How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business

How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business

The pool cleaning industry may provide the perfect business opportunity for people who love nothing more than working outside and helping homeowners enjoy their pools. When you own your own pool cleaning business, you get to set your own hours and enjoy the flexibility of being an entrepreneur.

But you can’t just jump in with both feet. Doing your research is the key to becoming a successful business owner, and you don’t want to overlook important details. For example, as a pool cleaner you may have to deal with strong chemicals—and that can require certification.

This primer covers many of the ins and outs of the pool cleaning business, as well as how you can get started.

What to know about pool cleaning before getting started

Due to factors like COVID-19 forcing everyone to stay home, as well as an increase in interest in exercise and the value of swimming, pool installations have increased globally.

The European market for pools and spas exceeded $1 billion USD in 2019 and continues to grow. Globally, the swimming pool construction market is expected to exceed $7 billion by 2027.

In the United States alone, the installation of at-home pools has increased significantly over the past few years. In fact, the number of new pools installed in 2020 rose by 21% over 2019. Along with this growth in pool installation has come an increased need for pool cleaners and servicers.

In fact, according to the latest IBISWorld research, pool cleaning in the U.S. is an $8 billion industry. This opens up tremendous potential for those interested in working with pools as a pool cleaner. This career path requires considerable hard work, but can be very rewarding.

To be successful, you’ll have to know about more than just how to clean a pool. You  need to understand the science behind the different chemicals involved in keeping pools safe and ready for use. You’ll also need to know how to manage pools throughout all the seasons.

As you put this information to work, you can build your clientele and the number of pools you serve. You can also seize educational opportunities to receive training in pool maintenance and repairs. Offering these additional services can help you further build your business and increase your hourly earnings.  

When you start to bring in more clients, you can then hire a team to help you manage the busy seasons and eventually grow into managing your own business. This is what can help you to grow from $14 even up to $60 per hour.

At the heart of this process lies hard work, excellent customer service, and a desire to learn just about everything you can about pools.

How you can start a pool cleaning business

Starting a pool cleaning business offers an exciting and enjoyable career path, but to increase your chance of success you’ll want to consider these  steps.

  1. Make a business plan
  2. Set a budget
  3. Understand the laws and regulations
  4. Acquire permits and licenses
  5. Get the necessary equipment
  6. Implement marketing strategies

1. Make a business plan

A good first step in starting any business—including a pool cleaning business—is to make a business plan. Your business plan lays the foundation of your business, so it should emphasize a few key parts.

First, consider what you’ll offer as a business and who your target audience will be. For example, will you offer services to hotels and commercial pools or only private homeowners?

Investigating your market and determining your niche is an important step in starting your business. This will guide everything from the type of supplies you buy to how you advertise your new business.

You can start by investigating what other businesses offer in your local area. Do you have a neighborhood with a lot of personal pools? Do you see these homeowners spending their own Saturdays taking care of their pools? That’s a potential market.

You also might want to consider businesses. Many hotels have pools, as do spas and health clubs. Who takes care of these pools in your area?

You can look at what current businesses offer and see where you can set yourself apart. You might offer basic maintenance and repairs in addition to cleaning. If most of the businesses seem to travel to your area from other cities, you might be able to offer greater convenience and proximity—you can be there quickly if they have a problem with their pool.

Once you know your market, you can move on to other questions.

How will you accept payment—for instance, will you accept credit cards? And will you run this business full time or part time?

Also consider details like your business name and registration. Your business name will impact your marketing strategies, and you may need to register to open a business bank account, among other things.

Finally, you’ll need to decide on a business structure. This will influence liability, taxation, and ownership. Some common business structures include a limited liability company (LLC), sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.

2. Set a budget

Next, you should heavily consider your budget. You should know how much pool cleaners charge in your area; your rates need to be competitive. You should also know how much money you need to get equipment, certifications, insurance, and any other business maintenance costs.

While you may be able to get your business started for as little as $2,000, your final number will depend on a variety of factors. Don’t forget to consider expenses like:

  • The cost of a branded vehicle to transport you to jobs
  • Fuel to use your vehicle
  • Advertising costs

Your final total will depend on what you have available to you when you set out to build your business. If you already have a truck or trailer you can use and some basic pool cleaning equipment, you may have fewer costs than someone who has to start from scratch.

You’ll want to differentiate between startup costs and ongoing expenses, such as restocking pool water test kits and chemicals you’ll need to maintain your business and gas to fuel your vehicles. You shouldn’t neglect even seemingly small items, such as sunscreen. It can also be hard to stare for hours at a time at water in the sun. You’ll want a good pair of sunglasses that are preferably polarized.

You should compare operating costs with the amount you can charge customers so you make a profit. Since you’ll have to manage your business’s taxes, you’ll want to make sure you understand how to document everything related to business expenses.

This can all sound very challenging and overwhelming if you’re not an accounting expert. Fortunately, Upwork’s Project Catalog can connect you to the best independent accounting and bookkeeping professionals who can help you draft a budget and keep track of your expenses and profits—making tax filings a breeze.

3. Understand laws and regulations

Of course we can’t offer legal advice, but we have a few tips to consider. You may want to research the laws and regulations that impact pool cleaning businesses in your area. Many areas have restrictions concerning who can call themselves a licensed pool cleaner.

For example, you may be able to charge more for your services if you get certified by an organization like the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. This requires taking a test to become a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). In earning this certification, you should acquire an in-depth understanding of pool chemicals, the levels that make a pool safe, and how to keep the chemicals balanced, as well as how to store pool chemicals.

You should also understand how business insurance works. You may need general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance to work lawfully. You might also need to get bonded and fingerprinted.

If you aren’t sure how to meet the laws and regulations in your area, consider working with freelance legal consultants. They can help translate any legal text, draft needed documents, and provide expertise to help ensure you’re operating legally.

4. Acquire permits and licenses

You’ll want to be sure you’ve secured all of the important certifications and permits for your business. Some things you may need include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Pool contractor license or pool serving license
  • Business license
  • Service agreement
  • Business insurance policy
  • Certified pool/spa operator certification

5. Get the necessary equipment

You’ll want to make sure you have all the necessary materials and pool cleaning equipment needed to operate a pool cleaning company. Some things you’ll need include:

  • Cleaning chemicals. You’ll need pool chemicals to treat and clean pools. Know where you can purchase chemicals (in bulk), how you’ll store them, and how to use them properly and safely.
  • Water test strips and kits. These kits allow you to quickly and easily test the chemical levels and pH of the pool. This will tell you if the pool levels fall within the recommended range or if you need to adjust the chemical levels.
  • Pool shock. Pool shock is used to quickly raise chlorine levels to kill off pathogens. It’s used to make sure the pool remains free of contaminants, and you’ll generally need to apply it about once per week to pools or if the water is compromised in some way—such as someone getting sick in the water.
  • Algae brush. An algae brush is used to give the pool a good scrubbing if you start to notice any growth around the edges.
  • Telescopic pole. This pole allows you to reach deep into the pool to clean out debris that might be between the surface skimmer and the vacuum that runs along the bottom. It can also help you reach across the pool.
  • Pool cover. A pool cover helps protect the pool and prevent debris from falling in. Many homeowners cover their pool during the off-season or if they know they’ll be away for a while.
  • Leaf skimmer. A leaf skimmer collects leaves and other debris off the surface of the pool. This helps limit the amount of debris that floats into the filters and keeps the entire pool cleaner.
  • Pool vacuum. A pool vacuum collects dirt and debris that collects along the bottom of the pool. People, toys, and the wind all bring dirt into the pool, which can collect on the bottom. A pool vacuum works similarly to a regular vacuum and helps suck dirt out so the pool floor stays clean.
  • Filter cleaner. The pool filter gathers dirt, debris, hair, dead bugs, and more. Clean the filters with a pool filter cleaner to keep them working well. This reduces any buildup on the filter and gets rid of anything that gets stuck.
  • Multi-purpose surface cleaner. Stains can emerge as the water sits in the pool—even with properly balanced and maintained chemicals. Surface cleaner spray cleans the buildup along the wall water line that comes from oils and grime in the pool.

6. Implement marketing strategies

Once you’ve established your business, you’ll want to get your business name out in front of your target audience. You want pool owners to know about your company and what you can offer. Some key features of your marketing plan might include:

  • Logo. A strong logo can help people recognize your new business. This logo should clearly represent your pool cleaning company. Fortunately, securing a professionally made logo can be done quickly and easily with the help of an independent logo designer. These professionals can help you create the right visual representation for your business.
  • Website. Strong, functional websites can also help fledgling businesses take off.. Your website could outline the services you provide, such as residential pool maintenance or maintaining pools at apartment complexes. Let new customers know what you can offer both in and out of season so their pool remains in peak condition. If you haven’t built a website before, consider turning to independent workers to help you create the website you need.
  • Social media. You can use branded business profiles to engage with current and potential customers. You might have a mix of paid ads and organic content as part of your social media strategy. For example, your paid ads might target particular demographics, such as those living in the towns you serve. Customers can also reach out to you directly to ask questions or comment on your social media posts.
  • Advertising. You can also use advertising to capture the attention of your target market. Digitally, you might use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to target keywords related to your industry. For example, you can present ads to customers searching for swimming pool test kits or looking for certified pool cleaners. If you live in a region where many people have pools, you can also advertise your pool service business with direct mail (like flyers) or by handing out business cards at trade shows and conferences. You might also station cards at or work with pool installers.

When it comes to promoting and marketing your business idea, sometimes working with a professional is best. An independent marketing professional from Upwork can help you better understand the pool service industry and how you can secure customers as a service professional.

In review

Starting a new business is an exciting endeavor, but you’ll need to do a lot of research and put in some work to help it thrive. If your dream is to offer pool cleaning services, consider using freelance talent to turn that dream into a reality.

Upwork can connect you to independent professionals with the expertise you need (like legal knowledge and marketing skills), making it easy to take advantage of experts without building out a large internal team. Whether you want to hire specific professionals to get the job done or browse ready-to-purchase projects tailored to your needs, Upwork makes it easy to start your pool cleaning business on the right foot.

See what you can accomplish with independent talent on Upwork right now.

Upwork does not provide legal advice, and this article is provided for informational purposes only. Each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze the laws, regulations, and other requirements that may apply to their business endeavor. Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this resource—these tools and services are provided only as potential options for each reader to consider.

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How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business
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