How Service Techs Can Use Automatic Cleaners to Their Advantage

Service technicians who incorporate robotic and battery-powered pool cleaners into their daily maintenance routines can gain an additional five to 10 minutes in a client’s backyard.

Savvy pool maintenance companies can increase their revenue streams by having their technicians take some time to look around the client’s backyard for additional sales opportunities. Rather than waiting for something to break, maintenance professionals should look for ways to enhance their client’s pool experience and, as a result, earn more income by selling them products such as pool cleaning tools or replacing incandescent and fiberoptic lighting with new light-emitting diode (LED) lights. That said, one way to gain a little more time in the backyard is to incorporate robotic and battery-powered pool cleaners into daily maintenance routines. By doing so, this equipment can give a maintenance technician an additional five to 10 minutes in a client’s backyard to look around for supplementary sales opportunities.

Getting started

A client will typically pay a set fee when they sign up for a maintenance program which usually includes cleaning the pool, checking the water chemistry, and ensuring all of the equipment is working properly. The success of these programs is generally gauged by the number of pool owners that sign-up for them with the goal being to maximize the number of pools serviced per day.

The ability to obtain as many clients as possible in a tight geographic area is not only one of the best ways to optimize the use of time by maintenance crews, but also one of the easiest ways to maximize a maintenance professional’s revenue per hour. That said, clever maintenance technicians also realize the importance of not rushing through a service call as other potential revenue opportunities could be missed—especially if there is not enough time to look around the pool.

Time is money

Robotic pool cleaners are a perfect example of a technological advancement that can buy time for maintenance professionals. Rather than spending an excessive amount of time removing debris from the pool floor and scrubbing other surfaces, a robotic cleaner can be used instead, which frees up time to check on the equipment and other essential components.

Many maintenance professionals also carry hand-held battery-powered cleaners in their trucks to spot clean specific areas of the pool where dirt often accumulates (e.g. steps and cuddle coves).

“Most of the pools we service are near the beach and are always filled with sand,” says Chris Morelli of South Strand Pool Maintenance in Surfside Beach, SC. “We have a staff of six and five of them regularly use a commercial-grade, battery-powered pool vacuum as they work well to get sand out of pools.”

Using this type of vacuum not only saves the service crew time but also allows them to clean more pools, faster.

“This is especially important for our business since most of the pools we service are summer rental homes and we clean the pools between renters. As a result, we may end up servicing one pool three or four times in one week,” says Morelli. “Once we started using these vacuums, we had a lot more opportunity to pursue other business. We spend at least 20 percent less time per pool when using this equipment as opposed to a traditional vacuum with a hose, which also takes a lot of time to set-up and put away.”

Backyard Vacations Pool & Equipment in Medicine Hat, Alta., is a construction company that also offers pool maintenance service to its customers and benefits from using automatic pool cleaners.

“We are so busy with construction projects we need all the extra time we can get,” says the company’s Russell Koch. “Using an automatic pool cleaner on maintenance calls is especially important when I’m working on several pools in the same geographic area. I put the vacuum into the pool and return four hours later. It only takes 20 minutes to drop it in the pool and take it out, but I still get my full base rate for an hour of work.

“It would take at least an hour of work if I had to remain on-site to vacuum the pool and clean it manually (not to mention the need to backwash and clean the cartridge filters),” says Koch, who also incorporates the use of hand-held battery-powered vacuums when opening and closing pools—especially when there is a need to remove large debris and leaves.

Dan Lenz of All Seasons Pools in Orland Park, Ill., agrees and says his service technicians can save at least 10 minutes per pool when using these vacuums. The extra time offers them the chance to talk with the pool owner about upgrading to a salt chlorinator or maybe installing a variable-speed pump (VSP). It also gives technicians more time to complete detailed notes about the maintenance call as well as list other products that may need to be replaced on the pool (e.g. old fibreoptic lights) and relay the message back to the shop.

“We service more than 6000 customers annually; saving 10 minutes per pool can yield incredible profits just from replacement products alone,” says Lenz. “The top three leads which come from our service technicians include replacing old fibreoptic lights with new LED lights; upgrading pumps to VSPs; and installing salt chlorine generators.”

Out with the old, in with the new

Replacing old equipment or parts is one of the top revenue streams for All Seasons Pools’ service department, which is the company’s largest division. When a service technician has time to inspect the pool and backyard and sees the fiberoptic lighting is not working properly, or that it is emitting a very faint glow, this opens the door with respect to contacting the pool owner and explaining the benefits of having an LED lighting system installed. This presents a multi-channel sales opportunity as the client can be sold not only on the benefits of energy efficiency but also how the improved lighting will enhance the ambiance around their pool at nighttime.

Further, once the pool lighting has been upgraded, it becomes easier to start other conversations with the client about automatic control systems and other automation devices that will improve their pool experience. Automation systems have become a huge revenue stream for most pool companies as the product simultaneously builds loyalty among customers, as it helps to simplify their pool maintenance responsibilities and allows them to enjoy their pool more.

Koch says the top replacement product his company sells is salt chlorine generators.

“I set the expectation with clients that this equipment is a convenience item, not a cost-savings product. It improves the swimming experience, but salt units need to be replaced fairly often which is a great revenue source for us,” he says. “Replacing salt generators yield much greater profits for our company than cleaning pools, but being in the backyard with an automatic cleaner allows us to check on equipment like this and/or install new units.

“By using an automatic cleaner, we can clean the pool while replacing the salt chlorine generator or even work on building a shed or gazebo. As a construction company, we have master carpenters who can do many other projects while the pool is being cleaned.”

Show and sell

According to Koch, his company has sold several hand-held, battery-powered vacuums simply because pool owners have seen his service technicians using them to clean their pool steps.

“Stairs always have junk on them and pool owners need or want to do spot cleaning on their pool between weekly maintenance visits,” he says.

Selling robotic cleaners to customers has become more commonplace for Lenz as well.

“Once customers see their service technician use a robotic cleaner and realize it is as simple as plugging it in and tossing it in the pool, it becomes appealing for those who want to keep their pool as clean as possible between maintenance visits,” he says. “We have found 90 percent of our robotic pool cleaner sales come from our existing customer base.”

Koch has also had success selling robotic pool cleaners to his clientele, as more than 50 percent have purchased a unit after seeing the service technician use one.

“I’m happy to sell them the pool cleaner because it maintains our relationship with the customer with regard to other business,” he says.

Further, to keep his customers from buying the cleaner online, Koch says he will service any cleaner they sell; however, he will not service one that was purchased elsewhere. This not only keeps his customers happy, but it also keeps them loyal to his business.

Create more time this season

Those service companies which have not already incorporated robotic and/or battery-powered cleaners as part of their maintenance routines should do so to give their maintenance technicians some extra time in their customers’ backyards this summer.

Once implemented, a contract or post-service follow up report can be created that lists add-on products to alert clients of any additional items they may need or might enjoy on their pool—whether it is simply new rails, an energy-efficient pump, or LED lights.

This article was written by Guy Erlich and originally appeared on Pool & Spa Marketing [link].