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How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business in 10 Steps

September 16, 2022 10 min. read
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If you like early mornings, working outside, having a flexible schedule, and being your own boss, starting a pool cleaning business might be right for you.

This article outlines the process of setting up and running your business, from education and strategy to registration, insurance, and marketing—all in one step-by-step guide. Let’s dive in.

1. Learn how to clean pools

Some states will require you to become a certified pool/spa operator (CPO) before servicing pools. Certification ensures you have the training and knowledge to provide quality pool service—so even if it isn’t required in your area, it’s still a good idea.

You can also volunteer or get a job with a local pool service business. Use this time to learn how to apply and track chemicals in the right quantities so you’re keeping pools safe without wasting supplies.

Once you know what you’re doing, offer to clean pools for your friends and family members. You can do it for free or at a heavy discount since you’re practicing.

READ MORE: Professional development resources for home service entrepreneurs

You should also form connections with industry experts to get better at pool cleaning. Ask around town, attend business meetups and trade shows, or walk into a local pool chemical supply store to build those connections.

The more you know, the more you’ll be able to diagnose problems in your own business—and become a local expert that everyone will want to hire.

2. Write a pool cleaning business plan

Once you have experience under your belt, it’s time to dig into the research and planning behind starting a pool cleaning business. That’s where a business plan comes in.

If you’re getting startup capital from a bank or other lender, they’ll want to see a business plan that includes:

  • Cover page and table of contents so the document is easier to read
  • Executive summary as a single-page recap of the entire business plan
  • Business overview describing your pool cleaning business and what services you’ll provide to which customers (e.g., community indoor pools, backyard pool maintenance)
  • Services list, like one-off visits, regular pool maintenance, and pool cleaning education
  • Pricing strategy, including how much you’ll charge for services
  • Market analysis showing what the income potential is in your service area and who you’ll serve (e.g., commercial property managers, residential customers)
  • Competitive analysis of other local pool cleaners, the services and benefits they offer, and what will make your business stand out
  • Marketing plan for reaching potential customers and winning new pool cleaning jobs
  • Employee planning, including whether you’ll work alone, with a partner, or with a team, as well as any future roles you’ll need and when
  • Financial projections, including startup costs, business expenses, how much you think you’ll make in the first year, and what your salary will be

Even if you have the funding you need to get started, it’s still a good idea to write a pool cleaning business plan. It’ll help guide all of your business decisions during the first year.

3. Choose a pool cleaning business name

Pick an available name that presents you as a professional service provider. It should describe your services, be easy to say and remember, and stand out from competing businesses.

Here are a few examples of pool cleaning business names:

  • Perfect Pools
  • Peterson Family Pools
  • Precision Pool & Spa
  • Minneapolis Pool Experts
  • Pool Partners
  • Make-A-Splash Pool Service

READ MORE: Get inspired with these cleaning business name ideas

Once you’ve chosen a name, you’ll need to build out the rest of your service business brand. Here’s what that should involve:

  • Design a logo that looks professional and makes your business easy to recognize. Use an online logo builder like Looka, or hire a designer or branding agency to help you out.
  • Tell your story. Write a summary of why you do this job, why it matters, and how the purpose behind your story will ensure a top-quality experience for your customers.
  • Share what makes you different. Maybe you offer the best service in town, or you have an algae-free guarantee. Think about how you create value for clients, and be ready to promote it in all your marketing materials.

4. Open a business bank account

Head over to your local bank and open up a small business bank account. This keeps your personal funds separate from your business funds, which makes things easier at tax time.

READ MORE: 30 small business tax deductions to save money when filing

Fill that account with a reserve fund to cover at least 90 days’ expenses. This will help if you run into any cash flow problems or unpaid invoices later on.

Once you open the account, get a business credit card, too. This gives you access to startup funding and helps build a credit history. Make sure your card has a low interest rate and offers rewards for dollars spent.

You can also get extra funding for your pool cleaning business through a personal or business loangovernment fundingbusiness financing, or a small business grant.

Pro Tip: Think about hiring an accountant to help you manage your finances. This means less time looking at cash flow statements and more time cleaning pools—or better yet, growing your business.

READ MORE: 8 ways to improve cash flow for your small business

5. Buy pool cleaning equipment

Inventory the equipment you already have and make a list of what you still need. Here’s a pool cleaning equipment list to help you get started:

  • Telescopic pole with net, algae brush, and corner brush
  • Pool vacuum head and hose
  • Pool cleaning chemicals (chlorine tablets, pH test strips, pH and alkalinity increaser/decreaser, algaecide, pool enzymes, pool shock)

Every pool has different needs, so wait to buy pool filter materials (like sand, cartridges, DE grids/powder) until you need them for a specific job. This will help you cut costs up front.

Get a set of high-quality tools for each vehicle you plan to have. If you need a vehicle or plan to offer pool repair and maintenance services, expect to spend even more up front.

Remember, you can include chemical and filter costs in your pool cleaning estimate—those material costs don’t have to cut into your profit margin.

6. Register your pool cleaning business

When you’re starting a pool cleaning business, make sure to knock these registration and licensing tasks off your to-do list:

  1. Register the business. Head to your local registry to register your pool cleaning business. If you’re in the U.S., you’ll need to pay a registration fee, trademark your business name, and register your domain. (Here’s how to register in Canadathe UK, or Australia.)
  2. Choose a business structure. In the U.S., you can register your pool cleaning business as a sole proprietor, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). You can also decide if you want to incorporate your business.
  3. Get a business license. A business license allows you to legally clean and maintain pools in your area. Google “COUNTRY + business registration” or contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see what type of license you need and apply for it.
  4. Apply for an EIN. If you plan to have pool cleaning employees or work with a partner, get an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service so you can accurately file taxes.

READ MORE: Hire employees faster with a pool technician job description

7. Get pool cleaning business insurance

It’s a good idea to get small business insurance to protect your pool cleaning company in case of any damage or accidents. In fact, it might even be a requirement in your area.

Sign up for a business owner’s policy that includes:

  • General liability insurance in case of personal injury or property damage
  • Commercial property insurance to cover your facility and pool cleaning equipment
  • Business income insurance to keep your business running after an incident or disaster

You might also want extra coverage for vehicle damage, employee injuries or complaints, lawsuits, or other legal and criminal situations.

8. Plan your customer service

Solid customer service is what separates the winning pool service businesses from the losers—and what keeps your clients coming back. Try these tips for great customer service:

  • Be on time. Schedule your day efficiently, tell your clients when you’re on the way, arrive on time, and provide the best service you can.
  • Communicate with clients. Send appointment reminderson-my-way text messages, and follow-up emails after service to keep your clients in the loop.
  • Keep learning. Try new techniques on your own time, then offer them as part of your services. You’re more likely to stand out when you show clients that you’re a pool expert.
  • Know your limits. Don’t fill each day with non-stop jobs, especially if you buy a pool service route. Quantity affects your service quality, and it’s important to keep clients satisfied.
  • Tailor your services. Customer service is as simple as giving clients what they want. Provide an experience clients can’t get anywhere else, and you’ll always be in demand.

READ MORE: Discover the tricks of the trade that led to Patriot Pool’s success

9. Find pool cleaning customers

Marketing takes the brand you’ve created and spreads your message far and wide. Here are a few pool service marketing ideas to try:

  • Use word of mouth to spread the word about your pool cleaning business. Start a customer referral program and ask every happy customer to leave you an online review.
  • Build a website where potential clients can learn about you, see before-and-after photos of pools you’ve cleaned, and book services online. Then use Google Local Services Ads to bring potential clients to your site.
  • Set up social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok. Choose the platforms where your ideal clients spend time online.
  • List your business on Google Business, Yelp for Business, Bing Places, HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, Nextdoor, and other online directories where potential clients look for pool cleaning companies.
  • Pass out flyers and door hangers in the neighborhoods where you want to work. Check Google Earth’s satellite view beforehand to get a bird’s-eye view of the area and make sure you’re only giving flyers to people who actually have pools.
  • Build relationships with other business owners and reach new clients by joining your local business association and attending or sponsoring community events.
  • Use your branding on all of your business materials, like your vehicle, uniforms, invoices, business cards, and anything else that clients will see.

You can also think about getting clients by buying a pool service route through a broker. It can be expensive, but some business owners find it’s a good way to get started in a new area.

Pro Tip: Be aware of changing seasons if you live in an area where people don’t keep their pools open year-round. Your busiest season will likely be May–September, but you’ll want to start drumming up new business before then.

READ MORE: The Pool Chasers Podcast shares the key to their success

10. Start using pool service software

Pool service software helps you prevent problems and keep your business on the right track for success. Here are a few admin issues that pool maintenance software can solve:

  • Sending invoices and getting paid
  • Sending quotes and estimates
  • Scheduling jobs and planning service routes
  • Tracking client details and chemical use
  • Staying in touch with your clients

With pool cleaning software like Jobber, you can manage all the day-to-day tasks that keep your business running—all in one place.

Sort out your software before your first job; that way, you’re starting off on the right foot and you won’t have to make expensive or time-consuming changes further down the line.

READ MORE: Find out how this pool service company grew 9x in just five years

Ready to start your pool cleaning business? Try these tips to make a splash, stand out from your competitors, and wow your clients. Good luck!

Originally published May 2019. Last updated September 2022.

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