"You Can't Do That, Brian"

A long, long time ago in a far, faraway place called the San Fernando Valley, I was chided by my boss with those words. I had dared ask to be paid by him to take apart, clean and reassemble filters. I was being paid $3.25 per visit to clean the pool and check and balance the chemicals. The "boss", I guess owner of the company would be more accurate since he paid me as a subcontractor, also expected me to clean the filters as part of this service. I had asked to be paid $5.00 to perform this filter service and told him to pass the cost on to the customers and mark it up as he saw fit. Win/win situation, I thought.

"Well,when you get your own pools, Brian, THEN you can do that!" he followed.

I decided right then and there, that I would work towards having my own pools. I had a friend who did new pool startups for a construction firm who started selling me accounts that were out of his way in a city in a nearby valley called La Canada Flintridge. Turns out that there was a pool store there in the 70's that WAS charging to take the filter apart! It was possible. AND, they were charging 25 bucks plus parts to do so. So, I charged 35 for my personal accounts. Back then, everything was included, chemicals, filter teardowns, adding water to the pool, you name it. And my old boss was charging 25 bucks a month to his customers for pool service. So I charged 32.50.

Soon, chemicals and liquid chlorine became too expensive, so I stated selling buckets of chlorine tablets and feeders to my customers, explaining the benefits of not experiencing pool man shock when the serviceman tries to add enough bleach to last until the next visit. No one had a problem with it, except fellow pool men. "You can't do that. Brian" was the response of the majority of pool guys. But I just did. The same held true for billing in advance and other changes. It's YOUR company.

Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I recently moved to Carlsbd in San Diego County. I am now doing leak detection and creating an organization of pool repairmen to help out the service guys with repairs. I'm meeting a lot of nice folks. I asked one guy that I met how his business was doing. He said, "Great now, but summer is a killer with all those chemicals I have to buy." of course I asked why he didn't just charge for the chemicals? Guess what he said.

"You can't do that, Brian"

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  • Wanna bet? Just watch me. Here I'll do it again, and again. Oh look at that I did it again.

  • Keep on maverickin', Brian.

  • Great Story it fits soo many pool guys/and gals :-)

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  • Back in 1997, I told my boss that I was going to quit and start my own repair-only company. He said, "You can't do that Clint. You need a route to generate repairs." Well, come forward to now, his company is gone, but mine is doing fine. 

  • Hey Brian-

    Great story, and I like the way you think!  No need to compete with the "splash and dash" guys when you can provide true service and attention to peoples pools.  There are still a good amount of folks that appreciate quality work and are willing to pay for it.

    Give me a call some time (760.535.8411) and let's grab a sandwich.  I'm in Escondido, so it's a nice drive over to Carlsbad from here!  I can use a good leak guy!

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