Panelists share their tips to keeping HOAs and customers happy
David Van Brunt
This one is easy for me since I have been the president of my HOA community — of 108 homes — for the last six years, and I also own a townhome in an HOA complex with a pool. Let me answer it from the other side of the table. If we are looking for a new vendor for pool service, we are required to get at least three bids. This can work in the pool professionals’ favor because we are not looking for the lowest bid but the best bid. A detailed two to three pages with your experience and what you will do each time you service the pool and all the various charges can win. Once you land the account, expect to be there for a while if you continue to provide great service. Most of our vendors have served the community for 15 to 18 years. Once you are a vendor for the HOA, the management company will recommend you to other communities. The HOA will pay you on time, and we also have a sinking fund for needed repairs. Once that time is reached and we need to replace an item — be it the heater, or filter or have the pool drained and resurfaced — the funds should be there. By the way, an independent company sets the common area lifespan for the HOA. Since the homeowners “own” a part of the pool, expect them to treat it much better, and yes, they may be pickier, so keep that in mind. You may ask why I am on my HOA board. I serve for only one reason: to outvote any crazy person who gets on the three-member board. And believe me, there is plenty of crazy in my HOA!
David Van Brunt YouTube creator, podcaster, coach Los Angeles
As a pool service professional, it is essential to be prepared and knowledgeable when dealing with homeowner’s associations. Making the right impression from the start is key to long-term success. Here are a few tips that may help you navigate these situations.
First impressions are important. Look professional and make sure your truck, service and test equipment are in good condition. Also, make sure you have certifications such as the CPO and a contractor’s license. You need to have the certifications, licenses and insurance coverage to do the work.
Before your initial site survey, you must be aware of the essential requirements set forth by the Department of Environmental Health. This includes signage and safety equipment standards, allowed chemistry ranges, criteria for circulation systems such as influent and effluent pressure and flow gages as well as the allowed flow requirements and pressure differential range.
Be ready for urgent reactions to specific types of maintenance and repairs. For instance, if a commercial spa fails to heat up or run properly and an inquiry is made for review or repair, a resolution is expected quickly, not in a few days.
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When creating service agreement proposals, it is important to specify chemical charges separately from the monthly fee. This way, you can account for potential fluctuations in cost due to environmental conditions, bather load and heater or water temperature during different seasons. Similarly to residential clients’ agreements, make sure your service agreement is concise and clear about what is included in the monthly payment — keep it no longer than one page. Make sure not to refer to this document as a contract.
It is advantageous to have references from other HOAs or property management companies on hand in case you are asked for them.
The importance of communication cannot be overstated. If there’s no one in the office to answer calls, make sure you reply or return that call as soon as possible. Many HOAs and property management companies prefer email interaction; regardless of which it is, respond within 24 hours for the best results — but set clear boundaries about when you will answer your phone if there isn’t an office number already established. Remember: Very few pool-related emergencies require immediate attention.
Michael Harris Owner Barrow Pool Service, Inc. San Diego, California
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