How to Properly Bid on a Pool

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When I first started in the pool service business, I sometimes found myself taking on pools that were wasting too much of my time or costing me too much money out of my own pocket.

I learned an important lesson: You don't have to take every account that comes your way. In fact, if you walk away from a bid with a new account every time, it probably means your prices are either way too low — or you have yet to iron out a proper bidding process. Here are a few rules I follow when I visit a property for the first time that help guide the process.

Establish a Proper Minimum

The very first thing to do before even driving to a property is to establish a minimum. This is important because people negotiate by nature.

Take into consideration what your costs are (your insurance, transportation, truck payment if you have one, etc.). Once you establish that minimum number of dollars where the job becomes worthwhile, you can better assess whether the customer can afford it, and whether the bid will be worth your time.

RELATED: Questioning the "Three-Bid Rule"

I once went to a house where I spent an hour looking over the property. I saw three problems that another pool company could not figure out. When it came time for me to say that I would take on the pool for $150 a month, the homeowner says, "Wow, that's very expensive. I'm paying only $90 a month right now." Needless to say that if I would have pre-qualified him, I would not have wasted my time and money meeting an incompatible customer.

Ensure the Pool is Not at the Lowest Point of the Yard

I have unfortunately taken pools that have been located at the lowest point of the yard without knowing it. What does that mean for you? Every time a lawn person comes, every time it rains, every time the sprinklers come on — you name it — the pool will be a collection point for everything to run to. You are going to come to the location with a headache each time.

That's when you talk with the customer: "I can't service this pool unless you install a french drain system or a screen or really any barrier possible to eliminate the excessive debris and dirt getting into the pool."

Look at the Equipment Pad

Is the equipment sized properly? Does it have a two horsepower pump on a 50 sq. ft. cartridge? I have seen that on an equipment pad and immediately knew the filter was not working properly, which would have meant that I would be swimming upstream each week trying to balance the pool.

For me, that would be $10-$15 extra, because I can count on extra chemicals. A small filter cartridge on a larger pool could also mean you will be cleaning it more often to keep the water clear

Assess the Accessories

When I look at the pool, I make a customer credit list in my mind.

Is the pool screened in? If so, it would lean more toward my minimum bid, depending on the pool size, because the chances of debris getting in there are slim to none. It's going to make your day easier.

Does it have an automatic cleaner? And more importantly, is it the correct automatic cleaner for the pool? If the cleaner is incorrect, the pool might start to have water quality issues, so take that into consideration.

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What surrounds the pool? If there are grasses and planters combined with an opportunity for runoff, that could be a problem. All of the treatments that are done on the greenery are going to end up in the pool and will likely cause some metal and staining issues.

Determine A Price

Pricing largely depends on your location. In some areas, customers are just used to paying more than others. I suggest you call some of your competitors, see what their rates are and adjust accordingly.

When you take the time to determine if a pool is the right fit for you, the customer often notices the value you bring and the professionalism that comes with your service. The right ones will pay what you're worth.

Erik Taylor is the owner of Chlorine King Pool Services, Seminole, Fla. Go online to check out his successful and entertaining YouTube channel ( and podcast (

This article first appeared in the January 2021 issue of AQUA Magazine — the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.


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