes.
- Want to adjust to your customer’s expectations around convenience and expediency.
- Want to keep your customers in the know.
The good news is, GorillaDesk’s pool service software handles all these for you, from one single interface and without burning a hole in your pocket.
You can learn about all the different features available in GorillaDesk here.
2) Manage Your Finances
In the world of business, to make money, you first need to spend money.
A pool service business is no different. In fact, managing finances for your pool services business isn’t the easiest thing to do when you are on a shoestring budget.
Besides handling the paperwork involved, in order to function legally (getting registered and obtaining your license), you’ll also have to consider certain expenses such as:
- Equipment cost
- Software cost
- Operational cost
For equipment, Just focus on getting the essential ones such as a truck (In the range of $15,000-20,000 for a second hand truck) and water-testing kits, skimmers and brushes, leaf rakes, pool cleaning chemicals. If you spend a bit of time in scouting, you can get all the other equipment within $4000.
For software, don’t make the mistake most of the new pool service business owners make.
Instead of opting for different tools to handle different functions like routing, scheduling, invoicing, and more, look for one or two tools that can handle everything for you.
You can use GorillaDesk Pool Service Software that handles everything for your pool cleaning business). It saves you almost 13 hours per week and at least around $300 per month.
If you add up all these, the total cost to start a pool service business comes around $10000-12000 – including the operational cost for the first couple of months.
That’s All, Folks…
If you don’t have a solid foundation and basics covered for your pool service business, it is going to be very hard for you to grow it into a six-figures company or beyond.
Thankfully, you have this complete step-by-step plan to start your pool cleaning business and go from zero to six-figure revenue.
While it can be a lot of work, if you stick to the plan, you’ll be setting your business up for long term success.
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