Chris Cavanaugh Owner Cavanaugh Pool Owensboro and Madisonville, Kentucky
This year, I see the pool service industry continuing to grow like 2020. With COVID still present, I imagine the community still staying safe at home, and we are in the perfect industry to help bring the at-home vacation to them.
For us, this year’s biggest challenge includes the trichlor shortage and equipment shortage.
The trichlor shortage will affect many service companies that have depended on trichlor. They will have to source them or switch to a different sanitizer. Equipment shortages and long lead times are also going to make routine repairs trickier. If you do not have the parts or whole goods in stock, you may be waiting, when previously you would get it within a day or two.
Informing customers of price increases and preparing our orders for this season has kept me busy for the majority of our off-season. My advice for everybody would be to look at what you did in 2018 and 2019 and be prepared for any extras. If you have it on hand and your competition does not, you have the advantage.
In the long term, I see the service industry staying busy. With all the new pools installed in 2020 and 2021, those will require being maintained, and we will be there every step of the way with the customers.
David Penton Owner Fluid Dynamics Pool & Spa Fullerton, California
My Facebook feed just reminded me that in early March 2020, I was hosting an in-person swimming pool educational event in Arizona, and we had participants who flew in from all over the world to attend. We hadn’t grasped what would be on the horizon in a few short weeks after our event. If you would have told me that the ENTIRE world would essentially shut down but the pool industry as a whole would quietly see unprecedented growth, I would have said you’re crazy. Being in a luxury-type industry can have its challenges during financial difficulties, and as an industry we should be grateful we are thriving through this worldwide crisis.
I believe we will continue to see a strong market throughout this year, but the supply chain disruptions of the past six months are going to get worse. Even car manufacturers are having significant issues, especially with electronic circuit boards. As a builder, we are seeing this play out in longer lead times for heaters and automation systems. On the service side, this will pose significant challenges for pool professionals needing to keep client pools up and running. My firm has looked ahead and pre-purchased much of the equipment we anticipate needing throughout the fall to avoid delays. As a former service professional, I realize this is much more challenging (if not impossible) for many of you. The variety of equipment encountered daily makes this proposition much more difficult — and with “snovid” in Texas, this will only add to an already stressed supply chain.
Looking ahead from a broader perspective, I see the construction market continuing to thrive for at least the next nine to 24 months. As mortgage rates stay historically low, people will continue to invest in their yards and install pools. This has a trickle-down effect for maintenance professionals, as many of these homeowners will need service and repairs. I do feel like we are likely to see a significant drop off in construction in 2022 or 2023 though. I believe we are building 2022 and 2023 pools right now, and that the pace at which we are seeing pools built will slow significantly, which again has a trickle-down effect on service.
In conclusion, go make hay while the opportunities abound. Manage client expectations for the next six to nine months, and let them know you will do your best to meet their needs to keep the pool operational, but I would pre-qualify to them so they understand the challenges we as an industry are experiencing.
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