What Would The Perfect Pool Guy Look Like?
The swimming pool industry is uniquely challenging for many reasons. Seasonal fluctuations, grueling working conditions, high stress and high stakes situations
combined with a specialized construction trade that crosses almost every boundary - design, heavy equipment, concrete, plumbing, electrical, steel, carpentry and water
chemistry to name just a few. Unless you work in the pool industry you can not appreciate the challenges that we face day to day. So much so that the industry
segments itself into different categories such as construction & installers, renovations, service & maintenance and retail sales. Once you have had first hand
experience in this industry you can appreciate just how many different aspects there are to learn if you want to have a complete understanding of the pool industry as
From a human resources perspective the swimming pool industry is a logistical nightmare. In seasonal areas you need dozens, if not hundreds of employees, for part of the year only. These employees also need to be trained for task specific duties and must be uncommonly reliable and honest. In the field employees are needed to have unusual strength and dexterity - everything in the pool industry is oversized, awkward and heavy. Field workers need to be able to work in all climate conditions which in and of itself is a huge problem that most people could not overcome. Turnover rates are high for new pool workers as the intensity of the work is very high and causes most people to wash out. Since it is so hard to find good workers I have decided to build a profile of what the "perfect pool guy" would look like.
The perfect swimming pool worker needs to be strong. Almost everything in the pool industry is oversized, awkward and heavy. Any type of work that relates to concrete is extremely physically demanding whether you are running wheelbarrows, placing, raking, floating or finishing concrete. There are countless times where you are working on a jobsite and you suddenly realize that you need someone as strong as three regular strong people. Employing someone that can replace the forklift when it breaks down is super handy!
More than just lifting heavy things, having grip strength like a gorilla training for the gorilla Olympics is useful for taking out winterizing plugs and twisting out stuck return eyeballs. Need to bend rebar? Hire a guy who bends 15 mm on his head and financially benefit from his freak genetics. Just be sure to feed him as people with this much muscle need to eat every 18 minutes to maintain their size.
There are many pool industry workers that work between 80 to 100 hours per week during busy times of the year. In places where there is not as much of a seasonal variation it is not uncommon for salary employees to work up to 3000 hours per year. Extreme and demanding work hours such as these require a level of endurance that the average employee will not be able to give. If you are looking for the perfect pool worker then try recruiting endurance athletes as they will be the most capable of keeping up.
16 hour days of hard work, heavy construction or high stress is enough to make the fiber of your being ache. Your bones feel like they must surely all be broken and you are so tired you are sure you have not slept in a week. The perfect pool guy would be able to shake off all of these problems and still be there by 5:30 in the morning the next day and be ready to go again.
One of the most defining factors of a great pool guy is honesty. There are many times where a simple mistake can be made, and hidden, and the ramifications of the mistake might take days or weeks to notice. A great example of this would be with a new vinyl liner in a swimming pool. If an employee drops a tool onto the liner and pokes a hole in it they may choose not to tell you if they are afraid that they will get in trouble. This means that the customer will be the one to notice the problem and you will have to make return trips and waste time and money looking for leaks in the pool.
The perfect pool guy would be totally honest and reliable. Cutting corners or hiding small mistakes can turn into huge, costly mistakes down the road. If you are trying to hire the perfect pool guy for your company than you should be asking questions during the interview process specifically designed to test honesty.
While working on a swimming pool may not be as difficult as rocket surgery there are still many reasons why the perfect pool guy needs to be smart. Building pools and setting grade elevations requires math, as does designing the hydraulic system for a commercial pool, and that does not even factor in advanced water chemistry, leak detection or any one of many other jobs that you need to have your head on straight to accomplish. Pool work is not all about manual labor - not at all.
The perfect pool guy would need to be smart and think quickly on their feet. Their superior intellect would assist them with solving difficult problems in the field. The main problem is that once a pool guy gets too smart they realize that they should not be working on pools in the first place, and leave the industry.
Tireless Work Ethic
If a person is lazy they will never make the perfect pool guy. A perfect pool guy would be tireless, likely fueled on a diet of Red Bull and Monster energy drinks. If you want someone who can productively operate a shovel for 16 hours per day then you will have to look far and wide to find someone with that level of work ethic.
No part of swimming pool work is easy and anyone looking for an easy ride is going to wash out of the business within the first week. People with great work ethic are very easy to find - they are usually employed somewhere else at the moment until you are able to find them and drag them back to your company.
Not Be Climate Sensitive
If you struggle with heat and humidity during the summer months then there is no way that you should become a pool guy. Almost every hour of the entire summer sun is soaked up by pool workers since they work almost every day, and almost all waking hours. This means that when it is hotter-than-hell outside you need to be able to regulate your work and keep moving. The same goes for chilly mornings where you need to chip the ice off of the pool just to be able to get a water sample.
Swimming pool work is not for the feint of heart. The perfect pool worker would need to be able to exist, and work productively, in all horrible types of weather conditions all while resisting the urge to "accidentally" fall in the pool to cool off for a few minutes.
Lungs Like Aquaman
Having a person on your staff that can hold their breath so long you would swear they can breathe underwater is extremely useful. Changing hydrostatic relief valves while the pool is still full, or changing broken main drain lids, would become a much easier task not to mention the leak detection benefits. The only thing better than having Aquaman on staff would be trained leak seeking dolphins that you can dump into a pool - outfit them with some freaking laser beams to have them able to seam weld the vinyl underwater.
Just don't let OSHA know about the dolphins...
Common sense tends to be lacking on the average jobsite. To rectify this problem it is great to have someone on staff who is wise, experienced and excels at critical thinking. The perfect pool guy would need to have all of these qualities in order to handle any unexpected situations that may arise.
In his infinite wisdom, the perfect pool guy would be a natural leader and through valor in the field others would follow them faithfully. With experience comes the confidence to tackle any problems, resolve conflict and expedite the pool installation process. There is only one question which he can not answer - which came first, the pool or the pool builder?
The truth is that the "perfect pool guy" or "perfect pool gal" does not exist. We are all imperfect beings and the best that you can hope for is someone who takes the job seriously, and shows promise that they would like to become more involved with understanding the business moving forward. The swimming pool industry is far more complicated than people might initially believe and for those who like to learn the pool industry can be very rewarding. Or on the flip side you can just hire an army of completely untrained and unskilled high school and college kids and hope for the best.
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