If you’ve ever taken care of a pool, you know it’s a chore—hours in the sun struggling with equipment and messing with toxic chemicals isn’t many people’s idea of fun.
But the best business ideas solve a problem for someone, so learning how to start a pool business is a great way to help pool owners and businesses with pools solve that very problem–they will gladly pay you so they don’t have to deal with their own pool care!
If you love working outside and using your plumbing, construction, and chemical know-how, you just might be a perfect fit to start a pool cleaning business.
The Easy Parts of Starting a Pool Cleaning Business
Pool cleaning has a low barrier for entry as far as startups go. Pool cleaning doesn’t have educational requirements and it’s pretty easy to learn. You’ll need a willingness to get to work and good listening skills, as well as time learning from the professionals, to make it in this industry. But you don’t need an expensive degree or years of experience.
It’s also inexpensive to start a part-time pool cleaning business, and you can save as you grow your business if you want to scale it up.
In short, a pool cleaning business is a quick way to enjoy the benefits of starting a business– independence, financial freedom, and flexibility.
The Difficult Parts of Starting a Pool Cleaning Business
Pool cleaning businesses are often called out as easy startups, but starting one is more complicated than it looks. Running this business can require professional training and certifications, multiple types of insurance, and advanced chemical expertise.
Pool cleaning is usually a seasonal business, so the fall and winter months won’t generate many profits unless you plan well in advance.
Pool cleaning is also relatively easy to learn and doesn’t pay a lot, so employee turnover can be high. This can make scaling your business tough.
This industry is growing fast and has seen an almost 7% increase in the last from 2016 to 2021. This means that while there is money to be made, there is also a lot of competition.
Some of that competition is willing to work for a lower price. And 42% of small businesses have job openings they can’t fill. Hiring and retaining employees is a big challenge. Some businesses even devote time and energy to training their best employees, who then go on to start pool cleaning businesses that compete in the same neighborhood!
So running a great pool cleaning business requires a competitive edge, smart structure, and careful records to maintain clean and sparkling pools. You can easily accomplish this with the right pool maintenance software, like Jobber.
Step 1: Learn the Business of Pool Cleaning
Cleaning a pool is more than scrubbing the sides of the pool and cleaning out the filter. Whether you’re cleaning pools for a business like a gym or for local homeowners with a pool, you’ll need to learn how to expertly clean a pool.
It’s important to know the details of pool cleaning before you start your business. The average swimming pool costs between $30,000 and $200,000. It’s a big investment that requires constant care.
If a pool isn’t taken care of properly it can become infested with out-of-control mold and bacteria that make a pool unusable. Lax pool care can also lead to expensive repairs because of pitting, cracked pool liners, and corroded lights, ladders, and screws. Pool cleaning equipment can be finicky as well because it’s mostly electric equipment submerged in water.
Many beginning pool cleaners learn by working with a professional pool cleaner. Try to work with more than one pool expert as you train. For example, learning about different types of pools is a good idea because caring for a plaster pool is different from a plastic-lined pool. You’ll want to be able to answer questions about long-term care for different types of pools.
Trade shows and pool chemical supply stores are also great ways to learn the business and build your network. Go to a certified contractor and work with them. This can help you learn the most common problems so you can solve them before they become an issue.
You may want to learn some basic repair skills since you could be maintaining pumps and pool filters. It’s also a good idea to learn about plumbing and electricity, and the materials most people in your community use for their pool decks.
This training will help you get a better understanding of the troubleshooting and surprises you’ll run into with your new pool cleaning business.
There are several different approaches you can take to pool chemicals. Cleaners maintain the average pool with chlorine and other chemicals to maintain the pH of the pool water.
Other chemicals you might work with as a pool cleaner include:
- Cyanuric acid
- Flocculant and clarifier
- pH increasers
So, if you have any allergies you may want to do some research to see how you can make it work.
You will handle some pool cleaning tasks weekly and others only every few months. If you’re in charge of cleaning a public pool, you may be responsible for deciding when the pool can be open or closed.
Storm seasons are also important for pool cleaning businesses since storms can throw plants and other debris in the pool that can damage the pool surface and equipment.
Pool cleaning is a seasonal business in most areas. You’ll be busier during warm weather and will need to organize your schedule around this busy season, especially if you are the one maintaining the pools.
If your pool cleaning business is your primary income source you’ll need to find ways to drive business during the offseason, like indoor pools. Another way to survive the colder months is to expand your warm-weather business by hiring help to clean more pools.
Step 2: Get Your Business Organized
There are decisions to make and plans to research before you launch your business and start cleaning pools. These factors will impact the success of your business, so weigh each choice carefully.
Solo or team operation
Pool cleaning is difficult to scale if you’re cleaning on your own, but it’s a great way to make a part-time profit if you want to run an independent microbusiness.
Pool cleaning is a great way to do active work outside. It’s also an inexpensive way to start a business. If you’ll be cleaning pools on your own, prepare for long hours in the sun and always have water and sunscreen at the ready.
Pool cleaning, maintenance, or both
There are fewer regulations if you want clean pools and not worry about equipment maintenance, but it may be difficult to scale your business.
You’ll also need to decide whether you want to clean private or commercial pools (or both). Commercial pools can include:
- Hotel pools
- Apartment complex or condominium pools
- Gated community pools
- School and park pools
- Pools and spas at fitness centers
Commercial pools get more use so they may need more maintenance, a bonus for your business. They also can bring in a higher price per pool. But commercial pools may require additional certifications or licenses in your area.
Choose the business structure
While some pool businesses are sole proprietorships, you may want to start an LLC to protect your personal assets from liability. LLC Vs. Sole Proprietorship: Pros and Cons can help you decide which business structure is best for you.
Plan your business
A business plan is a good way to pull together your research and help you set goals for the first few years you operate your pool cleaning business.
Choose the right pool service software
Pool service software is helpful when you’re on your own and essential when you expand your team. It’s easy to waste money on gas for your company truck and pool chemicals if they’re not carefully monitored. Jobber makes it simple to maintain finicky pools without losing time from or money.
Pool service software will keep your business organized as it scales. You can use this software for invoices and estimates, scheduling jobs, planning service routes, and tracking client details.
Step 3: Figure Out Finances
Set yourself up to succeed with your new pool cleaning business by setting a budget, choosing your price structure, and planning for accounting.
Make a budget and stick to it
All businesses have some startup costs. For a pool cleaning business, this is more than just equipment. You’ll also need to plan for:
- A business license
- Certifications and certification maintenance
Typical pool cleaning equipment will include skimmers, poles, hoses, chemicals, and test kits. Factor fuel costs and depreciation into your budget too. Some of these are one-time costs, while others are recurring costs that you may want to build into your pool cleaning fees.
If you already have a truck you might want to use it for your business. Besides the required insurance, factor in customizing your vehicle for your business into the budget. Add a rack to keep equipment organized and keep chemicals from spilling. You can also add custom graphics to your company truck for a great branding opportunity.
Choose your price
The national average rate for pool cleaning is $86 a month for weekly service. If you add maintenance and repairs, this rate goes up to $125.
Take a look at each pool before quoting your prices. Offer free estimates and establish a starting price, but since pool shapes, sizes, and complications vary, your prices should too.
Some pool businesses sell supplies and chemicals to pool owners so they can do their own maintenance. Other income streams for pool cleaning businesses include adding landscape maintenance, like cleaning sidewalks, mowing lawns, or weeding plant beds, or pool cover installation.
There is a range of different tasks you’ll do as a pool cleaner, so break down the services you plan to offer. Think about organizing your tasks into packages that make your services easier for customers to understand. Packaging your pool cleaning services also makes it easy for you to upsell these services to the right customers at the right time.
Figure out accounting for your business
You’ll want to create a separate bank account for your business. If your pool cleaning business grows from part-time to a busy team of pool cleaners you’ll also need to think about accounting software and payroll services.
Step 4: Protecting Your Business
Some businesses clean pools in a quick and casual way. If you want to start a viable small business cleaning pools you’ll want to get the required licenses, certifications, and insurance for your state and community.
Check out the certification requirements for pool Licensing in your state For example, if you’re not charging more than $500 to clean pools in California you don’t need a contractor’s license but Florida has multiple classes of swimming pool contractors and licenses. These designations define what types of pools you can professionally clean.
You’ll also need to get certified if you plan to clean public pools and spas or health club facilities in some states and counties. If you want to learn about licensing, the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance website is a good place to start.
Get business insurance
Different states will have different insurance requirements for pool cleaning businesses. You may need to consider the following types of insurance for your business:
- General liability insurance
- Public liability insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Commercial auto liability insurance
- Workers compensation insurance
Step 5: Marketing Your Pool Cleaning Business
Don’t let your business rely on a handful of customers who might move away or start cleaning their own pools. You can protect and grow your new business with a smart marketing plan.
Find your unique selling point
You won’t be the first person who wants to start a pool cleaning business in your area, so you’ll need to figure out what will set your business apart and make it attractive to customers. Start by reading reviews of your local competitors and see what you can improve on.
For some pool cleaning businesses, the chemicals they use are a unique selling point. For example, bromine is an alternative for customers who are allergic to chlorine. Saltwater pools are popular with eco-friendly customers, and they cost less to maintain over time.
Once you have a unique selling point you can build a marketing plan to promote your new business.
Choose a business name
Select a business name that establishes trust. It’s important to stand out, but clever names can distract from your ultimate goal of earning profits by cleaning pools.
Build a website
Most pool businesses operate locally, so you may not think that you need to create a website. But many customers search for local businesses and reviews through sites like Google Business and Yelp before choosing a pool cleaner. It’s a good idea to create and optimize your Google Business listing as soon as you start cleaning pools.
A website is also a useful place to highlight satisfied customer testimonials, share important updates, and connect with complementary businesses for cross-promotion.
While most cleaning businesses will advertise locally with fliers, cold calls, and going door-to-door, you’ll also want to try digital marketing services to build your pool cleaning brand.
Another option is to create an email list. A customer who tries your pool cleaning service for the first time at the end of the season may need a reminder, and email newsletters can help you keep their business when it’s pool cleaning season again.
Home service platforms like Angi, HomeAdvisor, and NextDoor are also great places to promote your pool cleaning services online.
Partnering with pool builders is another way to get new customers. A package deal can save time for new pool cleaning customers. These new clients might think they can just take care of cleaning on their own, but with this partnership, they will quickly see the time your service can save for them.
Step 6: Prepare for Great Customer Service
Most small businesses make the bulk of their profits with return customers and pool cleaning businesses are no exception.
Start with customer service basics, for example, always arrive on time. But great customer service goes above and beyond. Think about educating customers about pool maintenance and personalizing services to impress customers. The client history, note linking, and attachment features in Jobber make it simple to customize service for each customer.
Step 7: Plan To Grow Your Pool Cleaning Business
If you want to scale your business you’ll need to start hiring employees. As you expand your team, think about the parts of running your pool cleaning business that you enjoy and where you excel. Try to hire employees who balance your skills, people who love doing the tasks that you’re not as into.
This guide, How to Hire Employees, can help you understand what it takes to hire the right employees and to understand the business requirements of taking on additional staff.