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Have you ever heard that phrase, "Time is Money?" Yeah, I have too. We all know what that means, but do we actually apply it in our pool businesses? If not, we are leaving money on the table, plain and simple. If you are not as time efficient as you would like, then read along and see if you can't save some time and make more money!
Below we'll work through a few scenarios and see potentially how many pools a day poor time management is costing your company. For easy math we'll use 30 minutes per pool and $100 per month per pool. ]
This one is a pretty simple time-trap to avoid, yet it happens all the time. I'm guilty of it, too. I'll be lazy in the morning and not replace my shock bucket or a dwindled-down bucket of tabs with a full one. I always want to get the day started as early as possible so I can watch the sunset from my house instead of a client's.
Suddenly, there you are, far from supplies, in need of that chemical. Now you're wasting time driving back to wherever it is you need to go to refill your chemicals so you can finish the day. What does this mean for your business? Trying to save five minutes earlier in the day costs you an hour later in the day. In pool terms, we could have serviced two pools in the time it took to drive back and restock a chemical that you should have already had on your truck. Do this a couple times a week and you can see exactly where you're losing money.
On the repair side, how many times have you miscalculated and left yourself short something simple, like an extra fitting or a spade clip? Well, off to your supply house or Home Depot you go. Now that $200 you were planning on making for the hour now is cut in half because you're out running around sourcing something you should have had on your truck to begin with.
Stop and take five to ten minutes to make sure your truck is good to go with what you're likely to need for the day. Doing so will allow you to prepare to accept more unexpected business throughout the day, like estimates, inspections or service calls. We all know how frequently that happens, so be ready for anything!
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It's inevitable: We're going to make extra trips to the truck throughout the day. It's impossible to haul in everything you need every time. The question is, though, are you doing it every single pool, every single day? Most pools, most days? If so, you are giving up tons of revenue potential from those itty-bitty little back-and-forth detours each day. They seem harmless and innocent at the time, until you add it all up on the bottom line.
I've read on countless forums and Facebook groups of pool service men and women doing their first trip to the pool with just their pole, net and test kit in the net.
[Pro Tip: Don't put your test kit in your net. You cut the life of the net dramatically. More nets you pay for equal less money in your pocket.]
Then they come back to the truck and grab their vacuum and brush. After vacuuming and brushing they make another trip to the truck to get their chemicals. Oops, forgot that specialty chemical or magic lube to re-lube the pump basket O-ring. Ideally, we want to make only one trip to the pool and back, so now we are up to three extra trips.
Let's say, on average, a back and forth trip is two minutes. That means we wasted six minutes at one pool. Here in Florida it's not uncommon for a service tech to have 20 pools per day. So that means we've spent up to 120 minutes, or two hours per day, literally walking back and forth with nothing to show for it but worn out shoes. That equates to four extra pools per day that your company doesn't have time to service.
Learn your pools so you can plan on what to bring to them each time. Obviously skip unnecessary chemicals, like lugging chlorine if it's a salt pool. And if a cart or pool caddy can save trips, get one and use it — that's less stuff you physically have to carry. Work smarter and faster, not harder and slower!
Do your GPS tracks look like a bunch of zig zags? Windshield time is a killer of revenue because driving in the pool business does not earn any money. There are a few local companies I've talked to that are in the same five cities every day of the week. That is a puzzle I do not wish to put together. My suggestion to them would be to organize their route so they are in one city on Monday, another on Tuesday and so on. Then they can limit their drive time and take on more pools. They can also be quicker to respond to their customers if they are in the area the entire day and provide service to more pools to boot. When I analyzed my route, I found I was spending an extra 30-45 minutes a day in wasted driving. That's an extra five pools a week, or an extra $500 a month in revenue.
Take a close look at your pools and see if you are crossing paths at all. If you are, rearrange your route to make it as tight as possible. For newly acquired accounts, attach them to the day they are closest to a cluster so you can maximize your pool count, again making you more money!
I hope you can see how keeping your truck stocked, eliminating wasted trips and creating a tighter route can increase both your pool service accounts and your bottom line. If you analyze your business and honestly acknowledge your time efficiency weaknesses, you can improve your revenue.
Erik Taylor, a.k.a. "The Chlorine King" is CPO-certified and owner of Chlorine King Pool Service, Seminole, Fla. He can be reached for comment at email@example.com
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