Give Your Service a Competitive Advantage

By Michelle Moser, Sapphire Pools of Florida, Inc. / michelemoser33@gmail.com

One definition of competitive advantage is “a condition or the circumstance that puts a company in a favorable or superior business position.”

After years of working in the pool service industry, I have learned “condition” or “circumstance” can be many different things when relating to competitive advantage.

It could be that your technicians who perform the pool service are very skilled and more experienced than others. It could be that your repair team is strong, efficient, and organized. To create the circumstance of having skilled, talented technicians, you could advertise job offers on websites with job listings. You could run ads on social platforms. Once you have responses you would need to dedicate sufficient time to meet with and interview the responders. You may find candidates are affordable, or you may have to agree to pay more than you are comfortable with to hire the best talent. Putting time into finding the right people could create a condition or circumstance which will give your company a competitive advantage.

Once you find the right people, a condition often overlooked is human support. Supporting the people who work hard performing the services each day gives your company a competitive advantage. Pool service is a labor-intensive job. It is tiring, hot, and sometimes dangerous. Supporting your team constantly will let them know you care. Be ready to help when a technician needs it by listening, problem-solving together, and offering suggestions and possible solutions for problems. With the right support, a pool service job can be the most fulfilling type of job. Having a team of technicians who feel supported and are proud of their work will give your company a competitive advantage.

Another “condition” or “circumstance” of competitive advantage could be that your maintenance and repair team is conditioned to respond properly to the customer’s need. By allowing technicians to train with the manufacturers of the parts and products available in our industry you create salespeople in the field. Many technicians have personal contact with the property owner once a week; even more at commercial pools. When asked if there is a “better way” for the pool to stay warm, or a “quieter way” for the pump and equipment to operate, the trained technician can smile and say, “Yes there is!” Having educated technicians will give your company a competitive advantage.

Being competitive means your pricing for service must be in line with the customer’s budget. Adapting to the customer’s budget could mean negotiating the monthly or annual rate for their service. Potential customers will always disappoint us by telling us the rate they “want to pay.” Sometimes we can agree to be competitive with our service rates and in addition offer quarterly, semi-annual, or annual preventative maintenance services which can create more revenue for that service account. Sometimes to be competitive you need to be creative. Being creative will give your company a competitive advantage.

Innovation is the key to competitive advantage. Examples of innovation include Energy-saving pool heaters, variable-speed pool pumps, UV systems for disinfection, and wireless pool/spa automation. Most of the manufacturers of these products offer PDF brochures which can be downloaded on their website and emailed to your customer. One technique you could use to help educate the customer and grow sales is to email one or more brochures that introduce new innovative products to the customer. The brochure defines the purpose of the product. It also highlights the features, cost savings, health benefits, etc. Many customers enjoy reading about the options for their pool and equipment. You could also explain in the email that most innovation still requires professional pool service for routine maintenance, inspection, and calibration. This information could be easy to recall in their email for future review. If they do not immediately purchase from you, they may come back to you when they are ready to purchase.

Promoting innovative products for the customer can create your competitive advantage.

At the end of the day, and the end of the week, it is exhausting to earn a competitive advantage. If you are not paying constant attention, it could mean you “missed the chance” to hire that talented person, or to sell a product to that eager customer. Do not beat yourself up. Make a list of goals and try to stick to them. If you reach all your goals, then make a new list of goals. The sky is the limit, so enjoy competing to your own advantage.