How To Get A Pool Guy To Actually Call You Back
What is wrong with people in the pool industry? Why doesn't anyone return phone calls or voicemails? If you own a swimming pool these are the types of questions that you might find yourself asking. Many pool owners have discovered how hard it is to find someone reliable...someone responsive. So what is the problem here? Is the pool industry filled with callous jerks who delete voicemails from both existing and potential customers by the dozen on a daily basis? Well, yes, largely, but that is not the only problem.
My favorite comparison to use for swimming pools is to compare to cars and the automotive industry. I find that this parallel really helps to put things in perspective for pool owners. A swimming pool is like a car, in that they are both big, expensive pieces of technology with many interactive moving parts that require ongoing maintenance, repair and periodic overhaul. When you build a car there are dozens of specialists involved in the process. You have the mechanical engineers who designed the car, you have the scientists who tested various aspects of the performance of the car, you have dozens of manufacturers of individual components from motors, to tires, to batteries. There are also human resource managers that oversee production, and the production line workers themselves - welders, electricians, quality assurance inspectors, automation specialists...and then there are car sales people, diagnostic mechanics, oil and lube technicians - the list goes on and on.
When it comes to pools we are all just "pool guys" or "pool gals" but in reality the landscape of the industry looks much more like that of the automotive industry. There are swimming pool engineers, and pool designers, plumbing and hydraulic specialists, steel workers, concrete finishers, leak detection specialists, hardscape construction and heavy equipment operators, repair and renovation technicians, maintenance and cleaning technicians, doctors of chemical science, moonlighting firemen, hot tub salespeople, gas fitters...when you call and leave a message for some local pool company you looked up there is a distinct chance that you are asking someone with a doctorate in chemical science to come and pressure wash bird crud off of your pool deck...and I am guessing that they have better things to do with their time.
If you want your phone call returned from a pool industry professional then follow this format:
1) Greetings, followed by your first and last name, city, and phone number.
2) What type of pool you have (or want to have).
3) What services you are looking for.
4) Establish your timeline and current stage of the project.
5) Repeat first and last name and phone number one more time.
Hello, my name is Steve Goodale and I am located in Paris Ontario. My phone number is 1-888-818-7665. I have a vinyl liner pool that is older and needs a new liner installed. I have received other estimates already and I am looking for one more estimate. As soon as I have your estimate I will be ready to proceed with signing the contract and paying the deposit to get things started. Again my name is Steve Goodale, and my number is 1-888-818-7665.
This is a message that will get a return phone call...at least from the types of companies that would be interested in installing a new liner.
What the average pool owner might not fully appreciate is just how busy pool companies get during peak parts of the season. I remember in the late 1980's watching my uncle erase his entire answering machine which was flashing "99" over and over. Incredulous I asked about all of the people trying to reach him. He laughed and said the important ones will also call back in the afternoon.
By the end of day when we got back to the shop the machine was flashing "99" again. During peak seasons the call volume in busy cities is not high. It is unsustainable. The population of my old stomping grounds is around half a million. In this area there are about 20 or 25 legitimate pool companies. Maybe another 75 small or part time companies, one-polers, and people who only peripherally work on pools.
Not every house has a pool here, but 100,000 pools in my area seems easily plausible and you could quadruple that number if I cared to expand my service area to also include the next city over. That is 100 companies, maximum, to service 100,000 pools that ALL want to open the pool Saturday or Sunday of the May long weekend. Pool renovations ONLY happen April and May or Spetember and October because nobody wants the pool to be out of service during our short, hot swimming season. When I worked in technical support for a major pool equipment manufacturer I would take a live call during the busy season, and during each live call I would receive between five to ten new voicemails.
So in closing if you want a call back from a local pool company you need to make sure you look into what that person or company does, specifically, call well in advance of when you need the services performed, and leave a detailed voice message as described above. You will get a call back.
Messages That Every Pool Pro Gets
I have a toll free phone number on this website, 1-888-818-POOL but the most common calls and voicemails that I get are all from people who live in California and are looking for various pool services. I had no idea why this was happening on a daily basis until I found out that 818 is the area code for the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles California. People would just google "pool companies" and see "818" and just assumed I am in their area and call and leave a voicemail without actually noticing that I am NOT a pool company, I am a blogger, and also I am located in Canada. These are the same people that complain when you don't call them back, or more that they would, but they can't remember which pool companies they called because they called every last one they could find. Again, this is part of the problem but not the only problem that pool companies deal with over the phones. Let's take a look at some of these common voicemails that all pool professionals get.
Voicemail - Hi you gave me a quote last year for a pool renovation. I want to talk to you about it so give me a call right away.
Why you didn't get a call back - I would have called you back but I have no idea who you are and I definitely did not give you a quote for any services of any kind. Your voicemail shows me that you are such a mess that you can't even keep straight who is who from all the pool companies you are talking with. Professionally my time is very valuable and if you think you talked to me, but I know you did not, you will not be getting any of my time with a call back.
Voicemail - Hi we are thinking of getting a pool. Maybe gunite, but maybe fiberglass. My husband wants a vinyl liner pool but I really want a trip to Spain instead. Call me back!
Why you didn't get a call back - You are what we call "tire kickers" in that the swimming pool buying process is usually a longer one for most people since it is such an expensive addition to your home. While I understand that people will need a little hand holding through the process to navigate the steep learning curve to owning a new pool, again my time is very valuable. If this call came during the slower parts of the season you will get a call back. If the first warm day of spring hit you and you started thinking about going swimming, I am too busy working on pools right now to call you back and help you fantasize about swimming pool ownership.
Voicemail - Hi my pool has been closed for seven years. It is a little green and needs to be vacuumed.
Why you didn't get a call back - Do you think you are fooling me? I fix pools for a living. You don't think I know what kind of disgusting swamp you have in your backyard right now? I am going to be fishing neighborhood pets out of the bottom of that thing and I am going to smell so bad that my wife will make me sleep on the couch in the garage for a week. That is supposing I don't get MRSA or flesh eating bacteria in an open cut. Just a vacuum huh? How about you just be honest about the situation if you want me to call you back.
Voicemail - This is Bob. Call me back.
Why you didn't get a call back - Hey Bob, voicemail does not charge by the second so feel free to give me a few details about your situation, or where you live, or what you are looking for, or even if you have a swimming pool and this was not in fact a misplaced call as you were trying to reach your sister Agnes on her birthday. If things are slow then I might have called you back but if you left that message on a busy day that is a guaranteed delete on my end.
Voicemail - How much for a new pool? Email me your best price.
Why you didn't get a call back - Okay first of all before I can even begin to answer a question like you asked I need to qualify and quantify exactly what you are asking for. It normally would take hours of direct consultation and follow email and phone calls to determine what you are looking for so that I can begin the quoting process for you. Either you vastly under appreciate what it takes to get a pool installed, or you are really not serious anyway, but in either case you are not the kind of customer that I want. Delete.
Voicemail - Hi I think my pool is leaking. How much is it going to cost to fix?
Why you didn't get a call back - A leaking pool is a complicated step by step process that involves clear communication between the pool owner and the pool company, and there is no way to quantify how much it will cost to repair a leak until you know what is leaking. Your pool leak could be $150 as a flat rate for a visit from a technician who solves your problem upon arrival...or it could be that you need an entirely new swimming pool and it will cost more than $50,000. The only thing I know for sure from this voicemail is that you are not well researched and it will take a lot of time to educate you as to what it means to have a leaking pool, how you go about finding and fixing the leak, and what it costs.
Voicemail - My last pool guy has been ripping me off for years. He comes every week and I told him to clean the damn skimmer but he left chlorine drips on my deck and now the pump won't prime after he was the last one to touch it. I am going to sue him until his children are court ordered to wash my car on the weekends. Call me back.
Why you didn't get a call back - That is gonna be a no from me. I would literally rather do anything else than talk to another pissed off pool owner who is bursting with hate at the seams. If you are already melting down during the initial voicemail to my company I have very low expectations of you being the kind of customer that I want to add to my portfolio.
Voicemail - Hi, I am flipping a dilapidated old house and need the pool drained, tiled, painted, filled, balanced and heated by 3:30pm today.
Why you didn't get a call back - House flippers have a terrible reputation in the pool industry. Every part of installing and repairing pools revolves around trying to justify to the pool owner why they should invest in a better long term system. This is true for equipment, interior finishes...pretty much all parts of pools. People who are flipping a house tend to have no concern for the long term ramifications of certain repair and remediation processes in lieu of whatever is fast and cheap and makes the pool look good at least for now.
You might just think that I am some grumpy, old, jaded pool guy who no longer has the patience for customers with silly questions...and for the most part you would be right. But that does not change the truth that the pool industry is sharply divided and chances are that you need to put in a little more effort to finding the right type of pool company for the services you are looking for. Once you have the right type of pool company, and you call well in advance, and leave a detailed and descriptive voicemail, you are almost certainly going to get a call back this time. For more brutal honesty thinly cloaked as satire you can also read these funny articles from Swimming Pool Steve:
Inflatable pool toy makers have gone too far!
6 Things you should NEVER say to your pool guy
Customer profiles you will encounter while working in the pool industry
Common personalities that work for every pool company
Famous people who could have been great pool builders
Celebrities who would be terrible at maintaining their own pools
Common mistakes that pool owners tend to make
Swimming pool myth VS. facts
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