How To Start a Pool Cleaning Business

You’re here because you want to become an entrepreneur and be your own boss. Am I right?

I know this because if I was the person searching “how to start a pool cleaning business” it’s due to the fact that I’m looking for ways to generate extra income so I can free myself from feeling trapped in a job I don’t like. 

And what’s not to like about a pool cleaning business? You’ll get a flexible schedule, plenty of sun, and you’ll most likely be done with the job before 4pm. 

In fact, there’s no better time to start a pool cleaning business than right now. With the economy beginning to come back to life, homeowners are going to start leaving for work again and will need help with maintenance. They’ll need quality cleaning for a reasonable price. 

I can hear your thinking: “Yea! I can get started right now!” 

Hold on though. 

It’s not as easy as you think. In fact there are certain steps you take before you can start balancing pH levels. 

In this guide my goal is to teach you the most important parts of creating a pool cleaning business. These tips come from me researching and speaking with experts so you get nothing but the best information possible. 

If you think you’re ready to take the plunge, keep reading!

Pool Cleaning Business Broken Down

As a pool cleaner, you’ll be tasked with visiting a clients home or business (apartments, gyms, or even hotels) to sweep the pool, check the filters, balance the chemicals, and maintain all pumps or filters. 

The business is cyclical in nature with busy times being summer and fall, and slower times being winter and spring. 

During the summer months you’ll have a weekly schedule, usually once a week, where you’ll visit the pool to perform all the tasks to keep it in shape. 

The sweeping part might seem easy, but balancing the chemical levels is tough. A pool’s pH level can be fickle to say the least. Too little chlorine and you’re dealing with algae growth. Too much chlorine and pool is toxic for humans.

Outside of the balancing act, you’ll also be dealing with the complicated machinery parts used for the pools. If you fail to maintain the pool properly, you can cause these parts to damage which can be expensive for the homeowner to fix. 

Let’s just say you really don’t want to get sued, especially if you’re operating as a sole proprietor. 

Stepping away from the actual pool cleaning tasks, you’ll also be responsible for running the business itself. Marketing, accounting, and fulfillment, you’ll be responsible for all of these tasks to help the business run smoothly. 

You also need to be aware it’s your reputation within the local community on the line. 

Don’t treat this as something you’ll just learn-on-the-fly. You should put serious thought and research into your plan. 

Prior Knowledge Needed Before Starting A Pool Cleaning Business

To successfully run a business you need to have a handful of basic skills. That’s true for any business. 

We’ll get into those details in a second. Before we get into the nitty gritty about the business and marketing, you should have this one knowledge piece handled prior to starting.

You should have a basic understanding of how a pool actually functions.

You can’t just walk up to a pool and take wild swings at trying to clean it. That’s only going to cause both you and the client massive headaches. 

Do you know how to diagnose a leak properly? 

Do you know the machinery needed to run a pool?

What about the proper water composition? 

Now, I can give you all the lead generation tips and marketing hacks until my face is blue, but if you don’t have the basics down it won’t do you any good. 

You’ll churn through customers faster than you can replace them. 

Outside of this, here are some additional things to consider: 

  • Certifications: Make sure to double check within your community about this. If you’re only cleaning residential pools you should be okay without certifications. However, if you plan on servicing public pools you’ll need paperwork showing you’re knowledgeable about the industry.
  • Business Plan: Make a plan before you start conquering the world. I recommend you perform a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. Determine if you need any capital – like money or equipment – before you can get started. Also, ask yourself how you’re going to fulfill on the orders once the clients start coming in. 
  • Marketing Plan: This will determine your go to market strategies. What channels are you going to use for getting clients? Flyers? Facebook ads? Word of mouth? All of this is important. 
  • Business Entity: Personally, I would wait until you get paying clients and you’re certain you want to continue with your pool cleaning business before creating a company. It typically costs ~$200 to just get the business license formed. Up to you though. 
  • Transportation: It’s recommended you have a truck for a pool cleaning business. It’s difficult to haul everything you need in a car. You can buy one for cheap at used car dealerships. 
  • Equipment: Test kits, cleaning products, skimmers, poles, hoses, and chemicals. These are just some of the items you need to bring to every pool.
  • Insurance:  You’ll be doing a lot of manual work with the risk of damaging a homeowners property. You should seriously consider insurance to protect yourself in case the worst happens. 

Certifications Needed To Start A Pool Cleaning Business

If you’re seriously considering owning a pool cleaning business you should get certified by the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. 

They’ll teach you how to: 

  • Maintain disinfection and water balance.
  • Perform troubleshooting, chemical testing, and record keeping.
  • Prevent drowning, suction entrapment, diving accidents, electrocutions, chemical hazards, and recreational water illness. 
  • Manage water problems. 
  • Manage chemicals
  • And much more…

You can then choose to get one more additional certification which will teach you:

  • Common problems with pool finishes and how to repair them
  • Keep pools running more efficiently with better circulation, filtration, hydraulics, and electricity. 
  • Grow your troubleshooting skills 

How Much Do Pool Cleaners Make?

Typically a pool cleaner will make roughly $50-60/hr cleaning and maintaining the pool. If you opt to get the certifications for maintenance, you can easily earn between $150-200/hr. 

Remember, as a business owner you’ll be responsible for the expenses to run the business which should be between 20-30% of your monthly billing amount. These expenses include the pool chemicals, car expenses (gas, insurance, payments, etc), and supplies.

If you’re running your routes efficiently, you can easily expect to earn $100,000/year in net income. 

The key though is keeping expenses as low as possible without sacrificing quality. 

Pros of Starting Pool Cleaning Business

  • Be your own boss: One of the nice things about a pool cleaning business is getting the chance to work for yourself. If you have hustle and a desire to make serious cash, you’ll love owning a pool cleaning business. 
  • Excellent side hustle: because you can do the work part time – especially over the weekends – this business makes for a perfect side hustle. 
  • No large investment needed: you don’t need a large capital expense to get started. In theory all you need is the knowledge, a truck, and supplies to start servicing customers. 
  • Working outdoors: I think this is a pro. You’ll make money while getting a tan!

Cons of Starting Pool Cleaning Business

  • Seasonal business: Unless you live in Florida you’re going to experience seasonal business with clients. In the winter your work will dry up unless you have indoor pool clients. 
  • Certifications & Training: There’s a good deal of knowledge you need to have prior to starting the business. It doesn’t take much work to learn, you just have to learn it though. 
  • Harmful Chemicals: Inhaling chlorine is really bad for you. If you’re not absolutely certain about what you’re doing with these chemicals, they can seriously hurt you. 

Executive Summary: Starting A Pool Cleaning Business

Don’t let certifications or knowledge stop you from taking action. 

As Richard Branson says: “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.

There’s so much power in that quote. 

Start by reaching out to experts within the field and asking them questions. Get a feeling for the industry, try to understand as much as possible. 

Then begin your journey by connecting with your inner circle. That’s where you’ll find your first clients. Try to do a test run on them without charging for the service (make sure they pay for the supplies though!). 

If you do that, you’ll have testimonials and an opportunity to get certified. 

From there you’re off and making money! 

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