By Will Monroe, Howard’s Pool World / willhpw@embarqmail.com

The service side of our industry is all about repeat, ongoing business. Once a pool gets dialed in, repeat service is less about the actual pool and more about the relationship with the pool owner. In Florida, we only have a few months of face time to establish trust in-person as many of our clients are gone most of the year. This doesn’t mean that a relationship can’t be formed. Assuming a service tech understands the fundamentals of chemistry and equipment, their primary focus should be establishing a bond with the client.

First impressions matter. The appearance of your vehicle is often the first thing the client sees. Your fleet is free advertising and name recognition. I am stunned at how many of us are driving beat up vehicles and aren’t putting the company name and license numbers on the trucks. Let’s get those rusted bumpers replaced and keep your chemicals separated and cargo organized. I can’t tell you how many clients have called us because our trucks are neat, clean and have our number on it.

The techs should look professional and presentable as well. Greeting a client by name makes them feel important and conveys that you are familiar with their needs. If it’s a first-time meeting, make sure you do an actual introduction of yourself and shake their hand. Eye contact and listening is important, so take those sunglasses off and the ear buds out. Just a few questions to the client can set them at ease, such as how often and who is using the pool. I always ask if they have any special concerns or needs. Keep in mind that the first meeting is where they want to know what you know, but you want to convey how much you care. I try to follow the principle of, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Pets are a great way to endear yourself to the client. Pet the dog and learn its name. If you can win over the dog, the customer will usually follow suit. Many of our techs carry dog treats and use them liberally once they ask if its ok to do so. You are on your own with parrots. They freak me out.

Once a relationship is established and the tech has become part of the family, you are in. The techs will earn forgiveness for mistakes to the point where the homeowner won’t even let our office know about it. Loyal customers will take off pool blankets, turn off water, etc. making service visits quicker. Tips are a huge bonus for the technicians and a great motivator for establishing rapport. Be careful not to go too far. Relationships should not undermine
your own team and company. Our staff are trained to never say anything bad about another company and especially another employee.

Our office stays in constant contact and supervisors still pop in so that customers know they have a team on their pool and not just a person in a truck. Our office checks in with clients regularly to stay ahead of any issues and to keep the relationship fresh. We report issues found at customers’ houses even if they aren’t pool related. This is us showing we care.

We have earned a large base of loyal customers by focusing on relationships. The pool is the topic that we discuss the most but it is the relationship that makes us successful. From passing our trucks on the road to getting a bill from our office, the client has a choice. It’s our job to make them want to be in a relationship with us and to never question that decision again.