Orenda Technologies makes water chemistry easy with the Orenda Mobile App
By Michelle L. Cramer
Edwards Pool Construction in Andover, Kansas, started using the Orenda Mobile App in spring of 2018 after owner, Steve Edwards, read several posts about it on Facebook.
“The Orenda app has greatly enhanced our water chemistry comprehension and simplified teaching ourselves and our service techs water chemistry,” Edwards says. “Our ability to explain to the customer not only what we are doing but why has been simplified by using the app. It makes us look good.”
Upon downloading the Orenda Mobile App for pool chemistry optimization (see download links below), users are greeted by a the company’s leaf logo, followed by a menu of resources, not the least of which is the Dosing/LSI Calculator, developed out of necessity, says Eric Knight, director of sales and marketing for Orenda Technologies.
Knight explains that, when he came on board at Orenda, the company offered a web app to assist pool pros in balancing water chemistry that basically consisted of a website “shrunk down” so it was usable on a phone. However, users had to fumble through the app, zooming in and out to type text, and the offerings were limited. Knight came from an app startup and says he knew what had to be done.
“I looked at their app and said, ‘Oh guys, we can make this way easier to use,’ ” Knight says. “It’s very hard to quantify the return on investment on an app. If you build a free app, there are a lot of risks.”
However, Knight says that Harold Evans, CEO of Orenda, wanted to pay it forward to the industry and gave Knight the go-ahead to build something from scratch. The process began in November 2016 and the first version of the app (without the LSI calculator) was launched in February 2017.
“[Service techs] don’t have time to pull out a dosing sheet, so they wing it,” Knight says. “How much chemical are they wasting because they’re estimating? Even if they’re off by just a few ounces on each pool, that’s thousands of dollars in chemicals every year. So we started pushing this philosophy of ‘slow down a little bit, test the water accurately, use the app to dose it precisely and then measure before you pour, and you’ll save money.’ That resonates with people.”
Evans told Knight from the beginning that the app needed to have an LSI calculator, too. Once the foundation of the app was complete and the bugs from the first launch worked out, Knight started working on the next phase, adding another team member who is a software engineer and mathematician to help calculate the formula to three decimal places for optimal accuracy.
The LSI calculator was added to the app in May 2017. “That’s when it really took off,” Knight says. Since then, Orenda has added a pool volume estimator, training, videos, informational articles and product details to the app.
Directors of the United Pool Association, which has more than 1,800 members in five states, tout the Orenda Mobile App to every pool technician they come in contact with, says Steve Homer, UPA president. Homer says UPA not only promotes the organization in tradeshow booths, but also has a banner about the Orenda app and makes sure everyone who stops by knows about it.
“What we like about the app is it shows our guys how to balance the water so we don’t have scale and we don’t have the water eating plumbing and plaster,” Homer says. “We can dial that stuff right in.”
The UPA has some of the best liability insurance in the business, Homer says, “but when a service tech messes up plaster, he’s going to get sued and our insurance company is going to pay for it. We get these guys aware of the LSI and aware of how simple Orenda has made it with that app and we’ve saved massively on claims.” He estimates that claims are down by at least 30% since UPA started promoting the app to members.
Deborah Martin, owner of The Pool Medic in Fresno, California, says that she even tells homeowners who come into the store to use the Orenda Mobile App. “It’s made me a better chemist with my pools,” she says. “My pools that are LSI balanced are my easiest pools to take care of and look the best week to week.”
Martin recently took on start-ups for a local pool builder and one in particular stands out — a white plaster pool with a calcium level of seven from the fill water. “I used the app to help with dosage and I had zero plaster dust,” Martin says. “I was amazed. Had I not used the app and tried to just figure it out instead, this pool would have had damage from the get-go.”
Like any mobile app, there are always updates to be made and bugs to work out. Knight says he and his team want to know about any glitches a user comes across by emailing him at Eric@orendatech.com.
“We’re not an app company, we’re a chemicals company,” Knight says. “So give us feedback. If you notice something’s broken, contact us. It’s a multi-week process of thorough testing every time we do an update because there’s so many things in the app now.”
Small glitches shouldn’t stop anyone from using the app, Martin says. “Why would you not want to use it?” she asks. “I’m all about tools that make my business better, to stand out from the rest and to provide my customers with knowledge that is going to help them in the long run. Our customers turn to us because we are the professionals. We need to use the tools that are available and [this app] is a great overall resource.”
“We support Orenda because of what they do for our members,” Homer says, “and this app is just one of the huge things they provide to help us be better at what we do. I think it’s an amazing thing.”
Orenda provides this video with instructions on how to use the app.
Download on Google Play*.
*Knight advises Android device users not to worry about the prompt to approve the sharing of information when first downloading the app. He assures that Orenda is not swiping info from your phone, but that it is a required permission for all apps through Google Play when users can send emails directly from the app.