Adding leak detection services to your pool company offerings
By Angela Wakefield
When a customer’s pool isn’t holding water, they probably want to know if you can fix it. There are a couple of options for connecting your customer with someone who can detect the leak. You could subcontract the job or refer them to a reputable leak detection company. Both are perfectly good choices, but maybe you can’t help wondering: Should your company add leak detection services?
Leak detection presents a unique challenge because there are unlimited leak possibilities. It takes a certain kind of person to be successful in leak detection, says Kenton Rivas, leak specialist at Aquaman Leak Detection in Ventura, California. “To do it yourself is a big commitment, but if you’re hardworking and have the time, it can be very rewarding,” he says.
“It’s feasible, but not always practical for every company,” says Steve White, owner of Underwater Pool Masters in West Boylston, Massachusetts, who has been performing leak detection for more than 40 years. Before adding this new service, White says you must understand the commitment. “Leak detection technicians need the equipment, skill and proven track record of success,” he says. “But it’s not just preparation that’s needed. It’s experience. I can’t emphasize that enough: Becoming a leak detection expert doesn’t happen overnight.”
A proper leak detection division in your company first requires investment. It can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for dye kits, to upwards of $15,000 for high-end leak detection equipment. This can include things that measure water-level changes in the pool, different plugs and gauges, and listening devices you may need for locating more complicated leaks.
Before investing a large sum into leak detection equipment, though, Robert Barcenas, owner of Leak Detectives in Sunland, California, recommends training with someone highly experienced in the field. Barcenas has his own leak-detection business, but also works with several pool companies and contractors in his area to train them on how to perform the services themselves. “Having an expert teacher with you in the field is a good way to start,” he says. He also recommends initially only offering leak-detection service to current pool clients so you can work on familiar pools before tackling more difficult projects.
Robert Schaeffer, manager at Bob’s Pools Inc., in Friedensburg, Pennsylvania, offers leak detection, but mostly to the company’s existing customers. “You need volume to make it a viable source of revenue for your company,” he says. Schaeffer says volume is something they don’t have in their geographical location, so they only do leak detection a handful of times each year. “If your business is in a highly populated area, though, it definitely could be profitable,” he says.
Lance Anderson, owner of Anderson Manufacturing Company, which manufactures leak detection equipment in St. Paul, Minnesota, believes offering leak-detection services could be a very beneficial part of a comprehensive business model for pool companies. “Leaks are such a common problem,” he says. “If you want to position your business as a resource for customers who own swimming pools, you ought to be well-versed on how to handle leaks.”
There are no specific certifications or trainings required for adding leak detection as an offered service, but there are some good resources out there. For the past 30 years, Anderson Manufacturing has been providing free information on their website along with articles and field trainings at its facilities. The company serves both leak-detection specialists and pool companies alike to help them learn how to find leaks efficiently, and make profits doing it. White recommends those in leak detection become certified divers and get trained in leak-detection methods to do this job properly. “It can’t all be learned from a book,” he says. “Classroom experience points you in the right direction: Some special companies provide leak-detection equipment and training for leaks underwater, in structures and in piping. But you need to get in the water to be a success in this area as well.”