Pentair’s software aims to make life easier for pool builders

Pentair’s Pool Builder software, an integrated business management platform — including web and mobile apps — designed specifically for pool builders, has an unorthodox origin story. 

Tommy Reynolds, a software developer and PPB’s creator, had no experience in the pool industry but got the idea while having a pool built at his home by Cypress Custom Pools out of Houston. Several weeks into construction, he realized his dog had been mistakenly let out a few times. 

“At that point, I asked my builder, ‘Hey, do you have anything I can put on my phone to let me know when you guys are going to be there?’ ” When the builder told him he did not — and in fact, didn’t really know of anything like that in the industry — Reynolds’ wheels started turning. 

From there, a deal was struck between Reynolds and Cypress. If the company liked his software, it would provide a discount on the pool. 

After working on the software for a few months, Reynolds brought in an industry expert with a background in service and maintenance who agreed this could be something special. The builder shared it with his Pentair rep, and eventually, the concept made its way up the chain at Pentair. The company invited Reynolds to meet at the end of 2018, and after testing the software in the Texas market for about a year, Reynolds was asked to come on board full-time to interview builders, develop the strategy and push the product into a larger market. 

Throughout the development process, Reynolds concentrated on one idea: simplicity. 

Our focus is not trying to be everything to everyone. We’re just going to be what pool builders need.”

Tommy Reynolds, Pentair

“Our focus is not trying to be everything to everyone,” he explains. “We’re just going to be what pool builders need.” 

To know exactly what pool builders needed, Reynolds talked to builders across the country. He kept hearing that while builders knew they should be doing something different, they just didn’t know what or have confidence in their abilities to do it. 

“Everything that you see has been inspired by some builder someplace,” he says. “And that’s the beauty of it — [builders] get to help influence what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.” 

The thoughtfulness and intention put into designing the software were a big hit. “Before PPB, we primarily used Evernote and spreadsheets,” says Beth McDaniel, owner of Southern Charm Pools in the Houston area. “We like that [PPB] was developed for the pool industry with careful thought and input from the pool builders in the pilot program.”

With this builder input, Reynolds introduced features like custom messaging templates, so notifications can easily be sent to contractors, customers and internal staff. There are also options to put a camera on the job, which improves communication and increases accountability. 

Jim Drury, sales manager at Preferred Pools of Houston, says the software has amplified its job tracking and boosted production. 

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“Superintendents can load pictures each time they visit a site or when the camera options are installed,” Drury says. “Customers, management and subs can keep an eye on production and also review and ensure safety procedures and protocols are being followed.” 

The software consolidates several systems by providing tools for estimating, job costing, sales, project management and more. It even integrates with Quickbooks. All these features help make it a “one-stop CRM” that merges construction and accounting, Drury says.

McDaniel also appreciates the system consolidation the software provides for Southern Charm Pools

“We use Pentair Pool Builder for our customer relationship management, sales leads and pipeline management, the entire pool building project management, work order management and partially for job costing,” she shares. “We try to be as paperless as possible, and all of our documents are all in one location and quickly accessible in the field or anywhere else in the world.”

There are a few customer-centric features, including a mobile app to help customers track their jobs. The software also keeps an audit trail of events on the job, so customers can be aware of exactly what is happening. For companies like Southern Charm Pools, these features increase efficiency because progress can be tracked across departments, McDaniel says.

If builders are still hesitant about where to start with the software or simply do not have the time, Pentair offers professional services to install and set up everything to that builder’s specifications. 

“Our goal when we offer professional services is to take care of all the heavy lifting and then give [builders] the keys and train them on everything that they are going to be using, as well as how to maintain it,” Reynolds says. 

After the training and setup, Preferred Pools of Houston has seen improvements. 

“It has streamlined our business and made tracking our customers and production much more manageable,” Drury says.  

McDaniel has seen a similar effect for Southern Charm Pools. 

“[PPB] is critical to running our everyday operations,” McDaniel says. “It is a means for our team to communicate with each other and document anything and everything about our projects — before, during and after the pool building process.”

The automation offered by Pool Builder is helping to solve problems, which is what Reynolds and Pentair are aiming for — offering not just manufacturing and products but also solutions for pool builders. 

“We’re really getting the message out and trying to help builders,” Reynolds says. “We’re not claiming perfection. We’re just saying that we want to see how we can help… At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is give [builders] a better quality of life.” 

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