- June 22, 2020
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How to Optimize Your Pool Maintenance Schedule to Conquer Your Peak Season
Most pools aren’t maintained to a good standard of hygiene. Even established businesses and public pools get it wrong. In a landmark study of over 80,000 public pools, nearly 78.5% had at least one safety or hygiene violation.
As a pool cleaning business, your reputation relies on making your clients’ pools the exceptions to that rule.
As the season starts, you need to get pools open, ensure hygiene and safety, and keep your clients happy. On the business side, you need to optimize your scheduling for multiple clients. The right schedule will save you money on fuel and labor as well as provide more manageable workloads for your technicians.
In this article, we’ll give you everything you need to know to plan your pool maintenance schedule and optimize for multiple locations to minimize missed appointments, reduce mileage, reduce overhead, and increase your revenue.
What we’ll cover:
What is a pool maintenance schedule?
How businesses should schedule pool maintenance
What happens when pool cleaners don’t optimize their schedule
How route planning and optimized scheduling can help your pool cleaning business
How Gallagher Pools conquered their busiest season
What Is a Pool Maintenance Schedule?
A pool maintenance schedule ensures that professional pool cleaners perform tasks at the right time when cleaning a residential or commercial swimming pool.
By performing key maintenance tasks at the right time (such as backwashing your filters), you can avoid future problems with water filters, pumps, and cleanliness leading to algae growth and other issues.
But with a multitude of pools located in various neighborhoods around your area, maintenance schedules can get complicated — especially considering most customers want their pool opened during the same weekend. Your schedule needs to account for customers’ locations, service time windows, unique requirements, and more.
Bad planning and scheduling can get costly — leading to thousands of extra miles on the road and hundreds of extra working hours per year.
How Businesses Should Schedule Pool Maintenance
As a business, you have to consider not just the maintenance tasks you offer, but also the number of your clients, where they are located, and the frequency and schedule of maintenance tasks you’re responsible for.
Here are a few primary strategies to optimize your pool maintenance business’ schedule.
1. Package weekly maintenance tasks for your technicians
These cleaning and maintenance tasks either need specialized equipment or a certain level of expertise to do them well.
Pool skimming: Using a skimmer net to skim the pool for large debris like leaves, bugs, grass, and more.
Scrub pool interior: Brushing the interior of the pool with a pool brush to get rid of dirt.
Pool Vacuuming: Using a heavy-duty manual vacuum to remove algae and debris and prevent algae growth and sedimentation.
Filter Tests: Testing the pressure/flow of your filters to see if they need a backwash, or you need to replace the filter sand or DE (Diatomaceous Earth).
Chemical testing: Testing the water for pH, hardness, alkalinity, and other chemical content and adjusting with chemicals as necessary.
Check and clean pool skimmer: If an inground pool uses an automatic skimmer, you need to clean it and make sure that it’s working as intended.
Pool pump testing: Inspecting valves and testing the flow with a flowmeter to see that the pump is still working smoothly. Make sure that clients’ pumps run at least 8 hours a day.
Emptying baskets & bags: Checking and empty skimmer baskets and pump strainer baskets, as well as strainer bags.
It’s a lot easier to manage your schedule if you package these services together as a single offering, or maybe one weekly and one monthly pool maintenance service.
2. Plan ahead and batch maintenance calls based on location
Do not just randomly dispatch your service technicians on a first come, first served basis. Plan ahead and schedule service calls.
Since most companies now charge a flat monthly subscription rate, your company needs to make the service as efficient as possible to maintain profitability.
Whether your business offers individual weekly maintenance tasks like chemical testing or vacuuming, or you sell a complete cleaning and maintenance package, you need to batch clients together by location.
That way, your technicians can handle a higher number of clients per day, with much less time on the road.
Weekly planning for regular maintenance calls will help you not just keep your clients’ pools clean, but it will give you a better understanding of technician availability and capacity. That makes it a lot easier to take on new orders like pool openings and repairs during the height of pool season.
3. Tackle the seasonal pileup of pool openings and closings
Since these tasks happen once per season and tend to take a couple of hours, it might seem like area-based batching won’t make as big of a difference here.
But by improving your workflow and planning, you can better deal with the heavy seasonal demands around Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Start marketing your pool opening services before the season starts, and scheduling as many pools as possible ahead of the peak rush.
As the pool season gets going, the less time your crew spends driving or waiting on customers, the more pool openings you can handle.
4. Coordinate pool & spa installations
These jobs are less seasonal and often utilize a separate group of workers than your main pool care technicians.
But if you, as an owner-operator, spend too much time scheduling less valuable gigs, you’ll have less time to talk to and close potential customers that are worth much more to your company.
5. Use smart software tools to help
Manually looking up addresses in Google maps, and trying to figure out the most efficient routes to drive would add hours of management work every single week.
Instead, you can rely on a smart route and schedule planner like OptimoRoute to ensure that your technicians improve their mileage and working schedule.
OptimoRoute will automatically group locations by date range, available dates, order type, and even specific time windows — for example, if the pool owner prefers the maintenance to be done in the early morning. It also factors in the required skills, qualifications, and gear needed for the job, technician’s working hours (to reduce overtime), starting locations (if they have their own van), and lunch breaks.
Using a smarter tool also requires less experience from the managers and dispatchers, making it easier for small business owners to outsource planning. A worker can create an efficient schedule with little local knowledge or company experience.
What Happens When Pool Cleaners Don’t Optimize Their Schedules
Anything less than an optimal schedule means that your company isn’t performing to its full potential. Pool contractors often struggle with small margins and lots of competition, so that’s not something you can afford.
1. Inefficient fuel use.
You and your staff use more gas when you’re routed poorly.
2. Fewer clients serviced
Failure to schedule effectively leads your company to service fewer clients per staff member, making your business less profitable.
3. Unhappy employees
Pool experts often have to work 60-70 hour weeks during peak season, and many struggle with stress during these times. More driving equals more hours on the job and more stress.
4. Poor planning leads to no one being at home and missed opportunities
If you don’t schedule and follow exact time windows for your service calls, your technicians will often arrive when the customer is out of the house.
5. Inability to effectively deal with cancellations and rush jobs
When you maintain schedules manually, it’s challenging to re-task a field crew after cancellations or rush jobs. You have to consider everyone’s location, working schedule (including overtime costs), customer terms, and dozens of other factors.
6. Hours wasted on manual planning
As an owner-operator, you have more important business tasks to do than micro-manage and oversee every minute detail of your technician’s schedules.
How Route Planning and Optimized Scheduling Can Help Your Pool Cleaning Business
Without a system, you are stuck planning and scheduling jobs by hand without being able to account and re-configure for any on-the-ground changes or your drivers.
Route planning can help your pool cleaning business in a variety of ways — from getting more maintenance calls done, to saving money on gas to lowering the workload and stress of your employees.
1. More customers served and increased revenue with the same workforce
Your technicians will spend a lot more time on revenue-generating activities. Less time on the road means more time spent working on pools. Plus, with real-time ETAs and automated notifications by email, you can ensure that your customers answer the door every time.
That means no more last-minute cancellations or missed appointments.
You will be able to serve more customers without increasing your workforce, leading to increased revenue and healthier profit margins.
2. Less gas and time used
On average, each client will be cheaper to service, both in terms of fuel usage and labor costs.
You can use the increased profit margins to pay for more advertising or invest in more equipment to expand your services.
With OptimoRoute, Gallagher Pools & Spas was able to save 8,000 miles in monthly mileage, and reduce the driving time of technicians across the board.
3. Better workloads for employees
Less time spent driving, and better planning makes it easier to establish balanced workloads for the entire team.
OptimoRoute even has workload balancing and overtime management tools, which makes it even easier to achieve.
Better workloads mean healthier and happier employees, less likely to quit their jobs or create bad customer experiences.
4. Easier planning and better customer service
With OptimoRoute’s automated tools, scheduling and route planning is up to 8 times faster than when doing it manually. All you have to do is import your orders, and OptimoRoute takes care of the rest — accounting for time windows, required skills, working hours, starting locations, and more.
It also factors in lunch breaks automatically, and predictable breaks can help alleviate workplace stress for your workers. Stress is the number one cause of absenteeism, so reducing it can help keep the number of sick days to a minimum.
During the rush to get their pool ready, the last thing a customer wants is to have their pool opening delayed, postponed, or canceled. With more efficient routing and scheduling, you can better meet increased demand during peak season, and avoid losing customers to competitors.
As an operator, you will also have more time to dedicate to interacting with concerned customers and solving problems on the fly.
This article originally appeared on optimoroute.com.