Automating your pool route backend operations

Automating your billing

As a route broker I get to see how different entrepreneurs run their businesses. I’m somewhat surprised that many entrepreneurs shy away from automating their backend functions. For instance, quite a few business owners still handwrite their invoices each month and drop off them off while servicing the pool. I always encourage business owners to automate as many functions as possible to increase efficiency. By using software like Quickbooks or Excel you are able to better track income and expenses which will result in less nightmares during tax time. Another benefit of ditching the invoice pad is the ability to analyze how you did last year, last month or last week so that you can make changes to your pricing to cover increased expenses. If you’re still charging $40 per hour for repairs then you might want to review your pricing policy. Automation will help you with that. There is no need to spend a lot of money to bring your billing system into the 21 century. If you have a teenager in the house they could show you how to use Excel or you could pay someone or barter for a couple hours of Quickbooks training. The money spent up front could ultimately make you thousands in the form of increased hourly rates or at least less of a headache at tax time.

Taking your pool route to the next level

Bringing technology to your business

As a business broker specializing in routes I encounter buyers that come from other industries who bring unique ideas to the pool industry. On one such occasion the buyer’s background was in the cell phone industry back when cell phones were just coming into vogue in Texas. Our conversation then moved to the importance of communicating with your customers in any industry. He then came up with a simple but brilliant idea. What if you used your customer’s cell phone number or email address to blast messages to them rather than calling each one individually. For those that experienced the freezing weather last December this would have came in handy. You could have sent an alert to all of your customers to turn on their pumps to limit the freeze damage. Or if it’s time for filter cleans you could send a message to all your customers with DE filters. If you wanted to run a special but didn’t want to wait until you mailed out your statements you could just send a message to them instantly. While you wouldn’t want to abuse this tool, it could be a very valuable way to keep in contact with your customers.

It’s always a good idea to talk to other business minded people to learn from them because you never know what you can implement in your own business. Well, I hope you’ve learned something new that will make your business better and more successful. Until next month!

Facebook and your pool route

By now even the most non-tech savy pool guy or gal has heard of Facebook. You know the site that people check constantly when they’re suppose to be doing something productive (I’m guilty). Well here’s a way for your business to capitalize on that 21st century habit. If you haven’t set up a Facebook page then do so asap. It’s free and reaches literally billions of people but I’m sure you’d be happy reaching both your current customers and potential customers in your local area. One of the things you could use Facebook for is notifying your current customers of upcoming pool related items. If there is a freeze coming in the next couple of days you could simply post a reminder to leave the pumps running to avoid bursting pipes or let them know it’s time to clean those DE filters. Once your customers join your page you can notify them of anything. It works both ways too, customers can contact you if they noticed a leak or need an additional cleaning that week due to their upcoming party. You could even post discounts for customers that refer your service to their friends on Facebook. The options are endless and best of all it’s free! See you on Facebook!

How to grow your pool route

As the owner of several businesses over the years, including a pool service route, I learned to focus on maximizing the 4 P’s – that is price, product, promotion, and place – in order to
maximize profits. In each case, the driver of any selection was the customer. So I modeled the successful “big boys” that tailor their offerings to the roughly 20% of customers who generate the majority of sales. However, in advising other route owners recently, I learned it sometimes can be hard to identify or reach your most valuable customers. One answer: online
technology; it can help your business cut through the clutter and reach the homeowners most likely to purchase your services. Here are 3 tips to successful tech marketing:

Acquire Third-Party References. Consumers want to entrust their needs to people they can trust. So they frequently check out a business on, or Better ( to see what others have said about the company. Invest the time and dollars to get ​on these lists and invite reviews on online customer review sites.

Connect online with Clients. People do business with people they know. So create a personal and business site online and become “Friends” on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites with customers. Acknowledge their posted accomplishments and share projects they are promoting. Then when you post your own successful projects, they will be inclined to do
likewise. Not only will you be touching your clients to stay top of mind with your existing customer base but your posts will be seen by the client’s entire online network.

Optimize your Web site for Searches. Small business owners often are so busy servicing clients and handling the day-to-day immediate tasks that they don’t stop to maintain their in-house technology. It’s not enough to have a website. The site should also have regular content updates that speak to homeowners’ needs and new trends in consumer products, usually in blog format. In addition, a potential customer should be able to find you when ready to buy. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. Incorporating SEO will boost your company higher in online customer searches. It involves tagging your web pages, along with the videos, attachments, and images on those pages, with the keywords that current
customers are using to search for your industry’s products or services. In addition, the URL names for each page should incorporate the words that customers use in search engines.

Connecting to customers can be tricky in this age of continuous online updates, 24-hour access to information, and customers who have found ways to bypass traditional media that run advertisements. However, by staying up-to-date with technology and how consumers access the Internet, I’ve learned, you can keep your business top of mind.

By Arif Sealey, a former pool service operator and owner of Sealey Business Brokers that helps owners and future entrepreneurs buy and sell businesses in Texas, Arizona and California. For more information, call toll-free 1-844-POOL-RTE.