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The Ugly Truth about This Pool Service Business…

(aka: “POOL SERVICE MARKETING 101“)

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Most of my newsletters focus on the “construction” side of the business.  But today, I’d like to talk about that other mainstay of our industry — Pool Service.  I’m being perfectly frank and honest when I say “There is an ugly truth….”  But I’m going to tell you how you can leverage this “ugly truth” to your benefit, at the expense of any sleaze-ball service providers who are giving your industry a bad name.

First, to put things in perspective let’s think about another “service” industry that most all of us can relate to –the MOVING industry.  When you think about hiring a moving company, do you feel joy, comfort and happiness? Or do you get a mental image of a smelly, sweaty guy with tattoos and bad breath, and a secret desire to cheat you out of your money?

Most of us think of the latter.  In fact, when hiring a moving company, most of us are expecting one or more of the following to occur:

  • They will be SCARY-LOOKING people.
  • They will show up LATE.
  • They will try to CHARGE YOU MORE than they promised in the original bid.
  • If they break something, (which they will) you’ll have to JUMP THROUGH HOOPS to get reimbursed.

This doesn’t mean that all moving company employees are scary-looking crooks. It just means that we humans tend to expect and fear the worst when it comes to “service.”  And here’s why – We’ve heard the horror stories. Besides, the moving industry is a “hands-on” human-driven activity that – like any human-based activity – will be 98% perfect, and 2% “oops.”

“But hey,” you might say, “if that’s what all homeowners are worried about, then the moving companies should just say ‘We won’t be late,’ and ‘We don’t use scary looking people‘?” And you know, that’s actually pretty good advice.  But what do most moving companies ACTUALLY say? Open any Yellow Pages book, and you will see the same thing, over and over again:

  • “Local!”
  • “Long Distance!”
  • “Commercial!”
  • “Residential!”
  • “Free Estimates!”
  • “Professional service!”

And then they’ll show you a picture of their truck, just in case you weren’t aware that they have a truck…. Nice. Meanwhile, has this done anything to boost your confidence, and allay your fears of an ugly, nasty experience with a moving company?

Nah, I didn’t think so.

And that brings us to the ugly truth about pool service.  This general attitude of “not trusting service people” is rampant throughout so-called “blue-collar” service industries. In fact, if you ask your local BBB, they’ll tell you that Movers, Roofers and Construction companies in particular are constantly vying for the top spot on the BBB’s list of “worst offenders” and “most complaints.”

And yes, these boys are dragging you down with them. Most homeowners that you hope to talk to have already decided they don’t trust you – long before they’ve ever met you.

So if you want to break free from this ugly “no trust” anchor, then you’ll have to stop ignoring “the elephant in the room.” Use this “ugly insight” to give yourself an advantage, and separate yourself from all your competition.  Here’s how:

(1) “Talk About The Elephant” –  You know it’s there, and the homeowner knows it’s there – so why hide from it? Your conversations should start sounding more like this: “Hey, I know there are a lot of sleaze-ball service companies out there.  But we’re different, and let me tell you why…

(2) “Set the Standard” – Simply acknowledging the problems isn’t enough. You’ve got to talk about what you do differently, so that those problems are much less likely to occur.  For example, you might offer one or more of the following:

  1. “On-Time Guarantee”
  2. “Uniformed Technicians”
  3. “Price Guarantee”
  4. “No Hassle Satisfaction Guaranteed”

When you set the standard, suddenly, everyone else has to try to prove that they are as good as you.

(3) “Publish Your Standards” – Talking about your standards is good, but it’s much more powerful when you put it in writing.  That’s why you need to publish your own “Code of  Ethics” and/or “Workmanship Standards” for all the world to see.  I recommend you to display them prominently in your office, on your website, on your invoices if possible, and even on the backs of your business cards.

(4) “Put Some Teeth into It” – This is probably the hardest part to commit to, but if you want your standards to have impact, you’re going to have to prove to the public that you’re serious about it. And you do that with guarantees.  Now I don’t expect anyone to give away service for free, but that’s probably not necessary anyway.  It could be something as simple as a “10% discount if we miss our 2-hour window.”

By the way — If you happen to be a member of IPSSA, then you’ve already set yourself apart from most of your competition. Unlike most of your competition, you can proudly say:

  • I’ve got a backup team to cover my route if I ever get sick or take a vacation.
  • I’ve got liability insurance, so if I get hurt, you don’t have to worry about lawsuits.
  • I go to advanced training every year, to make sure I can make repairs better, faster and cheaper than the next guy.  (In fact, I had to take a test before I was even eligible to join IPSSA!)
  • And I have to comply with a strict code of ethics to stay a member of IPSSA.  If I get caught breaking the rules, I’m immediately expelled from the group

Now, suddenly, the “ugly truth” is pointing a crooked finger at the OTHER guy, and YOU’RE the guy everybody wants in their backyard. And that’s what you want.

To your success,

Brett


2 Responses to “The Ugly Truth about This Pool Service Business…”

  1. very good,

    thanks,

    Mike

  2. Thanks for the good advice. I like the idea of publishing the standards.

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