Great Valley Pool Service is celebrating a 30-year legacy of success and hard work. What started as a small garage-run business has grown into a vibrant, booming company zeroed in on customer satisfaction.
Tracy Bond, co-owner of Great Valley Pool Service, came into the industry with what she says was virtually no experience save for having her own pool for three decades. “I figured I had at least a basic knowledge of pools as a customer since I took care of it myself,” she explains.
Bond spent most of her career managing multi–billion dollar budgets, doing financial planning and analysis for Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies. “Having been restructured out of a job in corporate America twice in my career, it was time for me to be in control of my own destiny,” Bond says. “Various guest speakers were brought in through company-sponsored outplacement. I was intrigued by the presentation from a business broker on the possibility of buying a franchise or an existing business.”
The broker found several companies for Bond to evaluate. “About halfway through, the broker mentioned he had a really well-run company with great financials and wonderful owners for consideration,” she says. Though it was 50 miles from her New Jersey home, “I figured [if] I commuted my entire life for someone else, I could certainly commute that same distance for myself,” Bond says.
With her formal business training and experience in managing large budgets, Bond took over Great Valley Pool Service in 2014. Bond recruited her brother, Cecil Bond, who has an extensive background in sales and operations, and who also owned his own pool for many years. Tracy oversees marketing, finance, human resources, legal and retail, while Cecil manages sales and operations.
“Having his support and involvement also provided me with reinforcement in this predominantly male industry,” says Tracy Bond. “We work well together.”
These days, Great Valley Pool Service is one of the largest service companies in its area, with about 25 service trucks, over 400 recurring service customers and more than 1,500 pool opening/closing customers. Bond also expanded the company’s marketing and resources for its awning division, a move that grew awning sales from less than $50,000 a year when Bond took over to a seven-figure revenue stream last year.
In the off-season, the company opens a Christmas decorating service that allows the Bonds to provide year-round employment. Great Valley Pool Service has received numerous local, regional and national awards, and Tracy Bond says the company focuses most on customer service.
Recurring pool service, equipment installation and repair, minor tile repairs and expansion joint replacements
Safety covers; all pool supplies; parts and chemicals; awning and shade products and installation; holiday decorating for homes and businesses
Number of employees
Up to 45 in peak season
Number of residential service customers served each week
Average 400-450 recurring service customers; 25 vehicles for both pool and awnings
“The way we know our customers personally helps generate a relaxed atmosphere unlike any other,” Bond says. “This season, due to an industry-wide chlorine shortage, we reserved our chlorine for our loyal customers only. That made them feel valued, knowing we appreciated our relationship with them more than making a quick dollar.”
Great Valley offers a free pool school twice a year to help educate customers on basic water chemistry and solutions for various water problems. The company also has an online store that Bond says complements the in-store experience.
“Due to our focus on customer service, each customer receives a text survey for feedback about their visit, and we always do our best to correct anything that has caused a less than five-star experience,” Bond says. Great Valley Pool Service currently holds a 4.9-star rating on Google with over 330 reviews.
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Over the next five years, Great Valley Pool Service aims to automate as many labor-intensive activities as possible to help increase efficiency. Bond says they’re hoping to eliminate many manual functions and allow for more streamlined workflows. “With better tracking and more efficient real-time updates, we will have more control specifically over financial accounting and order processing, among other things,” she says.
Bond says one of the biggest challenges for the company last year was the labor shortage, a problem familiar to many. “In spite of the consistent and tiring struggle, GVPS pulled together in some unimaginable ways,” she says. “We became more flexible in hiring part-time workers to accommodate scheduling conflicts that would have otherwise eliminated them from full-time employment in previous years, and we took customer service and communication to the next level. All office staff also worked in the field. It was a team effort.”
Bond says the company was not only proactive and intentional with customers, but also with employees. “We tried our best to focus on showing appreciation for the loyal employees who still showed up and on time every day,” she says. “Because one of the best ways to work through a labor shortage is to retain the reliable employees you do have.” Through recognizing, celebrating and encouraging the company’s team members, Bond says the company survived the challenges of the last couple years. “Without this teamwork,” she says, “we never would have made it through the season,” she says.