Almost three years ago I wrote about “The New Normal” for commercial pool professionals – the pressure of too much business, too few employees, and customers who expect too much, too quickly and for too little compensation.

What’s happened since then? Certainly all three of these conditions still exist today, but now we’re contending with even more challenges as we enter the busy summer season. Consider these issues:

-Commercial pool owners and managers are beholden to social media reviews, whether they are posted on sites such as Trip Advisor or Yelp, or on property-specific pages – most large HOA’s and condos have a Facebook page for their community center or pool. Here’s a typical scenario: Your service professional left the property at 7:30 a.m. and it was perfect – chemistry is right on, filter cleaned, tile scrubbed and the pool surface vacuumed and brushed. By 9:30 a.m., guests have tracked sand onto the steps, the “waterproof” sunscreen is all over the tile, and someone’s grandchild is complaining about stinging eyes. So it’s terrible, and it’s all your fault, and someone has already posted a terrible review of the pool, its management, and your service on social media. Is your customer service team prepared? Consider having your pool techs take a photo of the pool before they leave the property and having a conversation with each commercial customer about their expectations and your responsibility to head off problems. It also helps to have a few happy clients and friends at the ready to post positive comments about your company to quickly move the unfair negative reviews off of the first page!

-More and more, maintenance staff employed by the property are making repairs to piping, pumps and other systems WHICH THEY ARE NOT LICENSED TO PERFORM! Recently a maintenance person at a Daytona Beach hotel installed an incorrectly-sized pump motor he bought online (he told his manager the larger motor would clean the pool better!) and when the motor overheated he blamed us for not cleaning the filter often enough – never mind that it’s a seven-days-per week service account and we have photos of each filter clean! It didn’t take very long for our customer service team to show the hotel manager what went wrong and why the few dollars their maintenance man tried to save ended up costing them hundreds, not to mention closing the pool again (see item 1 above). They will be calling us in the future for repairs.

Education is the key. Help your customers understand how they save money in the long run by using only trained, licensed, FSPA member professionals to maintain and repair their pools. And get involved in their social media programs – that’s the new normal.