Thursday, September 20, 2018

More Pool Guy and Gal Rookie Mistakes - Collecting Money Owed

Making mistakes in business is all part of starting out and learning what to do and what not to do. But if you can learn from someone else who has made every mistake beforehand, the better for you.  So here is part two of the series on Rookie Pool Guy and Gal Mistakes.  I am going to cover collecting money, how long to spend at each service account and more.

Let me start out with collecting money at the time of a job. If you are doing a green pool clean up or acid wash you will want all the money or at least 50% of it before you even start the job. I know asking for all of the money up front can sound intimidating to the customer, but it is better for you and I am writing this for the intent to show you how important this is. Say you complete a $1,000 acid wash and power sanding of the pool surface. You didn’t get any money up front because you trust the client. He says after the pool is filled that he doesn’t like the results. You just spend 2 days on the project and now you have no money to show and you are out the money for your helpers. What is your recourse at this point?

You can badger him to pay, but he continues to refuse. The next step would be to take him to Small Claims Court. There is a filing fee and you will have to give up a day of work to meet him in court. There is no guarantee you will prevail in the case. You can also put a lien on the property but in most states like Ca. you will have to bring a Civil Suit against him within one year otherwise the Lien in unenforceable. So, either option is tough, and you are still out your $1,000. It is better to get at least $500 up front and even better to get the whole amount. Then if there is a dispute you can arrange a partial refund but at least you are holding the money in your hands.

So, consider this when setting up your business. You can have them deposit the money in your PayPal account, leave you a check or cash or open a Square account and get the cell phone credit card swiper and charge their credit card at the time you start the job.  If you get a bad feeling and the customer simply refuses to pay anything up front, just walk away from the job. I would rather not take the chance of getting burned and then fighting for the payment later.

When you set up your company billing you want to also avoid giving away free services. I suggest charging for labor, the maintenance dose chlorine and acid but all other chemicals including 3” tablets will be an extra charge to the customer. This prevents losses from heavy chemical usage as well as losses when the prices of the chemicals invariably go up. This is not nickel and diming the customers but strictly running a profitable business. You charge for everything just like your mechanic does when you take the car in for service. He charges for everything even down to the tire stem caps.

Let me switch gears now and talk about how much time you should be spending at each service stop to remain profitable. If it is a standard 15,000 to 20,000-gallon pool, then 25 minutes should be your maximum time. In Texas where you are servicing 35,000 to 40,000-gallon pools then 45 minutes should be your maximum service time. Any more than that and you start to lose money. To speed up the service account make sure they have an automatic cleaner and proper running equipment. You may also be over servicing the pool by spending too much time vacuuming it when it only needs a spot vacuuming, or the pool may have too much debris in it each week. If you are spending a lot of time at one pool, consider dropping it when you pick up two pools that are quicker cleans. Time is money and you need to get each pool cleaned and checked within a reasonable time as illustrated above.

Half the battle is getting paid for your services and the other half is time management out on your route. Both can really hurt your bottom line and you need to set your business up so that it is profitable by getting paid up front for large service jobs and by not wasting time on one pool or several pools each day. Listen to the complete Podcast for more tips and things to avoid.

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