This question has been asked many times: Should I Clean My Pool?
STORE VS. PRO, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Every early spring brings us a slew of new requests to “muck out” or “start up” a swimming pool. The calls are obviously from non-customers who saw one of our trucks parked at a clients house, or apartment building, or saw us on the net, trying to get someone out ASAP to clean up their messed up pool. We love the opportunity to educate a prospective client in the “ins and outs” of pool maintenance. We love it so much we offer free consultations most of the time! Of course most pool owners know everything about their pool and pool service, and could teach us a thing or two. So we are left standing there scratching our heads wondering what the heck we are doing huddled together staring at a green, really green, or even worse-brown pool! We understand right away that the client neglected the pool from the exact day the kids went back to school, to the present moment that we were called to the scene. So lets see,..about 5 months!
Now we always hear about all the chemicals they bought from the corner pool store, or worse…the big box store down the street whose first name rhymes with “Dome” or the other one that rhymes with “Moes”. “We use a clarifier, a phosphate remover, some shock, liquid chlorine and tabs, and we don’t know what happened!”they say. And we are standing there wondering how much it costs to turn a blue pool to this beautiful shade of greenish-brown!
All kidding put aside, we absolutely understand that people in general neglect their pool over the fall and winter, and that personal time is at a premium because we are working longer and harder in these poor economic times. So who has time and money to waste running back and forth to the pool store?
Retail pools stores are there for one purpose-to serve the home owner who services their own pool. What is their main objective? To sell you every chemical made and convince you its needed. We have been in these stores and have seen the markup on their products. (WOW-WE’RE IN THE WRONG BUSINESS!) Its not hard to sell a customer $50.00 worth of chemicals because they want an easy solution to whatever issue they are having. Which brings us to the green pool above to clean up the mess.
Recently, we were asked to come out and check a pool that had been neglected since last summer. The client was embarrassed and said he had been taking care of his own pool for years and never had any problems until he ran into some health issues and wasn’t able to “work on it much.” We asked him what methods he used to keep it up before he got sick. He told us that he would go to the pool store with a water sample every week so they could test it and tell him what he needed to do (BIG MISTAKE). He would buy the recommended chemicals and do what they suggested…”seemed to work great for many years!” Upon further inquiry he explained that he spent around $750.00 per year, and $200.00 every spring to “start it up for the season.”
So lets see here…His labor once a week, his time going to the store, his gas, plus the $950.00 per year on chemicals and start up.
Well guess what? Our full service charges beat that hands down!
We weren’t fast enough on the calculator that day to tell him all this, so we drained and mucked out his pool and started it up for him for $200.00. We gave him a special deal because he was in a bind, as we are well known for doing.
Now don’t get us wrong, there is a lot of do- it -yourselfers out there who do it for much less. They also know their stuff about their pool and pool chemistry, but we are always amazed at the amount they spend at the pool store. We have also seen many pool shell problems and equipment problems caused by home owners and pool professionals alike. There seems to be a rash of new pool companies out there that don’t know as much as the homeowner, so the homeowner is better off doing it themselves, which brings us back to the pool store problem.
So what do you do?
If you really don’t feel good about hiring a pool company to service your pool, the best thing you can do is educate yourself against the “pool store gurus”. There are umpteen videos on the internet showing you exactly how to take care of your pool. A word of caution – not all pool men are equal. We recommend that you start with researching the guy producing the video and find out if he is licensed, bonded and insured. This matters more than you think, as the hoops we have to jump through and the serious money we have to put up every year for the license, and to work legally, point to the fact we are serious about our trade.
Quick fact-How many residential pool men are actually licensed? About 10% ! How many do you think have liability insurance? About 25%(Commercial pool service is 90% licensed as it is required by most HOAs and management companies). So do your homework and you will surely benefit from their knowledge. Then take this knowledge to the pool store and buy what you need, not what they think you need. And chances are very good the kid behind the counter has no clue whats going on.
So if you want to take the next step, we recommend you interview and hire only licensed pool pros. There are enough to pick and choose from. Be honest about your needs and expectations and hold their feet to the fire when they disappoint you. Usually you will be able to tell the second they are in your yard if you can work with them or not.
At Pool Concepts Unlimited we pride ourselves in actually answering the phone, following up, showing up on time on the right day, and treating our clients like friends. We will never be accused of not communicating and we make sure you get what you pay for. We are always more than happy to come over at your convenience, for free, and provide you with an expert consultation. This way you can make educated decisions on who to hire, and other options to consider.
So whether you stay at the pool store and do the work yourself, or would like to forget about it and hand off the responsibility to a service company, the key is to educate yourself. Either way you will come out ahead! You will be able to make better decisions on who to hire, or what chemicals you actually need from the store. And if you are tired of the misinformation and feel you are being taken for a ride at your local pool store, call a pro today. You will be glad you did!
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