Updated: May 9, 2020
Hiring any kind of home service company can be stressful. calling around to check prices, meeting new people, listening to them talk about how they'll take care of the repairs or maintenance, trying to figure out how knowledgeable this person is, wondering if they'll keep their word, if the company has any hidden fees, and the list can go on. Stressful!
Let's talk about a few areas to keep in mind when hiring a pool professional.
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Pool cleaning pricing is typically billed for in 1 of 3 ways: 1) flat monthly rate, 2) per weekly visit rate, 3) every 4-week rate. Depending on the company, they may charge for chemicals on top of these rates or include chemicals at no additional cost. Honestly, either way, is fine. Chemical is expensive and someone has to cover the cost. With option 1 and 2, you most likely will also be buying a month of service up front. This means, that if you received an invoice on February 15th and the invoice was due by March 1st, you're are paying for service for the month of March.
The weekly or monthly cost to hire a pool pro can be wildly different depending on the area of the country you live in, the size of your pool, and the plants and trees surrounding the pool. For example, where I live in AZ monthly rates average $85 to $95 flat rate per month for a full service each week. If a company is charging per weekly visit, I've heard the price range from $20 to $28 per weekly visit. This means that you're billed for how many weeks that month, a tech will be there cleaning your pool. So, if you a small 12,000-gallon play pool and the company is charging $20 per week, you'll pay $80 for the months that have 4 visits and $100 for the months that have 5 visits. Then comes the every 4-week billing. This one is just as it sounds (at least from the companies I've spoken to), Every 4 weeks you receive an invoice regardless of the day of the month.
Another thing to consider is when the company will be closed down. A lot of pool companies in my area work on a 48-week schedule each year. Yup, you got it, that means they take 4 weeks off every year. I've had some clients tell me, "well that's not my problem, I pay you to be here every week". But what they aren't thinking about is the incredible toll cleaning pools doing pool repairs takes on your body. This is hard work. But, think about this, when you take time off from work, why do you do it? Wedding? Family vacation? Rest? Death in the family? Whatever the reason, people need time away from work. Several companies I've personally talked to in my area take that time for family vacation, to get caught up with office work, and to take advantage of the yearly Pool & Spa shows, free training and other things. Who can argue with their pool guy being trained to be better at their job? Some can be there done that.
What price range should you look for? With anything, there are always going to be the companies that will do things for next to nothing and those that want the most they can get from people. I don't mind paying a little higher price if the quality of work is there. That old saying "you get what you pay for," applies so well to the pool industry. In 2018 I had several clients tell me they were switching to a different service company because they were cheaper ($50 per month cheaper). I don't try to retain those clients and talk them into staying, because usually within 2 to 3 months of summer they leave the cheaper guy and come back. I've done a lot of math in the last 3 years owning my own business, and honestly if a pool company is charging less than $90 per month or $22.50 per week that company will struggle or go under at some point because they can't sustain a solid operating fund for the business, or their quality of work may suffer because they'll have to take on a lot more in order to provide a solid revenue stream. Now in my area, I know several pool companies that charge $120 per month, and they continually grow, and fast! They do quality work, they cover most if not all the chemicals and, if you're willing to pay a litter higher per month some companies will also cover two filter cleanings per year, pretty much only leaving you the worry of when something breaks down (as anything mechanical will do).
Since I wrote this particular post I've been seeing pricing in the industry shift for the good. Pool Professionals are raising their prices as they get more education and realize that the water chemistry is the number one important factor when servicing a pool. That takes more time and chemical at each pool. So the prices mentioned above from a year ago are starting to become a bit outdated. It's not uncommon now in 2020 to hear of companies starting their prices at $125 or higher. I know for myself I've taken a different approach, It's hard to say that a flat rate would cover every pool I show up at; each pool is so different. So now, I when I go a bid a new pool I take much more time evaluating what I see on the property, the pool, the equipment and water quality. I try to determine how much chemical might be spent over the course of a year, plus filter cleanings, and small repairs. I work all that into a grand total and figure out what I would need per month.
There is a big shift in coming, one that has been needed in this profession for a long time. Keep an eye out!
In the next blog, I'll cover aspects of service agreements and why those are important to both clients and companies.