Operating a commercial pool is a thankless job. It takes time, money, and hard work. It also takes knowledge, discipline, and commitment.
With this in mind, you can imagine the desire to give the whole sack of potatoes to someone else... hire it, done... write a check and "be done with it"... make it someone else's headache.
As appealing as that may sound, it really doesn't work that way. Those who tried to completely sub-contract& their pool operations are now "taking control" back in record numbers. Want to know why? Read on.
Here are 5 top reasons that many KSI customers have found great success with going in-house for their pool operations.
- The Health Department requires 7x per week chemical supervision with recorded log sheets. Having “seven days a week” service is uncommon and quite expensive! Customers with a 3x per week service and whom did not have their own in-house service and log-keeping program for the other days are in violation of written codes. If you hire a company 3x per week, and handle the rest in house, then you already have the structure to possibly go "100% in-house".
- Customers have learned that they cannot "assign" pool-related liability. That means, if there is an issue, customers found that the plaintiff went after THEM and their organization, not the pool service contractor. That makes sense- your organization has deeper pockets, and per Health Department code your organization is legally responsible to maintain a compliant pool operation regardless of what strategy you employ (for example, California Code of Regulations Title 22, Division 4, Chapter 20, Section 65501(f) - check your local code).
- California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) requirements require that California public agencies post every job over $1000 on the DIR website, and that the contractors on these jobs pay prevailing wage and post certified payroll with DIR. This requirement, which began being zealously enforced this year, has increased the cost of hiring contractors to service public agency pools. This has drastically effected the cost to bring in an “outside” contractor to operate these pools- under DIR requirements, the pool service company must pay their service person the prevailing wage of just under $50 per hour! If you and your service company are following these DIR wage requirements (and public agencies must comply with DIR), that means the 40-hour/week out-sourced pool operator must be paid close to $100,000 per year. That is what the service company must pay their employee- and then charge you enough to stay in business, cover overhead, and attempt to make a profit. With DIR requirements, most public agencies can no longer afford to hire a private service company to run their pools.
- We hear this over and over again. The best way to keep control and quality in your operations is to take control of the process. Sure, you can always call and complain to your pool service subcontractor, but who is in control? Customers mentioned that THEY are in the front line fielding complaints from their customers and watching the damage to their equipment and reputation happen.
- Responsiveness: If their pool was not to their standard, customers were able to instantly respond. If they had an aesthetic, mechanical or chemical issue, they were able to handle the problem ASAP. As a result they were able to keep a more compliant pool and better protect themselves and their patrons.
- Do you have a task you don’t have the tools or training to do, like annual service on your pool heater or filter system... hire it, done. Your guys are going on vacation, get some temporary help. Don't like to scrub the tile... hire it, done. But don't hand all the keys to the castle to an outside company.
- According to our customers, the difference is this: is it your game plan or theirs?
- Being in-house gives you the flexibility to take good care of your customer- while still subcontracting the dirty jobs or the jobs that require specialized training to a sub-contractor. They will have the skills- and they will have the parts right on their truck.
- A customer once told us "Just because you write a company a check, doesn't make them a professional". We are always surprised with the number of service companies that are either unfamiliar with or do not follow even the most basic pool care practices.
- Check to make sure that any support company is licensed, not merely a CPO (Certified Pool Operator) or AFO (Aquatic Facility Operator).
- Customers have mentioned that they can attract and retain as good as or better personnel as they are being given on a service contract. And now with DIR requirements for public agencies, hiring your own personnel is significantly less expensive than contracting with a service company.
- Customers have been appalled at the poor care given to their equipment room, equipment, and other assets by some sub-contractors. Perfectly good chemical control and feed systems have been abandoned or even removed from the property. Perhaps the service company did not understand the equipment; perhaps they were looking for an excuse to sell something you really did not need. Equipment rooms have been left in total disarray, heaters have been destroyed, and the copper from the destroyed heater has gone on to stain the pool. Then customers have been proposed a replacement heater at full retail value... talk about the wolf guarding the hen house!
So these are the known issues as reported to us over and over again. But what can you do about it?
Get a helping hand:
- Know the requirements: Contact your local Health Department to get a copy of the codes pertaining to public pool operation.
- Get Certified: KSI offers comprehensive 2-day pool operator certification courses several times each year. Our “Pool School” not only provides a means of receiving nationally-recognized pool operator certification, but provides a forum led by industry experts to discuss best operating procedures from a hands-on perspective.
- On-site guidance: KSI has been assisting cities, schools, resorts, HOA’s, waterparks, YMCA’s and many others to go in-house for over 35 years. Contact our service team and we will train you on how to operate your circulation, filtration, controls, chemical treatment, treatment, and code compliance systems.
- KSI and its service partners can provide complete factory certified PM services to keep your heaters, UV, pumps, and treatment systems at peak operating levels, so your staff can concentrate on more pressing issues. Depending upon your needs, we can schedule monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual PM to keep your pumproom running better and longer.
While not every service company is as bad as described in some of the above scenarios, the overall level of care appears to be below acceptable standards. The more qualified, higher quality companies cost a bit more thus don't get as many jobs as the cheaper guys, and so mediocrity prevails.
DIR requirements have changed the way that public agencies approach servicing and maintaining their infrastructure. With job posting and certified prevailing wage payroll reporting, the cost of contracting an outside service company to run your pool has gone through the roof. Most public agencies simply can no longer afford to hire an outside contractor.
The most successful aquatic facilities have developed a path that insures their future success- they have their own personnel take care of the day-by-day operations, and they know when to bring in the experts for the big or technically-complicated tasks. It only makes sense- and it saves dollars and cents that can be better spent when truly needed.
Sound complicated? It's actually quite simple. Since 1977, KSI has assisted our customers in developing successful pool care game plans. Call your KSI rep today and start right away! After all, there is no better time than now to "take control" of your pool operation.