Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Pool Contractor Was Too Busy For Service

During boom times many contractors avoid service work. It's small dollar. It's a pain. It involves too much management of those pesky employees. The big bucks lie in the big projects and equipment sales.

Yet service work is profitable and steady. When times are tough, installation and project work slacks up while service continues. By the time most contractors realize the value of service, it's too late. Let me give you an example.

After we built our pool, my wife and I were a little intimidated about maintenance. Neither one of us had ever maintained a pool and had no idea what was involved. We were ripe for a pool service pitch.

Instead, our pool contractor informed us, "You don't have to use a service. You can do this yourself easily. I'll show you how."

And he did. He showed us how to test the pool. He showed us how to maintain the right pressures, when to clean the filters, and how to clean the filters, pump, and skimmers. He explained about shocking the pool, how to do it, when to do it, and why to do it. He told us the best place to buy chemicals and recommended taking pool water to this store for analysis if we ever had problems. He explained everything we needed to know.

Not once did he remotely hint that he was interested in providing pool maintenance for us. In fact, he wasn't remotely interested. He was too busy selling and installing pools. The big bucks were in installation, not service.

But what if he took a different approach? What if he built the cost of the first year's maintenance into the price of the pool? He could say something like, "Matt, I want you to enjoy your new pool. Don't worry about anything. For the first year, I'll maintain it free of charge."

How could I refuse? Even if I was charged extra for chemicals, how could I refuse? I couldn't. And when the year was up, what then?

Panickville! "We can't maintain the pool," my wife and I would say to each other. "We don't know anything about it. How much will it cost to have the pool contractor keep doing it?"

If the contractor built 50 pools a year and captured the service on half, over the course of the ten years since our pool was built, he would have a maintenance base of 250 pools. Using some back of the envelope calculations, that would likely result in six figures of gross profit. Plus, when it was time for resurfacing (costing thousands) and equipment replacement (thousands more), he would have a lock on the work. Through the years, he could suggest additions to the pool and backyard, ranging from fountains and waterfalls to built-in backyard grills. Some customers wouldn't be interested, but others would.

Alas, the contractor who built our pool was too busy. He was too busy then. Today, he wants us to pay him to maintain our pool. Is he crazy?

1 comment:

  1. Great Advice!!

    It always amazes me how many contractors overlook this very simple process. The name of the game today is to provide more value to your clients and this is a perfect way to do it.

    As you also pointed out this gives you the ablity to keep in touch with your client...your top of mind when ever something comes up in your field. It's really a win win situation for everyone involved.
    Great post...keep up the great work
    Matthew Shields