By Fred Ross, MBA and Michelle Kavanaugh, BA
At some point, you will max out the number of pools you can service on your own. At that time, you must decide if you are satisfied with the current level of your business or if you are ready to scale and grow. For those interested in hiring their first pool service pro, we hope the tips provided here will help prepare you for the next level.
The thought of taking this leap can be truly intimidating. Hiring your first employee is a big deal!
- Am I prepared?
- Do I have enough infrastructure and financial reserves to afford it?
- Will I be a good leader?
There are many ways to second guess this step but don’t let fear keep you from scaling your business if you are ready for growth. The key is to plan effectively to avoid costly mistakes or unplanned expenses. Nothing is a sure thing when you are a business owner, but the likelihood of failure decreases significantly by being prepared.
First, is your business incorporated as an LLC or S-Corp?
If not, that would be the very first step in the process. Deciding on the entity type is a conversation you should have with a CPA or attorney, but an S-Corp will make it easier to sell or give shares of your company to investors or employees down the line.
The three main reasons to set up an LLC or S-Corp:
- It provides legitimacy to your business for banks and other lenders.
- Your employees should receive a check from a company, not an individual.
- It helps protect your personal assets and reduces risk and liability.
Secondly, is hiring a pool service pro a good idea for your business?
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you have revenue and expense projections for the year?
- Have you factored in the revenue and expenses with a new employee?
- Can you even predict what the revenue and expenses will be?
- Will the bottom-line projections work for you?
If the answer to question 4 is a resounding, “no,” it may not be the right time? We must be realistic about the financials, so we don’t go into this new phase blindly. Plus, our goal is success correct.
How Do I Prepare to Hire My First Employee?
✔️ Build a Tight Route
✔️ Manage Expenses
✔️ Build Capital
Build a Tight Route
Building a super tight route not only helps you prepare to hire your first pool pro, but it also results in time and money saved. If you can park your truck in one neighborhood and service four or five pools without having to get back in your truck and drive, you have a super tight route. If you need a recommendation on routing software or apps, refer to Facebook and Instagram groups in the pool industry.
Focus on great service and then ask for referrals from your satisfied customers.
Many business owners are afraid to ask for referrals. Maybe even offer an incentive if they help you book their neighbors on the same street. The offer may need to be substantial at first to encourage action. Offer a month of free service to an existing customer if a referral results in a new customer. Think of it like a neighborhood salesperson who already has established relationships.
The key here is great service as they will not provide a referral if you suck at:
- Showing up consistently and on time
- Communicating with them regularly
- Providing excellent service including regular maintenance but also inspecting for issues and safety concerns and making recommendations
As you prepare to hire the first service pro, you can expect to increase expenses in the form of labor costs by about $5,000 per month depending on your location and job market. To do that, you must prepare for the rise in costs to your business ahead of time. Run the business tight by cutting or reducing any expenses you can.
We highly recommend an accountant to manage your financials and taxes but at the very least, run reports in QuickBooks or code expenses in an app like Waveapp so you can see how much you are spending in each expense bucket. Once you have that information, see where you can cut expenses.
Don’t go out and buy a brand-new truck for yourself or the new hire. You may need to live lean and mean for a while to make this transition.
Once you get the person on board, trained, and working, you will begin to see an increase in revenue. But, for now, reduce expenses so you can save to prepare for this big investment.
You will need to have the capital available to pay for another vehicle, equipment, payroll, insurance, etc.
Hiring your first pool service pro is an investment in yourself and in your company. At the beginning, you are going to take a personal hit on the income but once that person is on board and working, you will begin to see the revenue increase.
You may have to borrow money for expenses to hire your first pool service professional.
Things to consider at this stage:
- How is your credit?
- Do you need a credit repair company?
- Have you built business credit separate from personal credit?
- Have you built a relationship with a lender?
If your personal or business credit is bad, it is necessary to begin the process of repair right away as this process can take 8-12 months. The first step is to access your credit report to see what is on it. Is it accurate? If not, you can either write letters to the big three reporting agencies on your behalf to get it corrected or hire someone to do it. There are many companies that provide this service. Email or call Michelle if you need a recommendation.
We highly endorse building business credit as that is an asset to the company. If you ever plan to sell the business, potential buyers will look at this. It also provides new lending opportunities for your business. The process can take several months so if you are planning to hire in the next year, you should start the process now.
If you have access to lenders now and your credit is good, make sure you maintain your good credit standing. Set up a meeting with a banker to look at options. Obviously, your bank is the first place to start but don’t be afraid to shop around. Remember, they want your business so do your due diligence to find the best rates.
Once you have successfully completed the steps above and have a timeline and plan for hiring your first service pro, now you must hire that person. That is a new set of challenges as pool companies are finding it hard to find dependable and quality employees. Stay tuned for some helpful tips on hiring soon.
Michelle Kavanaugh is the former mission development director of the National Swimming Pool Foundation (now PHTA) and now a business owner that helps pool companies elevate their business so they can focus on what they love and spend more time with family and friends.
Fred Ross is proven pool service company success story as he started as a one-man show and then built his residential/commercial service business to 40+ employees and 2,800+ pools per week serviced by the time he sold it.