New to the Commercial Pool Biz?

Establishing credibility takes time, commitment

How do you build trust to gain commercial accounts? Even for brand-new contractors, establishing credibility with clients has never been easier with online training, review websites and more.

Don Cesarone, Jr., vice president of the commercial division of Van Kirk and Sons, Inc., says that while states have mandatory training for commercial pool operators, contractors who seek continued education will be most successful. His company offers paid training for technicians as incentive to stay updated on industry trends.

“Education is the best defense to ensure you are ready to maintain commercial swimming pools,” Cesarone, Jr. says. “There are several local, state and national organizations that offer classes in chemical treatments, control systems, proper equipment maintenance for filters, pumps, etc., that will help you succeed in commercial swimming pool maintenance.”

Naturally, if customers know a contractor has a firm understanding of codes that govern commercial pools, they will feel more at ease with the servicing.

Anyone considering the commercial side should start by looking at state requirements. Twenty-four states require Certified Pool/Spa Operator (CPO) training for commercial pool businesses. The CPO two-day class requires 14 to 16 hours of instruction, including an open-book, written exam. Recognized nationally and internationally, the course covers critical knowledge, including a section on local and state codes.

Once completed, adding the CPO title to a business card or website immediately builds trust and credibility. It shows a contractor takes his work seriously and follows state requirements.

Further education beyond CPO training is always an option, too. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals offers more than 15 online education courses to keep contractors updated on industry codes and trends.

Getting into the commercial pool business, while lucrative, isn’t exactly an easy pursuit.

“Maintaining commercial pools is not what you see on TV, with bathing beauties lying around the pool watching your every move,” remarks Cesarone, Jr. “It is hard work and by no means an easy job.”

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Aside from the physical labor of handling much larger pools, the required knowledge is also deeper. Unlike residential pools, commercial pools have strict water-quality regulations. Regular health department checks on water quality are an expected procedure for operators.

Thoroughly filling out maintenance logs offers clients peace of mind when local government entities request to see proof of a well-maintained pool. When contractors fill out logs honestly, it keeps clients out of trouble because they can provide solid records of maintenance.

“Some states require commercial pool water quality testing multiple times during the week,” Cesarone, Jr. says. “The logbook can and will be reviewed during inspections made by the local or state health department or entity.”

Starting slowly — apartment or condo pools — is one way for contractors to build confidence and client trust. Keeping public pools properly maintained means pools don’t close — which keeps money in a client’s pocket as well as a contractor’s who continues to do a job well.

Equally important is planning ahead and offering smart suggestions to the client on preventative maintenance items.

While residential pools may have a few dozen swimmers a year, commercial pools may have thousands a month. That means learning about how quickly water must be turned over, and if it isn’t, how contaminants like Cryptosporidium and E.Coli can cause serious health issues to public bathers.

Beyond water quality control, a successful commercial pool operator will stay atop potential safety issues. Broken tiles or a dislodged main drain gate can affect public safety and require a pool to shut down. Catching those issues before they cause harm proves to clients that safety is a top priority to commercial pool maintenance companies — not just money.

Overall, the best way for newbies to improve is to ask for regular feedback. Joining a pool association, finding a successful mentor and requesting client feedback are all ways to hit the ground running.

Above all, honesty goes a long way. Word-of-mouth referrals often end up being some of the best long-term clients. Doing the best work can lead to the best reputation.

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