This has been an interesting spring, to say the least. Despite the many changes in our daily lives, there is one that hasn’t changed: the number of pools that consumers need to open and maintain for the summer.
In fact, consumers are going to be looking to pool service professionals for help as the weather warms up. We know that stagnant bodies of water can be disastrous and tens of thousands of pools left to fester without chlorine and proper maintenance will lead to a public health crisis all on its own. Pools can turn green in as little as two weeks and will breed mosquitoes that can carry West Nile, Zika and more. Your customers (and potential new customers) are going to need your help to keep their pool water clean, clear and safe.
Fortunately for pool professionals, there are now technology solutions and business software services that allow for safe social distancing or the elimination of physical contact with consumers. Whether it's delivering the right chemicals to the client’s doorstep or troubleshooting problems over the phone, it’s time to make the most of technology to come through for our customers when they need it most.
Connect With Customers.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the COVID-19 crisis is an incredible opportunity for pool professionals to connect with customers working at home. These clients are looking longingly at their swimming pools as they wait for warmer weather to enjoy a “stay-cation” at home. Mobile technology platforms can help you provide exceptional service efficiently, with less reliance on office staff, and without risking exposure to COVID-19.
Using a mobile business software program allows service technicians and retail staff to use their mobile devices in the field or from their home-offices as if they were still in the office or retail store. Service technicians can view all scheduled pool opening jobs along with the customer’s equipment profile, job notes, directions and photos on file. A mobile business software solution should give you immediate access to all updates done at the office, or in this case, the home office, with constant updates on work done in the field and visa versa.
Get Personal. Build Loyalty.
Right now, people are feeling isolated, so it’s a great time to reach out with a call, text or email. Split your customer list among every one of your staff members and start calling customers. Even with your office staff at home, they can call, text and email dozens of customers and use your remote business software to take orders by phone, take notes, schedule service etc. Not only is this a productive way to reach out to clients, it is also a good way to cross-train employees while giving them meaningful work that will build deeper customer loyalty.
Start by sending an email that tells customers you are open and ready to help despite the crisis. These same messages can be used to start a phone conversation. Remember, these aren’t cold calls, as you are reaching out to your existing customer base. Your clients will likely be pleased to hear from you. This is especially true if you are offering support and solutions to make their summer more enjoyable.
Once you have them on the line, explain your plan for opening their pool and how you will help them keep their pool clean and clear all summer. Some customers are so worried about COVID they may not be comfortable having you in their backyard. In these cases, consider offering a ‘FaceTime’ service call in which you walk them through doing the work themselves and charge them a special rate.
Some email subjects or phone call openers might include:
- Don’t Panic — We have a plan to open your pool
- Get your Pool Opening Kits — We’ll pre-package them and deliver to your home – “curbside delivery.” Or give you a time to pick them up at our warehouse.
- Don’t Panic — We have a plan to keep your pool clean, clear and safe all summer
- Pool Openings — We’re here for you!
- We’re Open Online
- We Deliver
- We can open your pool – in person or remotely!
- Don’t Panic — We’ll uncover your pool and get that swamp water clean and clear
- We will help ensure your pool water is clean and clear for your summer ‘stay-cation’
- Curbside Retail Available!
Take the time to explain that for everyone's safety, your retail store is closed, but you will deliver to their car window or front porch. Be sure to include in your emails pictures of staff handling supplies with gloves and wiping down orders with sanitizer before delivery.
It may be time to consider a “Drive Thru” that is open noon-6pm daily. Explain that this allows your team to pull the orders and have them ready for an assigned pick up time that is convenient for all. Using mobile technology to pre-order and pay is essential. Whether you use business software with online payment options or you take advantage of Online Bill Pay, just be sure you track your business separate from your personal accounts. Explain that these pre-payments online are required for safety and to provide a specific time for pickup. Don’t forget to explain you are putting these procedures in place to avoid congestion and adhere to social distancing protocols.
Using a mobile business software solution will be extremely helpful as it offers the following features:
- Record Results — Record pool or spa water test results from the job site to automatically become a part of the customer’s records (eliminate service forms)
- Calculate recommended chemical dosages
- Add job notes
- Add parts and chemicals used directly to the sales order through the mobile device
- Take Payments Safely — Take payments at the job site or by PayPal, Venmo or other. In order to comply with social distancing, it’s best to take online payments and give online receipts.
- Inventory Search — Look up inventory from the job site
Go the Extra Mile.
To take customer service to the next level, your service techs can email your customers a virtual door hanger to let them know they were at the pool and the work that was performed. This is particularly helpful with social distancing. You might include information on how your techs used gloves and masks while in their backyard and took extra steps to clean all surfaces touched during the pool service.
Pool and spa stores and service professionals need to take advantage of every technology tool available in order to keep up with demand this spring and summer and foster deep customer loyalty that will continue on long after this crisis has passed.
Rachael Pritz is executive director of RB Retail and Service Solutions.